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Old November 27th, 2007, 10:41 PM   #1
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Thoughts on Judging, Some Extra Commentary, and...A Surprise!

First of all, let's take a little tour through the judging process. This was a great exercise, in many ways. Of 18 judge-able entries, (mine and DJ's were non-competes), 11 received at least one vote. That's a broad range of opinion and right in line with my experiences as the first screener when i have acted as a judge--in almost every single contest, i have passed half of the entries on to the primary judge, for final judging. So how you all chose was quite consistent with how I choose, which I was happy to see.

Also noteoworthy, as the votes rolled in, there was no consistency on the selection of the first place winner until the seventh set of votes rolled in, and then, from that point forward, some overlap kicked in. What this tells me is that we have very diverse opinions, much like our outside judges have displayed, and consensus is not easy to come by. Realizing the diversity of opinion gave me even more respect for the difficulty faced by an outside judge. One of the persistent critiques of outside judges has been, "There's no consistency!" Riiiight....we didn't have a lot either. There are so many factors that go into making a final call on these entries...it is actually a fairly complex process, as many of you discovered and clearly difficult to predict.

I gained a great deal of understanding about how you, the players think and feel about the contest and the type of films we are making here. I believe you, the players, gained more insight and respect for how difficult these choices are for a judge to make.

The primary downside that I saw to this form of judging: in my opinion, it really works when everyone votes, and not everyone did. I chased people around a bit and extended the deadline for a day, because I wanted 100% participation--it seemed the only way to make this a useful experiment, one from which we could all learn. One thing I learned is that by withholding votes, a player can actually positively influence their own positioning in the ranks....think about it, if they don't vote, but the other leaders do vote, then they have the advantage of receiving votes from their competitor while simultaneously withholding votes from that same competitor...that can create up to a six-point difference.

That seems most unfair to me of all, worse than any outside judging snafu, and is the one possible outcome that really makes me think twice about making this our regular form of judging. It's a very uncomfortable situation to mediate on my end, but, on the other hand, I don't want to be the vote police, that's no fun either. Blech.

I will be very interested to hear back from you players about how this process went for you and if you feel that this should be our new judging format. I reserve the right to make the final decision, based on your feedback, because the workload for it, whether it is finding outside judges and instructing them, or collating votes and chasing around reluctant player-judges, will ultimately be my responsibility. I must say, that, in this round, I was thrilled not to carry this responsiblity for the judging, to dump it on you guys and sit back and just count up the votes. But I do have mixed feelings about this process, which I have just shared. It's not perfect either. (although I kind of was hoping that it would be....)

I'm tentatively thinking about keeping the outside judging, but doing this once a year, at an unspecified time, when I feel lazy, as a kind of check and balance, for helping players and judges (or at least me, ahem) maintain empathy with each other. But I am very open to hearing your ideas on it, including fresh ideas for judging protocols that I may not have considered.

It's your turn to tell me how it worked for you.

And one last surprise: one of the coolest things to come out of this whole process was opening up the commentary. We received some very extensive and thoughtful comments, shared below. I wish we could do this with all the entries.

The most pleasant surprise of them all was our free t-shirt winner for best commentary: Marj Atkins!

I always knew there were many people out there silently watching our contest--the hits on our dedicated website alone, support the fact that's it's not only the players downloading the films-- and guess what, one of these lurkers sprung to life and wrote up 3 pages of comments (2 of which are included below) on the players' entries. Her comments were wonderfully worded and she gave a great deal of careful thought to the films she reviewed. Check it out, players, you have a fan base! How cool is that??

In Marj's own words: "I have been following your UWOL challenge since its inception with a great deal of interest and enjoyment and have learned so much from it."

So congratulations to Marj for de-lurking and for her comprehensive and thoughtful comments., Welcome her aboard.

