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8K time-lapse film reveals the surprising beauty and vitality of Death Valley


A name like Death Valley doesn’t exactly suggest beautiful images of abundant life, but visitors to the national park know otherwise. Brothers Jim and Will Pattiz of More Than Just Parks have been producing gorgeous time-lapse films of all the national parks for the past thre years, and Death Valley is the most recent one to be checked off their list. It’s a breathtaking tour of the park that plays out in just under 4 minutes and will leave you wanting more.

While conditions in Death Valley can be unforgiving, the size of the park also posed a unique problem for filming it. At 5,270 square miles, it is the largest National Park in the contiguous United States, and the Pattiz brothers spent 14 days capturing what they could of it. “I think we put more research and planning into this park than maybe any other we’ve done before,” Jim Pattiz told Digital Trends. “That allowed us to make really great use of our time there and come away with what we feel is a great representation of the park.”

The film combines a mix of real-time video and time-lapse photography and was shot using a Canon 5D Mark III, Sony A7R II, and Blackmagic Design URSA Mini 4.6K. While the highest resolution available to stream on Vimeo is 4K, the time-lapse sequences were processed in 8K and can be licensed in that higher resolution for commercial use.

“The name Death Valley is a bit misleading, as it’s really full of life and vibrant colors,” Pattiz said. “[It’s] pretty amazing to see all the plants and animals that have adapted to such extreme conditions.”

Among those animals are insects, reptiles, and even mammals — including, of course, humans. And as much as the film celebrates this life, it also seems to be subtly conveying a message about the fragility of such environments. Death Valley hosted numerous mining operations since the late 1800s, with the last mine finally closing in 2005. Remnants of these activities, in the form of old, broken-down machinery, still scar the landscape, and the Pattiz brothers did not exclude these elements from their film. That’s not the say the visual appeal of the piece is in any way lessened. Quite the contrary, one particular shot of rusted-out cars sitting in the desert is particularly beautiful — but the image is also cautionary, a warning of the lasting impact we have on an environment.

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