Google's Street View is a nifty tool, whether you want to get a better sense of a neighbourhood you'll be visiting or take a PC-based trip to far-flung corners of the globe.
You can navigate a particular location while looking at Street View imagery, but it's slow going and moves only a few feet per click. That changed this week with the introduction of Google Street View Hyperlapse, a project from Canada-based digital designers Teehan+Lax that lets you take a global road trip thanks to hyper-lapse photography.
Select Point A and B via Google Maps, click Create, and Hyperlapse will stitch together Google Street View images into a continuous, video loop.
"The idea for this project came from one of our motion designers, Jonas, as part of his Labs experiment," Teehan+Lax said in a blog post. "He wanted to explore a tool that could help him create hyper-lapse videos with the assistance of available data sets and emerging technology. We built the tool – he built a video with it. The results are pretty stunning."
Usually, the creation of hyper-lapse videos "requires precision and many hours stitching together photos taken from carefully mapped locations," Teehan+Lax said. "We aimed at making the process simpler by using Google Street View as an aid, but quickly discovered that it could be used as the source material. It worked so well, we decided to design a very usable UI around our engine and release Google Street View Hyperlapse."
Site settings are low to allow for widespread use; there's a max 60 frames per second for animation. But the source code is on Github "so developers can play with higher frame rates, better image quality, and more complicated camera movements," Teehan+Lax said.
Teehan+Lax said the site works best on long, straight, and flat roads - particularly bridges, tunnels, and highways. Under "Featured," designers have already stitched together hyper-lapse videos for points of interest from the Manhattan and Golden Gate Bridges in the US to the Australian Outback and a tunnel in Hong Kong.
To create your own Hyperlapse, type a location or specific address into the search bar. The site will pull it up on Google Maps, and you can drag and drop the A and B markers to designate a starting and ending point. The longer the journey, the longer it takes to load, so starting off with short trips is probably best.
Your selected journey plays on a loop, which you can pause by hitting the space bar. It's a bit dizzying - an option to slow it down might help users take in their surroundings a bit more, but then I suppose that would take the "hyper" out of Hyperlapse.
Teehan+Lax says the site works best in Chrome "on a decent machine."