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Rooftop view of extensive rail works we captured for Crossrail, central London.

News Up on the Roof – part & parcel of time-lapse capture

7 August 2017 Kate

Above: capturing extensive rail works for Crossrail in London, which involved installing a camera from a cage suspended from a crane (visible in the top right).

A large part of our job takes place on rooftops. Installing camera systems at height is required for most projects to obtain a complete perspective of activity on site. We take a look at the ins and outs of our work ‘up on the roof’.

Rooftop view of Southampton Ocean Quays, featuring part of our time-lapse camera.

Above: our camera system looking down on construction progress at Ocean Village, Southampton.

Before we install a camera system to begin capture, extensive planning must take place to ensure that we can provide a complete perspective of the works. Demolition and construction are large-scale tasks and cover a considerable amount of land.

Extensive knowledge of the perimeter and surrounding areas of site is necessary to guarantee a suitable fixing position that will allow coverage of projects in their entirety. In most cases this is atop a building that provides a higher or ideal vantage point than the subject of capture.

In order to capture this aerial view of construction progress at Ocean Village (right), our camera system was installed on the rooftop of a neighbouring building. This is an idyllic location with the marina occupying most of the image frame.

The location can function as a key part of the visual narrative in a time-lapse video. The surrounding area can add eye-catching details to the scene or become a focal point from which to offset the activity on site – the primary reason for capture.

Screenshot showing one of our Tweets featuring a rooftop image of 125 Deansgate.

Above: one of our Twitter posts (tweets), retweeted by 125 Deansgate.

Social media is a useful tool for contractors to take advantage of, to showcase their ongoing and completed projects. It is also a good intermediary between time-lapse providers and their clients; working together to share developments to their respective audiences.

Our ‘Up on the Roof’ image series, for example, allowed us to promote our services while documenting demolition progress for 125 Deansgate – a major office development in the heart of Manchester.

As you can see from our images in this blog and those elsewhere, the essence of time-lapse is in the still image. Working at height, photographing at regular intervals, provides plenty of opportunity to capture impressive cityscapes.

Rooftop view from the BBC building overlooking construction progress at Salford Quays.

Above: waterfront construction works at MediaCityUK, Manchester.

Being able to identify the situation of the project can be a way for contractors to put themselves on the map in terms of their involvement in developments for major cities in the UK.

For construction of upcoming venues that are part of wider city regeneration schemes, encompassing surrounding landmarks are important to situate individual contexts within their broader industrial context.

MediaCityUK, for example, is a huge mixed-use regeneration on the banks of Manchester Ship Canal. Construction of the new branch of The Alchemist (right) within this complex features Salford Quays, creating a striking waterfront composition.

Access to the BBC headquarters in MediaCityUK was necessary in order for us to guarantee this advantageous view. These special permissions from building proprietors are a key part of planning for time-lapse capture.

Of course, every project comes with its own unique requirements. Working from height can be a tricky business, presenting certain challenges for installation. The health and safety of our engineers is the main priority when working in these sorts of conditions.

Our team are fully accredited by many leading, national bodies to ensure that installations, as well as de-rigs, can be carried out safely and efficiently. We have also completed many relevant professional courses and undergone the relevant training for carrying out work on rooftops.

Sometimes conditions on site make it impossible to access a fixing position for our camera system from the ground. This was the case at Moorgate Station (top), where there was a considerable lack of space due to the number of Crossrail construction sites in the area, as well the proximity of Hammersmith & City Line stations, and existing ticket halls.

Engineer manning a cherry picker on a rooftop overlooking Manchester.

Above: an engineer manning a cherry picker on a rooftop in Manchester.

Harness training came in handy in this instance as our engineer had to undertake a skilful installation to the side of a building while suspended in a cage by a crane.

The years of experience behind our team helps us to think outside of the box when necessary to ensure that we provide time-lapse capture anywhere at anytime using innovative methods.


No two projects are the same in terms of specific requirements but our highly skilled and experienced team are equipped to handle these. To find out more about our time-lapse and site monitoring solutions, visit our website.

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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.