Education, Pro Tips

Create Better Nature Relaxation Videos for YouTube


Among the numerous great YouTube channels that have popped up over the years, relaxing nature videos are some of the most underrated and underappreciated. Although you wouldn’t think so, considering the millions of views and subscribers they’ve racked up.

There are many reasons why these videos are successful and why they thrive on YouTube. One is simply the access that everyone has to YouTube. Another is the quality of visuals, music, and sound effects. And, of course, in our world today, which is so filled with stress and worry, relaxation is at a premium. Videos designed for relaxation help provide rare moments of peace, meditation, and decompression.

Whether it’s putting a young child down for a nap, de-stressing after a long day, leading a yoga or meditation session, or a soundtrack for everyday life, the appeal of these videos is universal to nearly everyone.

But not all nature relaxation films are created equal. There’s a fundamental difference between a video that simply fills your space with sound and one that transports you into another location, environment, and state of mind. Here’s our expert advice on how to make a relaxation video that stands above the rest.


First Things First: What’s Your Goal?

Before you start, determine your goal with these videos. Are you making something for people who are trying to fall asleep? For people to use while meditating or practicing yoga? Are you looking to have your nature videos designed for use in sound or holistic stress relief therapy? Or perhaps the video is just intended for people to play in the background while they work around the house.

While it may not seem like a big deal, determining the exact purpose of your video will take you in different stylistic directions. For instance, birds, insects, or other added sound effects could potentially distract the listener/viewer. You could also disrupt someone’s flow if the video is too short or if the looping audio/video is too repetitive.

So take some time to think about the purpose of the video and who it is for, and use it as a guide to influence the rest.


Figure Out Your Style

You can find several styles of nature relaxation videos on YouTube, but all of them have at least one of the following:

  • Footage
  • Music
  • Sound Effects

Some may use additional media types like photos or After Effects templates, but we will focus on the big three used most often. We’ll expand on these media types in more detail later, but each can be either self-made or purchased from stock marketplaces like Pond5.

Once you choose what your videos will include media-wise, then it’s time to lock down how you want to present the video. From my observation, there are three main formats for nature relaxation videos, but there may be more. Here’s a description of each of these main types:

  • Static Video – A video with a single shot or image that plays over the entire duration.
  • Montage Video – TA video containing multiple clips or images edited together and displayed on screen for short durations, around 10 seconds per clip or less.
  • Video Reel – A video that is very similar to a montage. However, each clip stays on the screen for at least 10-15 seconds per clip. Think of those Apple TV footage screensavers or the show “(Insert Location Here) From Above.

All of the above styles can loop, so keep that in mind when it comes to extending the video to the duration you prefer. Speaking of duration…


Duration Determination

Nature & Relaxation videos run the entire spectrum of lengths. Thirty minutes seems to be the minimum time you’d want, and most videos clock in around 1-3 hours. Regarding the maximum duration, some videos are 12 hours or longer! Here’s a screenshot of the top results from a basic YouTube search so you can see the variety of lengths:

nature videos for youtube

Whatever the duration of your video, you want to make sure you factor it in with how you will edit the footage together. We’ll cover editing in a bit.


The Sound of (Your) Music

Having a music track in your nature relaxation video is very common, but it’s not required. However, if you are planning to have music in your video, finding the best track is crucial. It’s essential to look for a track that works well with the visuals (if you plan on having them). I recommend using the basic principles of using music for a mood to get started.

The cool thing about these videos is that it’s up to your imagination how you utilize the music. It can ebb and flow just like footage of a river; it can build up over time like a rising aerial over a mountaintop; it can be a slow burn, like, a fire slowly burning. It doesn’t even have to match, and the music can simply be a nice ambient track over nice visuals.

Similar to the visuals, you can loop the music or match it with other tracks that change as the visuals do. I suggest you try to fade/dissolve between tracks to avoid harsh transitions that could throw off the listener.

If you’re searching for the perfect tracks for your video, check out this fantastic article that goes into great detail about the best stock music sites on the internet.


White vs. Pink vs. Brown Noise

After determining your video’s goal, style, duration, and the type of music you want, you should choose between the three main options for kinds of noises if you plan to have them. If you didn’t even know there were three types of ambient noise, then good! Here’s a basic breakdown:

  • White Noise is the type of noise that includes sounds across many different frequencies. White noise could be an ambient music track, a waterfall, a constant rain sprinkle, wind through the trees, and other sounds humans find soothing and relaxing. The focus here is on a continuous, unchanging sound so that there are no disruptions for the listener.
  • Pink Noise is similar to white noise but with more prominent sounds in the middle and low range and less sound on the higher, more “shrill” end of the spectrum—fewer things like birds, raindrops, or streams that live on the higher frequencies.
  • Brown Noise goes even further than pink noise, with the lowest frequency, sounds taking front and center. High-end sounds may even be removed completely. Think heavy rainfall, thunder, strong surf, or other low-end music and sound effects.

Use these types of noise as guidelines to get you started with sound effects. You can always experiment and find out what combination of sound effects at specific frequencies you like the most. Some of the most popular videos you can find use a combination of all of these:


Visual Accompaniment

Okay, so you’ve figured out your goal and become familiar with the types of noises. Next is figuring out the “video” part of the Nature & Relaxation video. Making a successful Nature & Relaxation video without dynamic visuals is possible. However, taking the extra steps to include some footage or other creative visuals that people can watch will exponentially increase the quality and viewing experience of the video.

The most common aspect of nearly every popular video in this category on YouTube is that the footage is gorgeous and compelling. Whether it’s the desert, the jungle, the sky, the beach, or even abstract nature-themed animations, the visuals really take the video up to 11.

