A Little Time Lapse of the World’s Largest Cleanup Program: The Ocean Cleanup

We’ve seen so many incredible applications of our products over the years. And while we try not to pick favorites, The Ocean Cleanup may be one of the best yet given the great cause.

The Ocean Cleanup is a nonprofit that is developing advanced technologies to rid the world’s oceans of plastic. And they’re doing this by developing large floating systems that concentrate and collect the plastic from the sea. The Ocean Cleanup is the largest cleanup effort in the world. Yes, it’s as cool as it sounds. And what’s more, it’s extremely important.

The world’s oceans have a massive plastic problem. Every year, millions of tons of plastic enter the oceans, primarily from rivers. This entry process can take many years. The plastics drift into large systems of circulating ocean currents, also known as gyres, the largest of which is the infamous Great Pacific Garbage Patch located halfway between California and Hawaii. Once trapped in a gyre, the plastic will slowly break down into microplastics and become increasingly easier to mistake for food by sea life.

The plastic that persists and floats across the ocean isn’t going away on its own. To clean it up, two things need to happen: clean up what has already accumulated in the ocean and intercept the inflow via rivers. Enter The Ocean Cleanup. They are developing cleanup systems to clean up the legacy pollution in the gyres and river solutions, Interceptors, to stop plastic from entering the oceans. Their ultimate goal is to reduce the amount of plastic in the world’s oceans by at least 90% by 2040. 

You might be asking yourself...where will all of this plastic go? The Ocean Cleanup plans to make goods available for purchase from the waste it recovers. And because they’re a non-profit, 100% of the proceeds go back to funding the cleanup. They’ve already made sunglasses.

We had a chance to chat with Florent Beauverd, the Creative Content Director of The Ocean Cleanup, about the organization and the role that storytelling through video has in bringing awareness to this important cause and effort.

“I joined The Ocean Cleanup in September 2016 to help tell the story of the organization to the world and report its progress through creative content production. As a Creative Content Director, I’m constantly looking for innovative, reliable and cost effective solutions to create compelling content.”


Some highlights of the time lapse can be seen in this video published in 2019 to celebrate the assembly completion.


In 2018, he set out to document the build of The Ocean Cleanup’s first Interceptor. Beauverd began by searching online for a self-sufficient and weatherproof time lapse system. But, he found that most systems were either very expensive – not ideal for a company funded through donations - or required complicated or semi-permanent installations.  At the same time, he was working with GoPro directly on how to achieve this. CamDo CEO, Todd McCann, recalls how this came about:  

"We've been contacted by GoPro many times over the years and when they called me on this one, I think I ended up losing about 3hrs that day researching plastics in the ocean! As a surfer, I have a close connection with the ocean, and whilst I knew microplastics was an issue, I felt ashamed not to have known how bad it is, or the amazing work being done to improve the situation. It cannot be overstated how important this quest is for the environment and frankly for humanity. There are many great documentaries, I highly recommend our readers check them out. As it often goes with gigs like these, we had next to no time to pull together a solution and send it over, but I knew that we just had to get this done. Florent and the team at GoPro were super helpful and I've been eagerly awaiting this video launch to have the time lapse help bring awareness to the efforts of The Ocean Cleanup team and their sponsors."

Image provided by The Ocean Cleanup>


Beauverd ended up with a CamDo Blink intervalometer (which has evolved into UpBlink) inside a SolarX enclosure with a GoPro HERO4 camera. The scheduling was set to run Monday to Friday from 5am to 8pm, shooting one picture every 1.5 minutes. The time lapse project started in late November 2018 and wrapped in May 2019. This duration and schedule resulted in a lot of images, but they needed to ensure all key moments of assembly were fully captured in detail. 


February 2019 - Assembly of INTERCEPTOR 004 - Kampen, Netherlands


Beauverd faced two main challenges during set-up. The first was defining the right time lapse schedule. He was concerned with the low amount of sun radiation in the winter in the Netherlands. But he found that the system was so energy efficient that it thankfully never ran out of power. The second challenge was making the “nerve-racking” decision of determining the best angle and sticking with it for the entire process. This required a lot of forethought and planning.

Image provided by The Ocean Cleanup
“You have to know how and where most of the interesting action will take place and try to picture in your mind the end result before you pick the angle. And having a reliable system frees up your mind on the technical aspects so you can focus on these critical decisions. And sometimes you also need a little bit of luck.” 

Looking ahead to next year, Beauverd and team are investigating how to use long term time lapses in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to document the operations of their next generation of ocean cleanup system. They’ve conducted early tests during their previous offshore campaign and gathered great insights on how to do it next time. He hopes to achieve a three-month autonomous time lapse to capture how plastic accumulates in The Ocean Cleanup’s system. The real challenge will be how to achieve an autonomous time lapse over such a period of time in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with volatile weather conditions. It will have to survive crashing waves, blowing winds, salt and corrosion. 

It certainly sounds like a challenge—and we at CamDo hope our products will be along for the ride and help make the documentation of this incredible effort possible.


If you’d like to support The Ocean Cleanup, you can donate directly to the organization, or buy a pair of sunglasses made from the plastic being collected—100% of the proceeds fund the continuation of the effort.



About The Ocean Cleanup

The Ocean Cleanup is a Dutch non-profit organization developing advanced technologies to rid the world’s oceans of plastic. It was founded by Dutch inventor Boyan Slat in 2013, at the age of 18. The organization consists of over 95 engineers, researchers, scientists, computational modelers, and support staff working daily to achieve this ambitious mission. Follow The Ocean Cleanup on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.


About Florent Beauverd

Florent Beauverd is a creative director from Switzerland. He studied mechanical engineering and holds an environmental science degree from the University of Lausanne. However, he dedicated his career to content production early on. He is a self-taught videographer, photographer, and content strategist with experience in various industries ranging from action sports, watchmaking and technology media. He is currently the Creative Content Director for The Ocean Cleanup. Find him on Instagram or Twitter.


 Ready to start your own time lapse project?