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Why You Need Time-Lapse Cameras on Construction Sites

Posted by Kirk Biddle on Aug 10, 2022

Have you ever watched a time-lapse camera? How about a video that’s a collection of clips from a time-lapse camera? Audiences find them both captivating. Exxel Pacific has a live feed from a time-lapse camera. It’s fascinating to see what’s currently happening on the construction site. And it allows stakeholders to monitor the activity.

Once a project is complete, a company can create a short video filled with time-lapse camera clips to show the progress from start to finish in minutes. Here’s a two-minute construction video made from a time-lapse camera. This makes a fantastic marketing tool for construction companies to include in their portfolio.

It’s hard to see the progress of a construction project while on the ground. The site is massive, and it takes a long time from start to finish. Time-lapse cameras provide a bird’s eye view that can’t be beaten. Construction companies can learn a lot from the video that will help them improve their construction project strategies and processes. Here’s what you need to know about time-lapse cameras on construction sites.

The Value of an Overhead Perspective

Mark Rosenwald, a construction site logistic coordinator, studies a site long before the construction begins. He analyzes the physical address, current demographics, current area crime statistics, and experiences on the ground in the community.

“Adapting to the changing circumstances as a project evolves and grows into a neighborhood is part of the process,” writes Rosenwald in The Utility of Overhead Time-Lapse Cameras on Construction Projects. “Having an overhead perspective is an invaluable tool for watching how you’re interacting with the community and who your neighbors are. You’ll notice patterns in activity on the time lapse that you might miss on the ground level. Having a drone picture like the one shown below is nice, but it is a but a single moment in time.”

He goes on to discuss every construction site brings something new to a community. Construction companies need to consider many variables such as traffic from vehicles, bikes, scooters, and pedestrians. Of course, there can be a lot of hauling at the start of the project. Before any of this happens, the site utilization planning team creates a sequence of events to ensure all interactions with the surrounding community remain safe.

Many people don’t realize all the work that has to go into a construction project besides the actual building process. The planning team has to ensure they comply with noise regulations. They conduct community outreach with businesses and residents in the area. It’s important to connect with the community and keep them informed of progress.

The construction may affect community members’ traveling paths and it can be frustrating. But when construction companies take a proactive approach by notifying the community of changes ahead of time, the community will likely be more forgiving and understanding. This affects the reputations of the construction company and the company behind the new building. Adding time-lapse cameras and sharing them with the community can give them a way to monitor progress.

You can save a lot of time and effort in capturing your construction project when you invest in time-lapse cameras that run 24/7 and observe the project from high up. To get the best results, you want to ensure you work with the right vendor who has the technology to deliver the results you want.

The cameras need to clearly capture the action and work for the duration of the project. There will be bad weather days that will try to knock the cameras loose. A company experienced with time-lapse cameras can help make sure the cameras stay put and continue to operate for the entire project.

At the end of the project, there will be many images. It will overwhelm someone not experienced in creating time-lapse camera videos. An experienced team can take care of everything from installing the cameras in the right places and recording time to editing the video and bringing it all together into a compelling video.

Time-lapse cameras aren’t necessarily meant to deter crime and vandalism. In fact, a good mounting location for a time-lapse camera, which is a high aerial perspective of the project, makes them inherently poor security cameras. Rather, they’re a powerful tool for documenting the work and site coordination. There are better options for construction security.

Mark Rosenwald mentions in his article that in addition to an overhead time-lapse camera set up by Stealth, he also utilized ground-level, security cameras. “By the way, I’ve had great success working with Stealth Monitoring on projects in and around Seattle (Thank you, Paul!)”.

Kirk Biddle, Vice President of Construction Sales at Stealth, notes that Mark’s strategy is an excellent deployment of technology on a construction site. “Simply put, the height of a time-lapse camera makes even the most advanced computer analytics significantly less effective.”

Most manufacturers of security cameras recommend mounting heights far below that of a standard time lapse mount. Biddle adds, “For the best security results, a camera’s field-of-view must be much closer to ground level to maximize the effectiveness of computer analytics. Many manufacturers recommend mounting heights below 20’ for the best results with computer analytics.”

