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Montage of time-lapse construction images featuring complex machinery.

News Capturing machine work with time-lapse & video – Part One

3 April 2019 Kate

Time-lapse construction videos not only showcase the build itself but the tools & equipment that make this possible.

Heavy-duty machinery & manned technology are common in sectors such as construction, demolition, infrastructure and utilities. These are arenas where human and machine must work together to undertake the labour successfully.

Another commonality in these contexts is time-lapse photography, which is often sought after to provide a visual document of these varied types of work. A camera system is situated on site to provide coverage of progress, encompassing the movement of all kinds of machinery and the personnel who operate it.

But what is it about how time-lapse represents machines and other technologies that makes it a staple for clients working in these sectors?

The effect of photographing a subject that changes imperceptibly slowly, creates a smooth impression of motion. – Wikipedia

Perhaps there is an element of satisfaction and intrinsic desire to see how progress generally plays out. There are myriad accounts on social media platforms which use time-lapse as part of their regular industry specific output. Check out @demolitionnews on Twitter, as just one example.

More specifically, in contexts like demolition or construction, where machinery is part and parcel of everyday activities, maybe time-lapse provides an original, largely unprecedented point of view of such work.

Machine work in time-lapse construction

As we have written about before on our blog, construction is a major context in which time-lapse is mobilised – with time-lapse for construction even becoming a genre in and of itself.

The benefits of time-lapse for contractors and their businesses are numerous; one being that a camera provides a portal of progress throughout the entire duration of a project. After each milestone, time-lapse allows you to take account of the days, weeks and months of work both ongoing and retrospectively. Moreover, a building that takes months, or even years, to complete, is a gradual process but can be viewed in a short & concise, visually dynamic form.

In terms of the various machines involved – cranes, cherry pickers, bulldozers, diggers, excavation & other tools for earthwork, as well as the more manual handheld equipment on site – time-lapse shows this labour in a new light.

Large-scale yet rigorous, there’s something deeply fascinating and fulfilling about watching various machines working in tandem as a building steadily appears in shot.


We recorded the development of Lincolnshire’s Energy from Waste Facility for FCC Environment and Lincolnshire County Council – a perfect example of the aesthetic appeal of this kind of work when captured on camera.

The time-lapse construction video (above) which we produced, shows the 21-month development in its entirety, including the extensive use of building equipment to put the steelwork and outer panels in place, which complete the build.

Construction progress in Ultra HD quality

In addition to the production of a visual narrative, fit for marketing construction projects and other sectors, time-lapse provides a full archive of high definition images.

Capturing progress on site at regular intervals, the camera system continuously populates an online portal with chronologically ordered, time and date-stamped images. Professional time-lapse providers work with Ultra HD images as standard, which provide the digital and optical quality needed to create stunning promotional material of a project.

Individually, these images can provide a snapshot of time; highlighting certain activities or particular periods of progress through the comparison between different individual images.


A time-lapse construction image of machinery assisting in pre-construction works at Norton Bridge.

Above: we have extensive experience in capturing work like this, involving construction machinery, heavy-duty equipment and other manual tools. Such images are part of our professional time-lapse construction solutions.

Particularly in an external context, the still image can help to isolate the work of machines of various shapes and sizes; thus, documenting another dimension of construction progress to observe and to study. Even in their own right, such images can be appreciated for their detail and aesthetic qualities.

Both these elements of time-lapse – the stunning still image and time-lapse video – further adds to its usability in its varied and adaptable applications – easily shared online across multiple sites and platforms.


With the assistance of professional providers, then, time-lapse facilitates a new way of observing and admiring the work of construction machinery in various contexts.

Look out for part two of this double feature, where we consider the use of machinery in other projects, and how we have utilised time-lapse solutions to capture very complex manoeuvres. 

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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.