What is Slow TV?
Slow TV is a name classically given to a type of television in which experiences such as riding a ferry or train is broadcast in real-time. Originally, I believe, a feature of public access television in various regions. A solid case could be made for the traditional holiday fireplace scenery being a form of Slow TV as well. It is one of those things that when first informed of it, it sounds particularly strange, as the traditional takeaway experience from such transportation is the destination, but some people came to decide that the journey was, indeed, a valuable part of the experience.
And it works.
While some of the sources, such as Night Walk are classically vaporwave in feel, Slow TV is not limited to times past. These days, the overall concept of Slow TV, while somewhat peculiar, seems to be a timeless style of calming entertainment. This type of media has made a resurgence, accentuated by the eerie kenopsia of The 2020 Pandemic, plenty of surreal, traditionally-populated empty streets were explored by filmmakers who realized the uniqueness of this moment for capturing scenery in a way rarely ever experienced.
However, even with that time (hopefully) subsiding, the medium seems doubtful to be just a passing fad, due to the contrast the style of media has to most of the more in-your-face content on the web.
As the form has expanded in access and interest, and people, sadly, do find the topics compelling enough, but don’t have enough time in contemporary, busy society, I have conflated formats that accelerate time, to some extent, but provide longer form (not 2-3 minute) footage in here, as well–especially where the themes overlap with the tone I associate with Slow TV.
This, being my favorite, and thus, the theme I have the most experience with, will have several recommendations (especially tied to Japan, as you will no doubt notice), as I know more people in this fashion of Slow TV than others. I’ll start with a couple favorites, and list a few other good channels after.
Possibly my favorite in this style, Yoshi–or Video Street View Japan–is a friendly guy who not only does walking tours, but introduces them with the route on an overhead map, and a short vignette of what the place is, and perhaps points of significance to the location. I enjoy his video quality, pace, and choices of travel, and he helped me out on one occasion by permitting me to use footage for a mix I was making. He definitely deserves more support, because he is good at what he does, and makes a great deal of wonderful videos.
Continuing with Japan, a favorite location, we have Cider’s TOKYO View, who, along with Maybe Channel, provided me permission to use clips for a mix called These Tokyo Streets which was hit with a copyright strike for the music (probably from someone within the samples of the mix.) So, while that video is lost to time, I still appreciate the willingness to assist with that project. I also adore the mascot, and at one point they also used to have indicators for landmarks as they passed them. I haven’t seen them in recent videos, but I also use these for ambient music while doing other things and could very realistically have missed them.
Hello Japan is a smaller, still, walking channel, with fewer resources to their name (based on resolution and sound), but I also don’t think that should deter support, as more eyes means more encouragement, and more encouragement means improved quality over time. One day this channel could be as big as others, and I think that’d be swell.
Japan has a huge number of videographers who have captured things, from the well known like Rambalac and VIRTUAL JAPAN to smaller channels like Samurai Walker and Japan 4K. However, this is not a uniquely Japanese thing.
Seoul Walker is one of many South Korean walking channels, who, much like the Japan scene, have a pretty decent sized fandom that really inspires you to travel to the places you are watching, but even if you can’t, the footage really gives you at least a flat taste of what the experience could be. One thing that inspires me about all these channels is the dedication to recording in the rain, at night, in the daytime, or whenever, just to provide footage for people they likely will never meet.
Europe also has walking videographers, such as MOPEG, a walker based in Rome, Italy. The scenery is obviously rather starkly contrasting the people preceding them on this list, but no less captivating. MOPEG has also provided me, on one occasion, with footage for a mix. That said, they also just have awesome footage of another place I’d love to visit, yet to which I cannot afford a flight. Alas, perhaps one day.
There’s probably people in any major area, Watched Walker, for example, covers areas of the UK, ProWalk Tours covers wherever they please, and plenty of other videographers explore various places on this planet. As addressed, prior, YouTube even hosts Toronto’s 1986 Night Walk end-of-programming block on an official channel.
