Moving away from the ‘webcam concept’

Cheap – it is a risky path to follow when it comes to long term time-lapse.

Commonly, webcams are assumed to be the only route for managers and businesses looking for a way to capture their projects and events. A far cry from CCTV, a ‘live’ camera can be used in any number of ways, from capturing videos to providing a live stream of an event.

Crane over the Moorgate Station site

The idea of setting a system up and letting it do the work for you is certainly appealing, but in reality it can often disappoint. And if it does not disappoint, it could be that you are missing out on something that is equally as affordable but produces far better results.

First off, you should compare a service that mentions “webcam” use to one that does not. “Time-lapse and site monitoring” does not necessarily mean a webcam is involved, with professional companies opting to adapt market-leading DSLRs to create a much more appealing set-up and image.

Even the best webcams on the market cannot produce the quality of a bespoke system. And every company has slight variations on what they believe to be the best results. Before you agree to use a particular service, ask for examples of their work, which you can then compare to one another. After all, if a company can offer a market-leading all-round service, they will not mind showing previous work in advance.

Pink concert at Alton Towers

This will help you to get an idea of what is available at what cost. For a fraction more than a low quality webcam, you can probably get yourself a far better, more consistent service through a proper time-lapse set-up.

Whilst you cannot buy a “time-lapse camera” off the shelf, you can get a number of tools to help you create your own set-up. An intervalometer is an external device that plugs into a high-quality camera, which will then shoot photographs at set intervals. And some specialist cameras – such as a number of GoPro products and HTC’s RE – do have built-in functions for consistent capture.

You can even buy software that attempts to turn a budget camera into a fully-fledge remote capture system (“attempts” being the optimum word). Using hardware and software such as these just adds more and more elements that could go wrong, particularly over a long period of time. And once again the quality of the results is simply not on a par.

United Utilities work at Manchester Ship Canal

None of these come close to the real thing. After all, having a time-lapse camera professionally installed, monitored and maintained externally leaves you to enjoy just the benefits, which can include up-to-date viewer images and timely edits. The quality of the images is so good that whether you need them for marketing material or an ultra HD video edit for internal use, the outcome you are hoping for is probably achievable. Being able to view and scrutinise live images is also a huge benefit, particularly in the construction and demolition industries – where tight deadlines and strict safety guidelines are so important.

Image quality can make all the difference for your business and should be the first thing you consider when looking into long-term webcam use. You do not know what you are missing out on until you compare all the options.

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