DVC22 - Loop - Simon Wood at DVinfo.net

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Old September 9th, 2012, 12:34 AM   #1
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DVC22 - Loop - Simon Wood

I guess its better to watch the movie first, as I wanted to reveal the story slowly, then I'll mention a few things about it afterwards:

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Old September 9th, 2012, 12:49 AM   #2
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Re: DVC22 - Loop - Simon Wood

This was filmed on a Canon T3i with a vintage Nikkor 35mm lens (and a 50mm lens for the final scene in the restaurant). Edited on FCPX.

I wanted to do a short documentary for this revolving around the idea of recycling; as glass is one of those unusual objects that can be reused in a number of ways (here in Uganda we still have glass coke bottles that get reused over and over, as well as a facility that melts down wine bottles and other glass to make new objects; mostly glass bowls, glasses, carafes etc).

So I went to the facility that recycles glass, and blows it into new objects. I wanted to tell a story that would show the recycling process as a 'loop' where people would drink wine out of recycled glasses, with a bottle that is then recycled. The facility was pretty impressive, but I decided to continue looking for something that seemed more 'grass-roots'. However I did buy some wine goblets and a carafe for using at the end of the story.

I found a small workshop that recycles glass in a very basic manner; a real grass-roots project that employed a number of people, and using very basic tools at all stages in the process. I figured this was a fairly unique style of recycling, and focused on this story.

I decided to film this is a very basic fly-on-the-wall style, and not to do any interviews (rather I wanted to let the story reveal itself in stages). I wanted to film this with a naked DSLR, handheld, with one lens and no microphones or anything like that, so that I would be as unobtrusive to the people as possible. It was a very discrete way of making a documentary. Shooting this way meant that there would be some camera shake and focus hunting, but I decided to embrace this as part of the aesthetic of that style, rather than try to fight it.

I wanted to have the basic ambiance captured from the camera to form a soundscape; but it seemed to be lacking. So I chose a track that sounded 'glass-y' and put this on top of the ambiance track.

Last edited by Simon Wood; September 9th, 2012 at 04:01 AM.
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Old September 9th, 2012, 04:05 AM   #3
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Re: DVC22 - Loop - Simon Wood

Just to clarify one extra point; I did have a tripod with a slider which I used to get some sliding shots in the early morning before work started. Once I got those out of the way I reverted to the handheld format.

So there are 2 brief slider shots, and the rest is handheld. Some shots I locked off by putting the camera on a table or on a small sandbag.

I bought some of the jewelry that they made, and it can be seen at the end as worn by the lady in the restaurant (a bracelet, earrings, and a necklace pendant).
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Old September 9th, 2012, 04:24 AM   #4
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Re: DVC22 - Loop - Simon Wood

Hi Simon

You always seem to shed some light on some lovely aspect of Ugandan life. This is a continuation of that for sure. I thought it told a compelling story within a documentary, lets face it that's what a doc should do as much as any narrative piece.

I really liked this and it kept me engaged from beginning to end. I thought going into the restaurant at the end to show the lifecycle of this glass was a nice closing.

Nothing to critique as such. I did find myself wanting to know more about the people doing this and would liked to have heard from them. However that would have changed the feel of the piece.

Great stuff, liked it a lot!
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Old September 9th, 2012, 05:10 AM   #5
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Re: DVC22 - Loop - Simon Wood

Simon this is really beautifully filmed. loads of colour, depth and the image is clean too. It was so fascinating to see how other countries make class and re-cycle it. The editing and camera work are top class, I think just needed a voice-over or interview to explain more. I was left wanting to ask more question about certain aspects of their glass production process. Nice one, look forward to seeing your next film.
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Old September 9th, 2012, 03:02 PM   #6
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Re: DVC22 - Loop - Simon Wood

I really loved the simplicity of this film. The concept is very clear and smart and works so well without any dialogue or text, just images and the title and I have all the information I need. Great conceptualizing. I also think your cinematography is excellent, really luscious and beautiful images. I like your unobtrusive approach both in the film and the way you described it.

The ONLY note I have, is I think you could have chosen more supportive music. I know the film is called Loop, but when you have music that repeats and doesn't have too much progression, it's hard for the film to override that. Having wall to wall repeating music can really flatten the story arc because all beats can feel the same. Having the music build and fall, start or stop will add to your pace as much as your cuts will, but without it sometimes even the cutting can't overcome the pace set by the looping music. Just my two cents.

Also, very sweet you are a Tarkovsky fan!

Great work, really really simple and eloquent film that I thoroughly enjoyed!
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Old September 9th, 2012, 03:15 PM   #7
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Re: DVC22 - Loop - Simon Wood

Simon,

The film is beautiful and simple. Makes me want to visit Uganda. I'm curious how you came to Uganda and what keeps you there?

