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Old July 4th, 2009, 07:40 AM   #16
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I'm not an editor and no expert but I do have Final Cut on my laptop and know how to do it on that.
Load the folder with the Quicktimes onto the computer.
Open Cinema Tools. Go to File, Batch Conform. It'll ask you to select one file from the folder you want to conform. Select one file and OK. It'll then ask what frame rate you want to conform to (in my case 25). Hit OK and it'll do it more or less instantly. As far as I know all it is doing is taking the total number of frames in the clip (so if was a 10 second clip at 720/50 it'd contain 500 frames) and grouping them into bunches of 25 frames, so that from this clip you'd end up with 20 groups of 25 frames, ie 20 seconds of screen time so half speed slomo.
I think this is the same idea as shooting a P2 Varicam in Native mode, so you shoot say 50 fps and it lays it down as 25fps for instant slomo on playback.
Steve
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Old July 4th, 2009, 08:06 AM   #17
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Thank you so much for this awesome information - will try it tomorrow!
Cheers mate,
Ofer
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Old July 6th, 2009, 10:15 AM   #18
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For consideration

Ofer,

Thanks for opening up your project for comment -- that certainly is admirable and helps build a strong community.

For your consideration, as a naturalist and filmmaker, one thing that came to mind as I watched this footage was the impact the slo-mo will have on your audience. I think it is aesthetically beautiful (the wings look excellent) and, further, could be used adeptly to show the bats' motion in ways our naked eyes can not discern.

I would simply suggest that, as you build your documentary, consider the importance of also showing the bats motion in real-time. My personal opinion (please, take or leave), is that we as wildlife filmmakers have a responsibility to offer compelling and beautiful images and perspectives on the natural world while also presenting the reality of it to our audiences. It can be tempting to over-use the myriad of techniques available to us in production and in post to build scenes and sequences that are engaging, even enrapturing which, over time and exposure, can also lead our audiences away from seeing the native beauty in life. In other words, it is important that people do not forget how to enjoy nature and learn from it as they will see it in their own experiences, live. And they can't see bats fly in slo-mo live.

This is a very subtle point, but one that I try and keep in mind as I edit projects. I try and do both: honor what is real, as well as be a filmmaker in the "auteur" sense of having a voice, a director's perspective, and be free to make images that I find compelling (with and without technical manipulations). I realize this opens a can of worms in that even shooting an image is creating a false idea of reality. But taken with a grain of being reasonable, I simply find that remembering that nature is awesome in its own right and doesn't require us to manipulate the images of it all the time to be beautiful is a wonderful thing.

The great and awesome result of trying to make an image or sequence that, without filters, frame rate changes, etc. is still incredible to watch, is that it's really HARD to do. And when you do it, it is even more rewarding and you'll find has pushed you further than ever before in becoming an amazing filmmaker--not to say you aren't ;).

Anyway, food for thought. I hope at the least you find this interesting.

Thanks again for sharing and I encourage you to keep us posted on your project's development.

- Ramsey
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Old July 6th, 2009, 03:00 PM   #19
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Hi Jonathan,
Thank you so much for this awesome comment!
I can't agree more!
I also feel we have the responsibility to show nature as it is and we should use all kind of effects very moderately and only when absolutely necessary and not because we know how to do it....(-:
One of the reasons why I shot this in slow motion is that it simply looks bad without it. The wings become a bit too blurry and it doesn't look real. This is why I am going to experiment as Steve suggested shooting a similar scene in a different technique - maybe I-frame only in 220Mb/s (which I can do with the Flash XDR) or Long GOP in 160Mb/s.
I am waiting to get faster CF cards before I can do that - will show the results once I get it hopefully soon.
Thanks again Jonathan, I appreciate your great input.
Cheers,
Ofer
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Old July 6th, 2009, 03:55 PM   #20
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Looking forward to it.

Well I anxiously look forward to seeing your results. I'm about to start playing with various slo-mo options as well (on my EX3) and was intrigued by Steve's suggestion, too. I don't have a Flash XDR -- but that may very well be the way to do it.

As for getting real-time shots of the bats... have you tried actually accentuating the blur of the wings with a slow shutter? I know it's counter-intuitive, but it might provide some worthwhile results. One thing that struck me from the footage you posted was the number of bats flying simultaneously and so closely together. Perhaps shooting from below the trees and looking in the same direction in which they are flying out, a shot in real-time that blurs the wings and emphasizes the shear numbers and near chaos of this flight would be appealing. Just a thought. There's a cave in Colorado I've been meaning to hike to for a similar shot one evening and perhaps I'll try it. But I can definitely envision an establishing shot in real-time that feels overwhelming and powerful in numbers of bats and the blur of their wings -- almost making them overlap (in the visual sense), cutting to more intimate shots in slo-mo.

