Timelapses as Project Management and Marketing Tools 

Timelapses as Project Management and Marketing Tools 

It's no secret that those interested in the construction and development industry form a special community. They are also loyal and dedicated, as evidenced by the hundreds of thousands of visitors to UrbanToronto each month. The community is also very visual and enjoys following construction progress photos of several high-profile projects posted by contributors each day.

But the gold standard for this community in the visual realm is the time-lapse video, which follows the rise of a remarkable building from ground to top in just a few minutes. The more remarkable a project, the more interesting. [If you can endure the hilarious 1970s documentary music, there is a YouTube video about the construction of the CN Tower which contains some fascinating timelapse footage as it rose into the skyline.]

Time-lapse of an outdoor construction site, image courtesy of Zeitdice

More than just eye candy or beauty shots, time-lapse videos are turning out to be playing an increasingly important role in the marketing arsenal of developers and general contractors as they look to promote their work and stand out from the crowd in a city full of new projects. More importantly, the footage from cameras monitoring construction sites is now viewed by the industry as an important project management tool.

“Clients often mention that they initially viewed our time-lapse cameras as a marketing tool, but quickly realized their value as an effective project management tool,” says Michael Schwanzer, founder and CEO of Toronto-based Zeitdice, which manufactures and installs the solar-powered cameras that monitor many construction sites around the city. Their cameras can automatically upload high-resolution (up to 9K) images and video to the cloud via 4G cellular connectivity.

The on-site cameras provide a reliable and hassle-free way to document and monitor projects from anywhere. “I especially love hearing stories about engineers who spot potential errors early from their office across the country just because they received the weekly 30-second time-lapse video via email. This type of early detection can prevent potentially very costly errors further down the line,” Schwanzer notes.

Close-up of the camera setting for the aerial shot, image courtesy of Zeitdice

It's hard to imagine anything in our consumer world that has evolved further and faster than any other product in the technology industry, while at the same time prices have fallen dramatically. Remember when a television cost $1,500?

When Schwanzer founded Zeitdice in 2015, machine learning and AI were just becoming hot topics. He set himself the challenge of developing an autonomous camera that could potentially support various AI initiatives. After overcoming some initial challenges, hundreds of fourth-generation cameras have already been deployed this year, monitoring construction sites for $125 per month. The products are solar-powered and have a battery that can go many weeks without sunlight (think Toronto winter), eliminating the need for external power sources, which is particularly beneficial in remote areas.

Camera with solar panel, image courtesy of Zeitdice

“We offer cameras designed to capture images, photos and videos online. We call this 'Vision-As-A-Service',” Schwanzer explains. “On site, the camera just needs to be mounted and turned on to display images and videos on any dashboard the customer prefers, such as Autodesk Construction Cloud, Procore or our own. Customers love it because they don't have to provide WiFi or power to receive time-lapse videos for sharing, plus they have an easy-to-use web interface to monitor their jobsite.”

Time-lapse videos serve multiple purposes, making them invaluable tools for documenting and visualizing project progress. They're captivating and perfect for social media to effectively engage prospects and buyers. New condo buyers are already excited to move in, and the ability to visit a project website and see their new home actually being built only increases the anticipation.

In the GTA, time-dice cameras have been used by many major developers, including Marlin Spring Developments at its House of Assembly, Stockyards District Residences and The Tailor projects, Hullmark at 80 Atlantic Avenue and 12 Ossington, AMICO at The Mill Landing and McGibbon on Main projects, and the Redwood Properties project at Yonge and Green Lane in Newmarket.

Camera attached to a concrete pole, image courtesy of Zeitdice

In addition to residential projects, schools, universities and rural fire stations across North America also use Zeitdice images and videos. The products are also applicable outside urban areas, especially on farms. Hundreds of cameras have been deployed in greenhouses across Europe, initially to train artificial intelligence and later to automatically detect anomalies such as nutrient deficiencies or predict crop yields.

Today, cameras are ubiquitous and in the construction industry, images and videos enable instant analytics that can be incorporated into marketing and project management to increase sales and efficiency in construction. New tools and new solutions that have always been welcomed in the construction industry.

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UrbanToronto has a research service, UrbanToronto Pro, that provides comprehensive data on construction projects in the Greater Toronto Area – from proposal to completion. We also offer instant reports, downloadable snapshots based on location, and a daily subscription-based newsletter, New Development Insider, that tracks projects from the initial application.​​