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The DV Challenge (our semi-regular contest)
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Old May 23rd, 2007, 03:24 PM   #1
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DVC thoughts and feedback

Well, I thought I'd mull over publicly a few thoughts I had while running this contest. I'd also like to hear your feedback as well, as the rules and nature of the contest are fluid, and adaptable to what we all want to do.

So here are my thoughts.

* I'm liking Youtube submissions. I generaly choose those to watch over high res versions, just because they load so quickly. I'm almost thinking of having everyone submit a Youtube version as well as a high res version (if they want).

* I officially hate any hosting site that makes you click a couple links then wait for a minute. I'm not going to ban them, I just really, really hate them.

* I'm going to revamp the official rules on the DV Challenge website, while I'm at it, anyone have any other website suggestions?

* Did anyone find having up to 5 minutes helped them tell their story? I tried it just to see, and don't really think it did. Anyone else's thoughts?
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Old May 23rd, 2007, 05:42 PM   #2
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I agree with you on youtube...I did the same (because it loads so fast), quality is okay, but if the film is good, the film is good regardless of quality.

I like the flexibility of 5 minutes, I found no tedium in watching a bunch of 5 minutes pieces.

what I really liked was the extended time we had to make the film...I think you get better submissions that way.

just my oppinions...

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Old May 23rd, 2007, 05:52 PM   #3
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I don't know how much right I have to offer an opinion, not having completed anything yet (I'm still workin' on it, progress is just depressingly slow...I went through the process of getting permission for the music, though, so I'm determined to finish, one way or another), but I have some thoughts, if I may be so bold.

Youtube is fine by me. I've seen plenty of reasonable quality stuff on the site, and I see they accept a few different formats, so perhaps with some experimentation we could discover what combination of file format, codec, and data rate is best suited for conversion to Flash video (Spark, VP6, whatever they use). It'd provide for quick, easy, reliable judging with no impact on individuals' monthly transfer limits, and we'd all still be free to host higher quality versions on our own sites, so I say go ahead and mandate it if you'd like.

As for the website, well, the orange might be a bit intense, and it could stand to be more regularly updated, but otherwise I'm pleased with it.

My biggest note, though, is the time limit. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, a thousand times yes, five minutes is an absolutely mind-bogglingly enormous help! If it weren't for the extended length for DVC 5, I wouldn't have been able to make the movie. Quality of that film notwithstanding, I could not have shoehorned it into three minutes without creating an even sloppier mess. I'm fairly objective when it comes to chopping up my own work, and I have no qualms with losing as much as I need to in an effort to make the film tighter and less painful to watch, but when it gets down to this level, I find there's a big difference between three minutes and five for the kind of stuff I tend to do. Cutting up my films at that point usually involves compromising the logic of the story, and nothing makes sense; instead of eliminating unnecessary elements, I'm forced to lop off so much that the film is barely understandable. I certainly appreciate the value of developing our ability to quickly tell a story, but there's a point where an exercise in brevity turns into an exercise in futility, and I've been finding that to be at about the three minute mark.

I have found this with my entries for DVC 5 and 6, and though I can't put words in his mouth, I did witness the difference between what Mike Fossenkemper shot during production of his DVC 7 entry and what actually made it into the film. Three and a half minutes seems to have been just about enough, but I'm personally amazed he accomplished what he did, and I think a little extra time would serve that movie quite nicely.

I hate watching so-called 'short' films that are too long just as much as the next guy. Watching a twenty-seven minute film that could be told in less than five is always a pain. If the question was whether or not to turn a contest for three minute films into one for thirty minute films, I could understand hesitation. Five minutes is something else. I don't think it would be so much more of a chore to sit through thirty five minute movies than thirty three minute movies, but to those of us telling the story, it could add a touch of breathing room.

And I don't see how it would affect those who enjoy shorter fare. As you have always pointed out, no one is required to make a film that uses every last second available in the limit; we haven't had to make three minute films just because we can, and we wouldn't have to make five minute films if that were the limit. Everyone would still be free to make their movie as short as they like. Yes, the extra time starts to add up for those who have to sit through dozens of entries, but I think the benefit to some of us would outweigh the drawbacks.

Of course, there are surely people out there somewhere who would say that five minutes isn't enough, and they need ten to tell the stories they want to tell. And yet others who 'need' thirty, and some who can't do less than a feature. I'm not one of those people, however, and I can only speak for myself, so please, take my opinion for what it's worth.
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Old May 23rd, 2007, 06:06 PM   #4
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Five minutes is good. Upload to Youtube, I like that idea too.
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Old May 23rd, 2007, 08:33 PM   #5
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YouTube would be fine.

