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News Time-Lapse Videos: an Important Means of Historical Documentation

29 April 2014 Daniel Curtis

Time-lapse video has long been established as an artistic and efficient means of capturing special events, projects and phenomena. It’s a technique that is especially useful to document events that take place over a longer period of time, to the point where they’re not possible to be witnessed by the human eye, in the same way. Something that can take place over years can be caught on camera and then speeded up with time-lapse photography, so we get the chance to fully see and appreciate what went on, like when a building is built. More than this though, it is also a way of creating historical documentation. Time-lapse photography gives an exclusive way of documenting the changes that can occur over time, whether that is in the natural or man-made world.


There are many uses for time-lapse photography when it comes to recording nature and natural phenomenons. Watching a plant grow and bud, for example, takes place over such a long period of time, with such subtle changes and developments, that it’s not practical or even possible to watch it as and when it happens and fully appreciate the entire process. Time-lapse photography allows us to watch it and get a better understanding of how it happens. It can make for some stunning footage. But beyond the smaller developments in the natural world, it’s also a means of creating an accurate historical record of our planet and the changes that are occurring to it over time. In the past, some devastating natural disasters and extreme weather events have been caught on camera using this method, which in turn not only documents the event, but creates something that can be studied in order to try to get a better understanding of it, or just help us prepare for similar events in the future.

Not only this, but it is also a way to capture the changing landscapes, not least those that are being affected by our activity on this earth. The melting ice caps, for example, as a result of our pollution. This not only makes for powerful footage but can be used to learn from and educate ourselves and others about the effect we are having on this planet.

Importantly, it’s a means of recording the world as it was at one point in time which, with climate change, overpopulation necessitating greater areas of land to be built on and the general changes that occur over the passing of time, isn’t may not exist in the same way in years to come.

Construction and Architecture

Of course, it’s no less powerful when employed to document the creation of buildings and structures. This is especially true of towns and cities as they develop over time, with an ever-changing skyline. Some of the most monumental buildings can be seen being developed, in what is a significant historical moment. It’s a way of capturing a changing landscape. The way in which we exist now, in our towns and cities, is likely to be in a world that is far and remote from that which will exist in hundreds of years to come. This is an important way of preserving the memory in what is a historical document of the time.

This is what a time- lapse video of a construction site can look like today!


Lincolnshire Energy from Waste Facility from Hideaway Media on Vimeo.

It’s for this reason that the use of time-lapse photography is so popular with architectural firms and construction companies: being able to provide a video of a building or other structure being created can be useful for both the personal reasons of having a memento of the process, as well as footage that can be used in a professional capacity. It demonstrates the techniques used and can then be useful for companies in the future when working on their next project. It can also then be used as a promotional tool: the footage can work as a fantastic marketing and PR tool, as video evidence of the capacity of the work done.

Civil Engineering

Beyond construction companies and architectural firms, time-lapse photography is also often employed by those working in civil engineering. When it comes to creating an accurate historical document of a changing landscape, civil engineers are often the best placed to create some of the most important and meaningful footage, often working on the kind of structures that are of the most important to a community. Whether it captures the process by which a road, railway track or bridge was built, these large-scale projects that take place over years at a time and involve a huge amount of work by a large number of people can be faithfully recorded. It once again acts as a video example of the work by those people done and records important times. It is also a way of showing how areas develop over time; how landscapes are built upon and changed and the general changes that are wrought over time.


Beyond recording the construction of bridges and houses, it’s also way of recording the destruction and demolition of them. For this reason, many demolition companies also use time-lapse photography for documenting their work. It can also be a useful means of displaying work and the different techniques and means used over different jobs. As a historical document, it also means there’s a record of buildings and structures that are no longer there and the process by which they were destroyed, both of which are important parts of history.

Regardless of what the time-lapse video is of, whether it’s a natural phenomenon or a bridge or historic building being demolished, time-lapse photography can be used to create a unique historical document of the event, which can be kept for years to come. It’s useful both as a memento and a means by which we can learn from in the future. Importantly, it enables us to document the changes that occur over time, in a way that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to do. It can be one of the most effective tools when it comes to accurate historical documentation.

If you need a time-lapse video of your construction or demolition project, why not get in touch today and discuss your needs with one of our experts? You can reach us on 0333 016 5253 or contact us here!

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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.