How I drew the Parting of the Red Sea and other events in Google Earth that can be walked.

Up till recently I only used Google Earth to view my explorer maps in 3D and walk from location marker to location marker in order to experience the exploration first hand. However, I began to experiment with it and found that I could create historic events in movie form that you could experience. Events like the Parting of the Red Sea and WWII: Operation Market Garden. But, this required being able to draw in a 3D space not intended for drawing the type of things I wanted to do. Things such as these:

Parting of the Red Sea as seen at Station #4 in the Exodus movie KML and KMZ files.
The Pillar of Fire.
The above is based on locations in my Google Map of The Exodus.

This map plots the traditional locations found in Wikipedia's List of Stations of the Exodus that provided coordinates that were confirmed where possible by the web site OpenBibleAtlas, and the maps on Bible History OnlineThe Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day SaintsThe Jewish Task ForceJesus WalkEndtime Prophecy, the Jarrett Library at The East Texas Baptist University, and many, many others.

Here is my 8-minute YouTube video of The Parting of the Red Sea in Google Earth, it is best viewed at full screen in order to read the annotations. (By the way, the video below is not a Google Earth KMZ movie file.)

Bye the way, some suggest the Red Sea was a reed filled lake that no longer exists. Unfortunately, Google Earth won't go down under sea in any lake, so this location is the closest Red Sea location indicated by traditional Exodus maps.

Another example of drawing in Google Earth is Operation Market Garden.

Airplanes flying by your head as seen at Operation Market Garden
in the map WWII: The Western Front movie KML and KMZ files.
Parachuting men and materials.

This WWII scene is based on my Google Map of WWII: The Western Front.

So, how did I achieve this? By a lot of trial and error.

The Parting of the Sea.

To create the path across the Red Sea I had to find a location near station #4 with a smooth almost flat sea floor because I found the only way to span from one shore to the other and be able to walk on it on the bottom of the sea was to anchor it to the sea floor.

The Sea Floor Path:
  • First, using the Polygon tool while looking down, I drew a rectangle for the path that was to be my sea floor.
  • While still selected, I assigned a color and an Altitude set to "Clamped to sea floor."

The Walls of Water:
  • I drew two paths from one shore to the other, making sure they don't touch the shore, assigning the color, and the Altitude set to "Relative to the sea floor" with a altitude of 30m and  "Extend path to ground" selected. For some reason "Extend to sea floor" did not work correctly.
  • Next, I had to go back and refine each path to ensure it sat on the edge of the sea floor path.
To give you some interest to follow over this 9 mile path, I added some people symbols and anchored the ones near either shore by setting their altitude to "Clamp to ground", while those in the middle are set to "Clamp to sea floor" because they are 27 feet lower than those along the shore.

One interesting aspect of walking below sea level is that once you reach a certain point on the path I drew, the sky is replaced with a ceiling of the water's surface. As shown in the image below, there is no water between the path you are walking on and the surface water ceiling. Suddenly it looks dark and foreboding, but you can see the light at the end of what is now a water tunnel. As soon as you reach this same point near the opposite shore, the sky reappears like a miracle had happened. This was nothing I did to make it occur, it is just the way Google Earth functions.

The sky is automatically replaced with a ceiling of surface water
making it look dark and foreboding.

You will notice a gap under the sea wall on either side. That is a problem I could not resolve because of the changing elevations of the seafloor. The two extremes of the path are at a higher elevation than the middle. When I tried to clamp it to the seafloor, the wall disappeared. I tried to add several paths at different depths, but I still had gaps and it took too many paths to achieve a reasonable result. So I decided to leave it alone because it is the only indication that the seafloor path is lower than sea level, since most people will not notice the elevation changes in the numbers in the lower right portion of their screen.

The Flooding Water:
  • This was a bit of luck, in testing I found that the sea floor path was not flat, that on the east end it had hills that I had to walk up.
  • That is when I got the idea that these hills could hide to coming flood. So I found where the hill is and temporarily marked it. I then shorted the sea floor path to that point and gave it a pointed edge on one side and added a location marker identifying the spot as the coming flood.
  • When I tested it, it worked fabulously. In addition, when I traveled through the water to the opposite shore I discovered that the water's surface is not flat. It had waves that at times hid portions of the end of the path making it look like a wave hitting me.
  • This may be because I had the Oceans layer turned on.

