We seem to have gone from “The megapixal wars” to “The K wars” since video started to become more popular in DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. Even the D850 was promoted as an “8K” camera for shooting timelapse, and now we’re starting to see more and more video cameras with a native 8K resolution. And we’ve seen 12K timelapse from the Phase One XF IQ3 100MP.
Well, move aside, because filmmaker Martin Lisius has now created Prairie Wind, a 16K HDR timelapse. It was created using a pair of Canon EOS 5DS cameras with Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art lenses, two Canon 85mm f/1.8 USM lenses and a custom built mount to shoot the two side-by-side.
According to Martin’s description of the video…
In early 2018, I embarked on a mission to capture storms on the highest resolution motion picture format I could reasonably acquire, which for me was 16K (15,985 x 5792 pixels). It didn’t actually exist, so I had to create it. After much testing, I decided on using two 50MP cameras fixed to a custom-made calibrated mount. It was a daunting task, but I was able to make it work.
When you watch this short film, you will see just one, large, beautiful picture. But, you are actually watching two carefully stitched images. If you swear it’s just one image, then I have succeeded.
The online version of the video above is limited to 8K resolution, but even that is pretty overkill given that people are still only just adopting 4K resolution screens. Unless you’ve got a big video wall comprised of multiple 4K displays, you’re not going to be able to get the full experience as a viewer for a few years yet.
But shooting such ultra-high resolutions does offer some benefits in post when editing. It allows you to create simulated zooms and pans in post to get more precise framing on important elements of the scene. When shooting timelapse of nature, it’s impossible to predict exactly how a scene will present to the camera, so sometimes the composition can be a little off by the time whatever’s about to happen happens.
The final film is made up of approximately 6100 stitched 16K images. Prairie Wind took 4 months to shoot over 8,000 miles across six Great Plains states between March and July, 2018. Most were 16 hour work days, and it required a further 3 months to process, which needed two external fans to “keep [their] 8-core Mac Desktop Pro workstation from melting”.
If you want to check out some of the 16K sample images to play with for yourself, Martin has put a selection of them up for download on Wetransfer.