T-shirt people, including Marj: send me your shipping info to: uwol@comcast.net--the shirt design is near completion. Once we fill those, we will then be taking orders for anyone else who would like official UWOL swag, once we have figured out the cost.
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Old November 27th, 2007, 10:43 PM   #2
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whoops, too blathery, i have to break it into 2 separate posts:::

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

And now, finally, a cross-section of comments on each film:

"Isopod" by Markus Nord

Markus did a great job of editing Isopod, using nice tricks and technically
savvy transitions. But most of all, he went after a collection of images,
with an informative purpose. The lengths some people go to to get a shot
always amazes me. Almost freezing water, at night. Astounding.

He took us to a place that it’s
highly unlikely many of us will ever go.

The camera work was excellent with really good close ups of all kinds of marine creatures, & he was very informative about all those creatures in his voice over. The sound track he used complemented his work perfectly, never distracting, only adding to the pictures.

The introduction as a host on the beach was charming, and additional supporting
footage pre and post dive gave a real you are there effect. I really felt as
if I was diving along with Markus, and I think that is the sign of a great
film - a suspension of disbelief- so for at least a few moments you can be
taken somewhere else.

The shot of the shrimp showing the delicate looking transparent nature of that organism showed it in a way I had never seen.

Technicaly this was a masterpiece both under and over land. Some of the
underwater shoots was in the class of Discovery and National Geographic.

The soundtrack is a great mix between background sounds, music and narrating, in my opinion essential to wildlife films. you have a great way of handling the camera as well over land as under water, steady (as can be under water) and it all give a relaxing feeling of, “I’m right there with you in the depth of The Baltic Sea”. By participating/narrating in your own film it gives a more personal touch, which I like very much.

The winning place on my list is the night-dive movie “Isopod” by Markus Nord who has done a superb job of bringing to us a glimpse of an amazingly beautiful world that most of us will never get to see in our life-times – under water night life in the cold Baltic Sea and in particular a view of the large sea louse that is endemic only to that area and a few icy lakes of Scandinavia. Even more special is the fact that he managed to capture this nocturnal creature whose internal clock only brings it to that area at this time of the year – when the sea temperature drops below 10 deg. This movie is technically outstanding, particularly as specialized skills are required to do this type of video. The clear, colourful night shots done underwater must surely make any aspiring underwater videographer envious. Markus obviously has a thorough understanding of his camera, lighting and underwater gear, never mind an ability to go diving in freezing conditions! The video of the fish and plants and the transparent, fragile shrimp, looking to all intents and purposes like a delicate glass ornament, simply blew me away.
The movie has a clear structure with beginning middle and end .
I like the sound effects used to open his ‘UWOL TV show’ – a novel, catchy way to introduce an interesting and informative movie into which the night theme is appropriately woven. His use of a strong, well-positioned line as a transition to split then wipe in the next scene worked well here. The appropriately selected music and sound effects complement the excellent video work. The sound is clear. I especially liked the pinging of the sub. The fast-moving, stunning sunset was given added energy by the music and one got the feeling of time moving into place for the scene to unfold.
Markus has a good feel for composition. The movie “Isopod” is a well-structured, to-the-point short video in which Markus has managed to capture the depth, colour and textures of a normally black underwater world. Without his knowledge and ability to use light this movie would not have been possible – a wonderful achievement and an excellent contribution to the UWOL Challenge ‘Night” theme.

"Art of the Night" by Per Johan
He had every subject perfectly in focus. His sense of
composing the images is top notch. His choice of music
helps set the mood. Technically this is the best video in this round, and a true
artwork.

For sheer cinematography, this was amazing, and I was really swept up in the
drama of his filming choices. I especially loved the slow fade from the
reflection to the building, an ethereal effect where the film became
surreal, and for the few seconds of transition I shared in his exploration
of the ghostly mirror- he really evoked the spooky atmosphere of an urban
night. This same feeling was echoed later in the dogs running out of
darkness in the park, where for an instant there was a sense of
anticipation, to discover what was approaching. It was full of amazing
moments, my favorite being the meeting of the real and statue dogs in the
beautifully lit fog. The film captured so many amazing scenes, and embodied
the beauty and mystery of the night. The music helped enhance the feeling of
a slightly off kilter but beautiful night atmosphere, so in that way for me
all the pieces tied together well into supporting the theme.

