In recent years a number of imaging techniques to determine the optical properties of materials, either in reflection or in transmission, have been developed. Here the use of an imaging version of the so-called rotating-polarizer method in the study of phase transformations in crystals is demonstrated. This method creates false-coloured images representing the light transmission I0, the extinction angle ϕ (orientation of the optical indicatrix) and |sin δ|, a function of the retardation resulting from the birefringence (and a measure of the magnitude of optical anisotropy). When combined with a computer-controlled heating stage, this method provides an opportunity to create separate moving images of orientation and magnitude of optical anisotropy, showing the dynamics of twinning and domain-wall behaviour during temperature changes. It is believed that this is the first time that quantitative imaging of changes in birefringence has been used in this way to describe phase transitions. Two-phase transitions in a crystal of Na0.5Bi0.5TiO3 (NBT) are presented as examples of the use of the system.