And the winner of UWOL #9 is... at

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The UWOL Challenge (our newest contest)
An organized competition for Under Water, Over Land videographers!

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Old July 1st, 2008, 09:48 AM   #1
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Boulder, CO USA
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And the winner of UWOL #9 is...

Hello there everyone, and thank you for welcoming me into your community. I have to say that I am incredibly impressed by the level of talent among the filmmakers here. I had no idea how difficult the task of judging these films would be…many of them are of broadcast quality, and all of you should be extremely proud of your work. It is clear that everyone in this community has a passion for the outdoors and wildlife, and it comes through loud and clear in your films.

That being said, as a judge, I was forced to rank the films in some sort of order. This is a nearly impossible task, as you cannot compare all qualities of a film equally. Each one excelled in certain aspects, and in the end I tried to find the film with the most complete package. Of course everyone has a different opinion and I am no exception. I will be posting a couple of other threads where you can read more about how I came to my decisions. I believe strongly that every filmmaker can continually improve on their work, and that constructive criticism is not a negative thing. Please look for the thread called “the finalists” to see some of my thoughts about the films that almost made the winner’s circle. And keep in mind this is just my opinion.

Ok…enough delay…time for the winners:

Matt Thompson “The Heath”
A fantastic film that, to me, represented the most complete package. Matt combined nice cinematography with some really incredible, rare behavior sequences. But what really clinched it was the strong story structure. He set the scene, introduced a little jeopardy (will the male be successful and which one will win the female), had a twist (more than one male succeed), then wrapped it up full circle with nightfall. Also the actual narration made good use of small teases to keep the audience guessing. For example: “But one particular animal relies on these warming rays more than most” instead of just saying: “the adder relies on these warming rays the most”. Also, lines like: “The small males…are looking to mate, and patrol territories along the verges of the heath” set up the drama without giving away what is going to happen. I am not sure the music fit all the way through the film. I think I would use a different piece to enhance the jeopardy and the drama of the tussle between the males. Also, I think a few edits could be smoothed out by getting more cutaways and letting your subject leave the frame. All in all, great job, and a pleasure to watch!

Runner Up:
Per Johan Naesje “Strix Nebulosa”
It was a very, very difficult decision to rank Per’s film second. I actually lost sleep over this one. This film is so well polished with breathtaking cinematography, incredible behavior, and a great marriage of music and imagery. The coverage of owl behavior is remarkable, which obviously helped in the edit as sequences fell together nicely. The only criticism I have is on the story structure. It is a good story but I think it could become a great story with a little tweaking. I would recommend using the story of one owl’s quest to find food as the narrative spine and sprinkle the facts into that. For example, start by setting up the jeopardy like: “As darkness descends on the Scandinavian forest, most creatures are settling down for bed. But one is just waking up…and he’s hungry. The Great Grey Owl is hunting, not just for himself, but he’s responsible for feeding a family as well.” Then I would go on to follow the hunt while describing the adaptations he has to help (excellent hearing, silent flight, etc.). All the while you can tease out the idea of whether he will be successful or not. All in all, a very close second. I can really appreciate the effort it took to capture such fantastic images of a magnificent creature.

Second Runner Up:
Geir Inge “Seabirds”
This film also had a good marriage of cinematography and music. What an incredible behavior shot of the nesting oystercatcher followed up with the hatching chick! Geir used some strong aspects of storytelling by setting up how difficult life on the Norwegian coastline is and how human encroachment is making it even more difficult. My recommendation would be to work on filming birds in flight a little more. I know exactly how difficult this can be, and you have a nice shot of the eagles, but it could be a little bit smoother. I would encourage you to keep at it. Also, to maximize the jeopardy of the story I would structure it slightly differently. I would start with how tough life is in this climate and put the human encroachment right up in the front of the film. Then talk about how the different birds deal with the difficult life, like the eagle feeding off the dead. I think since you captured such great shots of the oystercatcher, I would have focused on this species a little more. Nice job, I really enjoyed this film!

Third Runner Up:
Peter Damerell “How Hard Can It Be?”
Sometimes a little creativity and a unique story can win over the judge…and this is one of those cases. This story was very strong with a good element of leaving the viewer wondering what is going to happen to this calamitous voyage. The style was executed well, setting it apart from the other films. The cinematography fit with the style and added to the humor. Nice job with the edit, used as a punctuation to the funny moments. Comedy is surprisingly difficult to pull off and I think you did a good job. Unfortunately, I couldn’t rank this film higher, simply because I can appreciate how difficult capturing wildlife on film is (and I think you can too)…and the other films managed it, and I had to reward them. All in all, you made a very strong and entertaining film and I can tell you have a good sense of storytelling.

