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Old April 15th, 2006, 10:04 AM   #1
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DVC5 Feedback - Lost in DC

This is the part I fear even though I know that everyone is always very constructive. So here goes: what did you think?

I shot with a DVX 100a with a tripod for the still shots and a Steadicam Merlin for the moving shots. My real goals were to practice with the Merlin and to have fun, so I consider myself successful even with the stiff competition of the actual contest.

I recorded the voice overs with an Audio Technica shotgun whose number I don't recall - not exactlyl the right tool for the job, but the studio mic hadn't come in yet - onto a Marantz compact flash recorder. The bark was actually a sound effect because she won't bark on command.

I edited with Final Cut Express.

Hope you enjoy.
Smile,
Kris


PS: how long before you realized that she's only got 3 legs?
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Old April 15th, 2006, 10:28 AM   #2
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A dog flick!!! How can we compete with that??? :) I loved her, and yeah--noticed one o' those legs was missing right away. It obviously doesn't slow her down.

Because there are four rather free-spirited canines living with me I couldn't help but continue to wonder how you got her to "act" so well. She's getting right up there with Eddie on Frasier.

I saw what you meant when on another thread you mentioned the water at the Washington Monument being roughed up by the wind. That's too bad, because the reflection would have been cool.

Glad you got to go out there with your gear. Good job!
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Old April 15th, 2006, 10:42 AM   #3
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Very nice, and very pretty! It took me about half the film before I noticed the missing leg.

Nice to see DC looking its best. Nice shooting and camera angles

I can sympathize with you on the wind-whipped reflecting pool...

How did you find the Merlin? Easy to use? Hard to use? And how heavy was the whole thing with the camera?

Thanks for a nice short!
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Old April 15th, 2006, 11:06 AM   #4
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It took me a few seconds before I saw the dog only had three legs, especially since she moves so comfortably. Doesn't look like a missing leg has slowed her down at all.

I do think the voiceover sounded a little "indoors", but then, so does mine, and it's hard to do this kinda stuff with any kind of microphone, so I can't complain there. I also think one or two shots of your dog (the ones you sped up) sitting by what I think is the Reflecting Pool are a little long, and the film might benefit from losing a few seconds there. Other than that, I liked the way the Merlin shots felt, even with the occasional wobble--hey, you did better than I ever could with such a contraption, so keep practicing, I'm sure that'll be gone soon enough.

In the end, however, any technical shortcomings are powerfully overshadowed by the fact that you got your dog to act for you; that's impressive enough in its own right, great work!
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Old April 15th, 2006, 11:15 AM   #5
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i'm a huge sucker for dog movies. and dogs, in general. my first dv challenge entry was a dog movie, too. in fact, i think we should run a DV challenge of exclusively dog films, since when i posted mine, i got so much, "your dog is beautiful, but mine is even more perfect"-styled feedback. move over, westminster dog show, let the DVC dog challenge begin. me and violet are itching for the Best Dog showdown! (hard to compete with a 3-legged scruffster, though, come to think o it.....)

in the spirit of "i'll show you mine if you show me yours!":

http://ia300131.us.archive.org/2/ite...WideScreen.mov

blue is darling!

what is wrong with all these bloodless, cold-hearted district of columbionians (is that what they're called?) who keep shoo-ing away a cute, hapless, 3-legged stray????

anyway, i loved this movie. some very clever shots, with the dog statue, and the monuments. a swell use of location!
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Old April 15th, 2006, 12:18 PM   #6
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I noticed after a few seconds that there is anything wrong with the dogs legs, wondered first, if this would be the subject of your film...

There is one shot I feel too long (was it the Washington Monument?), but it might be compelling cause you wanted to focus on the confusion resp loneliness of Blue...

You made a sympathetic flick - I like it!
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Old April 15th, 2006, 01:40 PM   #7
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That was awesome. I was thinking of doing a dog flick, but my dogs aren't that well behaved. That dog is even better trained than some of my actors have been.
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Old April 15th, 2006, 01:52 PM   #8
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Not fair at all. A dog movie at the nations capitol. Old Yeller, Benji, and now "Lost in DC". Showed it to my grandkids and they loved it. I was waiting for Peter, Paul and Mary to sing the song about "My Dog Blue".
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Old April 15th, 2006, 04:54 PM   #9
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I used to live just outside DC and your film made me miss it.Your captured the essence of the mall. Some great shots. I don't remember that dog statue anywhere, it must be well hidden. Your "actor" did a wonderful job.
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Old April 15th, 2006, 04:59 PM   #10
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I have 2 dogs. One hyperactive Mutt, my wife claims that one. Mine is a thorobred Whippet. Her scruffy mutt taught mine to bark. They're not supposed to bark, pretty much ever. Ah well. Never work with dogs or small children eh?

So, nice footage. Very clean and crisp. Almost everything I have seen so far has done great with compression for the web.

Don't take it badly but the only criticism I have is that the story was potentially sad, missing dog and all, but I sort of had to guess the dog was really missing. Maybe a shot of a frantic owner looking for the lost pet? Maybe I missed it. I'm running on first viewings at this point.

So it was perhaps a little long-ish for the story line but it was pretty good.

Good job. Nice shooting. Good technique. Good editing.