I loved the three minute time limit! But if people would embrace the idea that they don't have to use the five minutes if the story doesn't warrant it, I guess I can bend. :)
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Old May 23rd, 2007, 09:47 PM   #6
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I like YouTube, though I like one click downloads too. I also hate the "click and wait" hosting sites and would love to see them banned (especially with YouTube out there).

I like having up to 5 minutes (though I only used 4.5 this time).

I like having a bit more than 2 weeks vs. having a bit more than 1 week. I think it is still a tight time limit but it gives more time for better writing, better preproduction/production, and better editing.

Re: rules. I'd like, if we keep with the judging the way it is, to see a rule that all entrants are expected to watch the films and submit their rankings. Maybe give folks a bit more time to watch and submit their rankings, but make it mandatory. Maybe you can't win or get honorable mention if you don't vote, maybe Dylan announces a "Voting Wall of Shame" with a list of those who didn't vote, and maybe even if you enter but don't vote twice in a row you can't enter the next one? I'd also like to get an understanding of how many folks vote vs. how many don't...

Just my 2 cents,
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Old May 24th, 2007, 12:11 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by William Gardner View Post
I'd also like to get an understanding of how many folks vote vs. how many don't...

I like the "you can't win if you don't vote" idea! But then again, I only want people who are serious about wanting to vote to do it...

As for the ratio, we usualy have 60-75% voter turnout.
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Old May 24th, 2007, 03:58 AM   #8
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When it comes to watching the movies:

- Download link directly from dvinfo e g http://mysite/movie.mov so I can just right click and save as is my preferred choice.
- Youtube is ok but I generally do not like Youtube. It's an emotional thing I guess :)
- I wouldn't mind a ban on those click and wait sites. Actually I sometimes skipped click-wait-download sites because I don't like it.

About the time to work on the project, I loved the 2-week span. It gave me the time to work on the script and find people willing to play a role. Of course, I was lazy and waited with some of the shots til the very end. So a shorter time-frame makes you actually go out and do it.

I like both 3 and 5 minutes length. Though I think 3 minutes might you actually be a lot tougher on the material.
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Old May 24th, 2007, 07:22 AM   #9
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I'm in the same boat as Robert. Not sure how "valuable" my opinion is, as I've only completed 2 out of the 4 (or 5?) DVC's I've signed up for, but here it is anyway....

- I'm somewhat on the fence about YouTube. But, for the sake of levelling-the-playing-field, it would be a good idea. Then, if you really want to see the 'hi-quality' version, you have the alternate link as well.
- a cap at 5 minutes would be a good thing. If you can tell your story in 3, all the better.
- Yeah, having two weeks to put a production together is a bonus. However, one week or two, I still seem to manage to @#$% up the silly thing. So, either timeframe is okay.
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Old May 24th, 2007, 08:29 AM   #10
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two weeks two weeks two weeks. I like that!!!!!!

5 minutes is good too. Unless you give us 3 weeks and 3 minutes. It takes an extra week to knock it down to 3 minutes.

Youtube blows but whatever you need to do to make it work. As long as we have the option of putting up higher res links, I'm ok with that.

Ban the click and wait!!!!!!

The longer time frame IMO makes for better shorts. not saying the shorter one doesn't work, but it gives everyone a little wiggle room if something comes up like work. 1 week is just a killer for me. One little wrinkle and the whole thing falls apart with no time to pull it together. see my DVC6 for proof. hahaha

I think everyone should vote, but it sounds like a lot more work to track all the voting etc...

that's my 2.5 cents (compensating for inflation)
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Old May 24th, 2007, 09:13 AM   #11
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a vote for shorter movies

Personally I like the three minute limit. To me it brought the challenge to the DV Challenge. As others have said, it's really hard to come up with a story that's coherent in only three minutes. But isn't that part of the point? Ditto for one week rather than two. Though personally I think I'd make better use out of an extra week of production time than an extra two minutes of story time. If the group consensus ends up at 5 minutes it's not going to stop me from signing up of course.

I don't mind having a youtube requirement. Personally I like to download them to watch at my leisure, but now that I've got wireless in my house that's less of an issue.

I would also say, to the people who need more time to tell their story, go out and do that. If the Challenge has inspired you to get off your couch and behind your camera then great! Shoot every story you can think of. Shoot the challenges certainly, but don't stop there. I found myself so energized after the last challenge that I decided to give myself the permission to do one that was as long as it needed to be to tell the story and took as long as it needed to take to tell it well (12 mintues/6 months).

