Angling for Great Timelapse – secrets from the pros

Aerial view from the top of a time lapse trailer mounted mast

If you haven’t seen a construction timelapse yet, you’re definitely missing out. Condensing the time it takes to construct a building from months to minutes (and sometimes seconds) is incredibly satisfying.

You might even have had a go at creating a timelapse film yourself. Most new smart phones have a timelapse function that lets you play at creating snappy content for your social media channels – albeit this is worlds’ away from the timelapse set-up needed on complex construction sites. Indeed, without the correct kit, positioning, knowledge and experience, your timelapse is going to fall flat.

Choosing the right angle(s) to capture the footage is absolutely critical, particularly where you need the resulting timelapse footage for marketing. Depending on the building or project under construction, the starting point is usually height. And where you don’t have adjacent buildings to attach a camera to, you’re going to need a timelapse mast.

Getting up high with your timelapse cameras gives context to the construction, and it’s this context that is crucial in helping to tell your construction story to your complete range of stakeholders.

Developers will want to take every opportunity to share progress and completion success with local communities and other interested parties, and, being able to see that progress quickly and in the context of its surroundings can make the difference between a happy community and an under-informed one.

Getting that height correct for the final build right at the beginning is obviously of paramount importance with tall buildings. If you get this wrong, you’ll find the effect is ruined once the build races above the height of the camera.

Once you’ve got the height right, you need to consider the likely angle of the sun – ensuring you haven’t inadvertently set your camera to capture retina-frying sun glare during the middle of the day.

Then it’s all about panoramic scope. Back to that context issue again – there is little point going for it with timelapse cameras unless you know what they’re likely to deliver in terms of the overall panorama. We tend to shoot timelapse with cameras that can capture a 220° panorama. This is broader than most cameras on the market – and around double the scope of a standard DSLR.

So, scope + height = superior content and happy stakeholders. What else?

Well, you’ll need to make sure you’re using professional spec cameras that shoot at high resolution. You also need to consider temperature too. Long construction projects can run for months through huge extremes in weather, so your cameras need to be built for the job; they must be weatherproof and able to withstand anything from heatwaves to freezing winter nights.

Timelapse systems should be energy independent with their own solar power systems too and really need to be sturdy enough to live on dirty construction sites – coping with everything from dust to rain deposits.

Finally, given all the above, a construction site timelapse systems needs managing. The most polished timelapse films are produced by great systems and run by teams with the knowledge to set them up correctly and then look after them for the entire period of filming – cleaning, re-siting and maintaining, both to an agreed plan and reactively as required.

Our timelapse cameras can all be accessed remotely which helps support the management of them, but remote access also lets you log in via our own secure portal and check out progress yourself.

Want to see how easy and cost-effective timelapse can be for your next build? Contact the team at [email protected]