Timelapse mining: researchers stitch together public's photos to make stunning videos

Computers scanned through millions of photos to create the videos, which document the building and destruction of our landscape

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The Independent Tech

Google’s computers have rifled through the public’s photos, assembling them into a sequence to make beautiful timelapse images.

The project, called “time-lapse mining”, saw computers look through photos of popular locations and assemble them into a timeline. Those photos were then played through in a long film, condensing years of building and destruction into a minutes-long video.

“First, we cluster 86 million photos into landmarks and popular viewpoints,” the team behind the project explain. “Then, we sort the photos by date and warp each photo onto a common viewpoint. Finally, we stabilize the appearance of the sequence to compensate for lighting effects and minimize flicker.”

The results show the building of some of the most famous buildings. They also show natural phenomenon as it changes over periods of as long as ten years.

“Our resulting time-lapses show diverse changes in the world’s most popular sites, like glaciers shrinking, skyscrapers being constructed, and waterfalls changing course,” the team say.

The researchers behind the project will be releasing the code that makes it run soon, meaning that anyone might be able to use it to make their own films.

Various companies are launching research into timelapses, as Gizmodo notes. Microsoft rolled out a special research project to help make the videos more smooth last week, and the feature has been added to various camera apps including Apple’s camera in iOS.