Monday, February 2nd, 2015 Posted by Jim Thacker

Google Earth Pro goes free to use

Google has made Google Earth Pro, the paid-for version of its global 3D mapping system, free to use. Subscriptions to the Pro version used to cost $399 per year.

What do you get in the Pro version?
Many people will be familiar with the existing free edition of Google Earth, which enables users to view satellite images of the world, supplemented with 3D buildings and trees in many major cities.

The Pro version doesn’t differ radically, but it does enable you to supplement the standard data set by importing GIS data, and includes basic measurement tools (shown in the video above).

It also allows users to print off higher-resolution images than the old free version (although the base satellite data it uses is identical) and to generate custom flythrough movies.

That’s nice. But is it any use for CG work?
Most of Google’s suggested use cases are for town planning, research and the like – but Google Earth does have its uses in the entertainment industry, particularly for location planning.

In our interview last year, indie director Kory Martin Juul revealed how he used Google’s mapping services as a low-cost way to scout locations in China for VFX film White Tiger Legend.

And obviously, if you work in architectural visualisation, it’s a useful reference tool.

Google Earth Pro is available now for Windows XP and above, Mac OS X 10.6 and above, and Linux. To use it, you’ll need a free licence key, for which you’ll need to fill out a registration form via the link below.

See a comparative table of features in the old free edition and Google Earth Pro

Download Google Earth Pro (Includes the registration form for the free licence key)