I'll be excited to see whatever you do decide to do -- I love bats.

My best,
Jonathan
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Old July 6th, 2009, 04:41 PM   #21
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With flying birds (and bats) the strange thing is that normal speed actually looks wrong. I think it's to do with the fact that rather than seeing it in a wide sky as you do when you see it in person, on screen it's within a very confined space and its movement about the frame and the flapping of the wings looks crazily fast. At half speed it actually looks more like you think it does in reality. Normal speed looks fine on wides though.

Ofer, don't shoot long GOP for slomo, you'll have to go through a lengthy and quality-sapping transcode before you can conform to 25P. I'd go for 160 or 220 mb I frame.

Steve
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Old July 6th, 2009, 05:44 PM   #22
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Hi Jonathan, I like your creative approach!
There are a few issues with this awesome idea though:
1. It is impossible to predict when the bats are going to fly. I got these shots as there were a few kids palying too close to the trees which caused them to fly and move to another part of the colony. It doesn't happen very often.
2. As much as I like the creative side of this idea and I can see how beautiful and "artistic" it will look - I find the blurred slow shutter effect a bit too artificial for my style of filmmaking. However, I will give it some more thought as I can see how beautiful, effective and powerful it can be.

Thanks again for your lovely creative input - much appreciated! I am always happy to hear your great ideas.

Cheers mate,

Ofer
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Old July 6th, 2009, 09:14 PM   #23
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Hi Ofer,

We used to have a fascinating Grey-headed flying fox colony at the Botanical Gardens here in Melbourne until a campaign was mounted against them. The campaign included shooting even though the animal is classed as a threatened species. The colony has now been relocated several kilometers away but the flying foxes are still unpopular with many people. The colony suffered heavy losses in late January and early February this year when about 4000 succumbed in temperatures up to 48 degrees despite the efforts of volunteers trying to keep them cool.

The animal is well studied and it should not be difficult to come up with a story line, there is at least one group specialising in bats in Melbourne. Some time ago there was some very interesting studies done on their brains at Brisbane University.

Keep up the good work.
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Old July 6th, 2009, 10:43 PM   #24
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Hi Alastair,
Thanks for your comment and information. I am aware of the last heath stress catastrophe and the relocation from the RGB in Melbourne. There is a similar campaign going on in the Sydney RBG to relocate the GHFF. One leading scientist I was talking to said the population is halved every seven years - I am afraid the future doesn't look too good for them. This is why I am so keen to complete this project as anyone who sees my footage will realize how wonderful they really are.
Cheers,
Ofer

Last edited by Ofer Levy; July 7th, 2009 at 01:20 AM.
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Old July 7th, 2009, 02:18 AM   #25
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Ofer, you probably know this already, but the Flash XDR and Nanoflash are to have a loop record mode (think it may even be already available) so you get 5 seconds of footage before you press the record button - so you can just wait for your bats to take off then press the button and you've got it! Been using this loop record on big cameras since late Digibeta days and it's hard to imagine shooting wildlife without it now!
Steve
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Old July 7th, 2009, 07:52 AM   #26
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flight anomoly

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Phillipps View Post
With flying birds (and bats) the strange thing is that normal speed actually looks wrong. I think it's to do with the fact that rather than seeing it in a wide sky as you do when you see it in person, on screen it's within a very confined space and its movement about the frame and the flapping of the wings looks crazily fast. At half speed it actually looks more like you think it does in reality. Normal speed looks fine on wides though.

Steve
Fascinating theory about the effect of the focal length on how "real" the flapping looks. I haven't shot much with birds in a while -- and when I did it was large raptors (Golden Eagles, etc.) which may have a very different visual effect due to their enormous wing span. In any case, makes me curious if there isn't also something going on with persistence of vision along with the speed of the flapping, length of the wing, and in combination with focal length and shutter/frame rate to leave a complicated matrix of possibilities. Now we just need some grant funding to do nothing but film various bird and bat species in every combination of camera setting in order to publish the chart ;) That'll be the day! If ever you find that generous financier, I'm sure Ofer and I will be on a plane in no time to get going on the project. Ha ha!

Jonathan
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