Was the Nikon D5 “Nebraska” Demo Video Tweaked In the Night Timelapse? And Is That Acceptable In A Demo?

by planetMitch5 Comments

There is a scene Nikon's D5 demo video called “My Nebraska” that just isn't right. I noted it late last week on twitter and have been debating whether I should post it here. I'm not out to “get” Nikon (I like their gear) nor do I feel any ill will against them nor do I think they were intentionally trying to deceive anyone about the capabilities of the D5.

But at the same time, I feel like these things should be brought up and discussed for the betterment of the community. 

The question is how much post-processing is OK in a promotional video for a new camera?

Of course, we all might expect that these promotional videos might be edited, colored, etc. We'd probably get pretty upset if we knew they were sharpened significantly right?

But I think our expectation is that they're possibly typical of results we might get (of course many of us don't have the lighting and production skills and probably don't have access to the wide range of lenses available to the creators either). So if there are modifications to one of these that aren't typical, they should be at least questioned right?

I have no evidence that any other bits of the short are anything but accurate representations of what can be produced with the Nikon D5. And Nikon didn't represent the piece as being “straight out of the camera with no enhancements” so am I being just too picky? Feel free to let me know your thoughts!

So, what am I going on and on about?

The scene at 4:00 of the Nebraska video (see below) is a night timelapse. It is a beautiful shot… but a couple of things are very noticeable if you've studied astronomy at all or have done night time shooting.

Hell, I'm “that planet guy” so I should know all this astronomy stuff right? HA!

First, the moon is a sphere – and when it is a ‘new moon' or ‘crescent moon' as you see in the video, there's a bright side but there's also a large dark side of the circle of the moon. In the video, where there should be a dark emptiness, stars pass right thru. If this were true, they'd be in front of the moon (or between the moon and the earth) and we know that's just not possible. So something else is going on here. That wasn't one still that made up the timelapse and they're all like that.

Screen grab from "Nebraska" with closeup of the moon. Note the star trail appearing where there should be darkness next to the moon.

Screen grab from “My Nebraska” with closeup of the moon. Note the star trail appearing where there should be darkness next to the moon.


Second, the shutter was open long enough for the stars to make trails. If this is true, then the moon would also be more of a blurred streak than a sharp crescent.

Screen grab from "Nebraska" with closeup of the moon. Note the star trail appearing where there should be darkness next to the moon.

Screen grab from “My Nebraska” with closeup of the moon. Note the star trail appearing where there should be darkness next to the moon and the trails of the other stars.


Third, the moon and the stars should be moving at about the same rate. In the short, the moon is moving more slowly than the stars. Just wouldn't happen.

Fourth, if you've ever photographed the moon, you know it is bright, and capturing stars at the same time is nearly impossible with today's sensors. They just can't handle it.

How'd this happen? Do we care?

What I suspect is that they did a timelapse (which starts at 4:00) with the D5 that was exposed for the moon. Since the sky was empty late in the scene after the sun set, someone decided they needed to impose the stars to make it more beautiful. Both shots were probably done with the Nikon D5, but putting them together leads to something that technically is not possible in one time-lapse.

In the famous words of “MythBusters” – “Busted!”

Is that a horrible sin? Should Nikon be quartered and hanged? I don't think so… but let's acknowledge that it is an embellishment. We've shown above that it is probably at least two time lapses overlapped.

Getting back to the question I asked above… is this something that is OK to do in a promotional video for a new camera? Again, am I just being too critical?

If it were me distributing this as a prime example of the capabilities of my camera, I would have left that scene out before I would have overlayed two time lapses to enhance the scene. Or I would have cut it when the sky went dark (the transition at the beginning is effective). But if it is all shot with D5 anyway, is it ok?

Hell, i'd be afraid some wacko (like me) would notice and call me out on it so i'd leave it out HA!

Heck, maybe Nikon didn't even know. Maybe the video creator put these two things together (I don't have any proof one way or another). Maybe they would have edited out the scene too if they knew…

We are not calling Nikon fakers or saying they're trying to deceive us.

The other scene that concerns me is the Aurora shot that begins at 4:12. I live in St. Louis and that's just east and south of Nebraska. We don't get many opportunities to see the Northern Lights around here tho it can happen. But I questioned the timing of the aurora shots. I consulted a friend (I didn't ask him if it was ok to mention him so I won't name names) who said it was “possible” that there was a visible Aurora in Nebraska so I didn't push it… but when Deejay and I discussed it in detail on the DSLR FILM NOOB Podcast with Deejay last Friday, he lived in Nebraska for many years and suspected that this may not be accurate…

but we don't have any proof and so we can't really say one way or another, but it was just something Deejay and I wondered about.

DSLR FILM NOOB podcast episode 75

Here's the podcast queued to the spot where we bring up the point about the timelapse:

So here's “My Nebraska” queued at the timelapse:

So, again, my gut would err on the side of not including those shots because they may be misleading, but that wasn't my call to make.

The Nikon D5 “My Nebraska” is an impressive piece. It is very cinematic and I mentioned that in the podcast.

I feel it is much more cinematic 4k than what is coming out of the Panasonic GH4 in 4k, but again, what is ‘cinematic' is also an opinion…

so what do you think?

Sound off! (Note we have a new plugin where you can highlight text and comment as well as commenting below – take your pick!)

(cover photo credit: snap from the video)



  1. Interesting article. The moon shot is obvious once 
    you had pointed it out. I have lived near Denver for
    45 years and have not seen or heard of the Aurora 
    Borealis at my latitude. Being from St. Louis, I never
    thought of it being just east of Nebraska. Sounds more 
    like Kansas City. Thanks for the article.

  2. I agree with you Mitch. It was commissioned by Nikon and they should have been made aware of what the filmmaker had done in the piece to give Nikon the opportunity to either let it through or have that scene snipped out.  In my view it shouldn’t have gone through.  Apart from that it’s a nice example of the capabilities of the D5.

  3. I think Nikon should have put a disclaimer that stated that the images have been edited and modified for visual effect. That is usually what you see in tv adds in tiny characters at the bottom of the screen for ads.

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