Google Earth Engine Annual Timelapse Tour Editor


Google Earth Engine Annual Timelapse consists of 29 cloud-free mosaics of the planet, made interactively explorable in part through use of the CMU CREATE Lab's Time Machine library, a technology for creating and viewing zoomable and pannable timelapses over space and time with billions of pixels of resolution.

Timelapse Tours consist of keyframes for dates and locations on the globe, plus the transitions between those keyframes.  This document describes how to create, share, and embed Earth Engine Timelapse tours using the Earth Engine Annual Timelapse Tour Editor, hosted by CMU's CREATE Lab.

Creating a tour

  • This section demonstrates how to create a tour.

  • Search
    Use the search box to find interesting locations.

  • Pan and Zoom
    The editor contains a pannable and zoomable viewer. Scroll the mouse wheel for zooming. Drag the viewer for panning.

  • Add keyframes
    To create a tour, click on the "Add" button to add keyframes containing the information of current location and date.

  • Keyframe
    A keyframe contains the information of the location on the video panorama and the source time. The thumbnail shows the location. The text above the thumbnail indicates the source time.

  • Adding captions to a keyframe
    Click on the button on the bottom right of the keyframe to add and edit a caption.

  • Play your tour
    Click on the "Play" button to play the tour.

  • Share your tour
    Click the "Share" button and copy the URL. Then share it via e-mail or social media.

  • Embed your tour
    Embed the tour in iframe code generated in the pop up window for share button on a social media.

  • New tour
    Click the "Clear" button to delete all keyframes.

  • Load tour
    To load a tour you've previously edited, you'll need either the share URL or embed snippet for that tour.  Click the "Load" button, then paste the share URL or embed snippet to load the tour.

Keyframes and Transitions

  • More details on manipulating keyframes

  • Select a keyframe

  • Add / insert keyframes
    Click "Add" to insert a new keyframe after the selected one. If no keyframe is selected, a new one is added at the end.

  • Reorder keyframes

  • Duplicate
    Click "Duplicate" to insert a duplicated keyframe.

  • Modify keyframe location and date
    Click "Update" to update the keyframe to the current map location and date.

  • Loop and speed transition
    If you'd like years to play forward in a "looping" style (back to 1984 after the end), select the "Loops"-type transition.  Set the playback speed and number of times to loop through time between two keyframes. The duration of the transition depends on both the number of loops and the playback speed.

  • Duration transition
    If instead you'd like to pause time, or perhaps go backwards in time, select the "Duration"-type transition.  This lets you set the number of seconds between keyframes.  The date displayed will transition smoothly between the dates of the keyframes before and after.  If you'd like to pause time during the transition, make sure the keyframes before and after have the same date.  If you'd like to move backwards in time, make your following keyframe have a time earlier than the preceding one.  Duration of 0 is instant, jumping immediately to the next keyframe without transition.

  • Move map to keyframe time/date
    Click the thumbnail on the keyframe to move the map to the keyframe's time and date.

  • Delete
    Click "Del" to delete the selected keyframe.

Time and Motion Control

  • This section demonstrates how to control camera motions.

  • Zoom
    Create a keyframe at the first location. Then zoom the viewer to the second location and create another keyframe.

  • Pan
    Create a keyframe at the first location. Then pan the viewer to the second location and create another keyframe.

  • Pause Motion Only
    Duplicate a keyframe. Then update the duplicated one to the desired time and set the speed to a value that is greater than zero.

  • Pause Time Only
    Create 2 keyframes. Then disable looping, set the speed to zero, and set the duration.

  • Pause Motion and Time
    Duplicate a keyframe. Then disable looping, set the speed to zero, and set the duration.

Press Release


Yen-Chia Hsu, Paul Dille, Randy Sargent, Christopher Bartley, Illah Nourbakhsh. A Web-based Large-scale Timelapse Editor for Creating and Sharing Guided Video Tours and Interactive Slideshows. IEEE Information Visualization Posters, 2015.