Can’t be bothered with learning GIS software? Here’s a quick roundup of a few plugin options when it comes to map creation for animation. Have I missed any others? Let me know and I’ll add them to the list.
Fabiantheblind’s AEmap and Locations plugins give you the ability to build, customize and animate a political equirectangular map, and/or drop geolocated coordinates onto several different projections. These are great if you have country-level data to display or want to pinpoint specific locations. (He’s working on a tool for InDesign too!)
Paul Everett’s cinemaplugins.com sells several tools for working with map data directly within C4D. His plugins can import both DEM files (digital elevation maps) and OpenStreetMap data automatically.
Illustrator + Photoshop
Avenza MapPublisher is a full GIS toolkit for Illustrator, and Geographic Imager is its raster companion for Photoshop. These are serious tools for mapping professionals, and priced to match. There is a more limited “basic license” available for Geographic Imager though that’s only $199.
ESRI Shapefile Import/Export and Georaster Import are free(!) plugins for Blender that do exactly what it says on the tin: they let you import shapefiles and geolocated raster images into Blender.