UWOL 11 - A Capuchin Paradise at DVinfo.net

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Old October 22nd, 2008, 05:34 PM   #1
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UWOL 11 - A Capuchin Paradise

I see everyone else is posting about their video, and since I am new to the uwol community, I will follow suit.
This is not only my first time in the challenge, but it was also the first wildlife/nature video I have made. I have always been interested in studying wildlife, and video stuff has always been a hobby of mine, but I never really had the chance to put the two together. Now that I have.... I don't want to stop.
I was in Costa Rica for the past several months studying the social behavior of white faced capuchin monkeys. That means I spent over 70 hours a week from sunrise to sunset following different groups of monkeys through the forest. So it was easy being in the right place to see truly amazing things, but it was extremely difficult to get the shots I wanted and still take data on the monkeys. Most of the shots were done with the camcorder in one hand and a handheld data collecting device in the other.
But there is no better way to explore and understand the habitat where I was living than spending a day with a group of capuchins. That was what I was trying to show in my piece.
I hope you like it and please let me know what things I could improve on, since I am just getting into this. Thanks.

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Old October 23rd, 2008, 04:24 AM   #2
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Keith, now that is a way to make an entrance!! This really felt so complete, it was entertaining, educational, well narrated and touching, all rolled into one. The time you have spent understanding these creatures really comes through in your film.

Well done, great debut.
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Old October 23rd, 2008, 10:11 AM   #3
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Wow. I'm glad you liked it.
I loved your piece as well.
I have always had a fascination with ants. There was a huge leafcutter ant colony behind my house in Costa Rica, and at first I was thinking about focusing my piece on them, but it was so difficult to get good shots of them like you did, especially without them attacking my legs and camera and anything else they could get to. I am glad now that I didn't follow through on them because it wouldn't have compared to your's.

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Old October 23rd, 2008, 10:38 AM   #4
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A great first entry, Keith, really a nice diversity of shots, your VO is well conceived, and the pacing of your story works well. Most of the pieces are in place.

I found the musical selection of your soundtrack a bit odd and not really adding to our sense of place -- it would have worked for Colorado, not so much for Costa Rica. Something that would have put us there, in that habitat, would set the right mood, I think.

My second bit of advice is, while your hand-holding is pretty good, your tripod does an even better job. I'd work hard on tripod technique. Your framing of shots is quite polished, but the bouncing camera detracts. Unless there is a specific reason or effect--or a situation that only hand-holding would work in-- that you are using hand-holding to create, wildlife shooting always looks better with more stabilization underneath it. It is hard enough to track random moments without adding camera wobble to the scene. I am guessing that you are more comfortable hand-holding than you are on your tripod, based on the pans at the end, which seem a little too speedy. (These may even be very steady handheld shots, I'm not sure). Pretty much every landscape shot should always be locked down. The nightfall shot at the end is a great example of this.

Tripod technique is something all of us work on here, because it is so crucial to making great nature and wildlife video. Kevin suggests working on panning by panning on passing cars for practice, to track them in the same spot in the frame.

Anyway, there's so much good stuff here. Good story, nice framing, like I said, you really mix up your shots in a very entertaining way. My biggest piece of advice is: make friends with your tripod and learn not to resent carrying it for long distances...I still sometimes give mine the baleful glare before I pack it up.

Although some good alternatives are beanbags, monopods, and mini-tripods....

Anyway, welcome to the wildlife addiction. It's so fun to see the world in new and interesting ways.
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Old October 23rd, 2008, 10:47 AM   #5
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A fine first effort.

As previously mentioned, the hand held is pretty good for run and gun stuff. For the bulk of your shooting on this a support system of some sort would have made it fantastic!! I personally have had to work very hard at this aspect of shooting wildlife!!!

I found it interesting and informative! Well put together.

You had some very fine shots, particularly of them eating!!

Keep up the good work!!
Dale W. Guthormsen
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Old October 23rd, 2008, 12:17 PM   #6
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Welcome Keith!

Well done! You must have had a spectacular time chasing monkeys in the Costa Rican forest. Filming and subject matter were highly entertaining and shows you spent some time getting all the diverse footage. Wonderful! My favorite part was when there were 4-5 up on mom's back. Amazing and very interesting narrative. I'm going to make sure Ruth Happel sees this one. She also had a career studying monkeys in their habitat. For her, this is a must see and the two of you can chat. She is an acclaimed and long-standing UWOL member that didn't make it this round.