Dick
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Old September 9th, 2012, 05:04 PM   #8
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Re: DVC22 - Loop - Simon Wood

This was a very interesting spin-off of sorts of a typical "glass-making" documentary for me. The shots looked wonderful and it's obvious that you're very talented behind the lens.

Even without a narration (which the first time I watched it I thought might have been nice) the story enfolds nicely and is fairly easily understood. You were able to conclude the film very nicely showing the recycled glass being worn as jewelery and then a glass from the same table getting put into the glass pile which you established at the beginning and making your title very clear and meaningful.

One thing that I think I noticed was the soundtrack seemed to have a consistent feel throughout the entire thing as opposed to having some waves of energy within it. I think it might have been cool to find a piece of music that wasn't as consistent in energy/levels/etc that may have mirrored the looping aspect a bit... starting off slow, gaining momentum and then returning to it's original energy.

And just because you had plenty of time to spare a the end and weren't pushing the time-limit.... I felt like the credits went by a tad fast... and I was interested to know what they said so it would have been nice to have been able to read them a tad bit longer.

Very well done though, really enjoyed it!
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Old September 9th, 2012, 05:27 PM   #9
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Re: DVC22 - Loop - Simon Wood

Great story, great colors, I really enjoyed following the journey.

One aspect of this challenge that has been very enjoyable is seeing all the neat places people live and film. It makes the world seem a little smaller! This is one of the neatest locations yet!

This film has wonderful colors and you really captured an environment with a hot african feel. I'm loving the image you get from the vintage Nikkor.

Its mentioned above that you wanted a casual handheld vibe, but a just a couple of the shots threw me a little bit- like the wine pouring at 2:18- it made me uncomfortable. If you want, one thing you could try in the future is something small like a gorillapod or something which you can bend to your chest, just to add another point of body contact and a tiny bit more stability to the footage.

What language do people speak in Uganda? This video has made me curious about more details of their business.

Does that organization sell that jewelry online anywhere? It might not be too eco-friendly to mail that sutff a long way, but I really like what they are doing, and it looks beautiful.

Also, great title screen where Loop fades into the out of focus bottles, that was really smooth!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick Mays View Post
Simon,

The film is beautiful and simple. Makes me want to visit Uganda. I'm curious how you came to Uganda and what keeps you there?

Dick
I'd be curious about this also. I watched all your videos, and Uganda looks like an amazing place to live.
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Old September 10th, 2012, 08:12 AM   #10
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Re: DVC22 - Loop - Simon Wood

Simon,

I want to visit Uganda and make beautiful movies with you.

This was a beautiful film and stylistically very different. At first viewing I was distracted by the in-and-out focus, but upon repeat viewing, I think that it adds to the feel.

Would have loved just a tad of speaking about the process, but the film does a great job of cataloging the journey. Cool beginning and end. Great titles.

Toni
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Old September 10th, 2012, 08:34 AM   #11
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Re: DVC22 - Loop - Simon Wood

I really like this film. Having a spent a lot of time in Africa, it brings back fond memories. The story was simple but compelling, and tying the end back to the beginning to complete the loop was very effective.
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Old September 10th, 2012, 12:10 PM   #12
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Re: DVC22 - Loop - Simon Wood

Hey Simon,

Ever since my jaw dropped with "Mondo Safari" during the last DVC/UWOL challenge, I've been following your work. I really enjoy your cinematography and editing -- they're always top notch, and this piece is no exception!

Now you already know about your skills, so that aside, I really enjoyed how you were able to tell a linear story solely by the imagery. As someone mentioned earlier, narration might've been a good option, but I personally don't think it needs it. We're interested in the characters and what they're up to from the start, and we want to see what the outcome is. The shots at the beginning lend itself to natural curiosity, and then the rack focus on the "Made in Uganda" necklaces is really brilliant reveal. It made me go, "Ahhhhh, I see, I see!" I like where that was placed too, allowing some time for some resolution after that.

Finally, I'm also a big fan of book-ending and making everything come full circle. Just as I was thinking that, you did just that, hehe. Great piece, mate. Someone from the Ugandan tourism board or something needs to see this. Cheers!
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Old September 10th, 2012, 09:56 PM   #13
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Re: DVC22 - Loop - Simon Wood

Simon: Extraordinary story. It amazes me how so many people seem to be able to make something beautiful out of someone elses disposables. Pretty story.
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Old September 11th, 2012, 02:17 AM   #14
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Re: DVC22 - Loop - Simon Wood

Mr. Wood

What can you say outstanding work! Beautiful film and story very pleasing to watch! Such a nice story about a simple theme and you tie it all together with such ease!

