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The DVC / UWOL Charity Challenge
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Old January 10th, 2010, 10:50 PM   #1
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Gifts of Seeds and Carrots

Here is my first attempt at Digital Video, and my submission.


My main goal for this challenge was to complete on time as I was learning something new every step of the way.

Topic - Gifts, I was limited in having no video experience so I went with a nature film rather then one which relied on actor's I didn't have.

Shooting - Shot with a Flip Ultra HD was pretty easy although one did have to get quite close to one's subject (the zoom is digital = poor quality).

Post - Downloaded a trial version of Premier CS4 and figured out how compile the many shots (over 45 minutes of animal shots of which I had to pick only the best and still keep it within the time limit).

Uploading - Major pain and I then had to get it onto the web and for some reason the formate I picked didn't like youtube (or vise versa?).

Finally got it to upload, so please enjoy.

Lessons Learned and Future Notes:
1. I think I did a good job on framing shots (from my experience in photography) however I often forgot my subject moved. This fact alone ruined most of the scene shots I had in mind and limited the eventual amount of "useful video"
2. Doing the video at the same time as trying to attract the wildlife is hard, I should of had an assistant.
3. A zoom would of been nice, as often I was 10ft away from the camera as animals were to skittish to come close to the camera & food while I was standing beside it.
4. Timing, the movie does suffer a bit from the choice of shots I had, many were too long & good or short and poor. I didn't want to make too many sharp cuts in the video.
5. Scene transitions, eventually I will need to figure out how to do this in post.
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Old January 12th, 2010, 12:28 PM   #2
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Graeme,

I really love your opening pan.; the lighting with the long shadows, the deep blue sky. Did you use a polarizing filter? Overall, I really liked the short, but you held a little long on the bird feeder for my tastes. You’ve got some incredible good footage coming, all the closeups and pictures of birds feeding from your hand and the deer. I'd shorten the song and keep the audience involved with the incredible nature shots you got. I thought the music choice was good, and watched it twice.

Last edited by Dick Mays; January 12th, 2010 at 02:23 PM. Reason: typos
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Old January 12th, 2010, 01:50 PM   #3
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Graeme- This made me slow down, and captured the essence of nature, the quiet. Gentle creatures out searching for food. I thought I'd see Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs coming out of the woods at any time. The bird flying by the camera was awesome.
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Old January 12th, 2010, 02:10 PM   #4
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Graeme,
You really are too hard on yourself, for this program is really enjoyable. You captured the essence of winter bird feeding, and that is what video is all about. Just one comment. Where the chickadee comes into your hand in close-up, I think your auto focus was focused on the tree. Manual prefocus on your hand would have been perfect.

Looking forward to future entries.
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Old January 12th, 2010, 02:13 PM   #5
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Graeme, first of all, welcome to the UWOL and DVC gangs.
This is your first video? You did well.

I agree with your own comment that some of your shots were too long, especially the bird feeder in the beginning. But still, it was nice to watch. I enjoyed it.

As for transitions, I prefer the cuts you did now. And if you watch previous UWOL and DVC entries or feature films, or wildlife shows on tv, you also see that transitions are in general usually just sharp cuts. Maybe fade in/out or dissolves are used here and there.


Stay with us. I look forward to see your future videos too.
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Old January 12th, 2010, 02:56 PM   #6
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Reply to Initial Comments

First Comment - Thank you all for your replies, please keep them coming!

Replies:
@Dick - No Lens Filters were used, the camera auto exposure correction only, all video is straight out of the camera. I know the initial bird feeder scenes are a bit long (hindsight 20/20) however it was the only Downy Woodpecker Shot I had come out nicely.
@Bill - Sorry about the lack of dwarfs.
@Steve - The Flip only has a fixed auto focus lens. I tried to place my hand outside of the "blur" zone but I also wanted the small birds big on the picture.
@Trond - Thanks for your comments, I'm sure you'll see me in future contests, this one was really fun.
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Old January 12th, 2010, 03:19 PM   #7
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My only issue with your film was, like some others already have said, the very long bird feeder scene at the beginning.

I loved your close ups of birds and the shot @ 2:42-2:55 was breathtaking! Thank you, Graeme!

I'm really looking forward to more of your films in the future!
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Old January 12th, 2010, 06:26 PM   #8
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The footage is very beautiful, you captured a lot of great images.

The one thing I can think of that seemed strange was the pacing of the scenes; The bird feeder, as an example, seemed a bit too long.

Good first video, Graeme.
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Old January 13th, 2010, 12:45 AM   #9
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First-time filmmaking can be intimidating. Entering a challenge for one's foray into video sounds downright terrifying, but by golly, you did just great!

