Video: Nathaniel Young's timelapse movie showing the beauty of the California
Nathaniel Young is a Californian student, and has spent the last two years creating a two-minute video about his home state. He has lived in the San Francisco Bay area all his life, but in this video which combines slow-motion and time lapse techniques he visited Mount Shasta, Yosemite National Park, Lassen Volcanic National Park, Pinnacles National Park, and Morro Bay. He tells us about the things he learned, and the techniques and equipment he used, in the making of his short film.
"One of the biggest things in video to increase your production value is incorporating some kind of camera movement in your shots", explains Nathaniel. "For the slow-motion video clips, I used a mechanical handheld Steadicam-style stabilizer made by Neewer.
"The reason why I have been using a handheld mechanical stabilizer over a motorized gimbal is because you can still create just a smooth video with a little practice and it does not require any batteries. Also, easier to carry on a hike and much cheaper too.
For most of the time-lapses, I just had my camera on a tripod with maybe a slight zoom or pan added using some keyframes in Adobe Premiere Pro. And for a couple of time-lapses, I also used the Syrp Genie II 3-axis Indie Kit to create the camera moves. This kit comprises of the Syrp Genie II and Genie Mini II motorized controllers, and a Syrp Magic Carpet Slider with the Syrp Pan/Tilt head. This is something that I purchased part way through the project and really allows you to create more dynamic looking time-lapses. It is pretty portable for what it offers so I can easily take it on a hike for a time-lapse and integrates well with its app.
For all the camera moves that I made in this video with both the video stabilizer and the slider, I used a wide focal length. This is because a wide focal length allows you to easily show the camera movement as it is moving past a foreground object.
I used my Sony Alpha a7 II with Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 GM and Sony 24-70mm f/4 lenses for the majority of the video. An old manual Nikon mount Tokina 80-200mm f/2.8 was also used for a couple of the telephoto time-lapses.
"One other cool piece of gear that I used is a dummy battery. Since I was filming or time-lapsing for a long time, the battery drains really quickly. The dummy battery allows you to power your camera externally using the wall outlet or a power bank in my case (that's the funny looking thing on top of my camera is in some of the pictures).
"One of the problems with timelapses is flicker – caused by slight variances in the luminosity of the surrounding frames in the time-lapse. In order to de-flicker my time-lapses, I use LRTimelapse along side Lightroom Classic. In addition, I used a plugin called GBDeflicker to further deflicker certain time-lapses in After Effects that needed additional work.
"For the milky way time-lapse I took in Lassen Volcanic National Park, I had to separately de-flicker both the foreground and sky and then blend them together as the flicker was pretty bad.
Another cool effect that I used in After Effects is called the “echo” effect. This allows you to blend the surrounding frames together which can help smooth out some choppiness in your time-lapse especially if your interval between photos was too high. Basically, it can allow you to create the effect of a longer exposure even though your photos where taken with a much shorter exposure. Another effect you can do with the “echo” is to create star trail time-lapses as I did with the time-lapse I took in Pinnacles National Park".