Long-Term & Construction Timelapse: 10 Mistakes Photographers Must Avoid

Long-Term & Construction Timelapse: 10 Mistakes Photographers Must Avoid

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– G’day, I’m Matt from
photoSentinel Australia. – And I’m Ross from photoSentinel USA. – And this is ten mistakes
photographers make when shooting long-term timelapse. – And how to avoid them. – Mistake number one is
assuming long-term timelapse is the same as short-term timelapse. There are a lot of crossovers, but there are also some
really fundamental differences in pre-production,
production, post-production and even the business side of giving long-term timelapse to your clients. Now, that’s not to say that you have to be an absolute expert in everything, but it is worth investing the time, learning and educating yourself
around long-term timelapse and the unique skills
that are required there. So, how to avoid this mistake is spend the time educating yourself. – Number two is failing to plan. Now, with any creative project, planning is the key to the
success of the project, and long-term timelapse is no different, because you can never go back and see the beginning of a construction
project a second time, so you only get one
chance for the success. So there are a lot of different factors that you need to be considering
with long-term timelapse for planning. Which equipment
are you going to use? The camera and lens setup for that? What’s going to be the site
access available to you? and a plethora of other
things to consider. Now, to avoid the mistake we’ve
created the project planner, which will help you think
through all the different aspects of your project to plan properly. Now, to help you flesh
that out even further, you can talk with one
of our experts as well. – Mistake number three: Under-shooting. With long-term timelapse,
you’re going to end up with a whole lot of photos
that you actually can’t use in your final video. This is because there’s going
to be days where it rains, perhaps days on end, days
where all the activity is taking place inside the building, while you’re taking photos of the outside of the building that’s not changing. You never know, workers may go on strike. You may have other problems
that mean you’re not getting a change in the scene
that you’re photographing. And then of course, you’re
going to get different light early in the morning,
late in the afternoon. You may get the sun shining in at different times of the year. You’re going to end up with a whole lot of photos you can’t use. So. what you don’t want to
do with long-term timelapse is what you sometimes do
with short-term timelapse; which is, you start with how long you want your final clip or video to be and you work your way backwards, working out how many photos you need. But, because you’re going to
be cutting out so many photos in the final editing process
of long-term timelapse, you actually want to overshoot. You want to shoot a lot
more photos than you need. Now, the need to shoot photos
has to also be balanced with your capacity to
deal with lots of photos. So, in particular, your data
budget for your cellular plan. Obviously, you can’t upload terabytes and terabytes of data every month. So you need to find the balance between how many photos can you shoot, without going over your
budget for uploading. And then of course, you also want to hold in balance your post-processing power, how much storage you’re going to need. What you’re looking for in the end is a series of photos
where change happens, between each shot ,and
you’ve got similar lighting and similar colours. And so, to avoid this mistake, and make sure you get enough
photos for your final sequence, over-shoot, but within the parameters of how much you can upload according to your data restrictions. We’ve found that roughly 10 to 30 minutes of photo ends up being about right. – And number four is failing
to test your equipment. I cannot stress enough the importance of testing your equipment properly. Because with long-term
timelapse equipment, there’s a lot that is going on. You’ve got the camera, you’ve
got the cellular network, and you’ve got the
intervalometer going on. So every aspect of this needs to be thoroughly thought through, thoroughly tested before you go on-site. You do not want to have
to be stuck up a pole, 15 feet in the air,
wondering “What am I doing with this piece of equipment?” You want to have confidence
in this piece of equipment that you’ve purchased in order to be able to successfully complete this project. Now, you can have that
success by spending at least, we recommend, 24 to 48 hours
for every single project. And for your first project especially, I even recommend up to a week. As much time as you possibly can, to give yourself the
confidence for the success of the project. – Mistake number five is failing to budget for maintenance visits. Now, in an ideal world, you’d
put the equipment out there, nothing would ever go
wrong. But, of course, Murphy’s Law, we know
things will go wrong. Whether it’s a spider weaving
