Turn Google Street View into Google Road Trip

Screenshot from Google Street View Hyperlapse by Hyperallergic
Japanese highway screenshot from Google Street View Hyperlapse (by Hyperallergic)

Traversing the virtual mirror of the real world created by Google Earth and Google Street View has become something of a global pastime, putting everywhere (as long as there’s a road, at least) within the reach of armchair explorers. Yet walking through the landscape step by step and mouse click by mouse click is a chore. Good thing creative agency Teehan+Lax has created a way to turn Street View into a road trip.

They call their creation the Google Street View Hyperlapse, after the photography technique that combines time-lapse and sweeping camera movements to dramatically depict a single point of interest (this video of Rio de Janeiro has some excellent examples). What the software does is pull image frames from Google Street View and map them along a path that the user chooses from point A to point B on a Google Earth road. Choose a point to focus your camera on — islands, mountains, or urban landmarks are good picks — and then let your virtual road trip begin. See what the end result looks like below.

The Street View images speed by, blurring into the sensation of gazing out a car window. In fact, the hyperlapse journey is pretty much what you’d get sticking your head out of one of Google’s Street View cars as the fleet speeds around the globe’s highways. The project’s serendipity and scale, as well as the wonder it inspires, put me in mind of Jon Rafman’s series “The Nine Eyes of Google Street View,” in which the artist hunted down surreal scenes unknowingly captured by the cars’ cameras.

Image from Jon Rafman's project "The Nine Eyes of Google Street View" (Image via 9-eyes.com)
Image from Jon Rafman’s project “The Nine Eyes of Google Street View” (Image via 9-eyes.com)

Commenters on the agency’s website have pointed out that the technology behind the Google Street View Hyperlapse could be used for road-quality mapping or incorporated into films as a much cheaper method of getting epic drive-by shots. Pick any coastline in the world, set two points along the roadway, and boom — instant grandeur.

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