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 Setting up multi-year construction timelapse shots? 
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Post Setting up multi-year construction timelapse shots?
There are a couple of huge new construction projects starting here in Dubai and I am interested in setting up several extremely long term shots. These cameras need to run for 2 or 3 or even 4 years.

What are the current best systems and techniques for doing these kinds of extremely long timelapse shots?


Sat Apr 13, 2013 8:01 pm
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Post Re: Setting up multi-year construction timelapse shots?
https://www.harbortronics.com/Products/ ... sePackage/

Yes, I'm a bit biased, given that I designed and manufacture them, but it's a proven system. We have sold literally hundreds to customers in UAE over the years, most of which have been repeat orders.


Sat Apr 13, 2013 9:19 pm
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Post Re: Setting up multi-year construction timelapse shots?
The camera technology is pretty good for options, but I think probably the most critical factor for long-term shots is getting the shot location and angle of view right to start with so that when it is all over and done with you will have footage that both works for showing the progress, but also does not induce epileptic fits from trying to watch it.

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Sat Apr 13, 2013 11:17 pm
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Post Re: Setting up multi-year construction timelapse shots?
My 2 cents on this topic.

Variable capture rate:
On long-term projects you have two approaches:
- Linear model: Calculate the number of frames to achieve your target video length, add some margin and spread this over the length of the project.
- Dynamic model: This one is slightly more complex (and consequently more expensive). First, define a base capture rate based upon a default sequence and keep this base rate during the full project. Then, depending of what is happening on-site, increase capture rate from time to time.

To define the base rate, choose a sequence duration and corresponding "real-world length". For example, if you want a 7s sequence, covering 2 working day. You will need 175 frames, over ~20 hours, which gives a capture rate of one frame every ~7 minutes.

Then you will need to work closely with your client to capture potentially eye-catching sequences (crane installation, scaffolding removal, ...). Estimate the length of those events, your target sequence length and do the maths to calculate the number of frames you need and resulting target capture rate.
PS: don't rely too much on construction managers to warn you about "events" as they are often very busy, and time-lapse is of course not their top priority. Best is to call them from time to time to check when next big things are planned.

From time-to-time some of our long-term setups run at rates such as one pic every 15 seconds during a few hours.

The downside of variable capture rate, is that you are going to capture a lot (I really mean a lot) of pictures, and throw probably 90-95% of those to garbage. Capturing a lot of pictures also means that your camera's lifetime will be lower (be sure to budget a potential camera replacement if your project is very long), and that you need an appropriate storage for those.
Depending of your project length you might end-up with TB of pictures. But this gives you flexibility at the end of your project.

To give you a real world example, on our side we store between 1GB and 9GB of pictures per day and per camera.

Automate as much as possible
Avoid having to go on-site too often, if possible get pictures sent automatically to your office.
It depends the agreement with your client, but on-site visit can represent a fair % of your overall budget on very long-term projects, things to keep in mind:
- If the camera is installed on a high mast, who will cover costs of accessing the camera (you or your customer might need to rent a cherry picker for this). Not all sites have such things available 24/7.
- Who will be in charge of camera maintenance (it might be necessary to clean the window from time to time) ?
- Incidents will happen (Murphy law), so be sure you budget for a few visits on-site just in case. It all depends of the length of your project, and a few other parameters such as availability of a local contact who could do initial investigations in case of incident.
If you can get 24/7 supervision of your system it's even better. The idea is usually to receive an email automatically if something is going wrong, and then be able to perform a few diagnosis tasks remotely.

There are a few solutions on the market (including ours, but similar to Mark, I'm a bit biaised on this topic :)), so it's really up to you to find the one best fitting your project and budget.

If hope it helped, if you have any questions, don't hesitate.

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Mon Apr 15, 2013 12:57 pm
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Post Re: Setting up multi-year construction timelapse shots?
We have 3 or 4 harbortronics boxes here now that we have been testing.

Again, this is a 3- or 4-year project, so I am wondering what is different about a 4-year timelapse than, say, a 4-week timelapse? What things do I need to think about?

Are there very advanced systems that can upload to server via 3G or wireless or something these days?


