Capturing demolition projects with time-lapse

It is easy to forget about the vital work that is completed on site before the construction stage of a project can begin. Pre-construction processes such as demolition, however, can be just as fascinating as actual builds can be to capture with time-lapse.

The first phase of transforming a premises into something new can be incredibly important for some companies so time-lapse may be used as a means of permanently documenting this. Indeed, it is a way of preserving the memory of an old structure before it makes way for a new one.

Project file #1 – Molson Coors Brewery

Location: Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire
Duration: January 2012 to April 2012

Our time-lapse solutions were commissioned to capture the first phase of the radical transformation at Molson Coors’ brewery in Burton – the UK’s largest brewery. 8,500 tonnes of concrete and 250 tonnes of steel were steadily removed from site in preparation for the construction of a new structure.

Images captured at regular intervals were able to pick up the incremental progress made as the cranes and hydraulic excavators safely and efficiently raised the brewery to the ground.


Not all demolition work is the same as it requires different methods depending on the nature of the surrounding environment.

Smaller buildings of only a few storeys high can be pulled down using hydraulic equipment which can undermine a building and determine in which direction that it falls. Larger structures often need something more robust, like a bulldozer or a wrecking ball.

Time-lapse can be applied to capture projects which utilise any method for any duration, providing a HD rendering of such rigorous works.

Of course, demolition does not always take place in an industrial setting and does not always involve large-scale activities. Ormand Oxenham produced this time-lapse video (below) to record the deconstruction of a Lego House!


Time-lapse works in the same way in this relaxed, internal setting as it does on a large-scale construction site. Progress is captured incrementally and is played back at a faster rate so that change is more visible to the human eye.

As part of more professional projects, however, images populate an online viewing portal during demolition, facilitating a ‘live’ view of site. This enables contractors to fully monitor progress as it happens, with images acting as a valuable source of visual information, thus providing a precise perspective.

Project file #2 – 125 Deansgate

Location: Spinningfields, Manchester
Duration: 18 months

Demolition works at 125 Deansgate, one of our time-lapse construction projects in Manchester.

An example of our Manchester time-lapse work, we have captured the demolition of the historic Lincoln House, making way for the construction of £45m Grade A office development, 125 Deansgate.

In scenarios like this, where both demolition and construction are being captured for our client, pre-construction works are just as important as it effectively demonstrates the breadth of work on the project from start-up to completion.

125 Deansgate utilised our images and time-lapse extensively across their different platforms in order to drum up publicity and excitement for their upcoming development whilst demolition was ongoing.


On completion of these works, the online viewing portal usually provided with a professional time-lapse service also acts as a comprehensive archive of pre-construction.

Available with the time and date of capture, images can be used for posterity, reference and more.

As well as contractors and those responsible for building developments, time-lapse photography is also effective for raising the profile of professional demolition companies, too.

‘Then versus now’ comparisons, like this one from Forshaw Demolition, easily communicate the logical progression of their work over a period of time. Each image freezes progress and activity at a specific time, making it easier to comprehend and scrutinise such pre-construction works for the complex works that they are.

As you can see from the examples included here, when put together such images form an HD (or even Ultra HD) time-lapse video to be used in a professional capacity. Indeed, as well as being informative, pre-construction works are fascinating processes to watch unfold in the form of a fast-paced visual sequence.

Demolition is a complicated process at any level and as proven here, it is just as extraordinary to watch a structure be taken down as much as it is to watch it go up.

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