When purchasing a Construction Camera you must first consider your goals or purpose as to why you’re looking to purchase. This will help to determine if making the purchase will actually achieve what it is you’re looking to do.
As a professional business that operates, manages and installs construction cameras for our clients for a variety of usage case scenarios; We can tell you that buying the equipment is a only very small piece of the puzzle. Let’s take for a case scenario where you want to create a timelapse video of your entire build, with the ability to also monitor your job site remotely.
Many of the big construction camera manufacturers and suppliers will market to no end making everything seem super simple to sell. However, let me tell you as a service business that does this full time there are a multitude of other hidden factors, hidden costs, as well as specific knowledge and expertise needed in order to properly execute.
I’ve had clients calling my who’ve purchased anything from a Brinno Timelapse camera, to a more professional timelapse construction camera, in both cases they are very frustrated, angry, and displeased with the results, feeling as though they’ve been duped, given the final results. This comes from a lack of understanding and misleading marketting on the construction camera sales pitch because they don’t understand the level of detail, care and expertise that goes into producing this type of video content.
It’s far from a one-solution fits all, set it and forget it kinda of process. In fact it’s the complete opposite, even though the camera manufacturer’s would have you convinced otherwise in order to sell camera’s. For comparison, if you wanted a professional commercial for your business shot direct and produced would you hire a company that produces commercials? Or would you head down to your local Best Buy and purchase a camera?
So let’s outline just some of these main factors that are largely overlooked by construction camera retailers and consumers; and why we highly recommend letting professionals like us offering a full-service approach take care of it all, having ready solutions for all scenarios to ensure success.
Multiple cameras are an absolute must.
The first and probably one of the most important factors to a successful project capture is to have more than one camera. This will be extremely important later down the line especially when it comes to post-production and assembly if the plan is to actually get something useable and watchable for viewers. The fact is during long-term projects one of your camera’s will go down at some point, whether it be from the elements, knocked out of framing, or simply the view get obstructed (just to name a quick few) the point is having a second multiple cameras will leave you with options later on during assembly.
Mounting is not a ‘one size fits all’ process.
Many of these construction camera’s or timelapse solutions will generally offer some sort of mounting solution, but the reality is, this is not a ‘one size fits all’ solution as would seem. You want your construction camera, timelapse system, or even security cameras mounted in a secure manner, able to handle their weight and most importantly mounted in a way thats going to be free from movement, shake or vibrations. So based on all this, chances are there might not be a perfect place to screw down your camera, or in some cases you can’t screw it down at all. Having the knowledge of various mounting techniques and hardware types becomes important, what If the surrounding infrastructure was all glass, or steel, or wood? Or maybe there is no surrounding infrastructure to mount too, what then? The point is, as professionals we have solutions available for many different type case scenarios that have little to do with the hardware your camera came with.
Knowing the right vantage point for capture takes experience
Picking the right vantage point to capture your subject matter or build requires some experience and expertise. There are many factors to consider such as lighting and sun locations, power and networking capabilities (more on that next). As well as safety factors from vandalism, theft, and more importantly being out of the way from interfering with the project or build itself, in a place that is still accessible for servicing.
A consistent power supply is essential and trickier than you may think.
This is perhaps one of the most complex aspects of installing a construction camera system of some sort. Depending on the outcome or requirements. All hardware systems will need power, sometimes power is not so readily available, especially in volatile and always changing places like a job site. Maybe there is no readily available power on site or maybe there’s a power receptacle in the building but it’s 200 feet away, or maybe we’re outside…whatever the case scenario it’s important that the construction cameras or system always has power. Every situation is different and every one will have its set of challenges to keep the cameras running for months or years on end.
A reliable internet connection with heavy data capabilities is a must.
Having a networked internet connection is also another must in any professional system. There is a few reasons for this, for one it allows us to remotely monitor our sites and ensure everything is operating as intended. But largely in any good remote imaging system there will be a data backup redundancy plan. This means the camera’s will upload their captures to a server ensuring they are safe no matter what happens to the cameras, be it theft or damage, if the data is unrecoverable then everything is lost without backup. Now, running an internet connection to multiple cameras placed across across a large project site in a place where there’s no infrastructure to do so can definitely pose it’s challenges. Whatever the situation we’ve got a solution, where many won’t. Not too mention if all your cameras are uploading all their images constantly through this connection the data usages will also start to greatly add up.