Tue Apr 16, 2013 9:07 pm
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Post Re: Setting up multi-year construction timelapse shots?
Some key concerns I would have would be
A) Reliability of gear (shutters breaking/wearing out
B) Power sustainability, Solar?
C) Uploading pics to FTP server (power consumption and transfer rates)
D) Redundancy on all the gear

Im sure there is a fairly simple way that you can use an Arduino or Rasberry Pi unit to manage connectivity with the camera and a External HDD, and then from there manage some scripting to upload to an FTP, and once the transfer result is returned back to the unit, then the unit could delete or archive the files off of the primary storage..

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Tue Apr 16, 2013 9:13 pm
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Post Re: Setting up multi-year construction timelapse shots?
Wow, so cool to be back on Timescapes...it's been way too long!

I think the most important difference between 4 weeks and 4 years is what do you want to see? A four year time-lapse could be pretty difficult to watch and absorb if it was all just one shot. How about a different set-up every 6 months instead?

Technically, if you've got the power and a way to get the images out of the cameras, it shouldn't be any different. Are there 4K webcams out there? That would be the easiest.

Good to see you last week, Tom.

Steve

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Tue Apr 16, 2013 9:20 pm
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Post Re: Setting up multi-year construction timelapse shots?
A short term project can subsist on battery power alone, but at some point you want a self-charging power system, such as via a solar panel. I designed our system to use a bare minimum amount of power, so it can take about 100 pics per day, indefinitely, most places on the planet while using a small 5 watt panel. In UAE, you can probably take upwards of 300 pics per day.

We have lots of customers that simply use wireless memory cards (Eye-Fi for instance) to upload images automatically via a wifi router placed nearby. It of course draws a bit more power, but it's not a huge impact.

Yes there are systems from other companies that integrate 3G, and from what I hear they can work fine. That's a very general statement, but each system design (including ours) has it's own quirks, and some have specs that can be, let's say, exaggerated. From what I've heard, the systems that integrate 3G are also 2-10x more expensive, before including wireless data plans and possible image management fees and equipment rental. I don't believe any other equipment provider openly lists their prices, so I could be wrong about this.

The fundamental concepts of a long term time-lapse system aren't hard to grasp, but ohhh, the fine details are much more subtle than most people appreciate.


Tue Apr 16, 2013 9:37 pm
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Post Re: Setting up multi-year construction timelapse shots?
Artistically speaking, for a 3- or 4-year timelapse, what time of day should the shots be triggered, etc?


Tue Apr 16, 2013 11:32 pm
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Post Re: Setting up multi-year construction timelapse shots?
I think one of the biggest artistic complications encountered when going from a few weeks to years, relates to the movement of the sun. With a multi-week timelapse, you usually want to have at least a second (or several seconds) screentime of each day. This lets shadows move at a slow speed which isn't a problem. If you do this for a year or several, the movie lasts too long on screen. Shooting just a few exposures per day lets your clip run for a reasonable amount of time, but now the shadows are racing around. In general the contrast at shadow edges is more than the contrast of objects with their background and the fast moving shadows make it very difficult to see the subtle changes occurring over weeks and months.

My first long-term timelapse was done in 1984 with a super-8 movie camera that had a single frame feature. A radio shack pocket computer was the controller which fired the camera using an interface that was originally designed to let you save data to a cassette tape recorder. When the calculator wanted to take a picture it saved a bullshit variable to tape, the tape interface closed a switch which was supposed to turn on the tape recorder. That plug got plugged into the camera's ext jack which triggered the exposure. A photocell prevented it from firing at night. It was placed high in a tree in the forest near the college and I climbed up there every two weeks to swap out the car battery that ran it. After all that, the movie was almost unwatchable. All you saw was shadows racing wildly. Attempts to edit out all frames except overcast days or early mornings before the sun was above the horizon made it so you could see the forest growing but there was still way too much flicker.

You definitely want to shoot once a day, at the same time of day. I tried that with little point and click digital cameras just before discovering Timescapes. It has the effect of holding the sun in the same place each time. You still see moving shadows, but they move very slowly, and from north to south instead of east to west. That was very exciting. I was actually seeing the seasons. My mistake this time was shooting in the middle of the day. Why not noon when the shadows are smallest? Well, the answer is that there are cloudy and sunny days. You don't shoot at noon because of the wicked flicker caused by sharp shadows on sunny days and no shadows on overcast days. There is absolutely no way to color-correct that out of the clip. So once again years pass without a film I can show to anyone.

I've given this problem a lot of thought and have two potential solutions which I haven't had a chance to test.

