Researchers at the University of Washington and Google created more than 10,000 timelapse videos using millions of free photos available online. An awesome idea for sure, and the results are astonishingly good.
“Whereas before it took months or years to create one such time-lapse, [with our algorithms] we can now almost instantly create thousands of time-lapses covering the most popular places on Earth,” Ricardo Martin-Brualla, David Gallup, and Steven M. Seitz, who were involved in the project, wrote in a paper documenting their work.
Drawing on a total of 86 million photos on Flickr, Picasa, and other websites, the team first sorted pictures of 120,000 landmarks and common photo angles of those sites. The pictures were ordered by date, each of them warped to appear as if they were taken from the same viewpoint.
As one can imagine one of the main difficulties for the team was synthesizing a single focal point for their time-lapses. Fortunately, the sheer number of images available and our tendency to photograph the same landmarks from the same angles gave them a good starting point. They created a database of some 86 million publicly available photos from sites like Flickr and Picasa and began sorting them; first, creating clusters of different locations and then putting these sets into chronological order. For each time-lapse they selected a single reference image that would form the anchor point for the other photos, with their algorithms cropping, aligning, and color-fixing the images to create a single, smooth time-lapse.
This one is particularly awe inspiring and frightening at the same time.