“The Art of Night” by Per Johan Naesje is my first runner-up - unquestionably the most technically and artistically superior video entered this round. Per masterfully demonstrates how to find and video different subjects at night with different lighting conditions, incorporating scenes involving different types of lighting. Each scene presented has been carefully considered and constructed to give a flawless rendition of the subject and lighting. The result is a series of truly stunning and powerful images that are nothing less than works of art flowing together to form a breathtaking whole.
Per visits various sites in the city of Oslo and turns on the magic. He explores his subject from different angles and different viewpoints. Lights of the city, moving car lights, reflections in water, buildings and statues receive the same masterful treatment and after he has done, nothing but a highly polished result is achieved. Per has an incredible ability to capture his subjects skillfully, from razor sharp, images to hazy images softened by the fog.
The scenes flow easily, with a variation in tempo and mood. The music is slow, heavy and almost depressing though, and I can’t help thinking that Per did himself a disservice in the choice of music, even if it does suit the heavy, solid architecture and grotesque statues. The mood is emphasized by the colours in this video that are predominantly browns, blacks, greys and red.

"Get to Bed" by Cat Russell

My favorite film is Get to Bed, by Catherine Russell. Right
away, Geir's judging form went out the window. Technically, there was a lot
of grain and not great lighting on this film. To be honest, this was a bit
of a disappointment, since shooting in a barn, good lighting could have been
available. But, and a large but for me- I thought it really held together
and told a complete story. I felt the text kept the flow of the film moving,
and the story moved seamlessly from one shot to the next, showing a real
excellence in editing choices. The music also enhanced the mood of the
piece, so the audio was great in that sense. I liked the mixture of humor
and story, and was totally entertained by this piece.

This film did this for me - through the eyes of a farm girl talking to her farm yard friends in such a comical and innocent way. I would imagine Catherine would talk to her animals in this way in real life and she would probably treat these animals with the same love and respect she would give to a close friend. These values and this type of feeling came through in her movie - which was just beautiful for me.

The score
substantiated the film in a way that almost got my tears to appear in the corner
of my eye. The poem who took us through the film was nicely written and
performed.

This is a great story from a great storyteller and very entertaining. Minor issue is the grain, but as this is a night video, I will not let it down for that matter. A fiction from a human, drawn into the animal world, what a great story this would have been on the children’s TV. The grain gives it a touch of mysterious adventure and the text on screen is neat and easy to read. Editing skills are way over average and every clip is put together to a whole and complete story. Not a dull moment. Soundtrack is great too, and suits the story well. If you had let some animal sounds in it, I would have easily picked this as the winner. You even managed to let a wild animal into your little adventure – the skunk, just awesome.
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Old November 28th, 2007, 01:53 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Meryem Ersoz View Post
I will be very interested to hear back from you players about how this process went for you and if you feel that this should be our new judging format.
Meryem, my biggest concern about this method are that well known players (like myself) is going to get more votes than new players. I'm saying this because it can be real hard to be objective in the judging procedure! What do you others players think?
In the other hand, if we stay objective and ALL players joining the judging, I think this is the easiest way of running this Challenge. I don't know how large your network of contacts are Meryem, but finding a new judge for every second month for our challenge, will (at least for me) be a real challenge!

Your suggestion of finding "an outside judge" from time to time is great too. That way we don't know who's the judge before we almost finished our entries!
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Old November 28th, 2007, 03:55 AM   #4
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I have to agree with Per on this point. If there was some way of the films being judges anonymously then I think community voting would be the way to go for sure. Unfortunately this is just not possible with our format, self narration, presentation and just obvious visual styles.

I do think throwing this in the pot once a year is an interesting process and yields lots and lots of meaty feedback which as you've proven really helps you 'as the filmaker' both appreciate the judging procedure and become a better balanced film maker by showing you what’s strong and what needs building on in your personally skill set.

