The movie that broke YouTube: Mammoth 4K video brings the stars to your living room


posted Wednesday, June 26, 2013 at 4:42 PM EDT

Now that high-definition cameras are commonplace, ultra-high def 4K video is the next big thing, and early adopters are already doing great things with it. Over the last few months, we've reported on videographer Ben Silberfarb's EOS-1D C test video, and director Jacob Schwarz' delightful 4K ink drops shot on a Red Epic. Last week, though, a new video hit the web that blows these away, thanks to it's sheer, mindbendingly-mammoth size.

Created by Steve Delahoyde and the folks at Coudal Partners, the new video aims to bring the night sky into your living room. If you've ever been somewhere with a really clear sky and no light pollution, you know just how glorious it can be, but it's not something all of us can just walk outside and experience. Even if, comparitively speaking, you're in the middle of nowhere, if there's a city or large town even fairly close to you, you're missing half the show. For the full experience you need to get away from civilization, and we mean hours away!

Such was the case for Steve and company, based out of Chicago -- so they hopped a plane to the Great Basin National Park in rural Nevada, a site near the border with Utah that was selected for its isolation. They took a Red camera along for the trip, and for hour upon hour over two nights, they shot the sky and forgot to sleep.

This amazing 6.5 hour night sky video was shot at 4K resolution, and YouTube initially struggled to handle the massive 28 gigabyte upload. Fixing it was clearly worth the effort!

To properly capture everything, even with their Red camera, long exposures were needed, and in all they took 6,492 timed exposures. These were combined in After Effects with one frame played back every 24 seconds, and a four-second transition between frames -- what Steve refers to as the "anti-time-lapse". The final result was a monumental, almost 6.5-hour 4K video that rendered as a 28GB file. As you'll find in the behind-the-scenes article on the Field Notes website, that video initially broke YouTube, failing to convert properly for playback at even 720p, let alone in its full 4K glory.

The video had to be rendered and reuploaded multiple times, and the folks at YouTube consulted for assistance, but eventually it worked. The result is bewitching, showing dusk turning to night, and the stars coming out to play as you've probably never seen them before, unless you're lucky enough to have spent much time away from civilization.

Watch the video above -- and be sure to set your player to "Original" if you have a 4K display, by clicking on the Gear icon. (And when you're done, visit Field Notes to find out more about how the video was made, and the challenges faced along the way to create this spectacular, ultra-high def footage.)