Time-lapse is a popular technique for creating interesting film and video sequences. You see a significant amount of time-lapse used on broadcast television, feature films and even in corporate video. Used sparingly, time-lapse works well as a transition or short montage between segments. It is used (and over-used) in reality TV to depict the passage of time (“Hey, let’s watch the sun set and rise in 7 seconds as the show tees up the next day”). That’s a job that will keep the camera crew up all night babysitting the camera during some good old-fashioned interval shooting. Gather the stills the next day, play with the speed and… voila! A beautiful time-lapse sequence.
But how about a long (and I mean long) passage of time? Not just days or weeks, but months at a time? Enough time that there are changes of seasons? That’s a little too long to be swapping out the memory cards in your DSLR.
This was our challenge several years ago when faced with a long-term construction project that a client wanted documented— a project that had three crews working around the clock, 24×7. Oh… and the camera had to survive a construction site environment and deliver HD video. We needed something rugged, that could deliver high-quality images, be “fire and forget”— requiring minimal oversight and maintenance— yet was also cost-effective.
The solution? A camera that we could access and manage remotely, and which could be programmed to upload stills to our off-site server.
We have now provided this solution many times over the years, and just last week we installed one into a factory which a client is renovating. It will remain in place for the next two months while the construction happens. Once provided power and a network connection, these cameras are then left undisturbed for months at a time, documenting how the world changes around them… all the while uploading a still to Jupiter’s servers every few minutes. These cameras can even be logged into and controlled remotely from our offices— or even via the smartphones in our pockets— to make any needed adjustments. Like the Roman King of the Gods that is our namesake, Jupiter Productions can control both time and space!
When all is said and done, Jupiter will have accumulated tens of thousands of still images. Our editors will then go through these images, clean them up and crop them for HD video, and then animate them into a dynamic video that tells the client’s story. Using such time lapse b-roll in a piece can really help give the viewer a sense of the scale and scope of these sorts of long-term projects.