Saturday, March 18, 2017

City Journeys with Scrolling Street Views

A few year's ago the Swiss broadcasting company SRF created a great web documentary about the Langstrasse district in Zurich. A similar web documentary has now been created for the Bloorcourt neighborhood in Toronto. Both these web documentaries provide seamless journeys through the city streets using connected 'Street Views' and video interviews with the inhabitants of both districts.

360 Langstrasse is a truly impressive website which allows you to move up and down Langstrasse, Zurich by simply scrolling up & down within your browser. 360 Langstrasse doesn't use connected still photos of Langstrasse to achieve this scrolling presentation. The effect is actually achieved by using a video. As you scroll up and down the page you are in fact just moving between the different frames in a video of the street and surrounding district.

A similar effect is used in The World in Ten Blocks. Images and sound from the Toronto district are explored in a stop-motion like manner as you scroll up & down in your browser. As in 360 Langstrasse a number of interactive elements can be accessed from the scrolling street views, These include videos of Bloorcourt inhabitants, text introductions to the area and old & new photographs of this Toronto neighborhood.

Pregoneros de Medellín is another wonderfully immersive virtual journey. This scrolling web documentary introduces you to the colorful streets of Medellín in Colombia.

While you stroll around Medellin you can listen to the sounds of the streets and the street vendors. You can also interact with some of the characters you find on your journey. The interactive characters are indicated on screen with map markers positioned above their heads. Click on the markers and you can view short documentary type videos about the selected individual's lives.

Obviously creating these kinds of immersive journeys around city neighborhoods can be a bit of a technical challenge. You can read about how the Medellin video was captured (using a GoPro camera attached to a gimbal and fixed to a bike), how the immersive sound was added (customizing Sounds of Street View) and how the video interface was created, in this blog post.

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