Shorten the bird feeder clip and you've got yourself a little film that is quite captivating. I loved the woodpecker carving out the hole in the tree! Very cool. And as Andris and Bill said, the slo-mo of the little bird really was awesome--and breathtaking.

Until I read that you didn't have an assistant I was going to comment on your camera-shy "arm" feeding the birds from a distance. Now I realize that was you! Would like to have seen your whole self in the shot but that's okay. I probably would have missed the action altogether--would have come to that part in the editing and wondered what in the world I was shooting.

Graeme, thanks so much for entering the challenge and completing this film. I'm really impressed, and happy I got to watch the wonderful footage you captured.
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Old January 13th, 2010, 08:00 AM   #10
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Good Morning,

Graeme, you and real nice feel to your short. I very much enjoyed the whole thing but the nut hatch and the bird on the hand were my favorite shots. the Pan was stuttery on my computer, sometimes compression does that too!! It was a nice shot.

I was going to comment on the focus of your short as several shots were pretty soft, particularly the deer. However, now knowing you shot with a flip camera I think you did fantastic!!!

I am more patient than others, I enjoyed the slightly longer look at the wood pecker!!! I thought it was a tad dark up against the trunk of the tree but a dark bird on a dark trunk is just tuff to get!!! If it were possible, and it may not have been, several short clips from different angles would have been more pleasing. These challenges are short, and one often does not have the opportunity to get everything one would like the way you would like so you go with what you have. I think you did a good job of that!!

The music was fine but it got louder toward the end. To me audio is the hardest part!!!


Keep up the good work and I look forward to seeing more of you work.
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Old January 14th, 2010, 08:03 PM   #11
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Thank you for your comments!

@Andris - I'm looking into maybe getting a camera with a faster shutter speed for more slow-motion shotes, currently I have 30fps and that section the frame rate was slowed to 6fps.

@Ben - After this competition I'm going to shorten that section in question.

@Lorinda - The arm in the film isn't mine, a random girl on the trail stopped to feed the birds and I was fishing seeds out of my own bag for more chickadees.

@Dale - Pileated Wood peckers don't like being approached from the side (I've tried in the past with photographer) and they quickly scamper around & up the tree, good for a quick shot as they do it for a side profile but not so good for video. I do have more video of it but I was hand-holding it and the light wasn't as favorable.

As for the Red Breasted Nut-hatch part, I have a longer clip which didn't fit into the movie. I have since made it into its own video.
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Old January 14th, 2010, 09:58 PM   #12
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Graeme,

As someone who used to do a lot of filming of birds especially, I know how difficult is is to compose and capture the little buggers before they flit off. I would have dearly loved to have seen the downy and the pileated? (boring into tree) woodpeckers through a longer lens. I loved the chickadees as well. There is something quite magical about the feel of a wild bird land on your bare hand. All in all this was a very worthy short.


If you enjoy this type of work/hobby, you should look at a used Canon XLH1, I've seen several of the originals in the classified for very good prices. They are now not much more than an XL2 and yet produce stunning images - and have an HD-SDI port as well as dual XLR inputs. The stock lens is about equivalent to 770mm but if you pick up the EOS adapter and throw on a 70-200 F4 (and a good sturdy tripod), now you're up to over 1400mm (equivalent). Of course now you are at 500mm on the wide end and finding your target is the new challenge. But when you nail it...it's pretty special.

It's the kind of work that takes a great deal of time - but personally, I found the process so enjoyable. And that in itself is so important.
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Old January 14th, 2010, 10:40 PM   #13
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@Ken - I agree a longer lens would of helped, however I'm armed with only a Flip for video right now. I have plans to purchase a DSLR-v in the near future (late winter/early spring) as that will allow me to utilize my vast range of Nikon Mounted Lenses; of which I have a MF 1000mm f/16 for long range bird pictures.

In the interim I'll looking at a set-up to allow the flip to shot through the nikon lenses (I tried with shooting video through the view-finder, that worked well except for the edges and alignment lines being in my video).
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Old January 14th, 2010, 11:47 PM   #14
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Graeme.. as a first entry yours was an excellent start. You'd heard the comments and the good thing is that with other film makers commenting it helps you see ways to improve in the next contest, and then so on and so forth in contests after that. I've been watching and competing here for just over a year and a half and I have seen so many improve due to this feedback and these contests. You have a great start. Filming birds is not as easy as non bird filmers think, and I enjoyed your entry very much. Stay with us as you continue to hone your craft along with the rest of us. nice job!

Chris

Last edited by Chris Swanberg; January 15th, 2010 at 12:55 AM.
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Old January 15th, 2010, 05:57 PM   #15
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Thanks Chris!
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