Video Clips From New California Wildlife Documentary at DVinfo.net

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Old December 27th, 2007, 08:06 PM   #1
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Video Clips From New California Wildlife Documentary

Hi everyone,

Back in August I finished an hour long wildlife documentary: “The Wildlife of Little Hot Springs Valley.” I actually started shooting footage when I was 16 and I finished shooting and editing when I was 19. I did almost all the cinematography (over 95%), I recorded many of the sounds, and I did my own narrating and script writing. Anyway, I tried to be professional (music licensing, clean edits, etc.) and if it wasn’t for the input from the dvinfo.net community, I never would have been able to finish my film. So, I want to thank all the people who have helped me on the dvinfo forums.

At any rate, though I know this is kind of commercial, I thought some of you might enjoy checking out video clips from my documentary at this website: http://www.tristanhowardproductions....eoviewer1.html. I used much of the equipment that is talked about on the dvinfo forums. Also, in case anyone is wondering, I edited my project with Vegas 6.0 and also used that to render my MPG files. Below is some promotional material I wrote about my film.

“Nestled in a remote sector of northeastern California, roughly six miles northeast of the scenic Fall River Valley, Little Hot Springs Valley is home to a diverse array of wildlife. This video is the culmination of three years of my wildlife cinematography work. It showcases a seasonal cross-section of commonly observed local creatures, featuring unique close-ups and rare behavior, including: a Canada goose battle, an all-out buck fight, and a lizard devouring a dragonfly. You’ll see the brilliant iridescence of drake wood ducks, the antics of logrolling turtles, the bellowing of bullfrogs, the grandeur of autumn bucks, the freedom of frolicking fawns, and much more. Containing a narrative of various biological and ecological facts interwoven with digitally recorded natural sounds and music, this video strives to educate as well as entertain.

Currently, “The Wildlife of Little Hot Springs Valley” is the magnum opus of my natural history media work. I started getting footage for this video as early as the summer of 2004 when I got my first professional video camera: a Canon XL-1S. Virtually all the footage on my video was shot with this camcorder. For distant wildlife, I also often used a Canon EF 100-400 mm telephoto zoom lens or a Canon EF 28-300 mm telephoto zoom lens.”

Anyway, I’m still a college student and I haven’t really broken into the industry yet. I’m not fully sure on the rules here but I understand that if this seems like too much of an advertisement, the moderators might delete my post. Nevertheless, the internet video clips are free for all to see and should give some folks an idea of what things like Canon lenses and Gitzo carbon fiber tripods can do for wildlife cinematography. Also, the brutal buck fight footage was actually shot with one of my old, little silver Sony video cameras. That’s really the main footage that wasn’t done with an XL-1S. Anyway, if anybody has any questions or input, feel free to post your thoughts here.

Regards,
Tristan Howard
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Old December 28th, 2007, 03:36 PM   #2
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Hi Tristan,

Congratulations on taking on such a project at an early age. With your limited experience I can only say you have done a great job. I am sure there are others here who will offer you practical and specific advice, but as a first film well done. I am sure you have a good future ahead of you in wildlife film making.

Regards

Mick
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Old December 29th, 2007, 12:22 PM   #3
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Mick,

Thanks for the comments. My professional experience may be limited but my actual experience goes back a long way. I've actually been videotaping wildlife since I was about 13. I've gone through several camcorders and it also didn't take me long to learn the virtues of a tripod. A lot of my early footage was extraordinarily shaky.

-Tristan
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Old December 29th, 2007, 05:23 PM   #4
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Tristan,

Congratulations, from the clips the video looks very professionally.

I hope you have a successful film-making career

Bob
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Old December 30th, 2007, 09:47 PM   #5
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Tristan,

I watched all of the clips and thought you did an extremely professional job.
I used the XL-1s from 2002 until January 2007.

I had a high opinion of it and you used it well in your work. Like you I have a lot of video taken with it and will incorporate it in some projects.

Keep up the good work.
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Old February 21st, 2008, 07:13 PM   #6
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Hey everyone,

Thanks for the additional compliments. I recently added a screenshot gallery to my website: http://www.tristanhowardproductions....reenshots.html This should allow you to get a quick glance at material in my documentary. It also does a pretty good job of displaying just how well the Canon XL-1S can sometimes handle wildlife shots with EF telephoto lenses.
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Old February 22nd, 2008, 05:41 AM   #7
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Excellent work, I never knew the bit about western fence lizards and Lyme disease and I spent quite some time as a youth researching reptiles.

I noticed you encoded your DvDs at 9 mb/sec which may cause some trouble for people with older players(skips and stutters) a good max video rate is 7 mb/sec so they will play well on older/cheaper units too. That way it leaves plenty of room for audio, with a good safety net, without going over the 9.8 or so max overall rate. If you were taking audio into consideration in the 9 mb/sec figure then you will probably be ok.

