8 advices to the amateur about the Long-Term Construction Timelapse

To be successful in making timelapse projects, you must know how to do many things and the main of them is planning. If you miss one of the construction steps, you don’t get a chance to fix it. However, with the strict plan you will forget about awkward moments and embarrassing conversations with clients. We brought together 8 tips, which will help you while planning a project.

1. Define the quantity of photos needed for the construction timelapse.

The first step for getting started is the discussion about their aims and expectations from the project.

Is their view about the final timelapse video the same as you can offer to them? What benefits do they expect from your creation?

Some clients usually like when you offer them a web-gallery of photos for the stable monitoring. It gives them permanent access to new marketing and advertising resources. For that kind of projects would be great to make short intervals about five or ten minutes apart.

Other customers might expect from you just the one final spectacular timelapse movie as the key for the hearts of their investors and stakeholders. In that case, you can use your imagination and creativity for your intervals and choose what to do.

The client’s expectations are not the only things for mention: you will need to set the intervals based on the degree of site activity, or its calm periods.

Daily progress on construction usually goes in slow pace. For this common level of activity, 10-30 minute intervals are reasonable.

In time of active and vigorous periods (e.g. concrete pours), your wish will be fast shooting and capturing all the operation. Clients and officers always prefer to watch these activities in timelapse.

Another thing to consider about the intervals is their influence for your data storage, which leads the discourse to second question.

2. Calculate the needed amount of cellular data.

Nobody wants to pay more than planned to pay for the invoice. Sometimes the digits on it can seem multiplied and it makes frightening sense.

Before your project, you must sit down and calculate the required data to escape from trouble in future.

Find out your file size, the quantity of photos you will take each month and how many will be uploaded.

We have created an amazing thing for you to help calculating your long-term timelapse project data costs – that is the video by the Timebox team and convenient data estimator tool. With these widgets, the data calculation will be an easy-peasy thing for you.

Click here to use our Data Calculator and avoid bill stun.

3. Define your storage requirements.

The choice of shooting format makes sense for your storage, depending on the whether you use JPEG, or both RAW and JPEG.

If you are just using the JPEG format, you can have just on-board storage for taking back-ups.

However, for producing RAW and JPEG, large on-board storage is obligatory for collecting and saving.

The Timebox camera can gently work with both RAW and JPEG together. JPEGS can be easily uploaded to the web-gallery, while RAW can be stored on the SSD with large capacity.

4. Make a right decision where to install your timelapse camera.

Your device is going to stay on its spot for a very long time since installation.

If you plan to change the location of your camera during the project, you need to define all the locations before installing the equipment. Otherwise, you can meet the issues.

First step is to think about your shot of the site. Perfectly, what you want is a front-on view, or at a 45° degree angle.

As a main rule, you will want your camera positioned high, looking down directly at the construction site or scene. This often looks incredibly nice in construction timelapse.

Remember the final height of the construction once it is completed; your timelapse will be disrupted if you find a tall building inching its way out of the top of the photographs.

The next consideration is the sun. It is your friend and enemy in long-term timelapse.

Friend: It provides helpful solar-power for your long-term timelapse system (see Question #6 – Power Requirements).

Enemy: The sun’s position will not stay the same at different times of the year, and you will need to incorporate it in choosing a spot plan.

While searching a place, think about a spot, where you can effectively control solar power, and the Shining Disc will be at your desired positions.

Moreover, when you install your unit you must ask yourself: «How easy is my camera to access?»

Throughout your project, you and other staff will need to access your timelapse system, for doing maintenance or collecting photos from the on-board storage.

You must know that if you put your long-term timelapse unit in unbeneficial location, which is hard to get to or can’t be accessed without having special equipment (e.g. a scissor lift), it can make your project more difficult and increase the quantity of visits.

As it possible, locate your unit somewhere with good framing, solar power and good accessibility.

5. Maintenance plan.

The bitter truth is the thing that counting the budget and making plan for maintenance visits is necessary.

Even when camera is left out on the site for years, anyway the law of meanness comes and does its mission. Dusty winds affect the glasses to make them filthy, spiders making webs around the glass…or liquid concrete smacking the unit, like happened below…

Don’t be an optimist and plan and budget for maintenance visits.

Otherwise, you can broke down by technical difficulties.

We recommend budgeting for visits every two-three months to keep yourself confident in project.

A straight way to cut down maintenance issues is to ask your client to provide you with an on-site contact.

This person can perform basic maintenance like cleaning the glass or collecting photos, helping you to avoid unnecessary visits.

6. Assess your power input requirements

With a divine intervention, you will hopefully have access to a spot, where you can successfully use solar power for your unit. For the majority of projects, a 20-watt solar panel with the Timebox camera will be sufficient.

However, for frequent photographs or little sunlight access, the stronger power source is obviously needed.

In that case, you have two choices: AC or an external battery box. Also our smart camera will send you a message if there are no energy for proper work of equipment.

Timebox offers a custom battery box, a convenient option if sunlight and AC aren’t readily available in your long-term timelapse location.

7. Rigorously Test Your Camera

You must thoroughly test your timelapse equipment before installing it to the spot.

Test your equipment configuration for at least 48-hours before putting it on-site.

Imagine yourself, staying a very high level, unit half-installed and your eyes becoming coin-shaped as you suddenly realize it is not working as expected and you have no idea about the reason.

So now you know, that you must test the equipment before installing it in your location to save yourself from solving a lot of troubles.

8. Create a fresh and sophisticated timelapse video.

A long-term timelapse video can be boring and unappetizing if it’s just two minutes straight footage of the construction site.

From the beginning, think about how you will include B-roll or other elements into your film and show them from the best side. You could diversify your long-term timelapse with:

  • Motion graphics about the project, or its advantages to stakeholders and the community.
  • Close-up, slow-motion of welding, concrete pours, or other fascinating moves.
  • Negotiations between the client, stakeholders, and investors
  • Aerial footage.
  • Short-term timelapse of vehicles or cranes and other equipment.
  • The chief’s speech around the project.
  • One-liners from animated workers

One of the important moments is choosing a sound for the film; it is valuable to find a track, which matches the atmosphere of the project, especially if it has a strong cultural or historical element inside it.

You must remember, what you are inventing is the story of this project, and that is a story your client is amazed to pass on to their investors and stakeholders.

It is also your story in a path of the career and its element. Your timelapse content is an example of your creativity a photographer. It is your chance to create something both professional and fascinating.

If you share these ideas with your client, it can provide confidential and friendly relationships between you and him.

Plan Like A Professional

By asking the correct questions and planning in advance, you will be able to avoid all the risks, foresee the troubles, and help your project to run swimmingly

We have also published a Project Planner for you to use, and you can call our managers, who are glad to help you plan your first long-term timelapse project step-by-step.