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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Turning Street View Images Into Time-Lapse Films

Hyperlapse videos are a variation of traditional time lapse filmmaking in which the camera travels while also panning, rotating and tilting. The effect can be striking or dizzying. But under normal circumstances, coordinating all that action and turning it into a film is exceedingly complex and time consuming.

A Toronto design studio, Teehan & Lax, has developed an online, no-cost system that creates hyperlapse films using images from Google Street View.
Jon Lax, the studio’s co-founder and president, said that the project didn’t initially did not involve Street View. A video designer at the company, Jonas Naimark, was working on software that would simplify making hyperlapse videos with a conventional camera. Google’s Street View provided him with a vast, global set of images to create a demonstration film.

After further simplifying the process and consulting with Google, the company made its software available as an open-source download, mainly for developers and other sophisticated users, while posting a simplified online version that did not require any technical knowledge on the part of users.

“Our intention in releasing the source code is to allow people to make things with this,” Mr. Lax said. Exactly what, he acknowledged, is unclear.

Mr. Lax’s partner, Geoff Teehan, is a motor-racing fan who has used the software to take virtual drives around famous circuits in Europe. Mr. Lax said that organizers of running, triathlon and cycling races might offer hyperlapse previews of their routes and suggested that tourism agencies could post virtual road trips online.

There is other software available for gathering Street View images into time-lapse films. But it generally does not allow users to alter the apparent vantage point and usually requires the use of separate video editing software.

Mr. Lax said he also hoped that creative uses for the images can be found. In 2011, Tom Jenkins, a British filmmaker, combined time-lapse sequences made from Google Street View and stop-motion photography in a short film about an office desk toy traveling across the United States in a toy car.