Selecting the right suppliers when working on a construction project can be fraught with risk. These are companies that you’re going to have to trust to be with you for the long haul, so you need reassurance that you’re making the right choice. For time lapse, monitoring and marketing materials you only have one chance to get it right - if the progress isn’t recorded in the best way possible, you can’t turn back the clock.
Never underestimate the value of the archive you will be creating. A good example of this is the Queensferry Crossing. A £1.35bn project, this bridge over the Firth of Forth joins the road bridge built in 1964 and the iconic Forth rail bridge built in 1890 - to make three crossings in three centuries. Yet the decision was made to use cheap cameras. So when we come to look back on the long term construction time lapse, there is only muddy-looking footage with a distorted lens - hardly the treatment a structure of such monumental importance deserves.
To help navigate your way through this potential minefield, we've put together a list of questions that we'd recommend asking potential suppliers, before appointing a time lapse provider on your construction project.
What’s the background of the company in producing professional media?
Understanding of the visual medium is really important - it can make the difference between an OK shot and a great shot.
A CCTV company might have a very different view of where a camera should be placed than a creative company. Our MD has produced time lapse for documentaries and commercials all over the world for over 15 years and we have a dedicated and experienced production team to get the absolute best from your time lapse.
Can the supplier produce other marketing materials?
It can be really beneficial to use the same company for time lapse and for media production. There are economies of scale, and you’ll end up working with one team that truly understands the project inside out. Make sure you check showreels, as these are a great way of ensuring the supplier you choose has the creative skills you need.
We regularly make films for clients and include techniques like aerial filming (full-size helicopter or drone filming), storyboarding, interviews, 2D and 3D animated graphics, 360º filming and more. As we’re entirely focussed on construction and engineering projects, we have a deep understanding of the sector and we can tell your story safely, quickly, with minimum disruption and in a truly engaging way.
Does the supplier have a viewer that you can easily ‘test drive’ on a number of example projects?
Does this work smoothly on your desktop and on your phone? Can you see ‘work in progress’ videos easily - without being directed to an external video player?
Can you compare between shots - using wipe, dissolve and even subtract to detect changes?
Are there any ‘added value’ services on the viewer? An example is our exclusive ‘BIM viewer’ feature - a world-first, that brings the 4D model directly into the viewer.
As you are not likely to be the only person using the viewer - we’ve worked on projects where tens of thousands of stakeholders have had simultaneous access - making sure the experience is as good as possible and works with thousands or even millions of viewers online can be critical to success.
Do they have a good credit score?
This is vital, as you want the assurance that your supplier has the financial resilience to see your project through to the end. Resources that can be used for checking include Companies House in the UK and Dun & Bradstreet for international suppliers.
What is the sector-specific experience of the company?
It’s best to choose a supplier who understands your sector and has worked on something very similar to what you’re doing, or on a wide enough variety of projects that they’ll be able to use their experience and judgement to give you the best solution.
What are the supplier’s safety accreditations?
It goes without saying that your supplier needs to understand that safety is paramount. There is an abundance of safety training, accreditation and experience available - including rail safety, working at height (including rescue), working offshore and more.
Add to this company safety accreditations like IOSH Managing Safely, SMAS (Safety Management Advisory Services) and CHAS (Contractor’s Health & Safety Assessment Scheme). By checking for these, you know you are in safe hands.
Is the supplier aware of GDPR legislation and their responsibility for your information?
Many smaller companies don’t have plans or policies in this area, which can in turn put your own compliance at risk.
Does the company have a Disaster Recovery Plan?
This might sound alarmist, but you want to know that the supplier can keep working through fire or flood. An example is a competitor who stores all the pictures from their cameras on servers in their own premises.
Does the company have quality management accreditations (like ISO9001: 2015?)
This ensures that your supplier is dedicated to continuous improvement and remains truly responsive to clients. It’s an assurance that you are dealing with a professional organisation with a strong customer service ethos.
How are your images stored?
There’s an old saying in IT that data only exists if it’s stored in at least two physical locations. Make sure all your images are transferred from the camera to at least one other location to avoid a potential catastrophic loss.
Image security is another thing to look out for - ensure your chosen supplier is using proper encryption and network security protocols to make sure that all images are being transferred securely, for your peace of mind.
Most importantly - what happens if something goes wrong?
The most vital thing about filming a construction project over months, years or even decades is continuity. With the best will in the world, sometimes things break down. Even with fail-safes and backups in place, having an actual human being in the mix to ensure all your cameras are functioning correctly, every day of the year, can’t be beaten. Make sure your systems are being monitored, all the time.
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