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

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Old December 13th, 2009, 12:36 PM   #91
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I'm with Mike in sentiment - we've spent so long on this now, some time longer isn't going to hurt at all!!

As for the film, well the honest truth is that it started with very little direction and purpose, probably as a result of trying to cram it in alongside full time work and a new baby. I simply wanted to show the beauty and magic of Cliveden to the world.
After meeting the national trust managers in May, the one thing that became clear was how much focus was placed on the house and the formal grounds, which actually account for quite a small porportion of the estate. So, with the resources and contacts of the NT behind me I set out to angle the project at a "behind the scenes" exploring the "wild side" of clivenden, which would stand alone as a self contained documentary at the same time as being an inspriational film to the casual visitor to cliveden, when they sit down and watch it being displayed in the onsite A/V theatre which seats about 40. Cliveden run quite a lot of guided nature walks throughout the year, and the final (NT) version will likely include a few info screens about who to speak to for more info. I actually hope that it might inspire the NT themselves to try a few more such events, like perhaps moth trapping open to the public.
Alongside showing it the NT would also like some DVD's to be able to sell in the onsite shop, which is nice :-)
Something I haven't discussed with NT yet is if they want to make use of the film, or perhaps an abridged version, for their website. It's something I shall mention when I meet them again after christmas!!



errrmmm, that wasnt exacty short was it ? :-*
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Old December 13th, 2009, 07:44 PM   #92
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Good evening,

Well, no doubt intended audiance which really is what gives voice to the videos is pretty darn important.

I am confident Mat, kevin and Meryem will do a great job and keep all of these things in mind.

While it is a big job, there are only 8 contenders, and once you make up a rubric of the various requisites, then to the tick and checks to set aprat the top 4. The actual Judge can do their thing, whatever it is.

I would actually like to see the objective aspects that are being judged, the value of each aspect (often it is only four or five values,. eg. 0= did not accomplish 1 mildly meets excectations,2 meets expectations, 3 exceeds expectations, 4 superior in all regards.

then the arreas go down the side scores across. You you acess 10 objective aspects you have a potential of 40. Average the three judges scores. The rest is farely obvious.

When all was done and said a copy of each contestents rubric could be emailed to them. this would be useful to demonstrate on arreas needing improving in an objective fashion.

No matter what meryem decides I am ok with it. It has been a long haul, and others are right, no hurry at this point!!
Dale W. Guthormsen

Last edited by Dale Guthormsen; December 14th, 2009 at 07:26 AM.
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Old December 14th, 2009, 01:54 AM   #93
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Hi Meryem
When you first mooted the idea of this UWOL long form contest you expressed the idea that it would give us an opportunity to produce something for a film festival.

Originally Posted by Meryem Ersoz View Post
We are also thinking of offering a separate long-form contest which would run alongside the regular contest. This would be your chance to try your hand at a sustained narrative or experimental piece, to produce something for a film festival, with a minimum length of 20 minutes (no maxiumum).
UWOL Announcements and Discussion - Talk Amongst Yourselves!

At the time, I did not fully appreciate the idea of submitting to a film festival and decided to use my chosen topic as an opportunity to try out different techniques. However as my research took me deeper into the subject I realized there was a fascinating story to tell and I decided that if a film festival were the general aim then that is what I would try to aim for. That has been my primary mandate and vision – although one that will only be accomplished with the help of this forum.

For this reason, I made a huge attempt, despite a crashed and sick computer, to submit something for this final round even though I knew it would not be in its final finished form as it was important for me to gauge the response to my story from an informed audience while I had the opportunity.

As most of you will have worked out by now I tend to produce videos that are informative and educational in some way so my audiences will also tend to be those who want to learn. Hopefully this can reach students via educational institutions. However, I have tried to draw in a broader audience than just students.
As CS Lewis once said,
'A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children [read math and science student] is not a good children's story in the slightest.'

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Old December 14th, 2009, 02:03 AM   #94
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Thank you Chris, Trond and Bob for your encouraging and helpful comments.

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Old December 18th, 2009, 06:48 AM   #95
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Your wonderful travel diary really inspires one to visit the Galapagos – what an amazing place. Anyone toying with the idea of going will certainly be won over if they get to view some of this at a travel agency. I’m hooked – even if all I can do is to dream on.

(I have a feeling it may have to be shortened quite drastically for the agency.)

