Filmmaking and Google Street View Get Together for a Breathtaking Hyperlapse Road Trip
What if someone grabbed a copy of your favourite road movie and edited out the character development so all that remained were those scenic out-of-the-window cutaways -- and then floored it so the world zipped by? That would be a very close approximation to the experience you get watching the Teehan+Lax Labs project short Google Street View Hyperlapse, which was recently featured on Vimeo Video School. Call shotgun and buckle your seatbelt for the stop motion ride of your life after the jump.
A marriage of coding and filmmaking, motion designer Jonas Naimark felt inspired by the many impressive examples of Hyperlapse filmmaking shared on Vimeo, but wanted to work with a system which would eliminate the time-consuming and meticulous process of stitching mapped location photographs together. After some initial investigations, the Teehan+Lax Labs experiment team realised that they could use Google Street View as the source material for the engine they created and build a simple UI around it for general ease of use. Naimark then spent some virtual sightseeing time discovering the most aesthetically pleasing routes from which to generate his images before combining them in post. Here he is talking with Rebecca from Vimeo Video School:
After finding a suitable location I used software our Labs team built to plot camera animations and capture the Street View imagery. From there I assembled the image sequence in After Effects and stabilized it, added motion blur, cleaned up any artifacts and color corrected the footage.
VVS: How did you make the transitions between the different locations so seamless?
Since the camera is moving so fast I knew the transitions had to be seamless for the video to work. I built it like a roller coaster, so that one shot lead to the next creating one continuous path for the camera to move along. I also tried to match the horizon lines between shots to make the transitions smooth. I built the video linearly, so at the end of every shot there was a certain horizon line I tried to match with the next shot. Locations that had flat horizons were easy to match and transitioned perfectly. Some locations, like urban or mountainous areas, had horizons that were impossible to find perfect matches for. What mattered most for maintaining smooth transitions was having the camera always facing and moving in a consistent direction between shots.
If you can feel yourself itching to take a virtual road trip, you can build your very own Google Street View Hyperlapse, and for those of you with coding chops, Teehan+Lax have provided their source code for download on Github -- so feel free to tinker away.
While the novelty of taking a warp speed trip cross-country will probably wear out before too long, with Google mapping the planet, from the deepest oceans to the world's art galleries, along with the insides of businesses, it's not much of a leap to imagine this engine being tweaked to create different types of Hyperlapse films.
Given the possibility of a less time intensive production workflow, would you consider incorporating Hyperlapse techniques into your films?