Solution one = shoot at night with strobes. I actually built some big studio strobes into plastic mailboxes which served as weatherproof housings but haven't tried it yet (mainly because I don't get paid for photography and a brand new DSLR is too expensive for me to jump right in). The advantage is you get rid of all uncontrolled lighting and substitute your own controlled light. I also like the black sky effect. You need a large, open area without any objects close to the strobes where they would be overexposed. Big, powerful strobes far away makes more even light than smaller ones close-in.

Solution two = external exposure equalizer. The idea is that a photocell looks for light levels which occur just before sunrise. It triggers one exposure the first time the light reaches this level, then locks out any further trigger events for 23 hours. The exposure is not made by a clock at a specific time of day. The exposure is made when the light matches the light on yesterday's picture. If you can measure the light level accurately, it should produce flicker-free timelapse outdoors without artificial lighting. There should always be soft, indirect light with no shadows because you are shooting just before sunrise. I think shooting before sunrise is preferable to shooting just after sunset because winds tend to be low in the morning. Wind moving leaves and things is possibly the next-worst thing about outdoors after lighting.

I built one of these with a CDS photocell hooked to an A/D input on an Arduino. I have to bias the photocell a lot and I still don't have a lot of digital levels between the light I want to shoot at and zero. A while back, some Timescapes members suggested different sensors. There is a light sensing chip which has great specs but it outputs a frequency that relates to brightness and is a little bit of a pain to decode. There are phototransistor-based sensors used to turn lights on and off at dawn and dusk. They are easy to use and apparently have better low light sensitivity than the CDS cell.

Thanks to your wonderful forum, I've been able to sell one-offs to several people who wanted to make shots for which there is no off the shelf solution. It would be an honor to build something for you. I can try making some test shots with the external exposure equalizer if you think you might want to control these shots with one.

Pictures from before I discovered Timescapes and started making better stuff;
solar timelapser with PVC weatherproof housing

http://www.flickr.com/photos/sciencelookers/3766982257/

The little point and shoot camera with its controller (obviously not what you'll be using)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/sciencelookers/3766923841/

A few timelapsers in my yard

http://www.flickr.com/photos/sciencelookers/3769263415/

Parts for mailbox strobe

http://www.flickr.com/photos/sciencelookers/4474823840/

Worlds fastest minute and a half video from early days when Flickr only allowed very small files and there wasn't very good compression. I tried re-editing some of this recently and its a whole lot better than this, but nowhere near as good as a DSLR. I've been searching for an affordable camera for this but haven't found a good quality picture at an affordable price. Here's the very lo def version.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/sciencelookers/3764029855/

Most people would not show anything like that to anyone. You can see the flickering shadows. You also need a really solid support. The cameras looking at my dock are in 6x6 inch plywood boxes screwed to the 4x4 posts holding up my screen porch. I don't know why they move so much. Possibly the plywood warps when it gets wet.

I should also mention that its your fault I haven't done more. After discovering Timescapes, I got involved in motion control and all sorts of "more practical" projects which result in usable film in a short period of time. They were fantastic projects and I was able to get advice from people with much more specialized skill sets. This in turn allowed me to make things I could never have dreamed of before. So thanks for that, but the real cutting edge deep timelapse has languished. I guess its only fair you are now attempting deep timelapse yourself now. I have no doubt you will succeed and the techniques you use will enable the kind of shots I was after. If I can make any of the hardware, please let me know. Definitely keep posting as your project develops. I'm definitely going to get back to this.

The most exciting part of deep timelapse is discovering things you hadn't imagined.

There is a little hill where I used to feed ducks every day. In deep timelapse, you can see the sticks moving downhill at a very slow, steady pace which takes a week or two to move a few feet. I think its caused by something statisticians call the central limiting theorem. Each stick gets stepped on a hundred times a day. Each step moves it randomly but on average it moves downhill. The central limiting theorem causes the very even motion because the average of each day is very similar to the average of any other day due to the great number of stepping events within each day.

Some flowers are on the bush all year round here in Florida. Cocoplums have different flowers each day, which results in a sparkling effect because each frame in the movie is showing a completely different set of flowers.

The 1960's version of "the time machine" has a timelapse of an apple growing. I never realized it was faked until I filmed growing mangos. The branches bend a lot as the fruit adds weight, then they rebound when a fruit falls. You'd never think of that unless you saw it in timelapse.