Your simple chronology of events draws us - from the moment you start planning the trip (where you set up our expectations by listing the things you are looking forward to seeing), out of the busy city so familiar to many of us, onto a plane and then to the remote islands of the Galapagos where you take us on an amazing guided tour. You certainly fulfilled your purpose – to get out of the city to a place where you could hear only the pure sounds of nature!

You have some spectacular footage of birds and reptiles unique to the islands. (What a great shot of the marine iguana blowing the salt out of its nostrils!... not to mention the fascinating feeding behaviour of the Storm Petrels.)

Just one small observation – while most Uwolers probably know who Charles Darwin is, there are many out there who don’t – or at least may not know very much about him at all. You have mentioned him a couple of times without introducing him or explaining your references to the research centre or his favourite island. Perhaps best to give the audience a few clues or leave reference to him out of your story.

A very enjoyable watch!

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Old December 23rd, 2009, 03:04 PM   #96
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Marj, thank you for your wonderful comments on my Galapagos video. It was one of the greatest trips I have ever taken. I can not express the feeling of being there amoung all those birds and reptiles and yet they had no fear of us and we would often have to step over them. I was shooting so much video I didn't even realize I got the shot of the iguana shooting out the salt till I got home and started editing. I haven't even started to edit the Machu Picchu footage yet. It is interesting that they discovered stone statues on the Galapagos that are identical to those discovered in Peru and other parts of South America. I guess I did take it for granted that everyone knows about Darwin. However, like so many of you have said, this is a work in progress. Thank you again and have a Merry Christmas and a safe and Happy New Year. Bob

Last edited by Bob Safay; December 24th, 2009 at 05:38 AM.
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Old January 16th, 2010, 10:50 AM   #97
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With Christmas, family visits, holidays, technical issues, etc. I have not been able to access my computer for most of December so I apologize for not doing the rest of my feedback comments until now. I am currently in the process of re-loading my software. Cat and Dale please forgive me - your files are a bit too large for me to download at the moment but I will do so as soon as I am able.

Mike – your intimate knowledge of the Chihuahuan desert biome is clearly evident from the way you have presented the different eco-zones, habitats and the fascinating species found there.

The number and variety of plants, birds and animal species you have covered is amazing. It must have taken you the best part of this year out in the desert in extreme temperatures to capture all of this on tape! I’m guessing, from some of the things you have said, that much of it also entailed a great deal of patience – just waiting in a hide for things to happen. I find myself asking if you had to hike into the different areas on foot - or is there access to the different areas by road? Your efforts and dedication to the task have certainly paid off as this is a pretty comprehensive portrait of the Chihuahuan desert and its species.

Your shots of hummingbirds on nests and other special species are excellent – not very easy to accomplish without a lot of time and know-how. The Solifuge sequence is very well done.

You also created some interesting special effects for this film. I have a lot to learn about AE!

I enjoyed watching this film more the second time round when I was concentrating on the information rather than just viewing it for its entertainment value as I was the first time round. I have learned so much from your film – not only about your subject but technically too.

Your Foley sounds are mind blowing. How did you manage to accomplish all this in one year? Just about the entire film has been ‘dubbed’ (for want of a better word)! I did have one thought in this regard - In nature one can always hear layers of sounds both close and far and having only one or two sounds audible at a time tends to make the ambience a little artificial (for me anyway).

While on the subject of sound - the music in the sequence where the vultures are feeding on the Javelina carcass seems strangely out of place. I like the Spanish feel to the music at the end – it might be quite nice to use it elsewhere – at the beginning and between scenes perhaps – as a unifying element.

As far as the story goes I think you have a very unique concept using the flight of the Turkey Vulture to guide us through the different eco-zones. The technique of cutting up your shots and interleaving them creates the feeling that a lot is going on at the same time in one scene – very clever. I do feel however, that your story would be improved if you added a bit of punch - something to help grab one’s attention and hold it, or to stir one’s curiosity. (I find it a bit dry at present.) One thing you could do in this respect is to rethink the length of the shots of the Turkey Vulture preparing to leave – she seems to take a bit long to get going and some of the anticipation is lost in the process. Another thing you could consider is introducing a challenge or some kind of danger that she will have to face in the process of getting to the other side of the mountain. Will she make it?! (Do Turkey Vultures have any natural enemies?) - just a couple of suggestions to think about to improve what is already a very comprehensive story.

Thanks for a super effort Mike.


Last edited by Marj Atkins; January 17th, 2010 at 08:29 AM.
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Old January 18th, 2010, 10:33 AM   #98
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You are certainly a very talented person Finn-Erik –not only capable of producing wonderful video work and guitar playing but you’re an accomplished sailor to boot!