Ok, that’s it. There were many other films that just narrowly missed the winners circle. It drove me crazy to have to leave them out, but in the end I had to make certain decisions. I congratulate you all and encourage and challenge you to improve your filmmaking skills. If you are interested in hearing more about my decision making process look for my other threads.

Thanks for letting me share in your incredible community!

Cheers, Brant Backlund
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Old July 1st, 2008, 09:59 AM   #2
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Larsnes, Norway
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Congrats to you Mat.
I haven't seen your film yet, but I will in turn :)

Thank you Brant for taking time to be the judge for uwol9.
Also for taking time to give us valuable tip and advice.

Haven't seen your film either Peter, but congatulation to you and to you too Per Johan.
Now I have to see the rest of the videos.

Geir Inge
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Last edited by Geir Inge; July 1st, 2008 at 02:24 PM.
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Old July 1st, 2008, 10:06 AM   #3
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Congratulations Matt. A well deserved win.

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Old July 1st, 2008, 10:07 AM   #4
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Congrats on some great films Mat, Per, Geir and Peter!!

Thanks you too Brant for such detailed feedback on the films and how you judged them!
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Old July 1st, 2008, 10:11 AM   #5
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Congrats all!!! - special "doffing of cap" in Mat's general direction - excellent work chap!!
Another round, and with it another raising of the bar.

Thanks Brant, that can't have been easy!!!
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Old July 1st, 2008, 10:16 AM   #6
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Great job all !!
Chris J. Barcellos
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Old July 1st, 2008, 10:25 AM   #7
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Great job, Brant!
A very tought decision I'm sure.

Congradulations to Mat, Per, Geir and Peter!!!

Bob T.
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Old July 1st, 2008, 10:36 AM   #8
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What a round, when you look at the quality of those top films, and the diverse approaches to the theme, it's remarkable.

Congrats to the winner, Mat, my friend, I know how hard you work at this, and it is clearly paying off...

Per, you embody the UWOL spirit for all of us, what else can I say? Without your continued commitment, the contest would be less than it is.

And Geir, no one puts as much sheer love into their craft as you do, and it shines through in every way.

Peter, you were my favorite dark-horse candidate, I think I'm still laughing at that sad-sack camo boat...and you are now in some very good company. I hope you and Mr. Joslin share a cup of tea to celebrate your placement.

Excellent round, everybody...32 finishes ties for our fattest round yet!

Looking forward to #10! Will that be UWOL #10 or UWOL X?? I like the sound of UWOL X!!

Oh, and thanks to Brant for being such a thoughtful judge...anyone who loses sleep over these entries, just as I do, really "gets" the contest!
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Old July 1st, 2008, 10:38 AM   #9
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A very well deserved first place to Mat - well done, fella!

Per, Geir Inge and Peter deserve the recognition too, they were worthy runners up. Must've been a very hard descision!
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Old July 1st, 2008, 10:54 AM   #10
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Congratulations Matt. Great entry.

Also my congratulations go out to Per, Geir, and Peter.

You are all very deserving of these honors. Great job.

Brant - Thank you so much for taking the time to watch and critique the entries.
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Old July 1st, 2008, 10:55 AM   #11
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A very well deserved first place to you Mat, looks like we are equal now! And congrats to you Geir Inge, I was very impressed with your entry. Peter, your entry was the most funny I've seen for a long time, keep it up...

Thankyou very much to you Brant, for writing so much about my entry, what to do to improve it! My goal is to develop further in wildlifefilming and I think that making better up on the story are the right way to go!

Congrats, to everybody who made an entry and also to everybody who tried but who had to take a swim in the tank!

See you all in uwol-X
- Per Johan
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Old July 1st, 2008, 10:57 AM   #12
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I am THRILLED for these winning pieces (Mat, Per, Geir, Peter!).

Thank you Brant for being so thoughtful in your decision process, reviewing each one and taking your position as judge seriously.

Well done to all!

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Old July 1st, 2008, 11:34 AM   #13
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Congratulations Mat, Per, Geir and Pete - well done.
- and thanks to you Brant for such detailed comments from which all of us can learn! It is a privilege to have someone as experienced, knowledgeable and conscientious as you to judge our challenge!
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Old July 1st, 2008, 11:44 AM   #14
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Great-Challenge Tanks Allot!!!


To Matt , Per Johan ; Geir Inge and Peter. And fore this fantactic round
and all you odder Challenger.

And to You Brant for a great judge.

Best Regards
Vidar Vedaa.
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Old July 1st, 2008, 12:05 PM   #15
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Congratulations to Mat, Per, Geir, Peter, and to everyone else who submitted a video this round!!!
Of the winner/runner ups, I have only watched Per's video so far, and what a great video that was!

I will watch and comment all the videos when I get a chance. Hopefully within next week.

I really like how well you explain and comment your choice of winner and runner ups.
Very well done!

I look forward to UWOL X!
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