Great Job

Thank you,

Frank Moody
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Old September 11th, 2012, 01:53 PM   #15
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Re: DVC22 - Loop - Simon Wood

Hi everyone, and thanks for taking the time to watch and comment on Loop. I will try to answer any questions raised here!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mat Thompson View Post
Hi Simon

You always seem to shed some light on some lovely aspect of Ugandan life. This is a continuation of that for sure. I thought it told a compelling story within a documentary, lets face it that's what a doc should do as much as any narrative piece.

I really liked this and it kept me engaged from beginning to end. I thought going into the restaurant at the end to show the lifecycle of this glass was a nice closing.

Nothing to critique as such. I did find myself wanting to know more about the people doing this and would liked to have heard from them. However that would have changed the feel of the piece.

Great stuff, liked it a lot!
Thanks Mat! When I make a short documentary I usually do like to let people talk to the camera (and use the interview as a voiceover) - but I kind of wanted to get out of my routine and try something new here. At the end of the day I really wanted the story to be about the actual glass in its various different forms (bottle, powder, liquid, jewelry), rather than the people. I might revisit this place sometime in the future and try a more regular story though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Hartopp View Post
Simon this is really beautifully filmed. loads of colour, depth and the image is clean too. It was so fascinating to see how other countries make class and re-cycle it. The editing and camera work are top class, I think just needed a voice-over or interview to explain more. I was left wanting to ask more question about certain aspects of their glass production process. Nice one, look forward to seeing your next film.
Thanks Mark! The production process was pretty much as seen in the story; they literally pulverized the glass (after cleaning it), put it into little clay moulds, heated these in the oven for an hour or so, and then punched holes in the glass when it was still slightly molten. Once the glass cooled (in about an hour) they washed them and selected the beads for making jewelry using leather straps and wire. Thats it! The jewelry is quite unusual; there are lots of imperfections in the beads but this makes it more interesting I think.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mitchell Stookey View Post
I really loved the simplicity of this film. The concept is very clear and smart and works so well without any dialogue or text, just images and the title and I have all the information I need. Great conceptualizing. I also think your cinematography is excellent, really luscious and beautiful images. I like your unobtrusive approach both in the film and the way you described it.

The ONLY note I have, is I think you could have chosen more supportive music. I know the film is called Loop, but when you have music that repeats and doesn't have too much progression, it's hard for the film to override that. Having wall to wall repeating music can really flatten the story arc because all beats can feel the same. Having the music build and fall, start or stop will add to your pace as much as your cuts will, but without it sometimes even the cutting can't overcome the pace set by the looping music. Just my two cents.

Also, very sweet you are a Tarkovsky fan!

Great work, really really simple and eloquent film that I thoroughly enjoyed!
Thanks Mitchell! I definitely am a big Tarkovsky fan; though its not something I would ever force on any of my family or friends if they were in the tv room! The music was the last part of the edit; essentially I had cornered myself by not doing any interviews, but not wanting to do a voiceover. The soundscape by itself was not working so I decided to look for a piece of music that sounded glassy (it kind of sounds like tapping glasses and that noise you get by rubbing your finger around the rim of a wineglass I thought). I would have liked to reduce the music to a basebeat during the middle, but it was not possible. I am thinking about learning Logic Pro to try and get some basic control over music in my films.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick Mays View Post
Simon,

The film is beautiful and simple. Makes me want to visit Uganda. I'm curious how you came to Uganda and what keeps you there?

Dick
Thanks Dick! In my other life I run a boutique hotel, and thats what keeps me in Uganda. If you decide to visit Uganda I can recommend you a good hotel.....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam Snow View Post
This was a very interesting spin-off of sorts of a typical "glass-making" documentary for me. The shots looked wonderful and it's obvious that you're very talented behind the lens.

Even without a narration (which the first time I watched it I thought might have been nice) the story enfolds nicely and is fairly easily understood. You were able to conclude the film very nicely showing the recycled glass being worn as jewelery and then a glass from the same table getting put into the glass pile which you established at the beginning and making your title very clear and meaningful.

One thing that I think I noticed was the soundtrack seemed to have a consistent feel throughout the entire thing as opposed to having some waves of energy within it. I think it might have been cool to find a piece of music that wasn't as consistent in energy/levels/etc that may have mirrored the looping aspect a bit... starting off slow, gaining momentum and then returning to it's original energy.

And just because you had plenty of time to spare a the end and weren't pushing the time-limit.... I felt like the credits went by a tad fast... and I was interested to know what they said so it would have been nice to have been able to read them a tad bit longer.