Just to throw another possibility and I don't know how I feel about this completely but I thought I'd throw up the idea. Could we do both! The community decide on the top5 for instance and a judge finishes the process........just a thought, as I say I'm not quite sure how I feel about that and it could be even more work I guess.
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Old November 28th, 2007, 05:01 AM   #5
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I found the judging process very thought provoking. It made me think of things that i probably otherwise would not have thought about, & i think i learnt a lot about my own filmaking because of it. I am not apposed at all to the idea of we as a community having to judge eachothers work, as long as i am providing my humble opinion, & am not totally off the mark with my feedback. I was very happy to see that for this round i was not far off the mark, since i had picked 2 of the top 3 that all the others had picked, including the 1st place getter.
Matt, i like your last idea that the community picks the top 5. This may be an idea that could work.
Per, although i think you may well be right, i'm not sure we got it wrong with this round of judging, like others have commented, 3 deserved winners indeed.

Bryce.
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Old November 28th, 2007, 07:08 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Per Johan Naesje View Post
Meryem, my biggest concern about this method are that well known players (like myself) is going to get more votes than new players. I'm saying this because it can be real hard to be objective in the judging procedure!
That's why I instituted outside judging in the first place, because, from my experience with DVC, players develop reputations very quickly. DVC has never had the same winner twice, I don't think, but I was trying to introduce total objectivity to the process.

Player picks combined with outside judges essentially doubles my workload around the judging, first finding judges and then chasing around the votes, so I'm a little reluctant to put that in play.

I definitely think you all did a very thoughtful job of picking winners. I have no complaints whatsoever about the outcomes. That part was great. My 2 main reservations are the first one, voiced by Per, the issue of reputation, and the 2nd one of how players can, quite inadvertantly I think, manipulate the outcome just by abstaining from the voting (this only comes into play if a top contender does not vote, but if you are all called upon to do this every contest, voting complacency could set in quickly...).

I'm getting some good ideas from your feedback, though, and formulating some new thoughts, so keep it coming....
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Old November 28th, 2007, 08:05 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Meryem Ersoz View Post
T-shirt people, including Marj: send me your shipping info
But the t-shirt people who are they? Except for Marj, did you name them? Who can win a t-shirt exactly? The best comment, ok you said it. I guess the winner. Are there others? Why do I ask so many questions? Someone will stop me?
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Old November 28th, 2007, 08:10 AM   #8
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There may be different opinions about the judging system, or how to judge a film. Just take a look in the news papers :)
I think, the critical reviews from so called pro's, are mostly influenced by their personal feeling and taste, and not least what's "the trend right now".
But most of them follow a set of rules, similar to the ones we follow when we're making the films, and it goes in the terms of the same guidlines Meryem sent us by mail for this competition. Some critical reviews are good, some are not so good. In this community we have to make sure everyone participate in the judging prosess too, so maybe we should look at our rules and see if we can do some changes? If "we" are to be the judge, maybe we should make it a compulsory part of the game?

I've been going through the films, started from uwol#1, and there are many good films but also many different approaches to the theme so it's not easy to be a judge. I think Mat's suggestion about trowing in a top 5 may do the trick, but some how everyone do have to participate in the judging prosess and then we have to look at the rules.
It's not everyone who takes part in the feedback tread either, or maybe just trow in a "nice film comment". This is a learning prosess too and I think most of us want to be judged by the last film we made and not our previous work.

Last; For me, taking part in the judging prosess has been the most challenging part of uwol, so far. I did a research on the internet, on different movie sites, and read a lot about how to do a film analysis. Just to know what it's all about and I must say I feel much more comfortable behind the camera :)

Geir Inge
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Old November 28th, 2007, 08:27 AM   #9
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My two cents

" No Judge No entry" if you enter a film but don't take the time to judge the others and pick your top three your entry is disqualified.

However if there is someone out there that would still use the "vote for the worst three" to enhance there chance of winning.....I don't what to play with him....I think it would become obvious in one hell of a hurry. Damn I hope were above that crap.

Brian
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Old November 28th, 2007, 08:36 AM   #10
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" No Judge No entry" if you enter a film but don't take the time to judge the others and pick your top three your entry is disqualified.