If talking is something you don’t mind in this particular style of media, there are also plenty of people who live stream their tours, such as Rion Ishida–my father’s favorite YouTuber. Also worth noting: some of the creators of Slow TV footage may have other, more traditional film style productions, such as documentary style footage–though there are some creators who specialize in exactly one type of footage, as well.
Other Travel Footage
Maybe walking is just too plain for you, and you want a visual from somewhere more unique. Perhaps underwater or from a car or drone is more your style. While still Slow TV, it is a bit faster paced motion, or less accessible than simply existing in the area. Not to knock walking videos–as you see, I adore them–but for some, that’s just not enough stimulation, or the experience, itself, isn’t novel enough. There are options out there for those looking for a more exotic visual travel experience.
Some people prefer the sensation of a nice drive around the city or countryside to calm the nerves, and the variety of scenery that can be covered from a car in the same timeframe can provide a slightly more interesting watch for those who might find the pace of walking a bit too slow. There are videographers such as Ridescapes and 7ze3 Travels who may have the Slow TV footage for you.
For Slow TV using drone footage you have videographers like The Dronalist (who, by the way, permits remix and cutting of his footage, he just appreciates credit for the footage) or 4K Relaxation Channel have footage that may compel and inspire you.
4K Relaxation Channel is actually a widespread aggregation of relaxing footage, as they also provide driving and underwater video. They aren’t alone, however. There are people out there highly aware that the subaquatic scenery slips from the grasp of the average viewer, but may be footage that they find beautiful and valuable. 8K Videos Ultra HD provides some wonderful Slow TV of this sort, as well. This is but a small vignette of the options out there, as any scope of visual exploration probably has someone with a camera willing to fill the niche.
There’s also the entire niche of videos to place here that are wildlife and city live cams. There’s the Cornell Lab Bird Cams and many, many more in that universe. Likewise in the city cameras, EarthCam is a good place to start. It is advised to just search a city or animal and “live cam” and see what you find, many zoos and news companies have live cameras tied to various locations.
Maybe Earth is a bit too close to home, and you need Slow TV out of this world. Fortunately, places like NASA or Space Videos provide footage to fill that void, as well. I’m sure as companies like SpaceX advance their way off the planet, they will likely provide such footage, one day, as well.
I would like to make a small aside here, as another type of footage I enjoy that harmonizes well with this is urban exploration, however most footage done by the likes of This is Dan Bell., The Proper People or others tends to have more conversation and is less stylized in the fashion I would personally classify as Slow TV. I would likely identify such things more under special interest or possibly history, depending on what, exactly, they cover. I do, however, feel they have some level of shared energy, especially in the spirit of curiosity, adventure, and visual beauty.
Food Touring Videos and Cooking Videos
As with the preceding list, many of these people do seem to be in Asia. Perhaps it is just algorithms realizing my interest in Japan that does it, or perhaps it is a common style that just happens to be accessible and popular enough to work out. It does lend to some fun footage, as America doesn’t have as many things in the vein of vending machine restaurants.
So these do tend to overlap somewhat with footage from things in the walking tour videos, but have slightly more focus on the food and experiences therein. DancingBacons is probably my favorite of these channels, but the TabiEats family of channels also has I Will Always Travel for Food and there are plenty of others, but some of these channels also shift more into another type of Slow TV.
I title this Cooking ASMR instead of simply Cooking Channels because this particular type of cooking video has little to no talking involved. Some provide instructions, but mostly they let the sound of the preparation provide the audio for the footage, perhaps with unintrusive music.
Imamu Room is one such creator, though there are plenty more creators out there, such as Tasty. These are more to demonstrate the artistry of food preparation, in my mind. They do, as I said, inform you of the process in some of the channels, but the production and sound of the process are the selling point, experiencing as if you are producing something of your own. Which isn’t limited solely to food.
Artisanal Production Videos
Sometimes you want to see how something is made, and sometimes you want to see why, exactly, something costs as much as it does. These are the types of video that will put that into perspective.
