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Removal of a walkway at Molson Coors

News Time-lapse – the ideal tool for demolition

7 December 2016 Daniel Curtis

Time-lapse video is a crucial tool for the construction industry. Robust camera technologies are now built to withstand almost any outdoor conditions, making them a familiar technological element on any construction site.

But what about the vital work that is completed on site before the construction stage can even begin? Often not thought of for its aesthetic appeal, demolition work can still be a fascinating process to capture using time-lapse.

It’s not all bulldozers and wrecking balls

The term ‘demolition’ often calls to mind scenes of buildings being razed to the ground by bulldozers and wrecking balls, resulting in heaps of rubble in the place of the tidy structure that once stood there.

Whilst this can be achieved in some cases, for the majority of demolition projects the processes undertaken need far more care and consideration, with projects potentially taking weeks and months to complete.

Take this demolition of a vacant 1960s office block as an example. Due to the proximity to other buildings, to roads and to pedestrians along the infinitely busy Strand in London, works were carried out over a much longer period of time than may have been expected.

In this situation, a time-lapse video was ideal, helping to both bring out the intricacies of each stage in the process, but also accelerate the pace of the demolition and condense it to a three-minute long sequence.

Out with the old

Due to the prestigious and fragile nature of the surrounding environments, some projects require even further care to be taken during demolition works.

As well as the aforementioned considerations, one of the 190 Strand camera systems was installed in the historic bell tower of St. Clement Danes Church (visible from the video). The church was rebuilt in the 1600s to a design by Sir Christopher Wren and great care was taken whilst installing the camera system to make sure the precious structure was not compromised in any way.

Preserving our heritage

As its name suggests, time-lapse gives the appearance that prolonged phases of a project are passing by within minutes without constraining any of the significant elements involved. Not only this, though, as time-lapse can provide a privileged archive of the old making way for the new within one concise sequence.

This demolition-construction time-lapse of the Enson works in Normacot, Stoke-on-Trent, for example, shows vital regeneration taking place on site whilst retaining the four Grade II listed bottle-neck ovens.

The preservation of these iconic structures was important as they mark the city’s industrial heritage and help to retain some remanence of its reputable past as ‘The Staffordshire Potteries’. The kilns offer a poignant visible reminder of our changing times and the evolving landscape around us.

Precision of perspective

As both projects lay testament to, demolition capture comes with the added pressure of securing a fixed position so that the camera system can generate an optimum view of everything enclosed within the boundaries of the site.

Due to the scale of many of these projects, it is sometimes unlikely that a suitable position can be found on site. Sometimes it is necessary to be creative in this regard so as not to compromise the overall quality of the footage.

It is essential that the camera is in close enough proximity to the project site so as not to omit any important details of each process, but also to provide an elevated perspective that cannot otherwise be guaranteed.


Keeping the memory of remarkable buildings and their grand interiors alive in a professionally edited time-lapse sequence serves as an incredibly popular mode of marketing and publicity for companies, their potential stakeholders, investors and, of course, their clients.

No longer does demolition mean making way for the new without first preserving the old.

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Time-Lapse Systems are a part of Hideaway Media Ltd (est. 2007). World leader in the provision of bespoke time-lapse capture and site monitoring solutions. UK and Worldwide.