The endless possibilities of time-lapse for your construction project

Example of Time-Lapse Systems online viewer - iRis
Time-Lapse System’s online viewer.

Time-lapse photography is not just an art form, but also a solution.

It is perhaps a common misconception that the final sequence is the only use for time-lapse photography. That is not to say in some cases it is true. The construction of a bridge or the changing of the clouds, sped up into a neat two minute video, is certainly an eye catcher.

But there is a whole different use to the images captured by time-lapse photography. Recent developments mean photos are no longer restricted to people with darkrooms or stuffed away in an old photo album.

Take construction site management as an extreme, but exceptionally relevant example. Time-lapse photography might seem a world away from construction, but professional companies enjoy working relationships with a number of high-profile construction firms, because, as an industry, they can provide an innovative solution to follow a project’s progress. The cameras are a fly-on-the-wall look at what is going on at a building site – as it happens – which can help to save money, and increase profit, on any sized project.

This, of course, all sounds a little too good to be true. How do I follow my construction site through a time-lapse camera system and what benefit is it going to be to me? They are perfectly legitimate questions to be asking, so let’s break this down.

Schedule of work
Before work begins on any complex construction project, a strict schedule of work will have to be put into place. The management team will, from this, plan everything they need to ensure its success – from completion times to deliveries of plant equipment. As part of this process, consider bringing a time-lapse photography company on board. A good company will liaise with you to ensure that, no matter how many you need, every Ultra HD camera is positioned with the best possible shot in frame. They will also work with you to agree the optimum interval between photos, to make sure we are not missing out on any detail, but still getting the best looking results.

Monitoring your site
Here is the clever bit – and where you move away from thinking photography is purely for art or personal use. Images are sent from the camera(s) on your site back to the company’s offices, via a secure mobile network. These are then immediately added to an online viewing portal for you to view from anywhere in the world. A good company will ensure their portal can be accessed from a PC, Mac, mobile phone or tablet, but making sure it is completely secure. You choose who has access to it. Or embed it to your own or your client’s website and use it as a marketing tool.

Monitoring your site does not mean that you simply watch the building go up, because you can use the images a tool. Scrutinise the arrival of materials, plants and even labour. Did it arrive at the correct location, on time and in the correct order? If everything runs to plan on your project, you will be able to see in real-time. But what if things do not go right? Whilst it might be too late for now, let’s explore how time-lapse will help going forward.

Plan for the future
If things did not quite go to plan, then photography is your friend for the future. All the images should be backed-up into a time-stamped, calendar driven archive – meaning you can easily go back and view any part of your project. Match this up against your original schedule and you will be able to see where you might need to move things around in the future. Better timing means fewer resources wasted, a more profitable project and the ability to undercut competitors.

Of course, there are also other ways to use these photos. They can be turned into an Ultra High Definition time-lapse video, cut to your specifications – length, music, logos and so on. This cuts down a huge construction project into manageable chunks, with changes to the site visible to the eye in real-time. How much better is that to grainy images taken at random intervals throughout a project?

The finished product
The little bonus at the end of the project is, of course, the time-lapse sequence previously mentioned. In such high quality, it is an unusual way to market your company for future clients. Use it as you wish in promotional material, along with the HD stills and create a lasting impression across the construction sector.

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