Very well done though, really enjoyed it!
Thanks for watching Mr Snow (great surname by the way - do you read any of the 'Song of Ice & Fire' novels - lots of Snows in that!). Yeah I agree about the music; really i find that the soundtrack is the one area where I am limited by a lack of control - I just have to search around until I find something that matches close enough. One day I will have to learn how to make basic music with Logic Pro, or actually hire someone to start scoring for me!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Bove View Post
Great story, great colors, I really enjoyed following the journey.

One aspect of this challenge that has been very enjoyable is seeing all the neat places people live and film. It makes the world seem a little smaller! This is one of the neatest locations yet!

This film has wonderful colors and you really captured an environment with a hot african feel. I'm loving the image you get from the vintage Nikkor.

Its mentioned above that you wanted a casual handheld vibe, but a just a couple of the shots threw me a little bit- like the wine pouring at 2:18- it made me uncomfortable. If you want, one thing you could try in the future is something small like a gorillapod or something which you can bend to your chest, just to add another point of body contact and a tiny bit more stability to the footage.

What language do people speak in Uganda? This video has made me curious about more details of their business.

Does that organization sell that jewelry online anywhere? It might not be too eco-friendly to mail that sutff a long way, but I really like what they are doing, and it looks beautiful.

Also, great title screen where Loop fades into the out of focus bottles, that was really smooth!

I'd be curious about this also. I watched all your videos, and Uganda looks like an amazing place to live.
Hi Andrew and thanks for watching! There are lots of different languages spoken in Uganda; the area that I live in is mostly Luganda, though Swahili is also understood. I'll have a look and see if they deliver stuff abroad; but I have some friends going to NY next month in case you want me to send something with them (they can post it to you when they arrive).

I actually have lots of different rigs (a gini-cage, a glidecam, a shoulder rig etc - way too many in fact), however with this documentary I specifically wanted to get down to basics - to shoot in a grass-roots style so to speak. I knew that there would be an issue with stability and focus control (using the lcd screen in sunlight is not easy), but I decided to go with it. There was also an option of doing post stabilization; again I decided against this in the end.

While I know that some shots were far from perfect; I figured the experience (for me) was worth it. Essentially I know that I can pick up a basic DSLR with 1 prime lens and make a simple documentary - its quite liberating to get away from all the accumulated gear and get down to basic film craft!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toni Dolce View Post
Simon,

I want to visit Uganda and make beautiful movies with you.

This was a beautiful film and stylistically very different. At first viewing I was distracted by the in-and-out focus, but upon repeat viewing, I think that it adds to the feel.

Would have loved just a tad of speaking about the process, but the film does a great job of cataloging the journey. Cool beginning and end. Great titles.

Toni
Thanks Toni! Haha - you can come to Uganda to make beautiful movies with me only if I can go to Paris to make action movies with you! Thanks for watching. I know what you mean; the 'focus-hunting' actually grows on you if you accept it as an aesthetic style - only in small does though!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruth Happel View Post
I really like this film. Having a spent a lot of time in Africa, it brings back fond memories. The story was simple but compelling, and tying the end back to the beginning to complete the loop was very effective.
Thanks Ruth! Glad this brought back some fond memories - Africa never really leaves your blood (so whether you know it or not - you will be back sometime in the future)!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joseph Tran View Post
Hey Simon,

Ever since my jaw dropped with "Mondo Safari" during the last DVC/UWOL challenge, I've been following your work. I really enjoy your cinematography and editing -- they're always top notch, and this piece is no exception!

Now you already know about your skills, so that aside, I really enjoyed how you were able to tell a linear story solely by the imagery. As someone mentioned earlier, narration might've been a good option, but I personally don't think it needs it. We're interested in the characters and what they're up to from the start, and we want to see what the outcome is. The shots at the beginning lend itself to natural curiosity, and then the rack focus on the "Made in Uganda" necklaces is really brilliant reveal. It made me go, "Ahhhhh, I see, I see!" I like where that was placed too, allowing some time for some resolution after that.

Finally, I'm also a big fan of book-ending and making everything come full circle. Just as I was thinking that, you did just that, hehe. Great piece, mate. Someone from the Ugandan tourism board or something needs to see this. Cheers!
Thanks Tran; I really appreciate that! Happy that you liked the little details!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Barcellos View Post
Simon: Extraordinary story. It amazes me how so many people seem to be able to make something beautiful out of someone elses disposables. Pretty story.
Cheers Chris! Makes you wonder; people can be very creative! Bear in mind that this is a full time job that supports whole families too!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Moody View Post
Mr. Wood

What can you say outstanding work! Beautiful film and story very pleasing to watch! Such a nice story about a simple theme and you tie it all together with such ease!

Great Job

Thank you,

Frank Moody
Thanks Frank; I was aiming for simplicity so I'm glad you enjoyed it!
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