Because security is so critical to protecting project timelines and budgets, it’s important to work with a company who has a proven track record in the construction industry.

A Powerful Way to Track Construction Progress

As mentioned before, it’s hard to see the big picture when you’re on a construction site every day. Cameras installed in strategic locations around the construction site capture brief moments throughout the project. These can help you identify bottlenecks, safety issues, and the flow of people and equipment.

The footage from time-lapse cameras can help you figure out what worked well and what needs improving. Time-lapse photography goes a long way in supporting project managers. It gives them a better way to follow the project’s progress. Some construction companies use them to train new project managers on the entire process.

One benefit of time-lapse cameras is that they can be viewed from any connected device whether it’s a laptop or a phone. Whenever project managers can’t go to the site, they can see the feed from anywhere to check on the site’s activity.

At the end of a project, the team will pull together to create a video that reveals how the project progressed from start to finish. You can share the footage with clients to visually show them the life of the project. Plus, the video makes a great marketing tool, which brings up the next benefit.

Using Time-Lapse Cameras as a Marketing Tool

You could attempt to take photos of a project’s progress from start to finish. However, ground-level photos won’t have the same impact as images taken from high above. Even if you have a tall neighboring building that will let you take photos, the views won’t be identical. The finished product may not look professional. Plus, you’d have to consistently remember to capture photos for the entire project.

Your prospective clients will appreciate the time-lapse camera pictorial tour of the entire construction project. It’s a simple, effective way for prospects to learn how your company operates throughout the project.

Something else you can do is share the construction video across many platforms including your website and social media. This could help you stand out from other construction companies that only post photos of their work. Visitors to your company’s website will be wowed when they see a portfolio of time-lapsed videos. They can learn how efficient your construction process is from start to finish.

Every digital platform has different video sizes and length requirements. For example, some social media networks require videos to be no longer than a set length. Working with a company that specializes in time-lapse as they can create different videos to meet these requirements.

Better yet, have the company create a video every few weeks or once a month to share the progress on social media. Your prospects can discover these videos on social media and go to your website to learn more about your company. The sales team will be able to use these videos as a visual tool at trade shows, exhibitions, and presentations.

How to Choose a Time-Lapse Camera Vendor

As you search for time-lapse camera vendors, ask what kind of cameras they use. Maximizing time-lapse cameras on construction projects requires the right technology.

In interviewing vendors, ask how many cameras they’d install and where they’d place them. The vendor should know how to capture optimal views for the entire duration of the project.

Considering many cities across North America have been hit by bad weather, secure placement is important. Of course, there may be times when severe weather will move a camera. The key is to ensure the vendor secures cameras and has a plan in place if one is knocked out of place.

Adding nighttime shots to the time-lapse footage can enhance the wow factor. An experienced vendor can help ensure the camera has the ability to clearly see day and night. They also think about the sun’s role. The sun’s glare can affect views.

It’s not just inclement weather that can cause problems for the cameras. Power outages, system malfunctions, and other factors can affect the performance of the time-lapse cameras. Vendors should have a backup plan and regular system checks to verify all the cameras are functioning.

Here’s a checklist of questions to ask time-lapse camera vendors you interview:

  • What cameras do they use? Are they high definition?
  • How many cameras would you install and where?
  • How do you determine where to place the cameras for the entire project?
  • What’s the process for camera maintenance and system health checks?
  • How do harsh weather conditions and heavy-duty construction affect the cameras?
  • Will the cameras have problems with glare from the sun?
  • What happens when there’s a power outage?
  • What’s the cost for the equipment and services?
  • Where is the footage stored?
  • Can you share video examples of using time-lapse cameras in construction?

Vendor answers can say a lot about whether they’re the right one for your construction company. If you choose to interview Stealth, our camera specialists can review your construction site plans along with your needs and objectives. They can design a customized time-lapse solution based on your specifications and go over them with you. To learn more about time-lapse cameras and get your questions answered, please contact us.