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Old April 5th, 2011, 01:38 PM   #16
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Re: Kodiak Brown Bears

David, spoken like someone who has lived around Alaskan brownies.
I have the very same opinion. Usually, they stay away from
people. But oh my gosh are they unpredictable. Sometimes,
they just act the direct opposite of how all 'conventional'
wisdom from the 'bear experts' says they will. They are fun to get
video of, but you really need to be careful.
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Old April 5th, 2011, 03:13 PM   #17
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Re: Kodiak Brown Bears

You only need one bad bear, just once in your life, to have a life wrecker. I don't worry about the 9-10 foot big bears, they got that way from staying away from humans. Sows with cubs is self explanatory. It's the 3-5 year old males I worry about. The sow has thrown them out on their own. They can't hunt well, they can't fish well, they get no sex or respect. Which makes them cranky and unpredictable. The bigger male bears will kill them, and eat them. They must establish for themselves a new territory which brings then close to town and into trouble.

I know a number of people who have been charged by bears. Where actual contact was made, in every case the person was hit from the blindside from behind. The first thing that went flying was the gun or bear spray. There isn't a gun big enough to protect you when that happens. Duck and cover is your only option.

I'm too disabled to carry a gun now, so I carry Bear Spray on my belt. If I travel a quarter mile from the road, I take someone with me who carries a 338 or 375. However, I have yet met anyone who has been charged by a bear and used the bear spray. So I would use common sense, and hope you will never have to find out if the spray works or not.

I do know someone who set a can of bear spray off in a closed room. He said it temporary blinded and incapacitated his wife, dog, and himself for about ten minutes. He keeps the cans outside now.
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Old April 5th, 2011, 11:29 PM   #18
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Re: Kodiak Brown Bears

I'm curious Kent, what camera did you use? Was it a fixed lens or interchangeable system?

I must admit, I'm a sucker for 24p for just about everything. I could tell your video was shot at a video frame rate, probably 30 frames per second. I'm pretty sure I prefer 24p because I truly prefer it, but I must admit that all the nature films (well, all films) I've seen have groomed me to see things that way, so maybe that is where it comes from.

Also, the tripod you used? Was it pretty light? Good for packing around on foot? I had a horrendously heavily tripod when you consider I shoot with DSLRs now. About 15 pounds. Unnecessarily large, but goodness, I could get some smooth shots. Obviously a much lighter setup with a really good fluid head is sufficient, but alas, money money money.

I felt like some of the shots in the film suffered from "light tripod" motion where the movement is not as smooth and fluid in tracking an animal or action. Others are locked down and look great. I understand that equipment limitations are a fact of life at times...

You've got some good music mixed in. Some of it reminds me of perhaps my favorite natural history film of all time, "Alaska: Spirit of the Wild." The audio sounds like it is primarily derived from the video footage. Am I right? Anyways, I could really hear the audio change on the hard cuts in the film. I think if a lot of those cuts transitioned the audio tracks subtlety over 1-2 seconds, it would bridge those shots more smoothly. As it is, its not terribly at all, but it does attract at least my attention to it.

Anyways, I look forward to watching your film again. Thanks very much for putting it together and posting it here. I figured I'd go ahead and mention some of my critical thoughts about it, which I'm sometimes hesitant to do at first because I suck at taking criticism myself. :-)

I'm impressed by your trip and this production that came from it and hope that I am in a position to take such a trip myself in the future.
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Old April 6th, 2011, 01:08 AM   #19
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Re: Kodiak Brown Bears

Hi Kent,
I too loved watching your film. Interestingly though, i think i enjoyed the behind the scenes part at the end more than the actual film itself. I think because it had a slightly faster pace, & i thought a better ratio of narration to footage, all of which was very informative. I also liked that there was a lot more ambient sounds. The introduction of your partner was also nice to see as it really gave it a personal touch. Just my personal opinion of course & it certainly wouldn't stop me from watching it again, which i probably will do!!

Like Ryan, i would also like to know what camera you used. (Perhaps) Unlike Ryan though, the framerate for me was true to your subject, so i liked it. Another thing i liked about your footage was that the DOF was not ridiculously shallow. I sincerely hope one of the major camera maufacturers come out with a new 1/3" or 1/2" sized sensor interchangeable lens camera suitable for wildlife!

Thanks again,
Regards,
Bryce
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Old April 6th, 2011, 07:16 AM   #20
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Re: Kodiak Brown Bears

I agree with Ryan on many points, especially concerning tripod work, although think the frame rate was OK. I've never been convinced on 24p and prefer Pal's 50i and 25p.

The most obvious problem in some of the clips was strong wind noise on the mic (if you watch the video wearing ear phones the noise ruins the watching experience and screams amateur). This strong wind noise over the mic is a big 'no-no' for any footage, expecially combined with background narrative.

If any footage with microphone wind noise is vital for your movie and must be left in, then it is always better to mute the sound completely and drop a seperate clean natural sound track onto the timeline.
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Old April 6th, 2011, 07:44 AM   #21
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Re: Kodiak Brown Bears

Ryan, Bryce,
You are right it was shot 1920 x 1080 @ 30fps. About 50% was shot with a 7D, 25% 5D the remainder with a PowerShot SX1 IS and a GoPro. The primary lens were a Canon 100-400 & 24-105. We use Manfrotto tripods and fluid heads. The head is a 501 base 701. Most scenes were shot sitting on the ground. When the subject gets beyond the easily covered area the ability to follow and keep the subject in the viewfinder and thus proper composition suffers. Many hours are spent waiting and it was frequently windy. Some shot were from wooden decks which in the wind and by there nature accounted for unsteadiness. Some shots were long distance.
I find that keeping the subject in focus very frustrating. No marks for the subject to hit and the constant movement.
The music is Kevin McCleod and Sonic Fire.
We are quite new at all of this. Neither of us has any formal education in videography. This is a retirement venture and yes the $ are always an issue.
We appreciate your constructive criticism and comments. We take it well and are grateful for the time you give to express your thoughts.

