Construction Site - Time Lapse Recording


I have a client looking at installing a camera on a pole on their construction site out of the way of the construction equipment and sites.

They would like to achieve two things with this camera:

  1. Login remotely to view the site, see if there are any problems and general site progress
  2. At the end of the project, compile a time lapse of the snapshots into a video to show the construction.

Any ideas on this ? It would obviously need a rugged, 3 / 5 Megapixel, IP camera with snapshot and FTP unctionality. Bearing in mind there is no cabled communications infrastrcuture available, probably only power available. I would be able to put a modem down on site.




There are 2 fundamental approaches here:

  • Use one of the time lapse service providers who provide turnkey services for this, e.g., Earthcam
  • Put your own together with an IP camera, app, cellular router, etc. We have a review of an Axis time-lapse app with a good discussion in the comments - Axis App Aims to Disrupt Timelapse Recording

I do this all the time. Usually, I use a NAS or PC or other device with FTP server running on it. This can be in the construction trailer, NEMA box, etc. Then the camera has a function to take a snapshot on an interval, such as 1 picture per hour. Then at the end of the project, I use software on a PC to create a time lapse video.

Samsung cameras (as well as others such as Panasonic) have the time schedule function to put pictures on an FTP server.

Another possibility here is to use a camera with an FTP server and onboard storage. This would eliminate the need for additional equipment (i.e. PC, NAS, etc.) simply to send images via. FTP. They would be contained within the camera and use no bandwidth for the FTP function. You'll need to consider the capacity of the card to be sure you can store all of the images you want (depending on how frequent the images are sent, how big the images are and how long the project runs).

I would also recommend putting a router in place in addition to a modem so you have some protection for the camera (and any other networked devices) from the outside world. Assuming the FTP is being done internally on the camera to a storage card, there would be no need to port forward things to get FTP working. However, you would still need to port forward the appopriate port(s) for remote viewing, but that is likely only a single port (I recommend changing it from port 80 in the camera).

There are certainly many ways to 'skin the cat' here. Hopefully these suggestions are helpful to you.

If you are looking for a turn key solution TrueLook might be a good fit.

The Sensera MC-60 is what you're looking for. Extremely rugged, solar powered with a five day backup battery, very simple to set up and use. Buy it with a month-to-month 4G plan or get the yearly plan for the price of ten months. They have different plans depending on how much data you'll need. It'll give you live video, snapshots, and a timelapse video, all hosted on their site. Relatively cheap, too, especially compared to similiar products.

One consideration, assuming you want a hi-quality time-lapse result. Make sure you nail down what the camera FOV will need to be before recording the first snapshot.

From what I have seen, these cameras can get moved as construction proceeds, ruining the flow of the end montage.


We do this all the time with an Axis camera running an timed event who FTP's pictures to its own SD card. At the end we just use a program to create a video from all the pictures.

Tip: Be sure to get a decent SD card. We had one die on us and we lost quite a bit of pictures. Even tho we ran backups every so days.

Some of my clients use this unique system

Mainly with Axis Cameras (that we install) but they support others.. it multi-casts from a high-bandwidth server and secures/limits the connections to the camera itself.. but it out of the box can do

- time lapse

- Live view

- PTZ controls (publically shared/queued if you want)

There are many aspects to "time lapse construction cameras" to consider and many possible solutions.

Some of the "construction camera" vendors like OxBlue or those mentioned above use SLR cameras like Nikon or Canon, that take snapshots at timed intervals, send those snapshots via a cellular router to their servers/software where the end user accesses their time lapse videos. These SLR cameras typically deliver much higher image quality images compared to most IP cameras. However, these SLR cameras don't allow for live viewing, as far as I know. And the business model for some of these "construction camera" companies can include monthly charges of up to $500 per month per camera, for hosting images and providing the user interface, plus the cost of the equipment.

For a relatively low cost time lapse service, we have used TimeCam.TV. Their service starts at $20 per month, should work with any IP camera. Here's an example of a construction site that is using a Mobotix M15 6mp camera for viewing live, and TimeCam.TV for current time lapse videos. System is also sending 6mp images via FTP for custom time lapse videos. Here's an example of a custom time lapse video created by JDP Media, camera used was an older model Mobotix M12.

Other variations on "construction camera" requests can be time lapse videos AND/OR live camera viewing AND/OR full video security management features AND/OR a robust perimeter intrusion detection system that detects intrusions and allows for pro-active intervention tactics like sirens, strobes, recorded warning messages, talk-down through loudspeakers, live monitoring by a professional monitoring station, etc. These requests are all doable if the budget is there.

I've found that requests from end users for a "construction camera system", when questioned in detail about what they expect from the system, will often morph into some of these scenarios described above.

A couple of popular cellular router mfgs that will connect a camera to the internet are Sierra Wireless or Cradlepoint. For about $50 per year, Cradlepoint offers a fairly sophisticated cloud based dashboard that allow users to monitor all aspects of their cellular system, including analytics for performance, data usage, cost, etc.

final note: If there's no AC power available, which is common with "construction cameras" they can usually be powered with solar electric power.

I'm doing the same thing on a construction site in Northern Iowa. We placed a Dahua PTZ on a roof across the street which is approx 3.5 stories high. It's a 2 mp camera with I believe 4.4 to 127 zoom. The job foremans office is in the ground floor office of this building. We ran cat 6 under ground down to office and have it powered locally on roof. Also near camera we have a bright ( not sure of Lums ) light that shines over the area. This pouts the camera in color mode all the time. The building site is the site of new construction of a three story building. We have been filming since ground breaking. I'm not a fan of low frame rate recording but we have this camera set on three frames a second and it's being recorded on dahlia nvr at 2 mp. I m impressed on how good the video is when whe construction equipment and personnel are working we see very little distortion. When vehicles r driving by at 20 to 25 miles an hour we see a little. With this same camera we can zoom three blocks away and zoom in on a church sign and reed 6 inch letters plainly. By recording it on 3 FPS e use one terabyte every 3 to 3.5 months. The General Contractor and engineers are able to watch the site in Chicago flawlessly. I have minimal cost in this set up but the returns are great.