The Royal Albert Hall, a Grade 1 listing building in South Kensington, is home to London’s most iconic concert venue. In recent years, the world-renowned establishment wanted to share and celebrate two very different, large-scale projects through time-lapse documentation and film. We have been honoured to collaborate with them and fulfill both projects.
We have worked with many iconic venues and destinations including Caernarfon Castle, The Mary Rose Museum, Wimbledon and St Andrews Links but our work with The Royal Albert Hall is perhaps one of the most renowned, with one of these time-lapse productions having over 116,000 views on YouTube alone and reaching audiences around the World.
Our work for the Royal Albert Hall; the challenges and the special equipment and specific methods and techniques we are able to employ, offer some very demonstrable examples of how we lead the industry.
An Incredible Year in the Life of The Royal Albert Hall
For this project, our brief was to create a very special time-lapse film that documented an entire year in the life of the venue. We were charged with capturing 390 world-class performances and events that year, varying from the Royal Variety Performance, Cirque du Soleil, Swan Lake, Eric Clapton, Masters Tennis through to the Proms Season, which culminated in ‘The Last Night of the Proms’.
This project is most succinctly explained by Jessica Silvester, Senior Marketing, Digital and Press Manager at the Royal Albert Hall:
“We wanted to capture a high-quality review of a year in the life of the Royal Albert Hall showing the huge range of shows that take place on one of the world’s most famous stages – from large-scale education events to performances by the world’s greatest artists. As a charity which delivers extensive public benefit, we are always keen to find more ways for people who aren’t able to visit the Hall in person to find out more about and enjoy our work.”
Jessica Silvester, Senior Marketing, Digital & Press Manager at the Royal Albert Hall
Meeting just some of the Challenges:
Camera system installation
Camera system placement was the first challenge. The Hall is a Grade 1 listed building, and when it was constructed (circa 1867-1871) modern-day venue infrastructure and services were obviously not part of its original design and build. Hence, we had to carefully liaise with the Hall’s teams of specialists to install our camera system in a position where it was not an impediment to other activities. However, we still had to achieve a good perspective for capture, whilst being powered, networked, and mindful of any adverse effect on the integrity of the building’s Grade 1 status. This saw our highly skilled and qualified engineers working closely with the client. Something we take great pride in doing with every project but was particularly important with this venue.
Micro-managing the camera system
Once installed, tackling such a project involved continual micro-management of our custom DSLR camera system through our 4G networks. The incredibly popular venue often operates 24/7 for the 365 days of the year, with sets and staging changeovers interspersing the very busy and varied performance schedules. Hence, visual change is highly dynamic and requires continual managed capture at relevant interval rates. Furthermore, especially during performances, the lighting also changes constantly and requires remote management of the camera settings themselves. Because – through our own in-house developed software – we are able to control all settings on our Pro DSLR’s, we constantly remotely adjusted settings such as F-Stop, ISO, Shutter Speed and Exposure Compensation to ensure all images captured were the best quality they could be for any final edited assembly.
This micro-management is something we do on all our projects, but our specific expertise and methods in this remote monitoring, controlled long-term time-lapse capture allowed us to meet the challenges very effectively.
The time-lapse film
With a year’s worth of filming over 390 events completed, our highly skilled editing was crucial to the success and impact of the film. Our editing team not only created compelling visuals through time-lapse footage, but they also incorporated specially selected music to work alongside the events to heighten the effectiveness of the film. The end result was a testament to the quality and skill of our engineers and editors and our collaborations with our client.
“Hideaway Time-Lapse Systems offered a quality and personal service with competitive pricing and the results were amazing.”
Senior Marketing & Press Manager – Royal Albert Hall
With the video having now reached over 116,000 YouTube views alone, The Year in the Life of the RAH has hit the world stage, showcasing the amazing space and events held within it. This publicity has helped increased the Royal Albert Hall’s profile
Other work for the RHA: The Great Excavation
The second project we captured, “The Great Excavation” was a visionary expansion project at the iconic Victorian concert venue, to make it more viable and user friendly for future use. As a Grade 1 listed building, set in a restricted area in South Kensington, the only option for expansion was to dig down and fit in a two-storey double-height basement providing 1000 m2 extra space. The Royal Albert Hall wanted to document “The Great Excavation” through time-lapse to show the extent and complexity of this bold and historic building project.
Time-Lapse System’s appointment as the time-lapse provider for the Royal Albert Hall on this complex 18-month project not only showed the relationship our company had built with the client but also demonstrated yet more innovation in finding workable solutions to produce the desired output.
Meeting just some of the Challenges:
Installing the camera system
Due to our existing strong relationship, we worked once again alongside the Royal Albert Hall. We had to find solutions to fix the camera system through highly custom installation and bracketing to avoid risk of damaging the integrity of the historic building and to ensure the best possible view of the basement work and the build going down into the ground. We held pre-installment meetings with the client and from that our engineers went away and developed a bespoke free-standing framework for the camera system rigged from the roof. As our engineers each have a wide range of safety accreditations for activities our camera system was installed with the safety and care for the building as our utmost priority. It was meticulously positioned, without impacting the building, directly above the construction site to provide Ultra HD quality capture and images of the dig and downward build.
Monitoring the camera system
Once the camera system was in position our office-based team took over to again remotely micro-managing to ensure the full build was effectively documented – using rapid capture for heightened activity periods and making adjustments to counter changing light and weather conditions.
Sharing time-lapse photography
As time-lapse images can be used to visually demonstrate the different stages of a project the Royal Albert Hall shared these with the wider community. They were mindful that the public and the hall’s supporters needed to see and feel involved with the journey. To ensure maximum reach, the RAH embedded our bespoke iRis online viewer into their website, so the live feed of the work was shared and available to all throughout the process.
Creating the final film edit
When the construction project was complete, our in-house editing team skillfully worked through tens of hundreds of thousands of stills to create an effective fully post-produced film. The editors liaised closely with the Royal Albert Hall marketing team to ensure the film again, was also matched with carefully selected music to accompany it. The final edit produced a high-quality visual account of the whole process showcasing ‘The Great Excavation’. The Royal Albert Hall has shared this film on its website and across social media, to effectively publicise and promote this landmark project.
The wider benefit and impact of time-lapse films
Time-lapse videos have played an important role in documenting both the historic dig and build, and in capturing the compelling ‘A Year in The Life of the Royal Albert Hall’. Visually capturing the whole process of a project with high-quality edited sequences allows the Royal Albert Hall as well as our other prestigious clients to reference how developments have been made and to show the work to the public and donors.
In many ways our work with The Royal Albert Hall, through the challenges and highest quality solutions, demonstrates some of the ways in which we are more capable than any other provider. Time-Lapse Systems are proud to be able to produce the highest quality services for many sectors including construction and allied industries. We take such techniques demonstrable in the quality of the end-product we produced for the RHA and apply them to all the work we do.