Google Earth is about to be run over by monsters, because what was an extreme hack just two weeks ago has now matured into a smooth-as-silk plugin for Alias/Autodesk’s Maya, that $2,000 3D authoring tool so beloved by special effects people.
It’s called Maya 2 Google Earth, a free open source tool by Eyebeam, the people that came up with the original Ogle 3D extraction utility.
In a fit of hope, I downloaded Maya’s free personal learner edition, thinking that it might work with Maya2GE, but alas I was thwarted at the last step, so it remains a toy for those in the business. (As a silver lining, though, this means that the monsters will be of a certain quality:-)
The rest of us can still make our own 3D eyecandy with the KML examples supplied on the Maya2GE site. Here’s a screenshot of a dragon rampaging through Chinatown:
Of course, Maya is good for much more than importing games characters — the immersive world Second Life is founded on Maya, so suddenly these two worlds have gotten a lot closer in terms of showing each other’s content. And exporting from Maya to Google Earth will allow the wholesale replacement of central business districts with more detailed architecture.
Eyebeam’s Theo Watson writes that he’s hoping for volunteers to supply a Godzilla to rampage through Japan. I’m still holding out for a King Kong on the Empire State Building, meanwhile.
[Update 21:22 UTC: Got questions? Head on over to the Maya2GE forum.]