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Old March 23rd, 2007, 03:52 AM   #1
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Grace - Mute Swan

It's spring in the air and the Mute Swan are eagerly demonstrating it in this short videoclip.
Slowed down to 25% of it's original speed, to show the beauty of this birds when they take off from the water.
Shoot with Canon XLH1, 1080i/50, 20x HD lens, shutter 1/210, polarization filter.
I think shooting in interlaced mode with a slightly high shutter speed, is the best way of getting these nice wing movements with camcorders not supporting overcrank modes. I will experimenting more on different settings, hopefully more footage will come...

Downloadable files:
http://www.video-film.no/snutter/grace_lg.mov (large file 36.4 MB, 1:40 min)
http://www.video-film.no/snutter/grace.mov (medium file 14.8 MB, 1:40 min)
Please download before viewing!


Enjoy
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Grace - Mute Swan-grace.jpg  
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Old March 23rd, 2007, 05:31 AM   #2
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Very nice footage.
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Old March 23rd, 2007, 06:20 AM   #3
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I find that DV cameras can be a big problem with white wings in flight, such as the flapping wings of a tern or swan.

Per, your footage shows the flickering and loss of details with each wing beat of the swans that I always see in this kind of subject, and the panning doesn't help matters with the very annoying background of cables etc crossing the line of sight.

I'd much rather see tighter framing of the birds and an evenly lit background, such as sunlit green tree leaves or plain blue sky etc, or get right down to water level with the camera.

I've gotten better results if a plain unchanging background is found, such as water or sunlit green trees and you film head-on with the swan taking off the water towards you and zoomed tight frame as possible. Maintaining focus as the swan picks up speed towards you is the main problem.

Even so, I've yet to see any DV footage where the white flapping wings of a swan look beautifully smooth and even, with detail maintained in the wings. This is where 35mm movie film still rains supreme.

The higher the swans fly, the less their wings tend to drop with each downward beat, so this makes the footage look better than when it is trying to take off - although of course a male mute swan treading the water's surface, with backlit water droplets spinning off those white feathers is the most dramatic and most difficult to capture.

Tighter footage, with the swans body and wings filling the frame always looks better, but is harder to achieve and takes more patience - yet it also tends to cause the most problems with stiping and juddery wing motion.

I've got quite a lot of footage of swans in the new DVD I'm working on at the moment, with the most striking clips being where three swans are bobbing on the lake and suddenly eight other swans fly fast directly very low over their heads, just feet above the water. Even so, the wings are not recorded smooth enough for my liking with the Pal 50i 16:9, 25-frame per sec frame rate.

For conversion to DVD 16:9 the best seems to slow the flying swans to about 40% -50%, but even then there is visual striping of the flying swans whereas the static swans on the water are perfect.

I'd like to see some clips of anyone that has captured swans or arctic terns etc with perfect wing beat coverage on Pal DV, as I'm always experimenting with settings, yet still haven’t found the perfect results.
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Old March 23rd, 2007, 06:50 AM   #4
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Althought I found the power cables offputting, they show an important facet of swan live (or death). Power lines are a major cause of swan mortality. Nature reserves in the UK hang warning markers from power lines to increase their visibility.
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Old March 23rd, 2007, 07:03 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grant Sherman View Post
Althought I found the power cables offputting, they show an important facet of swan live (or death). Power lines are a major cause of swan mortality. Nature reserves in the UK hang warning markers from power lines to increase their visibility.
Yes, I'd agree entirely if that particular footage was all about the danger of power lines...
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Old March 23rd, 2007, 09:21 AM   #6
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Wonderful Per. You always amaze me with your footage.

I love the shots when the two birds wings are in-sink, it looked very cool.

I think the most amazing shot to me was when the two swans were flying left on the screen and you were panning on them. The swans are in focus and lit up, but the background is dark like you had a low exposure. Very cool.

~Gabriel
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Old March 24th, 2007, 02:18 PM   #7
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Adult swans are so beautiful.
In flight they show off gracefulness only matched by best ballet dancers.
Your 37Mb clip allowed me enjoy all that grace and beauty in slow motion for the first time ... the syncopated striking of their feet when running along water and the bright colour of their beaks against soft sheer white of plumage even during early incoming flight, great pleasure Per, thank you.

At first I found Air on a G String a bit strong on treble, then I turned down my volume to 20% and played it again for the 8th time ... heavenly. Played it again, it's getting better every time ... only just don't tell me this is your swan song! I could enjoy a lot more footage like this ... while awaiting better, of course.
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Old March 27th, 2007, 12:32 AM   #8
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Per,

I loved the footage, I hate the wires!!!!

I was wondering what the footage of the swans was like before you slowed them down. Did you have the wing flicker shooting at the 200th shutter speed??

Curious, I have found shooting progressive at a slower shutter speed has given me a more natural look with the video. When we see birds flying we do not see perfectly clear primaries, and our eyes see quite a bit of natural blur in the wing motion.
many years back when shooting with my bolex movie camera I shot at something like 64 frames a second and even then the wings had plenty of blur in them.
I do not think it would be natural if the movement blur was not there.

The swans have started to return here. I will shoot some footage as soon as they settle in here.
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Old March 27th, 2007, 01:58 AM   #9
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Mute Swan real speed footage available!

