UWOL #7 Bartram's Gators at DVinfo.net

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Old February 22nd, 2008, 03:35 PM   #1
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UWOL #7 Bartram's Gators

Adventure! Tough topic, Meryem. We have a serial killer on the loose down here, and plenty of crooked politicians, but a legal adventure is hard to come by with three weeks' notice. So I had to borrow someone else's adventure and shoot some video to fit it.

William Bartram was an early American naturalist. In 1765 he made a trip through the Carolinas, south to Florida, then west into the lands of the Cherokee and Creek Indians. He made observations of the animals he saw and collected plant specimens. From one of these, a small tree he named Franklinia (after Benjamin Franklin), he collected seeds for his garden in Philadelphia. A lucky thing, because it was never again found in the wild.
While in Florida, Bartram encountered alligators. In his description of these monstrous beasts we see a world long taken from us, where shoals of fish are so thick, that a river is solid with them. Where the alligators feeding on these fish are packed so tightly that one might walk across the river on their heads. (He didn't try that!). He did, however, have to beat them away from his canoe with a club, and dispatch one that walked into his camp with a musket ball.
For the purpose of this project, I had to edit Bartram's text somewhat, but his description of the courtship rituals of the bull alligator is so accurate, that I had no trouble in getting video to fit. The bellowing season in South Florida begins in February.
One thing that Bartram could not have understood was that the droplets of water dancing over the back of a bellowing alligator are caused by ultra-low frequency sound waves that we can't hear. I guess this is similar to the sound used by elephants to communicate over long distances.

Although Bartram's 15 foot (5 meters) long monsters have mostly been made into handbags, gators are still plentiful here, and ten-footers are not unusual. We have crocodiles, too, which, in the scary looks department, put alligators to shame. But that will have to be another adventure. Hope you all enjoy this one.
I have put this video on Stage 6, if you want to see it at higher resolution.
Here is the link:
http://www.stage6.com/user/stevesiegel/video/2252651/
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Old February 22nd, 2008, 04:55 PM   #2
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That's it. I'm screwed...


Nice job Steve. I thought about narration but my voice scares me. Love the misty sun shot against the trees.
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Old February 22nd, 2008, 05:03 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric Gulbransen View Post
That's it. I'm screwed...
You and me both Eric....LOL!

Very nice work Steve....I'm impressed.
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Old February 22nd, 2008, 05:29 PM   #4
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I've got gators less than a mile away..... and none on film mating with supersonic dancing droplets. =D Guess it's too late now, though. ;)

Can't wait to see 'em! I'm an hour away from a highschool named Bartram Trail, btw. I immediately took note of your entry's name. ;)

C
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Old February 22nd, 2008, 07:20 PM   #5
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Wow great work Steve, something about it reminded me of a Ken Burns doc. Well minus the still shots that is. Reading from the book really helped bring the story together!

I was going to narrate the beginning of mine but decided against it, since I don't have a decent mic right now.
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Old February 22nd, 2008, 08:19 PM   #6
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I live near a lake with a gator. But just the one as far as I know and he doesn't come to our side that often - so no good shots of him yet.

Very well done. I think that the theme this time really required a narration to make it an "adventure".
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Old February 23rd, 2008, 12:34 AM   #7
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Steven, your visuals are absolutely stunning, and I like the way you introduced the whole thing. The audio on location worked very well and really complemented the visual elements. Editing was smooth and continuity flowed well.

A couple of suggestions on the sound. The music was very well chosen and complemented your scenes and editing very well (Kevin has some neat stuff). In my opinion the music level needed to be pulled down some where narration was present so that the music did not dominate and overpower the narration. And the narration level could have been boosted just a bit.

Balance between music and voiceover does get tricky, that track from Kevin, while somewhat soft, does want to dominate a bit.

I really enjoyed watching your submission. You hit the theme on the head, showed a great cinematic approach, and taught us all something to boot. Wow.
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Old February 23rd, 2008, 08:06 AM   #8
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Steve, lovely piece! Those aligators are HUGE!! How far away (or near) is it possible to be from them?
Your opening scene of the river was nice, like watching an old movie, did you use any particular filter or setting there?
I minor out of focus at 1:36, the fight at 1:52 was spectacular, so was the bubbles at 2:42
Very nice and interesting to watch, keep up your good work.
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Old February 23rd, 2008, 10:53 AM   #9
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Hi Per Johan,
Thanks for the encouragement. I hate to ruin the mystique, but it is possible to get within a few feet of these guys in relative safety. They tend to be pretty sluggish when on solid ground. I had to jump over one once because it was lying in the middle of the path. (That was 40 years ago when I was a bit more agile).
As far as the color, I didn't use any filters, but Adobe Premiere Pro has an extensive set of color manipulation tools that let you intensify certain wavelengths (like yellow) without "yellowing up" the whole image.
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Old February 24th, 2008, 12:18 PM   #10
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great topic, very compelling footage, and i liked the approach--i always enjoy a bit of natural history. you always have a unique way of approaching my silly theme ideas....

the gators may be sluggish to you but i would not want to meet up with one of these babies in a dark alley. they give me the willies...
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Old February 24th, 2008, 01:13 PM   #11
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Steven,

What a fantastic short!!! Not much I can say other than WOW.

I rreally loved the Audio of the gator!! What mic are you using??

Great Job!!
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Old February 24th, 2008, 01:56 PM   #12
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Dale,
Thanks for the thumbs up. I'm just using the mic that comes with the
Canon XL-2. It's a really good mic and I have a wind damper on it. I did cheat a bit in post, however, by boosting the bass and adding just the slightest bit of reverb.
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Old February 24th, 2008, 03:47 PM   #13
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Steve,

Awesome film. The set up was simple but so very effective. It was a perfect way to take us back and experience the adventure as he must have so many years ago.

Loved how the birds were almost evenly spaced as they flew away from the camera in the sunrise shot. :) I could almost see you off camera directing the birds when to fly into camera view. :)

Great gator footage! The vibrating water shot was icing on the cake.

Great work!!
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Old February 25th, 2008, 06:33 AM   #14
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A good story in a good film. Beautiful shots on the gators… this could be a winner.
A solid film Steve.

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Old February 25th, 2008, 08:43 AM   #15
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Hi Steve

Her you make one of the top entery,I realy love this film.
From my view her is allot to learn for os ader.


Great-film!!


VJV.

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