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-   -   UWOL#7 "In search of a ghost" by Mat Thompson (http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/uwol-challenge/115702-uwol-7-search-ghost-mat-thompson.html)

Mat Thompson February 25th, 2008 09:51 AM

UWOL#7 "In search of a ghost" by Mat Thompson
Hey people.


Well this film was a different experience for me. While I loved the experience watching and filming the barneys and I think my field skills are improving. It was only in the last couple of days of the challenge I really got into my film and what I was doing. Then it kind of grew on me and I managed a jog to the line. I'm not sure why I went through this lethargy but I was glad to see the back of it.

My film is very self explanatory and doesn't really need me to say much about it. The Norfolk day flyers are really something else and I plan on going back again over the next couple of weeks. I think I could spend weeks watching these birds, they are truly ghostly and magical to watch. I'm going to try and position myself in a place where I can get a darker background next time as I think my footage would have been way better given more of a contrast with the subject. I also missed 2 chances of a perched portrait and messed it up twice. I do think that would have really added to the final sequence.

Well as usual people, rip it up, I need some strong critique to help raise my level moving forward and help to try and fend off all these talented new comers and rapidly improving regulars :-) It's amazing to how everyone’s film making is coming on leaps and bounds, just stop leaping and bounding quite so much....please ;-) !

Rob Evans February 25th, 2008 10:09 AM

Ah, was just wondering where your thread was ;-)
Ok, I enjoyed it. A lot - there was a story , good introduction and commentary and a nice build up to the money shots!
If you're going use a piece to camera indoors again, get a couple of bedside halogen lamps and point them at you - it will give more colour and vitality to the shot.
I felt that some of the long distance stuff wasn't quite a smooth as movement it could be, and the slo-mo stuff was a little fuzzed - don't know whether this is just a result of the compression or the software you're using. But the footage that you've captured in very tough light conditions was amazing, and your adventure really shows your commitment to producing these images. It's magic. Really.Nice one!

Vidar Vedaa February 25th, 2008 10:14 AM

Hi Mat

I think you have don it again,a realy master-peace of a film.
And the owol clip was great!!!!

Tanks for shering this!



Catherine Russell February 25th, 2008 11:06 AM

Hi Mat:

Excellent, stunning piece. Narration/music mix was much better than your last piece. You made this captivating, keeping us in suspense of what the ghost really was until the final moment. The owls are stunning. The slow motion footage couldn't be beat. You have a way of mixing other great objects of interest throughout the piece that makes it very interesting but doesn't detract from the focus. I found the contrast of owls to background well done... I liked being able to see the definition in the trees in a kind of black on dark gray. I also thought the selection of music was perfect. I think, in my book, it is right up there with Fisher King... which says it all. I think Rob had a good point about lighting your opening better. This however, is a quick and easy fix for next time.

Well done,


Markus Nord February 25th, 2008 11:32 AM

This is a serious good film. Nicely executed with a solid story. I we would vote on this round, you would get mine. What I think you could think of to the next one; don’t pull the music up as high between the VO, specially not if it is just 1-2 second between. I have just tried to track flying birds ones, and it is hard, keep working on that. About the story, I think that you could have just used picture there we only so a glint of the owl at the second spot, even if you got the flying picture. Then the amazing picture at the last spot would be even more intense. A good “build up” and a tease and then wrap the story up with the last flying shots.


Chris Barcellos February 25th, 2008 11:33 AM

Hey Mat:

Our pieces crossed paths. I got quite lucky to run into my owl without having to make the journey you did. Film was a great story of just how hard you have to research and work to get great shots.

What were you shooting with ?

Dale Guthormsen February 25th, 2008 12:03 PM


this is one of my favorites!!! I like the way you built suspense with your story. The owl footage was great and finished it off very well!!

Not much to say other than great job!!!

Trond Saetre February 25th, 2008 12:24 PM

Hi Mat,

Most have been said by the others already.
So just let me say that I really enjoyed watching your film.
You do very good VO. Easy to understand. And I liked the way you built the film towards the final shots of the owls.

Well done!!

David Gemmell February 25th, 2008 11:33 PM

Hi Mat,

Yes, the usual high standard continued in this film.

Firstly, the adventure was very evident in the way you set the intro up, the research, the different locations, maps, etc. I thought it was such a wonderful idea to run with - just like the wonderful idea you had with Fisherking.

