Capturing smaller projects with time-lapse

Not all work that becomes the subject for time-lapse photography is of long-term duration or large in scale.

Typically, construction work can take months, even years, to complete; time-lapse and construction go hand-in-hand, as regular interval photography is effective when capturing incremental details.

Additionally, smaller projects – which involve developments much smaller in size, scale and duration – offer just as much potential through time-lapse solutions.

Short-term capture

The functions and benefits of a professional time-lapse & site monitoring service are various when documenting work that is short-term.

The key is that the camera system is set up to capture images at a speed relative to the work being carried out. For internal developments like a shop fit-out, for example, progress tends to be fairly rapid and normally only takes a few days.

Rapid capture guarantees that such short-term work is documented in the best way possible. Incorporating this method, we produced this time-lapse video for mobile business, Three, showcasing their complete Middlesbrough store refurbishment.

Rows of sunglasses inside the new Vision Express flagship store on Oxford Street
Above: Vision Express on Oxford Street, London.

With rapid capture there is a greater number of images produced in a shorter amount of time, which is reflected in the speed of action in the completed time-lapse sequence.

Work like this often takes place in relatively small spaces, often in an internal, contained environment. This requires closely managed capture that can be achieved either manually or remotely.

In tight spaces, hands on the camera system is not always practical. So remote management – adjusting settings as desired – facilitates eyes on a project from a distance, affording the opportunity to react and make changes in real time.

Alternatively, short-term fit-outs, like our work for Vision Express’s flagship store on Oxford Street, require systems to be managed in-situ. This allowed for multiple positional changes to best capture the intense work in considerable detail.

Mini-materials for mini-builds

The ‘smallness’ of a project could also be thought of in terms of the desired turnaround time for a time-lapse service. From the very start of works to the final touches in the editing room, some projects need solutions to be put in place within particularly tight timeframes.

Special events, for example, are often defined by their infrequency and immediacy. Working with the British Film Institute – capturing the construction of a temporary cinema venue at London’s Victoria Embankment – it was integral to produce a fully post-produced edit in time to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the London Film Festival in 2016.

Structure of BFI's Embankment Garden Cinema being erected
Above: time-lapsing BFI’s Embankment Garden Cinema under construction.

Indeed, as high profile clients, the BFI wished to capitalise on the relevancy of this event as part of its wider marketing for the event.

Relative to cinemas that you often see in city centres, this was a much smaller build. This was not a detriment, however, because although this was only a temporary structure, it was part of an iconic event not to be forgotten.

Our work for LEGO is similar in this regard; involving LEGO bricks that make up scale models replicated on buildings much grander in size, the construction event is nonetheless iconic.

Plus, building these models are no small feat. 2,000 man-hours were needed to put together the Star Wars Miniland display in the Trafford Centre, Manchester.

Carried out in a small, enclosed space, the work to construct this was no less rigorous than any other construction work we capture. Carefully managed, rapid capture time-lapse enables such a temporary attraction to be immortalised in a visually engaging way.


Our Lego-based projects have taken us to various attractions across the country, documenting all manner of scale-models replicating extraordinary buildings – with some making their permanent home overseas.

The above time-lapse edit of the Red Sox’s Fenway Park baseball stadium, for instance, made its travels to the Legoland Discovery Center in Boston. Within days of it going live it was featured on USA Today, WBTV and Fox, thus proving that these works live on with time-lapse.

Small but significant

Indeed, projects may be small in scale, duration, and building material, but this does not mean that the finished products don’t have a grand life.

Our work at Sea Life, Alton Towers, for instance, was a smaller attraction as part of a much larger resort. Capturing both the external and internal construction, it is a popular space at the theme park.

Some projects are also incredibly focused on a particular activity, which apply time-lapse for specialist, marketing purposes.

Time-lapse photography also has many other smaller-scale, more scientific studies, framed extremely close to the subject of capture. These can include:

  • recording the colour stability of a particular yoghurt product;
  • time-lapsing the decomposition process of a Christmas dinner;
  • tracking the wood-carving of a rooster made specially for Howdens Joinery.

So, although some projects tend to be smaller in size or duration, as we have detailed through these examples, there is much to be gained from the detailed and focused perspective that time-lapse can bring to such work.

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