Proper intervals, shoot scheduling & camera programming requires expertise
Herein lays some of the magic of timelapse production. Understanding that video works by flashing an array of images to simulate motion at a typical rate anywhere from 24-60 frames per second is essential for knowing how to program the intervals at which the camera’s will capture images. There is some math involved in the process in calculating how long the job is estimated to last, and then using that information to choose a capture interval. You don’t want to be left with way too many images that the workflow becomes unmanageable, but on the other hand you want to capture enough frames so things still look cohesive and not jarring. Depending on how your camera’s user interface works there are many options for exposure, intervals and even scheduling in some cases. This is really where the expertise and experience starts to come through in proper capture practices based on project requirements.
Constant service and on-site adjustments will be needed.
This one is often overlooked, but in order to ensure everything is functioning properly and that the images are capturing and properly framed as were set, there needs to be daily monitoring of the camera's image captures. That means they need to be remotely checked often to make sure everything looks normal. Given the nature of long-term timelapse you can expect cables to be yanked, camera’s to be bumped, moved, covered, get dusty, icy, spiders to cast webs, workers to cover camera’s, batteries to fail, or systems to malfunction just to name a few. After all no technology is perfect, especially tech that is designed to be running 24/7 through any weather conditions. The ask is tall one, a multitude of things that can and will happen that will affect the function or accuracy of your capture. You should expect to have to service your camera’s for service anywhere from 4-8 times a month for various reasons, This can be a huge hassle, are you going to be the one to transport and climb a ladder with the many required tools to diagnose or fix the many potential issues that could arise in the dead of winter when it’s -20º Celsius outside? This is a huge core of our full-service offering here at Live Build. We are professionals that will spot issues when they come up, know how to diagnose them, have backup systems, and the tools for servicing and issues that may arise as to always keep the project running.
Advanced knowledge of timelapse assembly, post-production processing & video editing
So if you’ve managed to make it this far, throughout the process of a long-term timelapse project using construction camera’s or timelapse camera’s then it means it’s now time for the post-production and assembly process. Sure some of these camera’s come with automated software and online processing tools, but at best that will give you either weekly snippets of your captures or a long and unedited timelapse video from a single camera angle, this typically won’t be watchable without some heavy editing.
What we aim to do here in post-production is take everything we’ve captured and professionally run it through our timelapse post-production workflow process so the content looks its best. This means manual exposure corrections, image filtering and curation, and flicker reductions for every camera angle. Then once we’ve properly and professionally processed all the angles, we then all the images into our video editing suite to edit it into final video that’s cohesive and watchable, cutting out any errors or shakes using multiple angles to cut together a video that’s worth watching.
Now this is arguably one of the most advanced phases of the whole workflow because it requires some significant computing power to process large multitudes of images at a high resolution. As well, it’s going to require some specialized programs. Not only do these come at a high cost, but more importantly even if you have them you’ll need the expertise to know how to use them and the video editing experience to know how to pace them and produce something good this takes years of experience to learn the right way.
Final thoughts & suggestions
So as you can see if you’ve read through all the other aspects and considerations mentioned above there is a lot more that goes into the creation of timelapse film or build video and ability to monitor a project site than one would think. None of these aspects get mentioned through the marketting of construction camera retailers claiming to offer a full solution, as their main goal is to sell hardware and make it seem easy. When in reality it’s far from simple and a camera itself is just a very small piece of the process. There are many more considerations to be made which generally are going to require more time, money, expertise and redundancy plans. It can be a huge hassle in a lot of cases to provide the on-going care an maintenance to keep these jobs running.
This is why our service offering here at Live Build is so unique. We take a full service approach at first understanding your goals and needs, then creating a plan for execution; Handling everything from the inception and vision, to the installation, operation, management, and service. One of our main differentiators is the post-production editing and assembly of a final timelapse film is also all done in house, with additional Video Production services.
Whatever your goal is if it’s just general project documentation, creating polished build videos and timelapse films, or you want to use the many other features of our fully managed Live Build Pro platform we’ll handle it the professional way, and ensure success, with true minimal hassle. Let us take care of it.