Trees grow in seasons. In springtime little leaves appear from buds. Their stems elongate into little twigs with leaves at the end. Next year, those twigs grow thicker but do not increase in length. The length of each branch grows with the new stems with the new leaves. Last years growth stays in the same place and merely supports the new extension. Here's an example of fast growth although its not one frame per day. You can see how last years twig does not grow longer, but the new growth makes the branch considerably longer as it grows in length.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/sciencelookers/4551714053/

Sorry for typing so much. Sometimes I can't help myself.


Wed Apr 17, 2013 9:45 am
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Post Re: Setting up multi-year construction timelapse shots?
For a mobile camera with wifi and/or 3G plus a TL app checkout the Samsung Galaxy.

It would be great to place in difficult and tight corners !

http://www.dpreview.com/products/Samsun ... camerawifi

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Wed Apr 17, 2013 12:21 pm
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Post Re: Setting up multi-year construction timelapse shots?
Tom you should talk to Scott Andrews at Canon Professional Services. He's done a ton of stuff with remote cameras.

Did you get my email for John at Gates?

James


Wed Apr 17, 2013 5:05 pm
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Post Re: Setting up multi-year construction timelapse shots?
A couple of suggestions…

What ever system you go with, or build yourself, the components need to be easily and quickly replaceable. Id look for an enclosure that is as big as possible for the mount type. Some off-the-shelf systems have the camera/electronics squeezed into a small as possible enclosure and when something needs to be replaced, which it might, keeping the frame is difficult. 40+ stories up near the roof edge in a harness trying to squeeze a new component into a small box or even removing a spider that has made a home between the lens and the enclosure glass without nudging the camera is a nightmare.

If you go down the solar/battery route then id have the camera on an independent power setup to the electronics controlling/3g sending the data. Not one big battery powering the system.

Take a lot of images and edit to when there is action on site e.g. the core moving or precast panel installation. I think people are distracted by the action and they don't notice the flicker as much, software can smooth out the light variations a bit.

Check out the first part of vimeo.com/58332478 It shows a bit of longterm construction timelapse.

OI

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Wed Apr 17, 2013 6:05 pm
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Post Re: Setting up multi-year construction timelapse shots?
For how to set up the shot...

Definitely avoid too much sky in the picture if you can avoid it, it will be your biggest headache for balancing flicker against the subject lighting.

Go for manual aperture and focus, auto exposure and ISO, spot metering based on your main subject

Over that time period you are probably looking at 1 frame per day for the final video, and even then weeding out bad weather days etc.

Best bet based on my experiences with a multi-month time-lapse, take a photo once an hour, or even drop down to 15 minutes if you can handle all the data. When done, look and see what time of the day is consistently best, or has the most appealing light changes over the year, then just use the picture from that time of day for them all. You can often get away with the next photo in the sequence for that day if there is momentary cloud etc if you have more photos than needed.

Don't discount the night shots, as that is a great way of getting consistent lighting over the long term for a night growth version.

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Wed Apr 17, 2013 6:20 pm
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Post Re: Setting up multi-year construction timelapse shots?
timescapes wrote:
Are there very advanced systems that can upload to server via 3G or wireless or something these days?


Are you aware of this Australian forum member and his 3G management system?
Cheers, matt b

viewtopic.php?f=18&t=9845


Wed Apr 17, 2013 10:33 pm
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Post Re: Setting up multi-year construction timelapse shots?
Thanks for the link, Matt.

Here's the third biased solution for your situation, Tom! The longest single project we've had so far is just short of three years, but there's no reason the system wouldn't do longer.

A few general comments about the project: If it's four years, you'll obviously have to do something to keep people's attention in the final movie. You've may have already seen these two excellent examples: 1) three year timelapse that holds your attention (http://bit.ly/1gRECnm); 2) great combo mixing both short-term and long term time-lapse on single construction projects (http://bit.ly/YqdO9k).

About our system: the photoSentinel Pro consists of our own proprietary low-powered electronics, weatherproof housing and solar (can also be AC). You put your choice of DSLR into the box and connect it to our controller. The system's 3G connectivity means that you can configure the photo regime remotely (and change to a more frequent regime on more eventful days) and receive every high-res photo to both a web gallery and your own Dropbox account or FTP server. The web gallery is customisable (client's logos, etc) and can have both admin and client logins. Every time the system connects (which can be as often as every minute) it provides a status update, so you know straight away if something's gone wrong (and on a project that long, something will go wrong!).