Sean McHenry
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Old April 15th, 2006, 11:04 PM   #11
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Thanks everyone

Quote:
Originally Posted by William Gardner

How did you find the Merlin? Easy to use? Hard to use? And how heavy was the whole thing with the camera?
It weighs about 10 pounds. The first week I used it I was sore the next day and had footage that made me slightly seasick. I spent a couple of weeks circling the office, but it wasn't real world enough to give me the right kind of practice. So when I told my boss I wanted to take it home for the weekend to do this she was like Great! Get good on your own time. And I thought Great! Cool toys for my pet project. (Sorry had to throw a bone to Sean.) I still find it hard to use well, and the wind was really killing me that day, but I ended up using it a lot for another project at work while this should have been in post if I was ever home. It's meant for short burts and if I use it in short burst I can get footage that's good enough, and might even eventually get good at it. That's what the guys in the tripod corner of the forum said to reassure me anyway.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Martens
I do think the voiceover sounded a little "indoors", but then, so does mine, and it's hard to do this kinda stuff with any kind of microphone, so I can't complain there. I also think one or two shots of your dog (the ones you sped up) sitting by what I think is the Reflecting Pool are a little long, and the film might benefit from losing a few seconds there.
Even without the wind I couldn't have done live sound. All you hear on the tape is "Sit Blue. Good dog. Stay... stay... stay... stay... stay... stay... Go get Mary." All the people who voiced later were unavailable that day. Bad enough it's just Mary wearing every coat I own it would have been unbearably obvious if she'd done the voices too. I had intended to go out later and get some ambient sound for a bed, but then I ran out of time. Oh well.

As for the shot with Lincoln at the end of the reflecting pool I would love to be able to say, "It's art, I meant for it to look that way." But in fact it feels too long to me too, especially with Lincoln not actually reflecting. It was shorter at one point, but then I couldn't get the music to quite work as well in later spots. So I left it. I'll say that Volker has the right interpretation and I was trying to focus attention on Blue's loneliness.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Barcellos
I was waiting for Peter, Paul and Mary to sing the song about "My Dog Blue".
I sing that to her in the car all the time. I think she thinks I'm crazy. Glad the grandkids liked it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Broussard
I don't remember that dog statue anywhere, it must be well hidden.
It's FDR's dog, well into the 4th term. For anyone coming to DC, the FDR memorial is one of the best kept secrets. My favorite, and not just for the dog.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sean McHenry
I sort of had to guess the dog was really missing. Maybe a shot of a frantic owner looking for the lost pet?
I was worried about that. It never occured to me to do the owner at the begining because I always thought of it as only being from the dog's POV. Though my sister then asked me today why I didn't include dog POV shots. To be honest that didn't occur to me either, though thinking back on it I didn't have the right tripod to pull it off. She tends to be a bit frenetic when she's looking around. The first line you hear of someone walking by saying Hey little dog are you lost? wasn't in the first cut but was meant to try to correct this problem.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Meryem Ersoz
in the spirit of "i'll show you mine if you show me yours!":
Glad we didn't have to have a head to head competition between Violet and Blue. What a cutie.


Thanks to everyone for the nice comments on what a great dog she is. She's actually a certified therapy dog - she's happy all the time and loves people, so we go to Children's Hospital and a local nursing home to share the love. But to keep her certification she has to be well trained so we are in intermediate obedience and agility class. I was worried though. There really was only me and Mary on the day we shot (everyone had an excuse) and being good in class isn't the same as being good with no leash or collar on the Mall with all the tourists. She was the best dog ever that day.
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Old April 16th, 2006, 01:47 AM   #12
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Great pictures and a potential star.

I hate to admit it, but I watched the whole thing and never noticed that you had a three legged dog. It's probably because I have a three legged cat, and he gets around just fine. Cute dog. I really think your dog can be a star. Have her own little trailer and all that. She's a great actor.

But she needs better material. And maybe a costar. I'd like to send her a script where some spaniel is in love with her, but she only has eyes for this bad boy pit bull, until the spaniel overcomes great odds, saves the day, and earns her undying love.

Add a little plot twist to your script, and you'll have a film festival winner.
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Old April 16th, 2006, 01:11 PM   #13
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Hi Kris!

I won't admit this often, but dogs definitely tug at my heart strings. Little Blue is such a great dog! I was really surprised by how well she "acted" in your film- must be because I have two dogs that own me, the house, the yard and everything else.

Yes- I noted that Blue was missing a leg right off the bat. Like many other dogs I know with the same condition- Blue gets around just fine.

I found the scenes where people were walking by and Blue was looking at them as they passed very touching. Perhaps a little long, but very effective. The dog and the statue shot was most memorable too.

Aren't new DV toys great? I can relate to you on wanting to get practice with your Merlin. Nice job! Had a homemade car mount I practiced with...so understand the feeling completely.

Best Wishes~
Bradley
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Old April 18th, 2006, 09:39 AM   #14
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Kris:

You've managed to do the impossible: Work with animals! How in the heck did you get that performance from Tripod Blue? Reminded me of one of those indy French films from the early 1960s. Boy did you set the mood well with the music, too. Another one to compete with. High marks for you. Beautiful color and GREAT use of our nation's capital as a backdrop. DANG! You guys are GOOD!
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Old April 18th, 2006, 09:49 AM   #15
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Here's what I learned working with Blue that I think might be applicable to everyone. I picked the few things she does well - sit, stay, and come - and stayed within her comfort zone. Blue looks as good as a working movie dog because I didn't ask her to do any of the complicated things that working movie dogs sometimes need to do. But staying within the acting she's capable of she looks brilliant. I think that's a good lesson for all of us working with non-professional talent, of whatever breed.

Glad you liked the music. I was quite pleased when I found it. I was aiming for a forelorne (sp?) walk through the capital, but she doesn't walk, she sprints, and she's always happy. Up until I found the music I didn't feel like I was hitting the right mood at all. And then suddenly, click, it worked. Intellectually I knew that could happen if I found the right piece, but I was still a bit wowed by the change.
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