I never like seeing indoor shots with films that are essentially outdoor orientated. Given this, I would have probably started the intro with you in the middle of the day (or at least a brighter time of day), sitting near the church setting the scene. This would keep the uninteresting blandness of a room completely out of the film - as well as the echo you tend to get indoors.

I thought you did very well with your camera during the flying shots and I bet you capture some awesome footage when you head back there in a few weeks - now that you know the usual flight path of the owls at dusk. Some close ups would have rounded the whole footage off nicely - but you already know this.

Have you seen the owls in one of the docs by David Attenborough, where I believe the footage was from the same area as your "daylight owls". The slow motion shots were absolutely amazing!

Very pleased that you shook of the lethargy and finished what I believe is one of your best entries to date. Well aligned as always to the theme.

Adrinn Chellton February 26th, 2008 02:32 AM

This adventure sure fit the theme, owls are very hard to film. I lived in the mountains for 15 years and only saw maybe 5 owls in that time, all of the Great Horned variety. This one held my interest quite well, nice work!

Per Johan Naesje February 26th, 2008 05:47 AM

Mat, this was a great film about a remarkable and hard to film bird. The film was nicely built up and you gave us good information about the places you have been.
Here's my notes to your film:
In the opening scenes you should have used more lights and I would also have liked a loader and clearer voice from you, maybe you could used a lavalier.
The Kestrel at 1:44 seem a bit soft?
Maps and all cut ins was good and made the story develop in a good phase.
The Barn Owl footage was very good, it seems that there was not so much og good light and that you've used a slow shutter in the first sequence, is that correct?
The flight sequence from 2:23 was stunning and very well excecuted! And the cream footage at 2:41 when you got two of them in the picture, what a moment this must have been for you Mat!
After viewing your entry I must admit that I will definitive go for some owl soon.
A wonderful and on topic entry, one of my top favorites!

Mihali Moore February 26th, 2008 04:49 PM

Hi Mat,

Superb barn owl footage, especially at the end with the pair flying together. Perhaps the piece to camera at the begining would have been better if it were done outdoors. The indoor set wasn't as engaging as the rest of the exterior shots.

I liked the title too. I have heard that during Victorian times, many old buildings were labelled as haunted because people mistook the calls of the barn owl as ghosts!

Nice work.


John Dennis Robertson February 27th, 2008 02:17 AM

AaaaH a true adventure..High quality work as always.Indoor lighting could be better,but hey thats just my view...A top 3 no doubt

Geir Inge February 27th, 2008 07:36 AM

Hi Mat.
You deliver quite an adventure with this one. Building up our expectation, what animal are you in search for? Nicely put together with beautiful shots and I also liked your VO. Those owl shots are great and what a beautiful bird it is.
Thank you very much for showing us this adventure of yours.

All the best
Geir Inge

Mat Thompson February 28th, 2008 09:45 AM

Hey guys

Many thanks for all the comments and compliments.

I know the interior shot was poorly lit although I think it was made worse in the compression. I actually thought starting inside by the computer was a good place to start a story that had come from lots of research before hand. It seems that wasn't a popular choice or maybe it was just because it was rubbish shot....anyway.

VO is all done directly into the standard XL2 mic. I do have some Lavs however but next time I will enrich my lovely tones :-/ with some better mic'ing :-)

Rob - Yeah all the close up owl stuff isn't as sharp as I would have liked. It really could do with a 50 fps camera and even faster shuttering. I was using 1/90 & 1/120 but there really is so much movement going on I think I should have pushed things further. Of course as you do your aperture gets bigger and you loose your dof and making tracker harder. - Very tricky to get right on the whole......but certainly worth another go ! Oh and I've since bought a Vinten vision 3 :-) too!

Chris - XL2 with stock and sigma 100-300 F4 - Yes I liked your last owl shot a lot, sharp and he just kept coming towards you....great birds!

David - Yeah I think I know the piece your referring too. They have some fab shots of the owls coming to ground onto prey. One of the nicest was the Great Grey...that is an amazing owl from North America I think.....coming uwolers, bring me some Great Grey :-)

Per - With these guys, everything is fighting against you. They are fast in the air and make very random flight movements. They of course tend to favour the last couple of hours of daylight 'at best'! As I said I really think you need 50+ fps on these guys in flight. Next time I will try shooting 50i and maybe 1/200th and see if I can sharpen things up a bit. Also getting parallel to the flight path would help with focusing and DOF.

Many thanks again everyone - I'm still working through all the critiques but I'll get to yours......eventually :-)

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