UWOL 9, California Sea Lions at DVinfo.net

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Old June 23rd, 2008, 08:58 PM   #1
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UWOL 9, California Sea Lions

It must be love that brings us here. There's just no other explanation...

A buddy of mine, Brian Luce, whom I met here on DVinfo, has this theory about me which he calls "The VooDoo Pin Cushion Element." He swears someone somewhere has an Eric doll that they carry around jabbing nails into all day long. "No one can be that unlucky" he says. I guess I'm just used to it by now. I can make eating a bowl of Cheerios a life altering event.

I grew up around water much different than the Ocean I live near now. Interacting with sea life meant going snapper fishing when I was a kid. Now it means much more. It took me three separate trips to the shore to gather the footage we used for this film. One day, the last day, I spent ten hours among these beasts. Felt like half an hour, tops. As I researched the California Sea Lion I learned they are quite intelligent. Surprisingly they can even be trained as full grown adults. As each day passed by they would gather human audiences from time to time. With each new guest they were just as defensive. But with me, after shooting a while with the lions observing me rather closely, I could tell they pretty much figured out I only posed a threat to myself? Maybe it was my tripping on a banana peal (dead Cormorant), or losing my lens cap in the rocks. Maybe it was getting soaked by stealth waves which came out of no where (ok maybe it was the tug boat that had just motored by at 7 knots). Either way they had me pegged. The cool part of that was getting much closer than I had expected. The not so cool part of that was getting much closer than I had expected - which meant more waves, wet socks, and even a stranded tripod in six inches of water.

Like I said, this must be love.


So what's the lesson I learned this round? Besides the obvious "Next time drive AWAY from the forest fire" I can add the single biggest lesson taught to me by Brian Luce, who helped write the script for this film. Typically I start an edit with music, because I'm clueless. But this time Brian made me build the edit around the story, which he recorded in a voiceover before one clip ever hit the timeline. Man did this change things..

I wish I was more successful on my earlier shoots, and hadn't spent so much time falling over myself. Those are my only regrets because one afternoon to edit this film was not nearly enough (for me). Other than that I am proud to have never given in to some of the "challenges" my pin cushion poker threw in front of me this round.

Please enjoy our UWOL 9 entry - California Sea Lions


Special thanks to Kevin Railsback for helping me work some compression problems out. Without Kevin this film might look like it was printed on newspaper.
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Old June 23rd, 2008, 09:19 PM   #2
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That is some amazingly crystal clear footage Eric. You also have an unbelievably great variety of shots. It looks like it was a lot of fun to shoot. Great job.

Andrew
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Old June 23rd, 2008, 09:22 PM   #3
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Eric,
We've all seen footage of sea lions ad nauseum on TV, but yours is different. From the curve of the lower jaw in one scene to the misty exhalation in another to the shot of the flippers waving, and on and on, each shot was new and commanding. Your editing may have been fast, but I sure couldn't tell.
A lot of us shoot in HD, but your entry, and Per Johan's and some others actually look like HD. How on earth do you do it?
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Old June 23rd, 2008, 09:52 PM   #4
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A lot of us shoot in HD, but your entry, and Per Johan's and some others actually look like HD. How on earth do you do it?
Yes it's funny you mention that Steve. Although this camera always shoots HD, most times I make it look like cell phone video. I do have long lenses, like Per Johan does, but lately I'm realizing that being closer to the subjects is more important than simply aiming at something a mile away with a 7X multiplication factor. In other words on this shot, instead of using a 300mm and setting up 50 yards away, I took the time to slowly get closer, and used the 80-200 at 80mm whenever I could. Same frame, just one was more brilliant. The other trick, on the wide shots, was the Fujinon 13X that I purchased recently. Holy MOSES is that lens beautiful!

It's really a shame what we do to the footage we get when we compress it for the web. It almost contradicts everything we work so hard for leading up to viewing. I wish I could share what they look like on this screen...

thanks for watching guys
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Old June 24th, 2008, 04:27 PM   #5
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Eric - I totally agree, I actually find myself shooting for this resolution now sometimes. Because of the small viewing sizes you do have to get nearer in on subjects and because of the compression watch what your doing with movement too!

I'd love to try that x13 out too!

Anyway....onto your film. Some stunning footage fella, really sharp, great colours and nice compositions. Its an impressive animal and it must be great to spend time so close to them. Your VO was really nice, I find your voice relaxing and the delivery was good although you did bring in some music at one point, crashing the VO some what. I also found some of your editing a little choppy and random with more of a logical flow needed in places. I did notice a little CA here and there though, I'd be interested to know which lenses you used throughout !?

On the whole a great piece with some stunning shots!

