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Old November 24th, 2005, 11:47 PM   #1
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Macrocosmos video for crits

Hi. I made this video for fun once I realized how close a DV camera will focus. It's an exploration of garden textures, inspired by the movie Microcosmos. I shot it over several months, whenever I saw something interesting, with no real plan for how it would come together. It's 2 min, 7 meg, and should stream well on highspeed. I know there are lots of problems, but I'd like to know what you think. And since you folks seem to like to know, it was shot on a Samsung SCD101 miniDV and edited in Vegas 5.

http://www.uhill73.org/gmc/movies/im...osmos-mov.html
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Old December 1st, 2005, 12:57 AM   #2
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wow, is it that bad, 26 views and no comments. Too simpy, wrong camera, just plain amature or what?
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Old December 1st, 2005, 09:58 AM   #3
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Hi Graham,

Buy a tripod. What are acceptable images would benefit considerably for being stable.
James
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Old December 1st, 2005, 10:53 AM   #4
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i liked it. i liked the closing kitty shot. i've been wanting to do a bunch of macro stuff just for fun, but have not found the time. it is a bit on the shaky side, but some of the images are quite nice. lots of nice textural explorations, which i personally enjoy.
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Old December 1st, 2005, 09:30 PM   #5
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Thanks for the comments, but a tripod wouldn't work. What I need is a stedicam. I'm going to try building a handheld version. Maybe one day I can afford a good one. This realy was just trying things out to see what worked and what didn't. I guess the main impression is that it's too shaky and I need to work on that.
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Old December 2nd, 2005, 11:55 AM   #6
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actually, for a camcorder that size, there are lots of cheap stabilizer options for macro work.

http://www.onecall.com/ProductDispla...=270&PMNID=523

i used this one yesterday with an fx-1 to get close in and shoot some butterfly footage. if it can handle the weight of an fx-1, surely it will work with a much smaller camera. i use compact tripods all the time for close-in work. they have many advantages. i shoot on-the-fly a lot, so you can keep a compact tripod attached to the camera while walking around and minimize set-up time. the small tripods also add weight and heft to the camera, so you can handhold the tripod like a cheap flowpod or crank down the stick and rest it on your shoulder, and voila! you have a shoulder mount. i shot prairie dogs a couple of weeks ago and was able to walk around the prairie dog village with virtually no set-up time and get eye-level footage. and the prairie dogs were not intimidated by the size of my set-up.

for more money, kirk makes a low pod designed for macro work:

http://www.kirkphoto.com/supports.html#lowpod

although i prefer the flexibility and unintended usage of the cheap tripod. or for $90, a steady stick is good and also wearable, so you can walk around in it.

stabilizing solutions don't necessarily have to be expensive or time-consuming.

p.s. you should take what james said as a compliment, not as a criticism. take a look at what he does for a living. a seasoned professional wildlife videographer just took the time to look at your "for fun" images and thought they were acceptable. i'd be pretty happy about that, personally.
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Old December 3rd, 2005, 05:47 AM   #7
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Hi Graham,

I am guessing that when you say that a tripod wouldn't work you mean that you wanted to keep a sense of movement in the shots. Steadicam has its place in wildlife but I would personally shy away from shooting this kind of stuff with it. When you are at these magnifications and at this distance and with these kinds of subjects your DOF can be minimal and your focus critical to maintain. There are other means to get movement in the shots; jib arms, 'skateboard' dollies, focus pulls etc. Remember that much macro work in wildlife docs is done on tabletop 'sets' in the studio, chasing dime sized spiders around in the 'wild' is hard.

Shooting on pro cameras gives you more options with macro work. Borescope and probe lenses give you loads of DOF and huge magnifications at the same time keeping you at arms length from the subject. A simple pan after an ant ends up looking like a tracking shot. These kinds of optics cost more than a small car though.

I still think a tripod would have be useful, the sequence of fades with different flowers in bloom would have been nice more steady. All of these techniques have their place but the adage about too much of a good thing holds with wildlife docs/footage as well as, choose the tool/technique for the shot.

With regard to cheap stabilizers IMHO I think that you can do worse than simply taking a monopod and clamping a bit of weight to the bottom of it. We shot a sequence of fiddler crabs climbing at speed through mangrove roots with a camera attached to a manfotto monopod with a magic arm clamped to the partially extended pod. This balanced out the weight and did the job (10 seconds of footage in a 55min film) we needed. This film has, incidentally, just won the Campanula D'Oro at CINE ECO 2005, for the best Environemental Education film... sorry for the shameless promotion.

James
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Mozambique
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Old December 5th, 2005, 12:04 AM   #8
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Thanks for the good comments and suggestions. I did try using a tripod when I started this project, but found it way too limiting when trying to follow surprisingly rapid insects around. I also often found that I had the cam at very odd angles to get the shot. I suppose I would have steadier shots if I waited for the bugs to come to me, but I enjoyed trying to chase them around.
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