Google, university researchers create astonishing timelapses from stock photos

There are millions upon millions of stock photos available online and many of them are of the same places. That makes sense. After all, if a place is photographed regularly by ordinary people, chances are there will be plenty of people looking for photos of those places. That’s great, but what if you could do something really cool with those photos?

Well Google, together researchers from the University of Washington, has managed to do just that. The two have teamed up for a project that gathers stock photos from around the web and stitches them together, based on when they were taken, in a timelapse sequence.

The project, which is almost entirely automated, sifted through 86-million photos of landmarks and popular viewpoints to create some 10 000 timelapse videos.

As well as sorting the photos out by date, the project also sorts the photos by date and warp each photo onto a common viewpoint. The final step in the process is to stabilise the appearance of the sequence to compensate for lighting effects and minimize flicker.

As the researchers explain in the video below, the timelapses have multiple applications including visualising the growth of cityscapes, as well as the effects of climate change.



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