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Old May 24th, 2007, 11:09 AM   #12
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I understand your point of view, Kris, and I like a challenge too, but I think the more important point of the DV Challenge is to encourage entrants to practice their abilities, develop their skills. I think there's a sweet spot somewhere here where the films are short enough to engender critical thinking and objective decision making, but still long enough not to feel claustrophobic. I'd worry that people want to join in the fun, but see a three minute, one week limit and decide to opt out. Or, the more adventurous types sign up anyway, but find they can't put together something that works within the limit, and give up, not submitting a film and not returning for future competitions.

But maybe I'm overthinking this. Looking back, I could argue that my first movie was terrible because it was my first, and that the three minute limit is a poor excuse for my DVC 6 entry not making any sense. Really, I never felt when making it that I was restricted, and I wasn't sure what I'd shot when I was done for the day. The first cut, which was already only four or five minutes, didn't make any sense to begin with, shaving off a minute or two made no difference. I guess, then, that I'm shifting my position to neutral. I'd still sort of like the five minutes, but three isn't my big problem. I still feel it may be a bit discouraging, but I've got more pressing issues to work out.

As for shooting these things without the motivation of the contest, well, I quote Mitchell Stookey and Dylan Couper in the DVC 2 sign up thread:

Originally Posted by Mitchell Stookey
Yea I'll do it. If I don't sign up for things like this I never do them so I might as well take some stress in exchange for finishing something. Thanks for keeping this going Dylan
Originally Posted by Dylan Couper
That's 100% my problem too, which is the main reason I set it up.
No problem.
Yes, it's entirely up to us if we'd like to shoot our own stuff, but that's like telling me I can become an astronaut if I really apply myself. Perhaps true, but easier said than done. An actual deadline helps light a fire under my rear. And the theme helps kick start my imagination; I tend not to be able to simply shoot any story I can think of, since I can never think of any stories.

I'm with you, though, the two weeks would help me more than the five minutes. I'm much more technically minded, never been a creative type, and ideas don't come easily. I'm not proud of this, but it's proving extremely difficult to improve upon. It usually takes the better part of the ten days to come up with something, and I either have to rush my shooting and produce something awful, or drop out. I'm not personally interested in this contest so I can make bad movies (we all have to get our bad movies out of our system, yeah, but I know I can do better than the crap I come up with last minute), and that's what I end up doing when I rush things; I'd sooner hang myself on the Wall of Shame than submit something I can't be proud of. Some of you guys can obviously handle the pressure of short schedules, but I keep signing up, not having any thoughts until the weekend deadline, and throwing in the towel when I can't get it done. It's humiliating, and I've considered not bothering. After this last competition, I had resigned myself to being an audience member for the life of the DVC, at least until I read Dylan's mysterious comments ("And next, thanks to everyone who signed up, dropped out, and ended up on the Wall Of Shame. Have I got the competition for you... DVC9 is going to be your type of challenge!"). I'm intrigued, so I'll give it another shot.

I suppose it's a 'put up or shut up' situation, though; if the deadline were stretched to two weeks because of people like me asking for it, we'd surely be expected to produce great work. I don't know if I could live up to that. But this is not my own personal therapy thread to be used for working out my motivation issues, it's about everyone's contest; so bottom line, I'm not really all that concerned with the time limit or deadline. I'd rather five minutes and two weeks, but if not, no biggie.

Sure took a lot of typing to figure that out, huh?
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Old May 24th, 2007, 11:21 PM   #13
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I like the option of 5 minute length and sure would appreciate two weeks production time allowed.

But like one other said, I'll keep participating anyway.

Bruce Foreman
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Old May 26th, 2007, 06:54 AM   #14
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just a thought...when i set up the UWOL Challenge, i signed up a youtube account, thinking that would simplify matters, but too many players complained about the quality.

how about instead of a youtube requirement, publish a list of acceptable free upload sites, effectively banning the ones that drive you nuts (totally get that! i've frequently just not bothered watching some of them...) and steering players to the ones that are less problematic, while still giving them some choice in the matter? make it a Sticky here and put it on the DVC website. that way, you don't have to listen to a bunch of ongoing negative feedback about quality...which might be the unintended consequence of youtube.

regarding length, i kind of like it that you mix things up a bit, sometimes 3, sometimes longer as a special treat. for narrative film, i think it keeps things fresh. but i think Kris is right...use DVC to make the films you want. that's what winning is all about! and if you happen to get a groovy wireless mic set-up, all the better!
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Old June 4th, 2007, 12:25 PM   #15
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Something to bare in mind is the recent announcement that Apple TV will be able to read H.264 encoded, higher-res content from YouTube this month.

It remains to be seen how that translates quality-wise for things like these contests (versus commercially produced and funded material), but at least the infrastructure is getting rev'd.

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