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This Week's Finds in Planning is the blog of Martin Krieger, Professor of Planning at the University of Southern California's School of Policy, Planning, and Development.

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Visual Goodies for Planning

As you may know I have been working on visual documentation of the city (mostly, LA and Southern California) for perhaps 15 years. My book, Urban Tomographies (2011) represents some of what I have learned. It may be useful to mention some useful computer applications, some of which I have learned about more recently.

1. Google Fusion Tables allows for interactive mapping. Uses GPS information or addresses. Bubble can have lots of information. http://www.google.com/fusiontables
2. If you have GPS and need addresses, you need reverse geocoding. I have a found a place that has a nice front end using Google's API to do this. http://www.doogal.co.uk/BatchReverseGeocoding.php
3. I have been doing some video of street life in LA, using my smartphone. The problem then becomes that the video is likely to be bumpy if you are walking along while doing the video (say holding the phone unobtrusively at you mid-section, for example, or in general without a tripod). There is software that does what professional hardware Steadicam does for movies. You will need to convert your video into a form this software eats: my mp4's have to be made "sort of" mpeg's. Then you will use Virtual Dub http://virtualdub.org/ with an add in filter called Deshaker http://www.sundancemediagroup.com/articles/deshaker_guide.htm You process the video through this, and out comes much less bumpy video.IndustrialLAsm.jpg

4. It is easy to make montages of all your still images in a project. You use Photoshop's Contact Sheet II. You need to experiment to be sure the resulting layout suits your needs. Your image names can be captions, and if you make them the addresses (see 2 above) it can be quite useful.
5. I have large size prints up to 24x36" made by http://www.cvsphoto.com . Reliable. If you want to make a book of photographs, try http://www.mypublisher.com . If you want to make a book, say a dummy of your next book, or a differently laid out book than is provided by mypublisher, http://printtopress.com works well (here you need to prepare your pages in Word or Photoshop, make them then into a single pdf.

I am sure there are other sites and services that are just as good, maybe less expensive?, etc. This is what I use, and I make no guarantees or claims. It works for me.