Our prices are on our website - http://www.photosentinel.com/buy-or-hire/

From what we gather, a lot of other companies provide a full service - longterm timelapse equipment and full post-production. We just provide the equipment and service management, leaving the photographer to do what you guys do best. We've got lots of photographers who have built much of their business around using our equipment to offer construction timelapse to clients.

Addressing some of the other comments above:
* Our wide housing is big enough to play around inside without disturbing the frame.
* As you might know from your mobile phone coverage, 3G isn't always perfect. LAN or WLAN also have issues, eg. if the client's IT guys change some setting and forget to tell the timelapse guy - any connected system will occasionally have issues. We prefer 3G, because local IT can't meddle and telecoms have a higher vested interest in keeping things running smoothly.
* Agree that you need to budget on-site visits to troubleshoot, access the installation (scissor lift?), kill pesky spiders ruining your shot, etc. Also budget in replacing at least the camera and battery, depending on how rough the shooting regime is.

Happy to answer any more questions!

Matt

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Thu May 02, 2013 4:33 pm
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Post Re: Setting up multi-year construction timelapse shots?
Just my 2 cents about connectivity,

Usually, companies with a strong-enough budget to invest into a long-term D-SLR based time-lapse solution, have a corporate IT department with strict rules regarding external devices connected to their network (which is a good thing for them, but it could be a slightly painful, even to set up a device into a DMZ).
So as a good practice, never, ever connect your equipment onto a customer LAN (or Wi-Fi network). Not only it could be difficult to set up (mostly related to permissions / authorizations), you generally don't want to take the risk of having your setup impacting your customer's network (although very unlikely).
If your project span over a year, just aks your customer to provide you with a dry loop (copper cables on which a DSL-line can be attached), and order a dedicated DSL line from a local provided. Dry-Loop are usually easy to obtain and most of the time, "inexpensive" consumer-grade DSL connections are sufficient, often less expensive than 3G, and with greater performances.

3G/4G/LTE connectivity is great, but sadly is most countries (at least the ones we work on), there is a monthly limit on the amount of data that could be transferred each month. Plus in some urban areas, there could be some network congestion (resulting in slower bandwidth).
Alternatively you can use Satellite where 3G is not available (we currently have two setups running over this kind of connection), but it is not the most reliable solution. High latency and can sometime be pretty unstable to transfer large files. But good enough for live monitoring or to transfer scaled-down versions of pictures while keeping larges ones on a local NAS.

My recommendations on this topic would generally be to set-up a dedicated DSL link when possible (almost always possible in urban areas), 3G when DSL is not available and finally Satellite when 3G is not available.
If your project is less than 6 months long, don't even bother with DSL, 3G will be much easier to setup :)

To assess the best possible solution, always keep the overall project in mind, each of the connectivity solutions have different costs (one-off, monthly costs) not only related to the provider, but also to the way the system is set-up
The key parameter being your capture rate and picture quality (Mpix ? JPG/RAW ?), resulting in the volume of pictures to be saved at regular interval).

So, once all your project's settings have been identified, work with your solution provider to define what is the best (and most applicable) connectivity to your project depending of your requirements.

Sorry if the above was a little bit too techie ;)

As a final word, don't let technical side of things limit your artistic objective, we strongly believe technical aspect should accommodate the artistic view of the photographer and not the other way around :)

F.

PS: on our side our solutions can be delivered with any kinds of network layer (Ethernet, Wi-Fi, DSL, 3G, 4G/LTE, Satellite, Cable, Fiber, ...) depending of local constraints.
For example, we can deliver 3G setups capturing RAW from a 5D MIII at one picture every 20s, during months, without requiring local access to the device, but don't imagine transferring all those pictures over a 3G link ;). In such situations we would setup a local NAS to save all full-size pictures and send scaled down version (maybe at a slower rate than capture rate), online for preview (and maybe to be displayed on our customer's website).

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Sat May 04, 2013 9:32 am
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Post Re: Setting up multi-year construction timelapse shots?
A big challenge might be securing your cameraposition for 4 years and keep it fixed.
If it's in a building: what happens if the owner sells it? Or goes broke?

