Amazing Time-Lapses from Old Photos


Google and the University of Washington are turning old photos into amazing time-lapse videos. The project team has developed algorithms to ‘time-lapse mine’ millions of old photos, adjusting and stitching them together to create time-lapse videos. The process leverages smartphone software such as Instagram’s Hyperlapse, to smooth out transitions between photos taken of the same subject from similar angles at different times by different people. The results are spectacular.

The digitisation of tens of millions of photographs in public repositories has made it possible to sift through them by timestamp and geo-location, and to then apply the ‘time-lapse mining’ algorithms.

Goldman Sachs Tower under construction

The process requires hundreds of terabytes of memory and a lot of digital manipulation but it’s now at the point where thousands of time-lapse videos can be created automatically and almost instantly. More than 10,000 time-lapses have been produced so far from images usually spanning 5-10 years.

Among the highlights of the project are time-lapses showing the Briksdalsbreen Glacier in Norway receding, the building of the Goldman Sachs Tower in New York City and a Swiss Guard in a sentry box at the Vatican who hardly seems to move in the six years covered.