In 2009, founders Ashley and Michael were in the local camera store, a dangerous place for any photographers living off 2-minute noodles. When a shiny gadget presented itself in the form of an intervalometer (fancy trigger cable) it sparked a somewhat involved brotherly exchange but little did we know at the time how important this decision would be.
A few weeks later one of our construction clients asked if we could do a time lapse of a bridge demolition. Armed with our new intervalometer a sense of excitement and truly misguided optimism we set out to capture our first ever time lapse. Then, reality hit, we had no way of powering it for the duration or protecting our $10,000 camera from the elements or someone’s early Christmas present. So starting at 7:00 pm on a cold winters night Ashley had to maintain the camera for 12 hours swapping batteries and data in between bursts of sleep on the floor of our van.
“This was truly something McGuyver would’ve been proud of”
A few weeks later we were working on the Airport Link project when we were asked to do a 5 days time lapse of a bridge demolition. This created a new problem to solve, how we will protect and power our camera for 5 days? Like all DIY inspiration, we headed to Bunnings to see what we could find when inspiration hit us in aisle 23, Plumbing!
We built our first ever time-lapse housing from a $9.00 stormwater drain, a hole cut in the bottom, some perspex, silicon and other bits and pieces to mount the camera, this was truly something McGuyver would’ve been proud of.
We affectionally called our first time-lapse cameras dumb systems, primarily because they were just that, a camera, trigger, power and looked like something a caveman bashed together. The main problem with these early cameras was there’s no way of remotely monitoring the camera, so once it was set up on site we had to hope and pray that it was still working when we came back to check on it.
Over the next year, we were doing more and more time lapse work with our clients and while the housing evolved into something smaller and more streamlined they still came from aisle 23. It wasn’t until early 2011 that we were really set a challenge. A new client asked us if we could do an 18-month remote time lapse project outside of Dalby, 3 hours drive from our office.
“The only thing it was missing was a hamster on a wheel.”
We had to quickly figure out how to build a system that could be monitored remotely, run off solar power, battery and data backup and most importantly reliable. Like a trio of Mad Scientists Ashley, Michael and our then post-production artist Hormuzd set out to build our first remote system. We worked 24hrs a day around the clock as the deadline was looming to have the system tested and ready for installation. Using off the shelf components, 3G modem, a microcomputer, car batteries, solar panel and an intervalometer mashed together like a primary school science experiment, our first remote time lapse system affectionately named “Frankenstein’s Monster” was born, the only thing it was missing was a hamster and wheel.
Running off pure adrenaline, excitement and a real sense of accomplishment after 2 days installing and testing our new remote time-lapse camera, Blackbox was officially launched. We’re happy to say that in the years since; we no longer build our housings from aisle 23 and use a mish-mash of off the shelf components. We are continually looking for ways to make it better and have a new system just around the corner. Check out the gallery below from that very first install.