Enjoy

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Old April 6th, 2011, 09:55 PM   #22
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Re: Kodiak Brown Bears

Ah! The 100-400mm on DSLRs. Awesome. I have some familiarity there.

I hear you about the wind and stuff. Long lens work is something I've just barely started to get into and keeping it steady is a chore.

For being new to this type of work, you are to be commended. I have yet to produce a piece of any length beyond about 5 minutes.
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Old April 7th, 2011, 01:29 AM   #23
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Re: Kodiak Brown Bears

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kent S. Jakusz View Post
We use Manfrotto tripods and fluid heads. The head is a 501 base 701.
The 501 is a good one but not a fluid head. I recently got a Sachtler FSB6 and the difference is striking. Very smooth panning.
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Old April 7th, 2011, 08:11 AM   #24
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Re: Kodiak Brown Bears

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sverker Hahn View Post
The 501 is a good one but not a fluid head. I recently got a Sachtler FSB6 and the difference is striking. Very smooth panning.
The price difference is striking as well. :-)

No, no. I know, good gear costs good money. Would love to own that head.
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Old April 8th, 2011, 09:42 AM   #25
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Re: Kodiak Brown Bears

I have watched this once and definitely will watch it more times. I think it is a very creditable effort, but I would cut many of the scenes tighter, which would eliminate many of the areas that have problematic camera moves.

I know exactly what you mean about the difficulty of following the action and maintaining good composition and I especially have problems with that when shooting with the 7D and the Zacuto Finder. It would probably work reasonably well if one had a remote on the tripod handle, but it creates a problem when one must push the record button and then move the hand to grasp the tripod handle. It also seems more difficult to anticipate the direction the action will break and to follow it than with a camcorder where one can stand well away from it and look at the LCD with one eye, while seeing the overall scene with the other eye.

I also know what you mean about the difficulty in maintaining focus on a moving subject with a DSLR . I have difficulty in doing it even with the Zacuto, although I can do a better job with it than just using the camera LCD as is.

Also while narration should not be overdone, there is a lot of the presentation where there is none. This gives you a lot of room to edit out the scenes or portions of the scenes with problematic camera moves and still end up with a program of satisfactory length. I would not include scenes with jerky camera moves unless they depicted some especially compelling event, which could justify leaving it in in spite of the problem.

I do like the tone of your voice and the pace of the narration. All in all I was very impressed.
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Old April 8th, 2011, 12:19 PM   #26
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Re: Kodiak Brown Bears

I was watching it again last night. 1080p on YouTube. Looked really good.
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Old April 9th, 2011, 07:46 AM   #27
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Re: Kodiak Brown Bears

Thanks Willard, Ryan,
I appreciate your input. Yes, I think that Youtube is doing a good job especially with the ability to post longer pieces.

Kent
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Old May 9th, 2011, 03:28 PM   #28
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Re: Kodiak Brown Bears

Good afternoon,

first, for such a big project here I think you did very well!! I liked the fact it is not made for the attention deficit, gave me plenty of time to really scruntiniz what I was seeing!!

I have to agree with tony about the audio. wind noise is always a problem for anyone living where it prevails!! Perhaps tony can let us know how he solves it.

the movie was perfect in places and perhaps out of tempo in some others.

I really really enjoyed watching it.

I have lived my life in the outdoors and when I first saw how close you were to to the sow and cubs I was cringing!!!!! I take no animals for granted, all wild animals are unpredictable. I would certainly have my son or someone backing me up with minimum of a 300 mag, definitely not a pistol. As they say, you shoot five shots with the pistol and save the 6th for yoourself.

Truly a pleasure to watch and I liked the gentle slower pace for the most part.

Good Job,


Dale
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Old May 11th, 2011, 09:03 PM   #29
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Re: Kodiak Brown Bears

Dale;
Thanks for the kind words. The film was a pleasure to film. I only felt threatened on 2 occasions even though I was never armed. The bears are very well fed and are preoccupied with more important things. Even the big boars were preoccupied with catching fish and living the good life.
The Ayakulik is truly a special place.. The lodge has been catering to fisherman for over 20 years and has never had a bad bear experience.

Kent
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Old June 2nd, 2011, 11:59 PM   #30
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Re: Kodiak Brown Bears

I really like the video Kent. I spent some time on Kodiak Island shooting still pictures of the bears, and your video takes me right back.

It's very hard to tell the story of the bears there; in my view the worst thing you could do would be a slick and perfect National Geographic piece. It's good that you stretched the scenes out and let the reality sink in. You are there - the bears are there - and they are very big and very close. That's what it's like on Kodiak during the salmon run.

The other part of the story, and you can just start to feel it with your video, is that after you spend time with these animals you begin to see them much differently. We all have our notions about bears; they are mean; I've seen them at the zoo; they sleep a lot; and when they aren't sleeping they eat a lot. But when you spend time with them you slowly start to realize that they are intelligent and curious creatures that have adapted to and thrive in this harsh climate; they are each individuals, each with their own mannerisms and personalities. There are some good bears, and some not so good bears. The cubs are a constant source of entertainment. And it's not so much that you begin humanize the way they are - it's that you tend to "bearize" who you are, and you identify with their existence. Very much.

Kodiak Island is a unique place in the world; the ability to mingle with these dangerous creatures is certainly unique; and this region is isolated enough not many get to see it (which is a good thing for the bears); I liked your video a lot - thanks for putting it together and posting.
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