This cool slow-mo video will make you want drop everything and go to California

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.

• See also Best slow motion camera | Best timelapse cameras

Syrp Genie II Indie Kit set up to shoot timelapse of Milky Way (Image credit: Nathaniel Young)

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.

Power bank on top of camera provides to the Sony A7 II via a dummy battery cable (Image credit: Nathaniel Young)

"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. 

Nathaniel Young sets up his Syrp Genie Mini II slider at Mount Shasta, California (Image credit: Nathaniel Young)

"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".

See more of Nathaniel Young's work


Read more:
Timelapse photography: how to shoot your first timelapse video

The best camera sliders for video

How to shoot a single-frame timelapse

The best camera remotes in 2020

10 landscape photographers to follow in 2020

This amazing 4K time lapse video will make you want to head to the hills

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Chris George

Chris George has worked on Digital Camera World since its launch in 2017. He has been writing about photography, mobile phones, video making and technology for over 30 years – and has edited numerous magazines including PhotoPlus, N-Photo, Digital Camera, Video Camera, and Professional Photography. 

His first serious camera was the iconic Olympus OM10, with which he won the title of Young Photographer of the Year - long before the advent of autofocus and memory cards. Today he uses a Nikon D800, a Fujifilm X-T1, a Sony A7, and his iPhone 11 Pro.

He has written about technology for countless publications and websites including The Sunday Times Magazine, The Daily Telegraph, Dorling Kindersley, What Cellphone, T3 and Techradar.