While it’s possible to make a film using any resolution of footage, we recommend using 4K UHD video. Ultra High Definition nature videos bring out incredible detail that helps to showcase nature in all its beauty, whether your viewers are playing your video on a small laptop or on a large screen television.

Where do you find such beautiful videos?

Glad you asked! Using stock footage is the best way to do this quickly and efficiently. This handy-dandy blog from PremiumBeat has a phenomenal breakdown of the best stock video footage sites, so we suggest you start there. And since we’re partial to Pond5, here are some search tips if you need them. With “free” and cheap “all you can eat” subscription stock video, you’ll find a lot of low quality video and worse, whatever high-quality footage they may have has likely been overused to the point where viewers may even recognize the same clips they’ve seen on other videos. On the other hand, because Pond5 works directly with artists we have the largest selection of high quality clips to help you craft your own unique story.

The other way to get beautiful videos is to shoot them yourself. The cool thing about this footage genre is that your setup can be bare-bones. You may only need a quality camera and a tripod or mount to get content that rivals the best channels out there. We’ve got more shooting tips below, so read on if you’re the DIY-er type!


Visual Accompaniment Part 2: Research Your Location

This one is pretty straightforward and optional. However, it can be beneficial to take the extra time to put together visuals that come from the same environment because that makes it feel more lived-in and authentic to viewers and listeners.

If you take time to understand the biome or location you’re highlighting, you can dive deeper into the area and enhance the experience for viewers. That means instead of showing random shots of trees and forests set to music, you can show, for example, a redwood grove from above and below and the plants and animals native to that area. Experiment and see what works best for you!


Adding Sound Effects

Layering in the appropriate sound effects goes hand in hand with researching your location. If you’ve got beautiful shots of the Sahara desert sand dunes, it would be strange to have sound effects of running water or tropical bird calls. With a bit of research, you can learn about the Nubian bustards, sand larks, and pale crag martins that live there and use those instead.


Bird. Sand Martin Near Colony by arkhivov.

These are dramatic and somewhat obvious examples of what not to do. It’s a little more muddled when you’re using sounds that are only slightly different, but some things can still work. For example, tropical birds can be used in deciduous forests without much issue for most listeners. Similarly, the Sahara desert scene from above could be enhanced with some wind noise, even if it’s not a particularly windy shot.

Sound effects can even work for more abstract nature videos but try dropping in a few different ones to see what fits best.

If Hollywood can use the same bird call in nearly every geographical region without anyone (except for the birding community) noticing, you can likely do the same. Great diegetic sound can take your project to another level, whether captured live or added in post-production.


Capturing The Video and Audio Yourself

While resources like Pond5, Shutterstock, and PremiumBeat have you covered if you need to use stock content, you may want to do it all yourself. Great! The best place to start is with quality gear. The main thing you’ll notice about the footage and audio in the top nature films is that the footage is stunning and the audio is clear instead of blown out or echo-y.

Normally, this would mean you’ll need an extra level above a smartphone, an action camera, and any onboard microphone. However, smartphones continue to evolve in video quality, so it could be possible to
get started there.

There’s a ton of ground to cover here, but essentially you should always follow the basics of shooting high-quality video. We have articles covering shooting good drone footage, how to use those aerials for storytelling, and insights from the creators of “Our Planet.” You can also learn from Pond5 artists about shooting great wildlife footage, which has a lot of principles that cross over with this type of footage. You are filming nature, after all.

We also have tips for recording audio for a video! And of course, our own YouTube channel is a veritable cornucopia of filmmaking techniques. Ultimately, your gear can make a difference just as much as your technique. Work deliberately and diligently to make it the best you can, and the audience will notice.

Recording The Sounds Of Birds In The Oak Forest. Ornithology by MrFilmLifeStorytelling.


Editing It Together

Post-production on nature relaxation videos is likely a breeze (no pun intended). From all the examples you can see online, it’s simply putting the clips in your preferred order, dropping in the music, adding sound effects, and ensuring it fills your desired duration!

We always recommend being thoughtful with your edits, so think about how every piece of footage flows together. Knowing how one clip ends and how the next one begins can help you make interesting transitions. Bonus points if you can use match cuts!

Regarding audio editing/mixing/sound design, I recommend adding some basic fades in and out for any sound effects so they’re not too jarring. You also want to match the scene with the sound effects levels. What I mean is, let’s say you have a waterfall video where the waterfall is very large or front and center of the shot. Adding birds, insects, or frog sounds that are just as loud will not sound right.

Since the waterfall is the star of this particular shot, I would keep it the most prominent sound, then add in the other sounds slightly softer so they complement the waterfall instead of standing out on their own.

We have some tips for audio, and one that’s specifically for Premiere Pro audio, so take a look there for more guidance on best practices.

The last note I’ll add in the editing section is to put a watermark on your videos! It’s incredibly easy for people to steal content from YouTube. Protect (and brand) your videos to prevent people from stealing your work or the work of any stock media you licensed.


Publishing Time!

Now that you’ve edited your video and it’s ready for the world to see, it’s time to publish to YouTube. Optimize your videos, post them consistently, and keep the watch time high, and you should be in an excellent position to get some views.

And although this post is catered toward “traditional” video aspect ratios, we can’t forget about posting these to social media. You can check out the ideal export settings that Premiere Gal laid out in her blog, and also read our post about repurposing your videos for social media.

By using these tips and techniques, you should be able to make videos that have the potential to catch on. Pond5’s got you covered if you need any video, music, or sound effects, so check out our marketplace or even our free collection for some epic shots that blow viewers’ minds!