Capturing ‘BIG’ projects with time-lapse

Typically, works that take place over the course of a few months, or even years, are often large in size and scale.

When applied to the ‘BIG’ projects, time-lapse provides a compelling document of extensive, long-term works from & across various contexts.

Time-lapse construction

The functions and benefits of a professional time-lapse & site monitoring service are various when documenting construction.

One of the largest sectors of industry in the world, it has become incumbent on contractors to publicly showcase their projects using visually compelling tools that will allow them to stand out among their competitors.

Some construction works can be particularly significant to the changing landscape of a city and so there can be a lot riding on contractors to deliver faultless work. And faultless work requires faultless time-lapse capture.

The finished St James Riverlight development at Nine Elms
Above: Riverlight construction from across the River Thames.

Such was the case for St James’ Riverlight project – the first phase of London’s major regeneration development, Nine Elms – which we captured on behalf of the Berkeley Group company.

Taking place over the course of six years, from May 2011 to March 2017, the work consisted of several key stages of work, including: demolition of existing warehouse buildings; and the construction of five new residential towers.

Due to the extensive nature of Riverlight as construction work progressed, we had to utilise multiple camera positions to capture a complete account of this important development. This even involved moving the camera system to the other side of the River Thames to capture its final stages.

Of course, time-lapse construction does not refer exclusively to the erection of buildings.

We have also provided time-lapse and video solutions to capture the assembly of other structures including, various sporting & event stadia, railways and theme park rides.

We have extensive experience providing time-lapse for work in all of these sectors, including our recent work at Alton Towers capturing the construction of the UK’s first wooden roller coaster in over 20 years.

The Wicker Man, the latest thrill ride at Alton Towers, is made up of 2,000 ft of wooden track and stands at over six storeys high. To provide an optimum perspective of construction from above, we carried out an innovative installation of our camera system onto the Sky Ride – the theme park’s cable-car ride.

 

We combined long-term time-lapse with video to capture the Wicker Man’s progress, even remotely increasing capture intervals so that we could record every detail during peak times of activity on site.

Alton Towers utilised our final edit to publicise their new ride online before its grand opening earlier this year.

A keen eye for detail

As well as a wide scope, projects that are big in size and scale involve incredibly rigorous work. In an industrial setting especially, you can expect heavy machinery and numerous personnel carrying out any number of complex manoeuvres.

So how can time-lapse be applied to simultaneously track intricate details and the bigger picture in the same sequence?

Looking up at the Essar Regenerator Head replacment
Above: capturing from below – Essar’s Regenerator Head replacement.

This was a question for our own engineers ahead of capture for Essar at their Stanlow Refinery. This was a truly epic project which involved the replacement of a huge regenerator head as part of £25m worth of refurbishment works.

It was our job to get as close to the action as possible so as to capture the removal and replacement of the regenerator head, as well as document the mobilisation of the many highly skilled professionals using the heaviest and most specialised engineering equipment in the world (which included a crane with a boom of 334 ft, rising to about 40 storeys high) (see feature image).

Combining time-lapse and video over the course of several days, we were able to document each phase of this important process from various angles: some from distance to incorporate the vast height and expanse of the cranes at work, and others which provided a more intimate, close-up look at workers operating heavy-duty equipment from considerable elevations.

Event management

Our involvement with Essar required incredibly specialist, hands-on work. Other projects have involved more stationary time-lapse methods, which we had to micro-manage remotely.

We operated a camera system at the Royal Albert Hall 24/7 for one entire year to create one of our most popular time-lapse videos to date. Despite taking place internally, this was another project of epic proportions, not least in terms of numbers: we captured 390 events and 1.7 million visitors at this extraordinary venue.

With the Hall fully functional all year round, we had to monitor the camera system continually, adjusting particular settings to account for subtle changes in lighting and atmosphere at this lively venue. Even the smallest of details can have a big impact on the overall quality of the final image.

De-rigging a time-lapse camera system from the Mary Rose.
Above: de-rigging our time-lapse camera system from the Mary Rose.

Another internal project from our portfolio also includes micro-management of sensitive conservations works at the Mary Rose Museum, Portsmouth. Not only was this ‘big’ in size but given the historic importance of the Mary Rose – Henry VIII’s 500-year-old flagship – our work was also contributing in some way to its legacy.

Among the very few allowed access to the ship, we used a specialist rig to carefully mount the camera system; much planning and careful work was needed to carry out the installation so as not to cause any damage to the Mary Rose.

Indeed, projects steeped in history, prestige and financial investment can be daunting subjects to capture.

As all of these examples have illustrated, however, there is much to be gained from the unique perspective that time-lapse can bring to a ‘big’ project.

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