From epoxy and woodcraft videos such as Andy Phillip or Moonpie Creations, sometimes more specifically to things such as unusual guitars such as Burls Art, to metalwork like Steel craft, pottery like Ceramic Jim or exploring the outcomes of long-term terrariums like Jartopia or Life in Jars? there are plenty of channels with various crafting footage for you to discover. Sometimes something is already made, and just needs a bit of TLC, though.
Some people, such as Primitive Unique Tool even craft whole structures by hand. It’s truly remarkable.
This is another type of footage I have fallen down the rabbit hole on a couple of times. Personally I prefer recovering things that were once rusted to something you’d find in a museum and any modern technology repair involving retrobrighting, which is a technique I find truly fascinating.
The value in these has to be greater than the sum of its parts, with likely hours of effort going into repairing something that likely cost less than the time put into it. Perhaps it is somewhat contradictory to the idea of Slow TV, but some creators will speed up parts of the process to make the footage more accessible to viewers who may not have time for the whole “slow” part.
Whether the hands-on work is in real time or not, however, the experience shared is still one worth acknowledging. As with every other type of Slow TV, the number of channels is varied enough I couldn’t list all the ones I have watched and still have a comprehensible article. There’s Odd Tinkering and Lost & Restored, there’s TySyTube Restoration and Chip Channel Restorations, or 357magdad and Restoration 2R. These are only a few of the many channels out there.
Maybe creation in the 3D realm isn’t what you’re after. Perhaps something more along the lines of pencil, ink, or paint on paper is what you like. Fortunately, there are creators who record the production of their 2D artistic prowess on video for you to experience, as well.
Many artists talk over their footage, because the Let’s Play style works well with art production, as well, but for this area I will focus more on the traditional Slow TV style of such production with creators like Mr. New’s Art Class or Sketch Art. There’s something so mesmerizing about watching a blank canvas become something so remarkable.
I should also state that not all the art must be traditional. Obviously there are plenty of digital artists who can create masterpieces in this same style. Pietro Chiovaro can demonstrate such beautiful 3D model work, and Ariel Perez shows how 2D digital art is done at a scale I will likely never be able to grasp. There’s even pixel work like Pixel Architect for those of you like me who love that retro-referential visual goodness. If there’s a type of art you want to watch, I assure you, someone is demonstrating the start-to-finish of it.
Maybe you’re still not sold on Slow TV with all the production, restoration and walking. Maybe you just need something colorful and distracting to zone out to and just decompress. Fortunately, many artists also provide the outcome of their artistic production for you to enjoy–digital or physical.
Some, such as Psychedelic Videos may need you to provide the sound, but others like Relaxation Time – 4K Amazing Relaxing Screensavers come with audio of their own. Plenty of channels out there provide samples of their visualizers in small bursts, as well, but some channels such as these have long videos specifically for you to consume like this.
Radio With Video
Sometimes the video is great, and all, but you’re just looking for music or ambiance of a genre you enjoy, just with something to glance up from whatever you’re doing and get a small bit of inspiration. YouTube’s many radio channels can solve that problem, too.
[Any video I would provide here will eventually be removed due to most radio channels deleting past videos, possibly for copyright reasons.]
Krelez has my favorite radios on the site, probably, however there are also channels such as Nighride FM, Lofi Girl and Cryo Chamber or RGN and frequenzy to provide the sounds. While I would say this toes the line of “Slow TV,” many of the preceding footage collections delve into musical playlists of their own, so I will mention these as their own footnote.
There are many types of Slow TV out on the net, depending on what definition you subscribe to for the term. It is a great rabbit hole to find yourself in if you just need something to depressurize after a stressful day, or want something unintrusive to fill the silence while spending time with others. I absolutely suggest exploring the options yourself to find something that might just make your free time slow down just a bit when life prevents you from taking a walk.
I believe, especially in this time where we are all trapped in more limited social circles with fewer outlets to stretch our feet, taking some time to virtually travel is, at least, slightly less lonely than the alternative. So, show these creators some love, if this interests you.
Please, though, do find a way to get some exercise, as well. Maybe you could make some footage of your own!—Tails_155
If you like learning about new content, check out KITE0080’s List of Barber Beats Essentials!