Live Maps with Steve Lombardi: Part 1 – Explore Collections and Mapcruncher

The newest release of Live Maps last week introduced some pretty cool new features, and we thought it would be fun to have Steve Lombardi, a Program Manager for Live Maps, take us on a little tour.  In this first part, Steve explains two new additions, Explore Collections and MapCruncher.

cg6_thumb News Just a note on the video: I’ve been thinking about making a move from audio interviews to video, and found a little camera I really like, the Sanyo Xacti CG6.  It is very small, almost as small as my phone, very easy to use, and didn’t cost much at all.  For these interviews (my first ones) I just set up a little tripod and pointed it at the laptop screen, so it’s more like a screencast.  Not much sophisticated videography here, yet.  I also wanted to try using Windows Movie Maker (in anticipation of Windows Live Movie Maker, mentions of which are floating around on the interwebs, if you know where to look, and of course we do) and MSN Soapbox, so I built a simple title screen and added a couple of transitions, which was easy and straightforward.  After a few fits and starts involving codecs (the Sanyo shoots in .mp4), and a lot of processing time, we have our first LiveSide video.  Soapbox only allows 100mb files, and so I compressed this one down (a bit too much).  The picture quality is quite good in the original, but I think you get the idea of what Steve is talking about, and we’ll get the processing down once I get the hang of it.

So it’s a bit rough around the edges, but I’m excited to be able to add video capabilities to our LiveSide interviews, and we’ll learn as we go.

Some links:

Steve’s MapCruncher collection

The Live Maps / Virtual Earth blog

Download MapCruncher

In part 2, we’ll take a look at some new 3D features, including how to make high definition movies with Live Maps 3D.  I can’t tell you what Part 3 is yet, but I can tell you it’s very cool :)