Hi Dale,
here it is, the real speed footage of the swans:
http://www.video-film.no/snutter/grace-realspeed_lg.mov 13.1MB

The footage show the entire sequence from take off until they disappear behind the trees. Provided the sound too.

Comments to the footage:
I know the power lines are degrading the overall view, but this is a bird sanctuary inside the City of Oslo, with lots of infrastructure on either side. For me this is a place where I can develop my skills for birdfilming, doing nice pans trying to maintain good focus. It's hard to archieve but with more practice I gonna handle this I think.
This particular footage show a part slightly out of focus a while after take off for a couple of seconds.
The scene is shoot in evening sun, which I like much cause of the nice colors I achieve. I have used a CPL filter to enhange the colors.
In the end they are almost disappearing in the bottom of the framing, this is cause I was placing my foot on the mic-wire and I didn't notice that until I tried to tilt my camera. Lots of things to keep in mind when filming!!!

The sad thing about this footage is that one of the swans was found dead at the lake yesterday evening! We do not know what happend yet, but the veterinary institute will carry out a post-mortem to find the cause of death.
There are two pair of mute swans at the lake so I'm still able to get more footage of this beautiful birds, but I feel very sorry for the one remaining. They are living in a lifelong relationship and I can feel the lonely swans grief at the moment!

Any comments to the footage are welcome
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Old March 27th, 2007, 02:09 AM   #10
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Tony, I appreciate your comments to the footage. I'm still developing my skills and I think I have a long way to go before I will be satisfied with my camerawork. Taking footage of birds relaxing or swimming at the lake is an easy task, but to follow, frame and focus birds in flight is another subject. For me still a difficult task to archieve.
But I'm still developing my skills and I intend to spend much of my sparetime at the Lake this spring to become a better wildlifephothographer!
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Old March 27th, 2007, 04:04 AM   #11
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Per,

I like the sound you recorded of the swans as they were "taking off"

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Old April 10th, 2007, 01:56 PM   #12
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Steadicam built in?

Per, I appreciated your film. I know it is not easy to track them, especially not with a camcorder with the viewfinder delay and servo zoom focus. You did great ant yhanks for sharing your settings,

Have you noticed the swans have a very efficient "Steadicam" built in? Look when they are running for take off. Their head is fixed in height while their body is bouncing up and down.

Sorry but there must have been big spiders running all over Norway making metal nets. Unfortunately much of the otherwise beautiful neighbour country is woven with power lines all over! The big ones are coming here too! But thankfully, the smaller ones are more and more underground due to the damaging storms. /Johan

Last edited by Johan Forssblad; April 10th, 2007 at 03:00 PM.
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Old April 10th, 2007, 03:49 PM   #13
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Thanks Johan,
just want to tell you that I'm going to your country at Hornborgarsjön next weekend for filming cranes and hopefully some Wooper Swan.
http://www.hornborga.com/eng/index.asp
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Old April 11th, 2007, 01:13 AM   #14
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Per Johan,

I know Swans have a slower wingbeat than most species but while looking at the original footage I can see the wing flicker, or strobe effect on the wings. When you slow motion them that takes out quite a bit of the flicker.
It took me ages to sort that out but I have found shooting in progressive and slowing the shutter speed down will give the look that is more like we would see with our own eyes.

Have you tried shooting birds as I have mentioned above? I would like to see how your h1 does with that style!!

I would very much like to see footage from a fx 7 that shoots faster frame rates and then plays them back at 30 frames a second. that would be fundamentally the same as real slow motion.

This time next year I retire and thought i would use the settlement package to step into an had cam. It would be great to see how you make with these things, would make making a purchase a little safer for guys like myself!!

When you said Wooper Swan, is that a species or was whooping crane what was ment??

Please posting your footage with explanations as to what you did, I find it very interesting and enlightening!!

I am holidays and planned to shoot grouse on the leks, we now have 4 to 6 inches of snow on the ground and its still going at it. Needless to say, My camera and new lens has hardly been put to test!!! Will post some snow geese tomarrow if it chills me!!
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Old April 11th, 2007, 02:11 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dale Guthormsen View Post
Per Johan,

I know Swans have a slower wingbeat than most species but while looking at the original footage I can see the wing flicker, or strobe effect on the wings. When you slow motion them that takes out quite a bit of the flicker.
It took me ages to sort that out but I have found shooting in progressive and slowing the shutter speed down will give the look that is more like we would see with our own eyes.

Have you tried shooting birds as I have mentioned above? I would like to see how your h1 does with that style!!
I'll definitive gonna try this out Dale, thanks for your suggestion!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dale Guthormsen View Post
When you said Wooper Swan, is that a species or was whooping crane what was ment??
Here is the bird I ment:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whooper_Swan

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dale Guthormsen View Post
I am holidays and planned to shoot grouse on the leks, we now have 4 to 6 inches of snow on the ground and its still going at it. Needless to say, My camera and new lens has hardly been put to test!!! Will post some snow geese tomarrow if it chills me!!
We had some days with snow on the ground here too, but today the spring is back. Looking forward to see some snow geese footage from you Dale, so far I haven't seen them around here this year!
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