Time-lapses are usually created with one or more cameras by one or more photographers working together to document a particular subject, but now scientists have created a new method of time-lapse creation that uses photographs found on the Internet.
Researchers at Google and the University of Washington have figured out how to mine the Internet for photographs of the same thing, aligning them and arranging them in chronological order to create impressive crowdsourced time-lapses that show everything from changing city skylines to transformations of natural landscapes.
The scientists first gathered 86 million photos from the Web and clustered them into landmarks and popular viewpoints. They then sorted them by time-stamp and warped the images to match their views of the subject.
Lastly, they stabilized the sequence of images to compensate for things like lighting changes and flicker. Their findings are explained in the video above.
Here are some animated GIFs showing some of the time-lapse sequences that were generated using this system:
More examples can be seen in the video at the top of this post. You can also read the published research paper for yourself here.
In all, the scientists discovered 10,728 different time-lapses showing how different landmarks on Earth have changed over the years.
“The scale and ubiquity of our mined time-lapses creates a new paradigm for visualizing global changes,” the scientists write. “As more photos become available online, mined time-lapses will visualize even longer time periods, showing more drastic changes.”