Using an Automated Flight Path for Better Time-Lapses

Large-scale construction projects and other landscape photography are being captured more and more by aerial drones. It’s easy to fly a drone and scout some of the best angles that a property or landscape have to offer. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to match this frame perfectly after revisiting the site and the seasons start to change. Pre-programmed flight planning offers drone operators and photographers the ability to take consecutive before-and-after pictures for use in a variety of situations.

drone time-lapse

Automated flight paths help create better aerial time lapses.

At TriAd, we often are asked to provide drone services for construction clients. Whether it’s capturing construction of a local datacenter or a utility line installation for a brand-new housing division, some of these projects can be massive in scale. Our clients love to showcase their time-lapses to current and future customers. They also love to send out our weekly flight to their customer as just another benefit to the project. It’s an easy way to show recurrent progress and ease the nerves of an anxious customer.

A video time-lapse can be a powerful tool. It can provide a visual explanation of what to expect during the build and how the property will progress towards completion, with all the different components and stages showcased. The problem is that these time-lapses have always needed to be captured from a camera mounted from the ground, either on a post or high up on a telephone pole. But ground cameras aren’t a good solution for MASSIVE projects that can span hundreds of square meters. For that kind of project, you’ll need an aerial solution.

The Solution: Aerial Time-Lapses

The solution to capturing large projects is to create a flight plan and run a fully-automated flight path with the drone. Flight path software allows you to fly the exact same path, altitude, speed and point-of-focus every time you go out to fly. This opens the door to incredibly accurate time-lapses and before & after photos.

There are a few options on how to go about doing this…

Aerial Video Time-Lapse or Before & After

Video is the best format for aerial drones when it comes to time-lapses. One of the most interesting ways of portraying this in video format is to use your flight planning software to fly an orbit pattern around your point of interest at a slow and steady speed. Revisit the site as often as needed to fly the same automated flight path. These clips are usually cut to music and compiled so that the shot dissolves into the next video clip in the sequence every few seconds. This keeps the viewer’s attention and succeeds in showing how the landscape will change over time.

Aerial Photo Time-Lapse or Before & After

Capturing photos are a classic way to show your progress, even if they are eventually pulled into a video format. Combining hundreds or thousands of photos into a sequence will provide the best impact. Before & Afters can also be quite easy with this method, but full-blown time-lapses can be very difficult. Ground-level cameras can be set to take images as often as needed for as long as needed. Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy way for a drone to do this. Drones cannot easily be automated for consecutive flight operations without constant human intervention. If you want to have a time-lapse, be sure to accommodate for the fact that you’ll likely be working with significantly fewer final photos than a ground camera.

Drones offer incredible views that cannot be achieved with traditional ground photography.

Drone Time-Lapse Tips

  • ALWAYS check to make sure your pilot has an FAA part-107 certification, and be sure they are checking the local flight restrictions on every visit. You do not want to be held accountable for air traffic violation fines.
  • It can be difficult to consistently get a 100% perfect duplicate angle for an aerial time-lapse even with GPS-assisted accuracy. Be sure to keep a wide frame and use a high-resolution camera on the drone. Always allow a little bit of space on the sides of the frame to allow for a digital-zoom, if needed during editing
  • Choose a flight path program that allows for point-of-interest tracking. There are many options available on the market. Do your due diligence and watch videos on how to use the program before purchase. Never use a free flight waypoint tracking or navigation software for your drone.
  • Smooth the lines between the waypoints for a better final product. Allow for curving between waypoints or use a circular orbit pattern. Nobody likes to see harsh or jerky movement on video.
  • Always test your flight path software before the project!

Start Your Time-Lapse Today

Are you ready to take the next step and see what’s needed for a drone flight in your area? At TriAd, our pilots are FAA Part-107 certified for commercial operation and take all necessary steps to ensure a safe and authorized flight, in both restricted and unrestricted airspace. Our video and photo editing are handled in-house with fast turnaround. Receive your weekly updates within 24 hours of being captured.

Contact us today to learn more about how an aerial time-lapse can benefit your customers and improve your marketing materials.

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