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Mon Jun 03, 2013 12:54 am
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Post Re: Setting up multi-year construction timelapse shots?
timescapes wrote:
Artistically speaking, for a 3- or 4-year timelapse, what time of day should the shots be triggered, etc?



I would shoot the maximum number of frames you can 24/7 over the 4 years. Every hour? every 15 minutes? or whatever you memory cards can take. You then can sort them by the time they were taken during editing.

As mentioned earlier night shots would also be good to have.

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Mon Jun 03, 2013 12:55 pm
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Post Re: Setting up multi-year construction timelapse shots?
Hi Tom,

Can I add to the biased solutions?

Our system can handle the extreme temps in the middle east as well as offering more than enough local and remote storage to handle a long term time lapse. We've been doing it for years in Dubai with Woods Hole Group for oceanographic studies of the Palm Jumeirah project, and indirectly in the region through various film and photography companies. We do offer discounts for multiple system purchases.

We have some options that might help in the case of a long term application such as windshield wiper/washer kit, local storage up to 2TB, extreme temp upgrade, and remote configuration/focusing capabilities. We are compatible with all recent Canon DSLR camera models such as the 5D Mark III and 6D. No monthly services are required to operate the system as such you can operate it with no recurring monthly costs. If you did need it, our monthly hosting includes FTP site access to the entire archive as well as html5 based slideshows for displaying the entire archive online on any device including smartphones without the need for an "app". It is a fully autonomous system with no user interaction required, and includes remote support from us if you don't care to be hands on with the system at all.

Whatever solution you go with, you will need to account for the extreme summer heat and likely dust storms that frequent the area. 3G/4G will be a challenge since the local pricing is quite extreme per monthly GB. Most of the companies we have worked with there utilize a hard wired broadband or wifi. If you are bidding a job, you should bid into the price a few site visits for maintenance.

Let me know if you need further information.

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Sun Jun 09, 2013 8:52 am
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Post Re: Setting up multi-year construction timelapse shots?
A connected question:

In Australia there are lots of companies who specialise in "construction timelapse", and if you Google it, you'll get lots of companies. If I Google that for the US, barely anything comes up. Just wondering if there is another term used in the US and other places around the world for long-term timelapse of construction, mining, etc? Or is it just not a specialised field there?

There seems to be a big market of IP cameras doing construction monitoring and then throwing together a time-lapse movie, but very few during DSLR construction time-lapse.

Matt

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www.photosentinel.com | Long term time-lapse for the pro! | 3G enabled | Use your own DSLR | Web config | Download images direct to FTP/Dropbox | Solar-powered | IP65 weatherproof |

Also Aussie distributors of eMotimo TB3 motion control head: eMotimo in Australia


Thu Jun 13, 2013 9:15 pm
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Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2010 9:02 am
Posts: 160
Location: France / Canada
Post Re: Setting up multi-year construction timelapse shots?
photosentinel wrote:
A connected question:

In Australia there are lots of companies who specialise in "construction timelapse", and if you Google it, you'll get lots of companies. If I Google that for the US, barely anything comes up. Just wondering if there is another term used in the US and other places around the world for long-term timelapse of construction, mining, etc? Or is it just not a specialised field there?

There seems to be a big market of IP cameras doing construction monitoring and then throwing together a time-lapse movie, but very few during DSLR construction time-lapse.

Matt


You are right Matt, a very few companies specialize in D-SLR based time-lapse, as far as I know, there is only us in Canada and EVS & Harbotronics in the US to offer a standalone product.
We also noticed a strong difference between North America and Europe on this topic, not been able to figure out the exact reason.

By the way, Nick, very nice job on your new website.

Edit: I forgot to mention Harbotronics in my initial reply, sorry Mark.

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Fri Jun 14, 2013 3:10 pm
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Joined: Tue Jan 11, 2011 8:12 pm
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Post Re: Setting up multi-year construction timelapse shots?
Harbortronics has exclusively been in the time-lapse business for 14 years in the USA! We've been making a very reliable and rugged autonomous SLR based time-lapse system for about 8 years.

Time-lapse is a niche market, and frankly it's pretty difficult to figure out the marketing. We spend a pretty penny each month for Google placement, but I wish I knew a better way. It's always a guess as to exactly what search terms people will use.


Mon Jun 17, 2013 9:20 am
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Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 10:02 am
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Location: Miami, FL
Post Re: Setting up multi-year construction timelapse shots?
Thanks for the website compliment.