Your camera work in this film is, as always, very good. There is a serene, structured feel to your film with carefully considered, well framed shots. (Some of your landscape shots are stunning.) Your footage is crisp and colour saturation is really nice. I enjoyed the colourful details of your boat at the start and end.

Story-wise – You have given us a well-rounded overview of Stråholmen and its history that most visitors would snap up as an all-inclusive memento of a visit to the island if it were sold in DVD form. (Perhaps you should consider approaching the custodians of the island in this respect.)

I like your idea of using two narrators.

I know your film is complete and as I have said, it is a well-rounded film, but I do feel, there is a lot more potential here that you could take advantage of in the future.

I still firmly believe you would have a much stronger story if you re-organised your sequences slightly differently to highlight the different moods of this island more dramatically. By first building up a picture of the idyllic nature of this picturesque island -its beauty and tranquillity, wildlife, botanical diversity and photographic opportunities and then contrasting this with the story of the treacherous skerries and rough seas that play havoc with sea vessels, your story would show just how vulnerable this island is.

History has shown how treacherous it is to navigate the skerries without the help of pilots and even today they continue to take their toll. I feel you could explain more about skerries - what they are and why they are so dangerous. There are many of us who don’t have experience of these glacially-formed rocky reefs and islands and would like to learn more. The different tragedies that have taken place illustrate this danger and emphasise the need for careful navigation even in modern times when oil spills create a huge ecological problem for this special nature reserve (and the Norwegian coast in general) and a very real tragedy for its inhabitants.

(BTW - Are there still pilots at Langesund today or do ships now rely on satellite navigation?)

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Old January 19th, 2010, 02:03 PM   #99
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Thank you so much for your kind and thought-through comments.

I must realize my story-telling is not as good it could be, and the contrasts I have tried to show up with are not as dramatic as intended. The whole video is made by a consumer camcorder, a tripod and a light version editing program. I think it will be difficult to sell this video.

My intention was to do a film about Stråholmen, history and nature for the Norwegian people. The shipwreck should just be the needed contrast.
Norway’s coastline consists of more than 74000 islands and hundreds of thousand skerries.
Far north and west the weather conditions are heavier than we normally have here in south east. So, it is not easy to do much more out of the skerries around Stråholmen.

There are still pilots at Langesund, and it is compulsory pilotage for ships entering the fjords.
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Old January 23rd, 2010, 02:24 AM   #100
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Hi Finn Eric - thanks for your reply to my post.

Yes - I thought about it afterwards and realised that in light of the fact that you intended this film to be viewed by a Norwegian audience, you would probably not have to explain the skerries at all. It was just all new to me and as I find it quite intriguing I wanted to know more. Wow - 74000 islands and hundreds of thousands of skerries - that's amazing!!

BTW - The fact that you have done it with a consumer camera is not obvious at all - your camera work is very good and the quality too - you could easily sell it.

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Old January 27th, 2010, 10:56 AM   #101
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Hi Marj! Thanks for the great comments. I’ll try to answer your questions.

In the desert whenever someone goes off-road the vehicle leaves tracks that can be seen for decades. If in that time someone else follows the same route, suddenly it becomes a “primitive road” and it may get intermittent travel. Most of my locations were within an easy walk of some such primitive road. The farthest I had to walk was only seven miles.

Finding hummingbird nests in the desert is embarrassingly easy- if you know the trick. Over ninety percent of nesting occurs in the first three weeks following the onset of the late summer monsoon rains. If during that time you stake-out a promising patch of food plants in flower, you will note that almost a third of the birds coming and going are making a bee-line to nests. Some nests will likely be within 150 feet. I found quite a number of nests you didn’t see because most were inconveniently placed for video.

The Solifuge was shot with my new camera and I think the image quality is much improved. I know a researcher at Texas A&M that has searched the same area for weeks for Solifuges, but without success. I found that one when it crawled into my sleeping bag with me!

When this challenge started I had never done any Foley. I have learned enough to have great respect for the folks that do it professionally. I was only able to do about a third of what I had intended. After my motherboard failure I had an audio driver problem that was only resolved after the final deadline. It created a small lag which made synchronizing audio and video a frustrating guessing game. I simply gave up adding more. Thanks for your encouraging words.

I don’t like that music either. It was just the closest that I had on hand to the feeling and pace I wanted.