However if there is someone out there that would still use the "vote for the worst three" to enhance there chance of winning.....I don't what to play with him....I think it would become obvious in one hell of a hurry. Damn I hope were above that crap.

Brian
No, no, no, no! I don't want to mislead anybody...nobody did anything that Machiavellian or deliberate, and I don't think anyone would, not in our little UWOL love-fest...in fact, quite the opposite, and the issue was pretty readily resolved. It was quite by accident...but it did point to a big hole in what I was hoping would be our perfect solution to judging. But maybe "no judge, no entry" is a good addition to the rules of self-judging. That's the kind of stuff I'm trying to worm out of you...to help me plug the holes in my blind spots.

And, oh, Benjamin, to answer your question, "the t-shirt people" are the people who finished all six of this year's Challenges--at the beginning of the year, I promised a freebie to everyone who managed to finish the full year cycle. That was a pretty good sub-Challenge. I'm thinking about doing it again next year....
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Old November 28th, 2007, 08:46 AM   #11
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I completely understood...that's why I broke it into seperate statements. The first being a possible solution to someone not taking the time to judge....no hidden agenda.

The second was to simply point out that if someone wants to be an ass there is no way to stop it.

Like you I don't believe it could ever happen with this group.

Brian
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Old November 28th, 2007, 09:30 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Per Johan Naesje View Post
Meryem, my biggest concern about this method are that well known players (like myself) is going to get more votes than new players. I'm saying this because it can be real hard to be objective in the judging procedure!
This can be a concern. But I believe that from the good friendship we have developed here, I don't think it will be a problem.

What I hope will "change", is that all, instead of most of, the players (at least those who submit an entry) will give feedback to eachother. Most do that already, but it would be even better if everyone did it.
So I agree with Geir Inge, maybe we should look into the rules and make this part mandatory?

Personally I think it could be a good idea combine us, the players, judging once in a while, with an external judge who doesn't know us or our reputation.

To me, the judging was a much more difficult than actually coming up with a video. Watching the videos over and over again, trying to find the 3 entries that really stood out and gave me something extra. But I liked doing it.

Mat's suggestion about having us to pick the top5 is an idea I think we could try sometime, and see how it goes. But I understand if you Meryem don't want this because of the increased workload on your end.


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Old November 28th, 2007, 09:53 AM   #13
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Vote Counting

In this vote Meryem gave arbitrary point values to each judges evaluations. I don't have a concern about any of this...., but since we are in a discussion, I think we ought to consider this.

As it stood, in the voting, if I voted for one film as number one, the point values assigned to number two said that I thought it was only 2/3 of the number one film. And my #3 pick was only 1/3 of the number 1 film. This is not what I may have thought, but it is what was reflected in the voting.

So my thought is we should be doing just what is done in the DV Challenge, ie., everyone pick three top films, each getting one point for a vote, and the one with the most votes wins. This seems to be a fairer reflection of the consensus of the voting participants, because in my mind, any of six films was good enough to warrant consideration.
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Old November 28th, 2007, 10:04 AM   #14
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One idea could be that we had a silent 3-4 days with no comment on any video. During that time we have to send in a top three. After that the forum is open for comment and after 3-4 days the winner is announced. The role of “No Judge - No Entry” would work in this way too.
In this way no one would me “misled” upon what other are saying about a specific films.

One way of taking the work of Myrem could be that we hade a formulary on the UWOL website, connected to a program that would recount our judging and fill out the total top three. To keep this safe we would need a password (that we would be given after uploading) to fill in the formulary with our top three and comment.

Markus
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Old November 28th, 2007, 10:23 AM   #15
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Just my two cents.

It is my opinion that the original intent of this contest was to further my skills as a movie maker. By having a theme we would all be focused in one direction and the end result would be the our interpertation of that direction and theme.

By selecting a "winner" we have defeated the purpose of the challenge. We all seemed to be focused on winning, judging, etc. and not the original intention, to improve our craft.

Lets do without winners and return to focus on how to become a better film maker. This can be accomplished just by using the feed back threads that are generated.

For what it is worth

Jim
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