As far as critique, what has been said... music choice, tripod use all has been noted so I won't pile on.

Way to go! I'm looking forward to your next film, Keith.

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Old October 23rd, 2008, 01:10 PM   #7
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thanks for the suggestions...

Actually, all of the shots in the video were off a tripod. I tried my best to balance the camera on my knee or a nearby branch when I could, but unfortunately I had no access to a tripod. That was the hardest part of editing my video; trying to avoid the shots with too much shakiness. Hopefully, when I return to Costa Rica in January, I can bring along my tripod and re-capture a lot of the beauty.
And I agree that the music wasn't very fitting, but I just couldn't help myself. I just love old time fiddle music and banjos. My girlfriend said the same thing that she thought the music took away from the tropical feel of the piece. I will have to put aside my musical tastes next time and look for a more fitting sound.
Thanks so much for the input.

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Old October 23rd, 2008, 02:57 PM   #8
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For a first time wildlife film, this was brilliant! Lovely footage of the capuchins. You captured their behaviour excellently and you story was very engaging. Looking forward to seeing more of your stuff.

Get a tripod!!!!
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Old October 23rd, 2008, 04:07 PM   #9
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Great film. Never would guess it was a first effort.

I agree with Meryem, the soundtrack was more of a ho-down than something more suitable for the subject and location.

You had some great shots. One thing you might think about if taking a tripod along is hard while trying to collect data is a bean bag. I've been using one for a while now and it really helps getting steady shots when I don't want to carry a lot of gear.

You can even strap it to your camera and press it up against a tree to get rock steady shots. That way you can collect data and shoot one handed up against a tree at the same time. Works very slick.

Loved the shots of the ants carrying the bits of leaves. Beautiful shots. Course, the monkey shots were pretty darn sweet too! :)

Had a good interesting story. You educated me on these guys and I finished the film knowing more about them than I did before and I watch Animal Planet A LOT! :)

You should try recutting the film to some music that would be more in tune with the region and see how it changes the feel of the film.

If you do, post a link for us to compare the two.

Great job again!!
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Old October 25th, 2008, 03:04 AM   #10
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Hi Keith,

Welcome to UWOL!

Your film was fun to watch and I learned something new. Thank you!
The VO was well done, and easy to understand.

Seems like both you and I shot handheld this time. Some shaky shots distracted a bit. Use tripod if you have access to it. Leaning against trees or putting the camera on a rock on the ground can often give you extra support.

Pay attention to what Meryem and Kevin said about the music. Good advices there.

Stay with us, and I look forward to see more of your videos.
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Old October 27th, 2008, 06:47 AM   #11
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Welcome to the UWOL family…

This is a really nice entry from you. Your knowledge about this monkey is really shown in this film. You even got some “action” scene with the teasing and feeding… would they eat the “possum-like” animal?

A thing that I didn’t like was the music… for me it didn’t fit the environment or the story… to much country-music for me.

Over all a nice film

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Old October 27th, 2008, 07:56 AM   #12
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Thanks Markus and everyone else for the comments. Markus: They didn't end up eating that one, but if it was about 2 months younger and they could get it away from its mom they definitely would have eaten it. The animal is in the weasel family; it's called a Coati. They are really cute and it is extremely sad to see them attacked by the monkeys, but thats nature I guess.

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Old October 28th, 2008, 02:33 PM   #13
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Hi Keith,

I am happy to observe that I am not the only first-timer in UWOL Challange.
Your film is really good and has an interesting content.Your VO is easy to understand, even for a Norwegian.
I have gradually become used to jumping and shaky frames on the Norwegian television, compared with that your hand held filming is pretty good.
Much is already said about the music. I think the nature's own sound, as in the beginning of your film, would be the best music for the whole film .

Thanks for an informative and entertaining film with some really great shots.
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Old October 29th, 2008, 12:48 AM   #14
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First I have to say I am a sucker for bluegrass. So anything with a little bluegrass in it goes up a notch in my book. I thought the music was a perfect fit for both the picture and your VO. This was to me the most interesting of the wildlife films on this contest....monkeys are so darn interesting.

This film was very clever because it had the aspects of a good screenplay. We got to know and love these monkeys and then at the end with a change of pacing and mood near the end we feel for the monkeys because of their home being threatened. And the cars barreling down the road made the concept very poignant.

My only very minor critique was the opening title which for some reason didn't quite fit the piece to me...I don’t quite know why yet, but I think a simpler title might have served better.

Great little film it was one of my favorites.

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