The necessary ingredient for a great time-lapse video is change. Some events can take place in a short period of time but the technique really shines when events take longer to complete than even the most patient of attention spans lose interest. Witnessing the magic that happens when nearly undetectable changes that can take hours or even days are sped up to mere seconds can be astounding. While swirling clouds and quickly descending sunsets can make for fascinating time-lapse, the achievements of the construction industry tell a story of modern progress. Structures rising out of the earth and large construction projects altering the landscape
The challenges of capturing engaging time-lapse videos are many. Making a camera that was designed to take 1 image at a time, record 1000’s of time-scheduled images unmonitored over a period of months if not years with no access to electricity and in harsh environmental & hazardous conditions can be a daunting task.
Then you need to mount the camera in a stable position that can clearly see the required action but won't be moved or disturbed for the duration of the project.
Next you need to protect the camera from harsh elements like rain, snow, sun and dust.
When it comes to power a lot of times you will not have access to AC until near the end of construction. Most camera batteries are only designed to last for a few hours of use. So a large battery solution most likely at a incompatible voltage rating will be required and for automous operation solar recharging will need to be employed.
Finally, most cameras are not designed to take repeatable images on a regular schedule. Construction hours are typically 7am to 4pm Monday to Friday. An intervalometer is a timer that is designed to trigger a camera shutter on a regular schedule but most don't start and stop with the working hours of a construction site. If that is the case then uneccessary frames will be captured during the night and on weekends chipping away at valuable storage space and making for extra work during the editing process. To aleviate these issues and only record during project progress programmable triggering solutions like Magic Lantern, CHDK, Pluto and crontab programming via RaspberryPi offer ways to achieve desired results.
Lessons Learned - Choosing the right camera solution.
While there are plenty of expensive industrial solutions available to accomplish these challenges they usually cost thousands of dollars per camera and that alone can be a deal breaker when multiple units are required for multiple angles and projects.
Brands Include: Earthcam, Harbortronics Cyclapse, Enlaps Tikee 3, Devisubox
Action Cameras & Smart Phones
GoPro’s and iPhones can capture excellent results but both suffer from short battery life and need to be relatively close to the action in addition the iPhone is not weather protected. In addition they typically are just a start and stop solution recording needlessly throughout the night and on weekends which then requires tedious editing to isolate to the desired action.
Surveillance Cameras & Webcams
Security cameras can be great from a long term, weather protected perspective. They are typically installed for security purposes on job sites which may seem ideal but they are not always placed or angled for the most optimal event oriented results. Their greatest downfall is lack of detailed resolution and high image compression which suffers from lackluster results and image extraction from their proprietary storage methods can be quite challenging. Webcams are great for real-time monitoring but generally suffer from low resolution and poor results make them less than desirable.
Purpose Built Solutions
Devices like Brinno or Atli Eon can offer programmable start/stop scheduling and have weather-proof housings but their narrow/fixed angle of view, low dynamic range and high image compression make for less than ideal solutions.
The Best Choice
This leaves the best solution which is a DSLR camera. With high-resolution, swappable lenses and low image compression a unit can be installed to see the whole site and also can be reframed in post to capture more detailed close-ups.These cameras however are not designed with this application in mind. In order to make them a viable option the following items are required:
- A dust and weather-proof housing
- Secure motionless, adjustable mounting
- A programmable camera trigger
- Infinite power
- Cloud monitoring
At Hawkeye Films we provide a customer catered service utilizing high resolution image capturing solutions. We select the best images, process & colour correct them and then edit the visuals to a dynamic music soundtrack and complete the build story with final project beauty shots via drone and gimbal stabilized video shots that showcase the beautiful craftsmanship, skilled trades and years of planning and design.