As for the comments about not finding US companies on Google, the US market is saturated with these companies that stick a $500 network camera in a housing and call it a time lapse camera. Then there are some companies that use a DSLR but obfuscate it to seem like they have their own technology. They will never tell you what model/lens combo they use and they charge exorbitant prices for monthly services. We try to be completely open and honest about our tech since we designed our own hardware platform. We have been around since 1991 doing scientific time lapse for oceanographic studies and construction management(yes DOS and Windows 3.1 were involved.)

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Tue Jun 18, 2013 7:31 am
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Joined: Sun Oct 09, 2011 7:34 pm
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Location: Melbourne, Australia
Post Re: Setting up multi-year construction timelapse shots?
Yeah, from all my research, it seems like the US is swamped with webcams for construction monitoring with a "oh, by-the-way, here's a timelapse video" add-on feature. It's interesting how the market can be so different in different countries!

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www.photosentinel.com | Long term time-lapse for the pro! | 3G enabled | Use your own DSLR | Web config | Download images direct to FTP/Dropbox | Solar-powered | IP65 weatherproof |

Also Aussie distributors of eMotimo TB3 motion control head: eMotimo in Australia


Wed Jun 19, 2013 8:06 pm
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Joined: Mon Jan 20, 2014 12:39 pm
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Post Re: Setting up multi-year construction timelapse shots?
Hey guys!
I find this discussion remarkably interesting and I'd like it to be continued! ;)
There's a question which popped up in my head as I read all the replies: Where to mount the cameras?
I know, there is no general answer to this question. I'm aware that that's a challenge as ever site is different. But what are your experiences of construction sites in the middle of nowhere? Or in the middle of the city? Do you knock on the door of the building next to the site, asking the owner "can I mount a camera to your roof"? Do you have to pay them or anything?
I'd like to hear your experiences on this topic please! ;)


Mon Jan 20, 2014 12:48 pm
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Joined: Tue Jan 11, 2011 8:12 pm
Posts: 121
Post Re: Setting up multi-year construction timelapse shots?
As you guessed, it's a very general question, and the answer is specific to each site.
1) Roofs... on guyed tripods, parapet clamps, and other odd structures to conform to the needs of the building super. Rarely have power available, nor networks without lots of effort and coordination. Lousy access, so use a large memory card!
2) Building faces... pretty rare given the danger to people below, and extreme difficulty of access.
3) Through windows. Not uncommon. Pay the resident for AC power, and stick the camera behind a sofa, looking through a patch of window. Inside reflections, camera bumps, etc. Yuck, but sometimes the only reasonable solution.
4) Existing power pole. Not uncommon, but required permission of the power company.
5) Purpose installed poles... very common.
6) Radio towers, observation deck on buildings, construction cranes, airplane flyby, etc. Lots of creative solutions available.


Tue Jan 21, 2014 7:58 am
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Joined: Wed Aug 17, 2011 8:07 am
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Post Re: Setting up multi-year construction timelapse shots?
I'm currently working on a series of 4 month time-lapses shot on harbortronics and learned a few VALUABLE lessons. Our goal was to show the change of seasons in some very remote locations. I'm editing the footage now and my editing woes brought me here.

Assuming you would program it to just shoot during the day.
1. AV mode all the way. I'd put 3-6 stops of ND as long as the camera could meter properly for AV mode.
2. Shoot at as many intervals as you can fit onto a card. My guess is you will need to swap the card out periodically for a four year sequence. We shot large raw but the deliverable was 1080P. If I was to do it again I would have sacrificed the final size for more images given I could not access the Harbortronics while they were shooting. The cloud movement is vary jarring.
3. Watch "Chasing Ice" Not only was it a great film, but I remember learning a few technical details from it.

Project I'm involved with (pitch reel). Actual doc series not being released until later this year/2015.
[vimeo]https://vimeo.com/49039042[/vimeo]

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Wed Aug 13, 2014 3:23 pm
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Joined: Tue Apr 28, 2009 7:48 pm
Posts: 144
Location: Vista, California
Post Re: Setting up multi-year construction timelapse shots?
Lets go a step further and put the cameras in motion, solar powered and some sort of automated lens cleaning system. It would also need to send raw files to the cloud. I would also take a night shot per day and edit those separately.


Wed Aug 13, 2014 6:11 pm
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