Creator Spotlight: William Briscoe

Meet this month’s featured creator, William Briscoe. Based in Alaska, he specialises in capturing stunning time-lapse video of auroras and the night sky. His vibrant Northern Lights clips are undeniably breathtaking and his most recent drone footage captures the stunning Alaskan landscape.

What is your background and how did you get into 360 video production?

My background is quite diverse and not what you might expect from someone who found themselves drawn to the visual arts. After graduating from High School, I joined the Navy and spent four years there, followed by a decade or so working in the construction trades. Somewhere in there, I ended up with a B.S. followed by an M.S. in Environmental Science, and moved to Alaska to start a new career as a project manager managing environmental investigation and remediation projects. 

What drew me to 360 specifically was seeing a viral Facebook video in 2016. I clicked on it, noticed I could move it around, and thought it was the coolest thing. 

So I went down a Google rabbit hole to learn how such a video is formatted, tagged, etc. A YouTube crash course on 360 panoramas was also part of the learning journey. Then I bought some DSLRs, and fisheyes and figured out how to fire them. Next thing you know, I’m creating 360 Aurora timelapses in early 2017, and buying more gadgets for different types of video and subject matter thereafter.

What initially drew you to capturing auroras?

Soon after moving to Alaska (around 2013), I saw the Northern Lights for the first time and started taking photos of them, the Alaska wilderness, and everything else Alaska has to offer – it truly is a splendid place, both in summer and winter… And so started the most expensive, and rewarding hobby I have ever had.

What are some of the challenges of filming auroras in 360?

It’s cold. You’ll be up all night. You are gambling on both a space weather report and an earth weather report being correct in the location where you are going, and you can expect to return home empty handed for one reason or another about 60-70% of the time. 

The weather messes with the electronics. The frost will fog up a lens very quickly if you don’t figure out a way to keep it thawed for the night. Internal Lithium Ion batteries? Forget those: you are packing lead acid batteries since they are reliable in the cold and powering the cameras externally. As for the power cords from the cameras? Bring extras – at 20 degrees below freezing, the cords snap like twigs. And your problems are multiplied by the number of cameras in the rig.

I have described the nightmarish every night scenario of shooting the Aurora. But, the satisfaction the next morning when you collect your gear and everything miraculously stayed running through the night makes the whole thing worth it. Sitting back in the warm truck watching the show is also a bonus. 

My advice to those wanting to capture the aurora: don’t expect to be successful all, or even most of the time. This takes a lot of practice. You’re going to learn a lot of hard lessons, and you’re going to need a fair amount of luck. Perseverance pays off though. 

How do you find the perfect time and location to shoot?

I have alluded to luck quite a bit here, and luck most certainly plays its role. But here are ways to stack the deck in your favor:

Location: you want somewhere dark, away from the city lights, and remember, you are shooting in 360, so simply setting up alongside a road isn’t going to do much for you that regular photography wouldnt have (unless the road is part of your composition—when done right, accompanying timelapsed road traffic looks pretty neat).

Clear skies: the aurora happens above the clouds, in the upper atmosphere. This is where the solar particles interact with noble gases and make all the cool colors. Keeping that in mind: the more clouds you have between the Aurora and you, the less Aurora you will see.

Avoid the summer months: don’t travel to Iceland, Norway, Alaska, Yukon, NWT, or any of the other Aurora hotspots thinking you are going to capture Aurora in June. it just isn't going to happen (although, you can get some cool midnight sun footage). The months which are friendly to auroras in the “Aurora zone” tend to be from Mid-August (at the absolute earliest, though Sept. 1 is a commonly accepted “start date” among aurora chasers) to the end of April. It’s also suggested you plan your trip near the equinoxes as, for whatever reason, this is very favourable to aurora formation.

Learn some aurora science before you go: learn about the solar wind, what components plug into the Ovation and Kp-index models, and how they relate to you. This will help you in real time and let you know when you should be starting your cameras.

Finally, pay attention to the geomagnetic and the Earth weather forecasts: the Aurora isn’t always there, but you can get a decent prediction of when could be. For this, there are 28 day forecasts (these are less accurate -but useful to plan a 1 week window), and 3 day forecasts from observers who watch the sun (pay attention to these ones).

And finally, what is your favourite piece of content available on Blend Media?

I think Air Pano’s footage of Angel Falls is my favourite. It is well executed and they did an excellent job with the post processing given the tools at the time. As someone who has got into shooting 360 drone footage in the past few years, I can certainly respect the time and effort that must have gone into creating that work.

To see William’s full collection, click here. If you would like to license any of his videos from the Blend platform then please get in touch with If you would like to license any of his videos from the Blend platform then please get in touch with us.