Last edited by Mat Thompson; June 25th, 2008 at 03:48 PM.
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Old June 24th, 2008, 05:09 PM   #6
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Nice stuff Eric! I look at this kind of footage and it makes me want to pitch my GL2, sell all my stuff, and move to southern Cali! The area I live is pretty economically depressed, so the work doesn't allow the budget to expand enough to be able to get heavy hitter equipment like yours. I was checking out your site and I was very inspired and in awe. It would be awesome to be stumbling around the same coast line film!

It is very obvious to me that I need to figure out how to step up my game. I have been hitting minor leagues for too long.
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Old June 24th, 2008, 07:07 PM   #7
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I hear you Mat. While I am very happy to not have given up on this, and gotten it in on time, I am also regretting not being able to really love it like it deserves. I went on three shots total for this project. Could have just been one but I lost the footage (long story). Could have just been two but I lost the footage (longer story). The third shot happened Friday. Wish I could have edited all weekend but I got hired, for my very first time, to shoot a local event (no I didn't lose the footage). This left me about six hours to pull the whole Sea Lion thing together. Not enough time. As a result I DO agree, the editing is choppy, some of the music is not only too loud, but not chosen very well, and there is not only CA but also shaky shots too. No time for the smoothcam render time either...

The CA you see, after extensive research over about a year on the subject, is not necessarily from the lenses I used (both the Nikons and the Fuji 13x get it under these extreme conditions). From what I have been told, THIS particular case where you're shooting something black, soaking wet, and in bright hard light - is about the worst case scenario for this JVC HD200. You have to stop down so far to avoid it that you might as well just try shooting in the middle of the night. I've been told, by more than one reliable source that it's the camera here, and not the lenses. But who knows..

I plan to go over this tonight, just for kicks, because I really like it's start. I'd hate to leave it on the 65 yard line like that.

I'm open to any input or suggestions. All in the interest of learning!
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Old June 24th, 2008, 09:18 PM   #8
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Eric,
You may be dissatisfied with what your stuff looks like when compressed for the Web, but let me tell you, I have been playing all the videos on the Quicktime player at double screen size, and yours is the only one that doesn't pixellate. And it's only 43 MB. You must be doing something right.
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Old June 24th, 2008, 09:22 PM   #9
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Eric:

Nice job, Northern California has a great representative in this competition with your film !!
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Old June 24th, 2008, 11:18 PM   #10
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Eric,
You may be dissatisfied with what your stuff looks like when compressed for the Web, but let me tell you, I have been playing all the videos on the Quicktime player at double screen size, and yours is the only one that doesn't pixellate. And it's only 43 MB. You must be doing something right.
I can't take credit Steve. It was all Kevin. Somehow even while paddling his front porch down main street he found the time to help me.
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Old June 25th, 2008, 01:02 AM   #11
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Eric, excellent job on this. Great variety of shots, your narrating and scores! In some of the distance shots you could view the air-haze, so I agree, nearer is better even with huge lenses!
You're on my top-range list with this!
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Old June 25th, 2008, 01:57 AM   #12
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Nice footage with good interesting facts, great job Eric.
I shoot on a little HG-10 and I'm itching to buy a "bigger" camera myself, as the 10 is limited in so many ways.

Love the dolly shot!
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Old June 25th, 2008, 10:31 AM   #13
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Nice done Eric, nice done… I enjoyed this film very much (pssst, just missed some UW shots). Good info, nice variation in shot… very well done. It was only one shot that felt out of place and that was the second wale fin… but that doesn’t matter. This is one of the top 3 for me. Nice that you got someone to make you film with… I’m al alone and that hard some times… especially when it comes to ideas…
Loved it!
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Old June 25th, 2008, 11:17 AM   #14
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Hi Eric:

When I click on your film it's not there (?) What's up? Has it been removed for some reason?

Cat
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Old June 25th, 2008, 12:39 PM   #15
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Sorry Cat. I really did not do justice to this piece by rushing through it so last minute like I ended up doing. It's also been very generous of people like Markus to mention the whale fin feeling off, and Mat about the music crushing the VO - so I made a few changes (to the much nicer version on my website). I imagine you may have clicked on it while the newer version was uploading? Sorry about that.

By the way it does not crush me at all, constructive criticism. I actually prefer to be taken apart by those with different ideas or feel. I have no education other than what you people so generously offer here.

Please, if you find another three free minutes - tell me if you agree with these changes

California Sea Lions - "Take Two"


ps - Markus, I was so excited to find that Humpback whale in the LCD it breaks my heart to leave it out. However I do agree that the timing of it was a bit misleading. Almost made you think it was a video about whales? I deleted a clip, moved the whale sooner in the timeline, then extended the rack focus shot of the first seal you see to more appropriately match with the narration. If that doesn't do it I might have to torch the whale. I've lived here for five years and look for them every time I hit the coast. That shot was the first time I've ever seen one - he was about a mile and a half off shore (couldn't even see him with my naked eyes - only a dark blurr).

ps - Mat, you were right. I brought the music down a bit, gave the VO a bit of gain right there, adjusted some other stuff as well. Thank you for the heads up.
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