When clients first contact us about using a construction camera to monitor a project or create a time-lapse movie of an upcoming project, they’re often curious about why we use a system to capture many thousands of high-resolution photographs instead of video. It’s a perfectly reasonable question. We’re so accustomed to video from TV, movies, and security cameras, and, on the surface, it makes sense to assume that video would be the better medium.
To understand why systems that automatically capture thousands of high-quality photographic images are in fact better for managing projects, it’s helpful to keep in mind what project stakeholders want to accomplish and how this was done before construction cameras were used.
In my days of engineering, when I would make a site visit or have an onsite meeting, it was not to watch a random concrete pour or stand over the shoulder of an electrician running wiring. We wanted to walk the site, checking on the current status of the project and identify issues that needed to be addressed. Then we’d visit the job site again to follow up on those issues, check for new ones, and make sure the project was on schedule.
Our clients’ objectives are the same when using construction cameras to monitor projects remotely. They don’t want to watch a security camera; they need imagery that gives them a clear understanding of project status and serves as a useful documentation tool. High-resolution images serve these objectives in a ways video doesn’t.
Photos = Better detail.
The resolution of high-quality photos is magnitudes greater than that of video, providing viewers with clarity and detail beyond what video captures. So, whereas video footage can show work being done, using high-resolution photos gives you the level of detail needed to see if that work is – or is not – what was on the latest set of drawings.
Photos = Efficient, effective retrieval of information.
Archiving video footage makes little sense in terms of time or usefulness. It preserves far too much low-quality information that is of little value. Systematically captured high-resolution photos, in contrast, capture every moment of construction but in a format that is useful and delivers results. With a few clicks, users are able to instantly determine the project’s real-time status, as well as easily review images from any date and time to determine progress made.
Photos = Superior time-lapse movies.
A time-lapse movie of the completed project is a powerful documentary and promotional tool. But video doesn’t allow for high-quality time-lapse productions because of its lower resolution and depth. Producing a time-lapse movie from high-quality photos, on the other hand, allows for targeted image selection and far better editing, both of which are key to delivering a dramatic professional-quality time-lapse movie of your project.
On a final note – leaving image quality and utility issues aside – while video has its place, the vast majority of construction job sites do not have the connectivity or bandwidth needed for video. Cellular networks allow us to reliably transmit images from nearly any job site – and to place cameras in the ideal locations for these projects – months before data connectivity is typically available at a site.
These considerations all taken together is what enables us to better serve clients across six continents.