October 30, 2019
Positioning Your Time Lapse Camera Best Practices Have you bought a construction or time lapse camera to wow and impress your clients with snappy timelapse videos? Perhaps you want to...
Have you bought a construction or time lapse camera to wow and impress your clients with snappy timelapse videos? Perhaps you want to use it to improve your project management. Or perhaps you want some well-earned rest – without sacrificing your control over your project. With a time lapse camera all these things and more are possible, but without the correct positioning, you may find your video footage lackluster or at worst – unusable.
Here we offer some tips and tricks to ensure your timelapse camera is positioned as best as it can be, giving you the control and footage that will make an actionable difference in your business.
This is the first consideration to make when positioning your camera; will you be using the resulting footage primarily for marketing or project management purposes? If the former, you will want to think carefully about which position and angle will give you the most impressive footage. Often this will mean a high vantage point that presents the scale and scope of your project accurately. It may also mean moving the camera’s position at some point during construction (especially if the project is a tall building) to properly show the progress. Some camera positions will be ruined as the project moves toward completion.
If on the other hand, you will be using the shots and footage mostly to manage your project and ensure your deliverables or milestones are being completed in a timely fashion you will need a different approach. You may have to move the camera multiple times to ensure it has a clear shot of the project variable you are managing. It may be prudent to have more than one camera on site to make management of multiple factors simple.
This is a common mistake for amateur timelapse photographers; they set up the perfect shot, angling the lens at just the right angle and wait for a few weeks. When they check their footage; shock and horror! Every day between 12 pm and 3 pm the sun is pointed straight at the camera, causing huge glare and ruining all shots between that time. This is simply fixed, however; simply test your camera for a day before committing to the position. If your project is long enough (a year or more) you may have to move the camera as the sun’s arc changes through the seasons.
Another simple one, don’t attach your camera to long poles, unsecured metalwork or other unstable platforms. The higher the position, the stronger the wind will be and camera set-ups on unsecured platforms can suffer from movement ranging from the minor to the severe. Either has the potential to ruin shots or footage. Ensure that wherever you set the camera is firmly secured and won’t suffer from wind movement, even throughout the seasons.
For those using the timelapse to produce marketing material, it would be prudent to invest some time in understanding shot composition. This is simply a photography term for how the imagery is structured in the frame, in photography it’s often pleasant to the observer when the shot is not perfectly centered, but rather has some “weight” to one side of the image, balanced out by background scenery, an example is below.
For more examples of shot composition and photography practices, check out this guide.
Especially on a construction site, there is a lot of dust and debris around, wind can whip these components up into the air and deposit them on your lens. Mist and rain may also affect your shots, although generally speaking missing a day or two probably won’t ruin your video. How do we fix this problem? Simple; regularly clean your camera lens.
This has been mentioned previously, but if at all possible one should run a trial of the camera and it’s position for 24 hours. This will normally highlight any problems with angle, position or shot composition. If at all possible check the footage regularly to ensure the camera hasn’t slipped, or if environmental variables haven’t affected your timelapse.