Construction is a slow and gradual process which means it can be difficult to communicate progress with nothing but still images. Over the past few years, more and more contractors and developers have been using time-lapse videos taken with construction cameras of their building process in promotional materials. But why is this better than using the tried-and-true stills? Why even use construction cameras for time-lapse?

There are many reasons to use construction cameras in time-lapse, not only in promotional materials, but also for practical reasons, some of which, we will touch upon in this article, but first, we will approach the history of time-lapse, how it works and how to set it up.

History of time-lapse in construction

Time-lapse is not a new technology in any way. It has existed in one way or another since 1872, but it did not truly become popular until Dr John Ott used it in the 1930s to document the growth of plants. However, the construction industry never truly adopted it early on due to the cost and logistic constraints of the cameras at the time, making it relatively reserved for major projects. Calls to make time-lapse commonplace in construction go as far back as 1969 with a study by Purdue University in the US.


However, with the quality, affordability and portability of modern camera technology, the technology has somewhat been rediscovered for construction applications, removing the past hurdles the industry may have had in the past that slowed adoption down.

How do construction time-lapse cameras work?

Construction time-lapse cameras work in much the same way as many other time-lapse applications. A stationary camera takes images at a lower framerate than a standard video camera, over a much longer period of time, resulting in the video showing a sort of fast-forward view of the long period of construction. Construction benefits especially from time-lapse due to its slow and methodical process, which can take anywhere from months to years. Producing a short, bite-sized video of the arduous process makes it far more digestible for the average viewer.

The frame rate time-lapse cameras capture is far, far lower than the usual 24, 30 or 60 Frames per Second (FPS). Depending on the length of the project being filmed, the captured frame rate can range between 3 FPS to 1 frame per day. However, it is projected in standard speeds, to create the smooth and rapid movement of the captured images.

It is also technically possible to use any camera to create time-lapse videos, however, in the construction sector, cameras have to be very durable and resilient (ideally with an IP67 rating) due to the fact that the camera will be outside for months if not years exposed to the elements, sometimes in extreme weather conditions. Evercam uses CCTV-style cameras due to their durability, flexibility and their ability to be used with project management software easily.

FeatureEvercamOff-the-shelf DSLR camera
Video recordingEfficient H.265+ compression technology to save bandwidth and storageUncompressed
StreamingAdvanced streaming technology enables smooth live view and data self-correction in poor networksRequires external add-ons
Focal LengthVarifocalMust be manually changed
DurabilityWater and dust resistant, vandal proof (IP67 and IK10)Requires third-party housing
Video Resolution4KDependent on the model
StorageHDDSD card


How to plan your time-lapse:

There are three major points to consider when planning your time-lapse.

  • Location
  • Equipment
  • Data Storage
  1. Location, Location, Location” is an adage often used in the real-estate market, but it is quite fitting for time-lapse as well. The location of the camera is of utmost importance, to have a clear vantage point of the project and where it’s going to expand to.
  2. The type of equipment is also very important, seeing as how this application requires durability and reliability. Remember, the camera and the external components will be exposed to the elements anywhere between several months to several years, and it needs to withstand the elements with minimal maintenance.
  3. The data storage method is also an element to consider, since it’s a long-term project, it needs reliable and easily accessible storage without moving the camera. Should a situation come up, it is best to have remote access to the footage to get your time-lapse project back on track as soon as possible. Without remote access, it’s very difficult to notice problems that require maintenance on the spot.

Benefits

The benefits of using time-lapse in construction are varied and diverse, ranging from its value in promotional and public endeavors, to internal project management and bookkeeping. We will touch upon some of their main benefits in the following section.


External Benefits: Marketing and Promotion

Of all the benefits, the most visible benefit for creating time-lapse videos in construction is marketing. Marketing is now an integral element of the construction business, especially in the booming housing development sector. To expand your business and show new customers what your company can provide, you have to invest in marketing. And one of the most effective ways to show your projects off to the general public is to use time-lapse since it gives the viewer a sense of exclusivity and grandeur, to see the building grow from the ground up, and time-lapse videos grant you the ability to tell the story of the whole construction process, start to finish.

With Evercam, you can even create your own mini time-lapse videos using the Time-Lapse Creator tool, with multiple export options so that your video or gif is ready for social media, internal communications and progress updates.

Internal Benefits: Stakeholder Updates

Updating stakeholders on project progress can be sometimes difficult. Long written reports are definitely good to use, however, with the growing speed of information in the world, it can be difficult to envision the physical growth from the written word. With time-lapse, you can give them an overall visual update that condenses weeks if not months of progress in one, short and coherent video which will get all the relevant information across, even with 3D models inserted into the image to give the viewer a window into the future of the project.

Another concept is also used in construction, in which a company will rewatch time-lapse footage of the construction of their building to locate inefficiencies and analyze the footage for extra information. That method helps in the internal review process, to eventually streamline their usual processes.

Time-lapse your next project

A DSLR camera taking photos of a church in the distance
(Photo by Patrick on Unsplash)

Adding time-lapse cameras to your construction site is as simple as adopting a new tool in your toolbox, and though it can be somewhat tricky sometimes if it is new to the user, it can become very rewarding and give extra resources to your team.

Timelapse has existed almost as long as modern cinema has, however, advances in technology made these cameras much more reliable and accessible for everyday users, now updating stakeholders who are off-site and helping contractors and developers to promote their work in easily digestible video clips and gifs.

With Evercam, your timelapse videos will be the product of our highly skilled, professional team of video editors, crafting unique time-lapse videos, tailor-made to the client’s specifications.