To ensure the necessary level of detail, on-site field work 
required a correspondingly intensive effort. Francois-
Hugues de Vaumas, film director and producer at Aloest 
Productions, was ready. “We first got a general view of 
the whole area,” he recalls. “It was enormous and excit-
ing, but also a massive undertaking. To obtain maximum 
accuracy, we used a 3D scanner for many statues and 
interior features. This was the first time that 3D scans of 
statues had been incorporated into Google Earth.”

Modeling with SketchUp 
Then it was time to convert the massive volume of data 
into models of the palace. Five models were converted—
one of present-day Versailles and four from different 
construction periods. Throughout the modeling process, 
the team consulted old construction plans and drawings 
that had been kept at Versailles for centuries.  

It took very little time to train the modeling teams to 
use SketchUp, which is specifically designed for intui-
tive, self-explanatory use. As a result, there is no need for 
complex 2D drawings or various parameters which must 
be formally coordinated for extrusion without affecting 
the model.         
SketchUp also makes it possible to display the special 
architectural features of buildings so they are almost 
photographically realistic. The final Versailles model pres-
ents the two styles of the palace, early French Baroque 
and classical Baroque, and highlights the distinctive 
influence of the master builders who constructed the 
palace in different stages. When embedded and exactly 
positioned in Google Earth, the models give a strong 
impression of reality. 

The degree of detail and plasticity in the SketchUp conver-
sion was impressive. The building geometry on facades 
and roof surfaces was broken up using modeled elements, 
and then refined. Functional and ornamental architectural 
details were displayed in 3D using indentations and pro-
truding elements, and photos previously taken were used 
to texture the elements. Fences, ledges, columns, balco-
nies, windows and many other features were detailed and 
modeled with almost photographic realism.  

In order to scan a statue, three scans were made from 
different perspectives; subsequent processing, which 
included data cleansing, triangulation and texturing, 
required an additional four hours. The statues created 
using the 3D scanner were then imported into SketchUp. 
Using the the still-visible triangulation on Google Earth, 
it is possible to see which individual models created by 
this method have been incorporated in the overall work.