I'm sure I will be seeing your work in the professional market someday soon, since you do a very good job of capturing the feel of the creatures you film.
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Old February 24th, 2008, 09:42 PM   #8
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Adrinn, thanks for the comments and the info about DVD encoding. I encoded at 9 mb/sec because I was trying to get the highest quality possible with Adobe Encore DVD 1.5. Still, their default settings were lower. Actually, a few people have had audio problems with my video on old DVD plyers and I always wondered why. I thought it had something to do with stereo recording but the bit rate might have been the main culprit.
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Old February 27th, 2008, 02:20 AM   #9
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Yes I understand, we all want our images to be top rate. Most DVD authoring programs offer the option of encoding at 9mb/s or more and of course you think "I'll max it to get the best quality". It's tricky that way, you would be fine at 9mb/s if you had no sound, but audio takes up from .6 to 1.6 mb/sec depending on the compression so you have to take that into consideration too. One way to help with this problem is to make sure you convert your audio from PCM into AC-3 dolby digital so you can be on the .6 side of the scale.

Good luck and happy shooting.
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Old April 11th, 2008, 02:37 PM   #10
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Hey everyone,

My documentary will finally be airing on TV. As I state on my website:

The local PBS station (KIXE TV: Channel 9) for the Redding-Chico area will be airing “The Wildlife of Little Hot Springs Valley” on Saturday, May 3 at 8:00 PM. Finally, my documentary will get a primetime television debut and I’ll have a dream come true!

According to the KIXE TV website: “KIXE . . . covers a 130 mile radius that includes ten California counties: Butte, Colusa, Glenn, Lassen, Modoc, Plumas, Shasta, Siskiyou, Tehama, and Trinity. Today, KIXE is one of the most watched TV stations in this area. The station serves more than 500,000 people with more than 74,000 television households tuning in to Channel 9 each and every week.”
--Source: http://www.kixe.org/node/8

So, finally a significant amount of people might see my video. Alright, the ducks, deer, lizards, bullfrogs, quail, and all the other featured creatures may now live on for perpetuity in the memory of people living in the Little Hot Springs Valley area. In fact, KIXE TV coverage reaches Little Hot Springs Valley itself. So, the few people that live there will get to see the same things on TV that they could also see just by looking out a window.

Anyway, this is my first TV debut so it’s a big deal to me. I doubt many visitors at this forum live in the coverage zone for the airing but if you do, now you can check out my documentary for free.

Regards,
Tristan
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Old April 18th, 2008, 04:24 PM   #11
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Very nicely done. Let us know how your broadcast debut goes!
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Old May 9th, 2008, 01:31 PM   #12
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Well, my documentary finally aired last Saturday. I don’t live in the broadcast zone but people I know who do said that my whole production ran uncut (59 minutes, 41 seconds) and that my 15 second ad also ran afterwards. I heard the screen quality was pretty good. I guess the miniDV tape wasn’t a bad avenue to go with. Anyhow, I’ve actually gotten a few e-mails from random strangers who enjoyed my production so that was nice. I’ve also had my orders pick up a bit. Based on our contract, the PBS station can show my documentary for 3 years, so it will probably show up again. I’m currently planning on submitting my production to more TV stations and also getting in touch with various outdoor-themed stores and businesses that might be interested in selling my video. Once again, I thank everybody who has helped me on the DV Info forums. Without your help, I probably would have given up on my production long ago.

Regards,
Tristan
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Old May 9th, 2008, 05:57 PM   #13
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Very nice. :applause:

:^)
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Old September 19th, 2008, 10:33 PM   #14
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Documentary Airs on TV Again

Hi everyone,

Helen, thanks for your comments. Anyhow, I want to mention some updates in regards to the distribution of my film. It screened at two local theaters over the summer and I was able to personally introduce my film and sell DVDs at the theaters. I made a lot more money doing that than I thought I would. Anyway,"The Wildlife of Little Hot Springs Valley" will air on the Chico-Redding, CA area PBS station (KIXE TV) again on September 27, 2008 at 8:00 pm. It will actually be broken into three roughly equal segments of about eighteen minutes each. There will be pledge breaks between these segments, during which viewers can call in and donate money to public television. Donors who give a certain amount of money to KIXE TV will receive a copy of “Wildlife” as a thank you gift. Anyway, this is only the second time my film has been on TV and it's never been through a PBS pledge drive, so it will be interesting to see how things work out.
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Old September 20th, 2008, 07:57 AM   #15
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Hi Tristan

Nice picture, Nice website, really good footage and music. The video looks very professionally.

Best regards

Gilles Debord
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