a web in front of the glass, or lightning striking, or
working with technology, things are going to fail occasionally. The best way you can prepare for that is by budgeting in some
maintenance visits. We recommend budgeting
for a maintenance visit every two to three months. Hopefully, you won’t
have to use them at all, but chances are the glass will get dirty, something will go wrong. You need to go out there and visit it, and at least you’ve budgeted for it and it’s not coming out
of your bottom line. So to avoid this mistake, make sure you budget
for a maintenance visit at least every two to three
months of your project. – Now, mistake number six
is installing your unit, in a place that is costly to access. Now, this isn’t always
avoidable, but whenever possible, you want to put your unit
in a place where it’s easy to access because you will want
to perform maintenance on it throughout the project,
and you want to make sure that every time you’re
not going to have to pay for a scissor lift and all
those different difficulties that can come with costly access. – Mistake number seven is
setting your camera on auto. Now with long-term timelapse, you do want to put it in aperture priority because your lighting is going
to be changing hour to hour, day to day, week to week,
different seasons across the year. So, you want it in Aperture Priority. But everything else you
want to lock down to manual. For example, you want to
lock down your colour balance to one of the manual settings. It doesn’t really matter which one, as long as it’s locked down manually so that it’s consistent
throughout the project. You want to lock down
your ISO to one setting. Otherwise in low light situations
the ISO is going to ramp and you’ll probably end
up with grainy pictures rather than opening the
shutter up for longer exposure. And then, most importantly of all, you want to lock down
your lens to manual focus. Otherwise, you’re going to
get some focus shifting. Or, even worse, because the
intervalometer is going to try and focus the camera first, you might actually miss the photo if the intervalometer
doesn’t hold down the trigger long enough. So, other than Aperture Priority, you want to lock down as much as possible into a manual settings. It’ll make it a lot easier for your post-production later on. – Mistake number eight, not
using a connected system. There are a lot of benefits to the status reporting
of a connected system. You want to make sure that your camera is constantly taking the
photos, the photos look good, there’s nothing that’s
gone wrong with the system. You want a connected
system to ensure that. Additionally, the remote configuration. You want to be able to change the settings so that if there is
something important happening on the project, that’s
very quickly happening, you can change the shooting
regime to take a photo, say, every five minutes
instead of every 20. And, with a connected system
you have an online gallery, which is incredibly
valuable to the end client, which you can charge an
additional service fee for. – Mistake number nine, failing
to change shooting regime for significant events
that happen on-site. So, Ross was just talking
about the connectivity and the importance of
that, and one of the things that you get with that is the ability to change your settings. Now, on construction sites things happen at varying
speeds at different times. Sometimes things are really slow, but then sometimes, such
as during a concrete pour, things are really fast. You might have 10 times the
number of people on-site, 10 times the action all
happening in one day, much faster than normal. So, when events like this come up, you want to be able to jump online, remotely change your
intervalometer settings to be shooting a lot faster so
that you capture that action, and that’ll make for a
much more interesting video at the end of the project. To avoid this mistake, make
sure you ask your client to have a contact in their company, who can tell you when these
events are about to happen, and then change your settings
so you can shoot much faster while they’re going on. – Mistake number 10 is charging
only for the final video. With long-term timelapse, you’re uploading photos every single day, and so you should be charging
a recurring monthly fee to the end client accordingly. Additionally, you don’t want
to charge only 50% upfront, like a normal creative
project and 50% at the end, because long-term timelapse projects, construction projects, take a long time. And so you want to be
locking in a monthly service to provide that stability
for your business. To avoid this mistake, make sure that you’re locking in a monthly
service with the end client and not just for the
final timelapse video. – So that’s 10 mistakes photographers make when shooting long-term
timelapse, and how to avoid them. We’ve got a raft of other videos that do a deep dive into
production, pre-production, post-production of long-term timelapse, so make sure you check those out.

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