Thanks for the ideas for adding some tension to the storyline. I’ve had a couple of ideas myself and I think I’ll revisit this and give it some more thought later. Turkey Vultures have few enemies. Many are shot and even more are struck by vehicles. Other than that, most die of old-age related starvation or, rarely, disease.

I’m beginning another project and, while it will be nice to take longer than a year and not worry about deadlines, I’m really going to miss the input from all the UWOLers. It’s in a very different habitat which is almost gone now. Originally it covered over eighteen million acres; the largest remaining piece is only 110 acres. I suspect you’ll get a chance to see and hear more about it in coming months. At some point I’ll probably revisit the desert in video because, as you’ve noticed, I do love it. I can’t wait to hear what your next project will be! Best wishes.
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Old January 31st, 2010, 08:11 AM   #102
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Hi Mike – thanks for your answers.

ONLY 7miles . . . . . with all your gear and provisions etc. I take it! Quite a hike!

I am interested to hear that vehicle tracks remain for decades there as well. In the Northern Namib near Swakopmund where lichens cover the desert surface, wagon tracks that were made over 100 years ago are still visible. Apparently it will take centuries for them to disappear. (In this case because Lichens grow less than 1mm per year.)

As regards the humming birds –it may be very easy to find them as you say, but there is a proviso – you still have to know when and where - which you obviously do!

Sounds like you have an interesting new project in mind. I still have to plenty to do to finish this film before moving on so it will be a long time before I consider another project like this. I’m trying to find my way round AE at the moment - quite amazing what one can do with it.
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Old March 1st, 2010, 07:45 AM   #103
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Better late than never - I hope.

Cat I am impressed. You have managed to pull everything together in this final version of your film and present us with a beautifully polished piece.

Your ‘book’ works really well - the animations for this are very natural in the way the pages turn and the way the different elements on the pages work. I like the neat look of the text (the small changes you made to the original text have made a big difference visually). It works well with your beautiful images to achieve your goal of creating a classy coffee-table ‘book’ on the park. You have included some stunning shots – your landscapes in particular are breathtaking! The quality of the light in some of the scenes is almost surreal and I love the saturated colours you have used. Your camera work is good - very nice framing and use of different angles and view points. You managed to find and film a wide variety of species to give us a pretty comprehensive overview of the denizens of the park which added to the overall enjoyment of the film. The concluding shot of chapter six is priceless in context! :)

The story and structure are simple and your narration is very clear and easy to listen to. I like the graphics and animations in chapter one - very well done. Your use of slow-mo is especially effective with the music in chapter 3.

One thing I would consider changing is the use of the fireworks at the beginning. No doubt their purpose is to liven up the intro and give a sense of celebration but because fireworks scare the living daylights out of all animals I feel they are out of place in a film of this nature. If you feel the titles need spicing up in this way it may be better to replace them with some equally fast-moving footage from the park (perhaps lots of flying birds or butterflies or even some fast moving water).

I would also consider dropping all references to ‘book reviews’ and Uwol ‘books’ etc. should you decide to take the next step and complete filming and then market this film. To me they detract from the professional feel of the film.

Cat this is a most enjoyable and uplifting film to watch and without doubt your best work to date. If I were a visitor to the park I would love to have this film as a keepsake - it’s a real treasure.
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Old March 1st, 2010, 07:57 AM   #104
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Another multi-talented person in our midst – videographer, musician and experienced falconer too.

You have chosen a very interesting topic Dale and obviously one close to your heart. I was riveted - I found the information and processes involved fascinating but I do admit that like others here I had quite a few questions at the end. Maybe I’m saying the obvious but it may be a good idea to review all the suggestions and questions that have been asked on the topic during this challenge and to weave your answers into your film (with footage to illustrate) so that you close the info gaps. (I did not find the information too advanced just incomplete - especially at the beginning.)

I think many people could be left with negative feelings about falconers taking young birds from the nest without an explanation in your film to justify it. There must be a valid reason for doing this as opposed to getting young birds from a breeding station as they do in the UK. Some information that would be worth including - for the uninitiated - is what the purpose of falconry is and its benefits. I also hope you will reconstruct the poignant story of the demise of your falcon halfway through the making of this film. It offers an excellent opportunity to involve your audience emotionally in this subject.

You have a very nice, relaxed way of getting your story across. I like the personal, on-camera style of narration and watching you interact with the falcons at each stage of the process. You have done a good job of filming the falcons stooping – I can well understand why that is the most difficult thing you do!

This film has a great deal of potential Dale and I am really looking forward to seeing the finished product. Like me – still lots of work to do. :}
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