The path floods with sea water just as the sky reappears.
A 24-foot high wave of sea water.

What I find interesting about Google Earth is that it does not capture the Arctic ice cap, but does seem to record the elevations of any waves on the ocean surface of considerable size because I found another set of waves when making a movie of Charles Darwin rowing the Magellan Strait.

A set of up to 90-foot high waves near the Magellan Strait
in Google Earth at coordinates 
 54°55'52.16"S,  69°56'57.79"W,
elevation 0, as recorded on 12/31/1969.

The Pillar of Fire:
  • I found in the sand at that location a mark in the sand that was somewhat circular. So, using the polygon tool I drew an octagon and assigned its Altitude set to "Relative to ground" with an altitude of 10,000m and "Extend sides to ground" selected.  Making it an 800 foot tall red hollow tube.

 Men, flying planes, and parachuting men and materials:
  • For the most part this is simply placing a Placemarker at a desired location and assigning either a default symbol or a small imported GIF clip art such as the parachuting men and materials with a transparent background.
  • For flying placemarks, I assigned an altitude of "Relative to ground" at 200m without "Extend to ground" selected.
  • For men on the ground the altitude is "Clamp to ground."

How to follow a path in a movie:
  • While looking down, use the path tool to draw any shape path round mountains and rivers etc. you require. The set the altitude to either "Relative to ground,"  or "Relative to Seafloor," with a height high enough to avoid running through hills where your line will suddenly disappear leaving gaps in your path and your getting lost when recording your movie.
  • I could not find a way to draw in the sky and change altitudes during the path, so the only way to follow a path is looking head in the distance. Google Earth displays a banned sign when you try to draw a path in the sky.
  • When recording your movie I suggest you use the arrow keys on your keyboard instead of the forward Google Earth tool, or using the hand tool, or clicking ahead on your path, because it is much smoother using the arrow keys and you can use both up or down  and left or right keys at the same time to move diagonally. Thus, eliminating any stutter or stopping to change direction as with the other methods. Unfortunately, I discovered this after having made so many Google Earth movies.
  • You can display the path while making the movie and turn it off afterwards to avoid it displaying in the movie for everyone else.

Displayed with the paths turned on in order to
follow the path when recording a movie.
You can turn them off before distributing the movie.

What else can you draw in Google Earth? 

How about creating your own version of Atlantis?
Stefon Geens, on his OgleEarth blog, drew the path of the 2013 Chelyabinsk Meteoroid crash in Google Earth.

How Google Earth KMZ Movies record:
  • While the professional version of Google Earth Pro that you have to purchase has a movie making video recording feature, Google Earth KMZ movies made with the free Google Earth version don't actually record video. Instead it records coordinates associated with the map you made and retraces them automatically. For example, if you uploaded one of my MRM KML files and added new locations and art to it, those items need to be placed in a common folder containing all the files associated with the movie. Each placemark, path or art you add is a separate file that can be turned on or off. All this makes distributing your movie more difficult. So in my case, in order to send you my movie, I need to send you my MRM KML map file, any new placemarks and art files I added in Google Earth, and the movie file. Why?  Because when you email the folder, or place a link to it on your site to where the files are stored on your Google Doc account, the visitor uploads all these files into Google Earth and plays the movie which retraces the actions using all those files in the folder. Any missing files will not display when the movie runs. So what you see on your computer may not be what your audience sees on their's if you don't organize your files correctly.
  • One way to test if you have done it right, is to turn off the movie and all its parts after you have emailed it to yourself. Then upload the emailed file to Google Earth to your temporary folder and select the uploaded file to see if it contains all the files and whether the right files are turned on or off.

An example of how Google Earth KML and KMZ files are organized
to be able to send someone your movie with all its parts

In the above hieracrchy example, the highlighted file, Exodus: According to the Book of Wikipedia, is my uploaded KML map file.  Inside that is a folder containing all the placemarkers, paths and artworlk I added to the map in Google Earth. The next to last checked item, "Pharaoh chases the Hebrew into the Red Sea,"  is the Google Earth KMZ Movie file. All of which now reside inside the KML file. If you click on the blue globe symbol of the highlighted KML file, it will list all the KML placemarks I placed in the map in Google Map. If you unchecked items in the KML file list, it would turn off each placemark you don't want in your movie.

If all this adding stuff to the article is confusing, I apologize because I am learning this and writing this as I discover each detail.

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