Posted on September 22, 2011

We've been asked to 'rescue' time lapse cameras provided by others - that have been mounted unsafely, or just don't work - a few times now. So I thought it would be a good time to share some experiences we've had in this field.
Firstly, this week we recconoitered a site in the UK, and while there we saw a time lapse camera covering another angle on the same site. Here's a picture:
So, other than the fact that they're using sandbags to weigh the camera down, there seem to be multiple dangling cables with no sort of restraint, a couple of random flagstones, and of course a big plastic box. Our cameras are self-contained, and mounted safely, on professional bracketry with no trailing wires.

Carrying on the sandbag theme, here's a system that we rescued in London a little while back:
This one proved that if you make your camera mount out of a huge wooden sled, and place it on a smooth roof with a downward angle and no parapet, guess what? When the rain comes, it will slide off. In this case, it had fallen on to a public area, and it was pure luck that no-one was underneath at the time. We made it safe.

But - where are the sandbags, I hear you ask? Well, they're so small, you need a close-up: That's approximately 6kg of mini-sand bags, suitable for ballasting a doll's house in a quiet room.

A couple of things about that camera. Wiring, not very safe:

Also, if you can see the sky through holes in the casing, it's probably not really weatherproof:

The second camera we found on this site (not working, horizon off-balance and out of focus) was mounted on a tripod:

Really. We love tripods. But they're only any good if they have an operator behind them. Otherwise they don't tend to keep very still if it gets windy...

Moving on, here's a scaffolding tower, built by a well-meaning but inexperienced subcontractor for one of our clients.

We weren't ready to risk using this - so we consulted with a UK scaffolding engineer, and provided a comprehensive report of the safety issues. A new tower was built, and certified to EU safety standards.

Finally, here's a ladder we found on a site - again, not in the UK:

There's a serious point to be made here. We love doing our job, and we love the films that we make for clients. But no shot is ever worth risking our safety, or the safety of others for. We follow rigorous UK work-at-height regulations, wherever in the world we're working. Three of our engineers are first-aiders. All engineers have IPAF licenses for operating cherrypickers and scissor lifts, and CSCS site safety cards. We devise - and follow, meticulously - comprehensive risk assessments and method statements for every single job that we do, and we're learning all the time.