Raw. Powerful. Beautiful. There are so many words you could use to describe the storms captured in this time-lapse by Mike Olbinski, but none of them do it justice.
What sets this video apart for us is that the storms are the film’s central character, uninterrupted by the human element. They sweep across the plains in mesmerizing glory.
This past spring I spent more time chasing storms on the plains than ever before. The most I had spent prior to this was seven total days and that was last year. What I came away with from that short time made me realize that if I could double that…the stuff I could capture would be amazing. Of course I long to be out there for a month or longer, but when you live in Phoenix and have a wife and three kids…you have to be realistic.
I turned 40 years old this year and I told my wife all I wanted was 10 days chasing on the plains. She loves me though and it ended up being 14! Two days in April and then 12 straight days from May 23rd – June 3rd. Those 12 days were absolutely incredible. I’m friends with other chasers via social media, met them on the side of roads while chasing, even grabbed dinner together…but never have I felt more of a part of the chaser community than being out there for almost two weeks. Living the life…seeing the same amazing chasers over and over…it was overwhelming to me. I missed my family, it was hard at times, but it was one of the best experiences of my life.
Both chases originated from where I live in Arizona. In April I drove out all night to Colorado, slept maybe an hour, chased all day, got a good night’s sleep, chased the next day in the Texas panhandle and drove home that same night, stopping only for a quick nap in New Mexico. The second chase was the same. Left Phoenix late on the evening of May 22nd, never really slept and the chase was on the next day. All in all I drove well over 12,000 miles over the course of those two weeks, visited 10 total states (New Mexico, Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota) and shot over 45,000 frames of footage for this film.
I have many people to thank. Pat O’Brien for being my first private tour attendee this spring. Mike Mezeul II for one very big tip on a spot above Rapid City, SD. To James Langford who not only guided me to that spot over the phone, but “now-casted” for me many, many times. I may have missed out on four crucial clips in this film if it wasn’t for him suggesting I punch the core in South Dakota. Thank you sir. And to my pal Andy Hoeland…who was with me for over a week of my time out there, driving, looking at forecasts, talking to weather experts and always helping us have a great target for that day. He’s become my chase partner for most of these big plains trips and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Also thanks to Cinetics (cinetics.com/axis360) for sending me their Axis 360 to play with. I used it one time in this film and wish I had used it more. I love that scene.
Finally…above everyone else, of course…is my wife. To let me go for that long, to never complain, to never discourage me…but to only believe in me…how could I be so lucky to deserve a wife like that? We have three kids and that’s tough on a parent to have her husband away that long. It will never cease to amaze me that I would not be here, doing this, if it wasn’t for her support and encouragement.
Technical details…everything was shot on Canon 5D3’s, along with an array of Rokinon lenses. I got sick of lens-twisting (mostly of FORGETTING to lens twist) so I mainly used those manual lenses on this trip. Everything was processed using LR Timelapse, Lightroom, After Effects and Premiere Pro.
I’m in absolute love with this film. The stuff I saw rivaled anything I’ve ever seen on the plains minus that insane Booker supercell in 2013. We saw four tornadoes (one of them appears in a deleted scene at the very end of the film), countless supercells, gorgeous shelf clouds, stunning mammatus and some awesome lightning shows. The song..well, the song for this film blew my mind. I loved it when I heard it, but then seeing how everything started coming together on the timeline, the pace, the slow build-up, the huge ending…I’ve said it before, but the song is 50% of the film. Thank you again Kerry for everything!
All this movie does it fuel me to want to do better next year and this summer in Arizona. Stay tuned for Monsoon II and for The Chase II next spring!
I sincerely hope you enjoy and share this film around. Thank you!