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The UWOL Challenge
An organized competition for Under Water, Over Land videographers!


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Old May 31st, 2009, 01:47 PM   #31
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Jeff- The pocket gopher footage was just a whole lot of luck and a little bit of sacrifice. I awoke that morning to find him working at his burrow entrance about a foot outside the door of my tent. Of course, I was in the tent and the cameras were locked in my car. I used my pocket knife to cut a slit in the back of the tent and crawled out and circled wide around. The car was still packed for the highway and the only camera I could get to without making a lot of noise was the little one-chip Sony. The car was only about a dozen feet away from the tent. I spent a very frantic couple of minutes getting to a blank tape. When I returned he was still there. I got about 20 minutes hand held out the front flap. Range from glass to nose was about two feet.
Iím just lucky that the girl fired her flash while she was in frame or Iíd have had two bad spots to cover. I hope she got her shot.

Steve- Next time youíre in Texas be sure to give me a holler. That goes for all of you! Carolyn is an old birding buddy. The snake clip in my first round video was shot a stoneís throw from her Christmas Mountains oasis. Iím not allowed to tell anyone where to find the owls, but thereís nothing preventing me from giving directions to ďa good spot to watch birdsĒ (wink).
I desaturated the flycatcher until the background looked terrible. I shouldnít have used it. Itís my only clip from this year. I mostly put it in out of nostalgia. Ghost in the machine. That was the bird that got me started watching birds when I was a boy. Forty some odd years later and Iím still at it.
You have a good ear. Thatís a Cassinís. Itís just about the only audio Iíve had a chance to get this year. I used it as a continuity track, but while it made sense in the first round where everything is supposedly taking place at the same location, the shots from the second round were so obviously at different locations that it bothered many. I donít yet have video of the bird from this year. I need to get busy recording audio. As Marj said, the ambient sound beds need to be multilayered.
Not sure about that deer ear problem. I could have sworn that was shot as progressive. Iíll have a go at it as soon as I get a chance. Thanks.
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Old July 19th, 2009, 10:52 AM   #32
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Thank goodness the monsoon has finally arrived. With the rain and lower temps the desert should be greening up. Many animals in the area time their reproduction to this ďfifth seasonĒ since there is generally more rain in late summer than in spring. Now if I can just clear up a few things around here (like UWOL #14) and get out there!
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Old July 23rd, 2009, 08:05 AM   #33
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Hi Mike.
I think your on to a great and spectacular documentary film.
All those species, I envy you.
I fell off a bit, trying to keep up with your org plan. I miss the connection to the turkey, but maybe it'll all come to sense in the final version.
Keep up the good work.

All the best
Geir Inge
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Old August 11th, 2009, 06:20 PM   #34
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Hereís my Round 3 submission. Itís a bit closer to a final version, or at least, it gives an idea what Iím shooting for. Some of the shots are poor but theyíre all Iíve managed to get. Some I can re-shoot, others no way. Iíll need to give some thought to how to re-edit without them. Once again the audio is all added in post. When I compressed it messed up my audio mix again. The VO is too loud in the mix.

Larger version:
http://hotspot-online.net/Video/Over...ain_Round3.mp4
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Old August 11th, 2009, 07:44 PM   #35
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Mike,
This section is really good, especially the rock steady owl footage. I would guess that video of fledgling Mexican Spotted Owls is rather rare. Also I would love to see more of the absolutely spectacular scenery of your chosen area. The purples are gorgeous.
One suggestion is that your highlights tend to burn when shooting in sunlight. You might try to shoot a little darker, which would also intensify the colors some.
What was the bird giving that double-note whistle during the owl scenes?
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Old August 12th, 2009, 05:02 AM   #36
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Hi Mike.
I think your nr 3 video is fine.
Loved the shot of the owl, very good.
Isn't difficult to shoot/follow the action when things suddenly happens?
Like when the owl is catching the mouse, it's hard to focus and follow the action, eh?
I think you shall keep a bit of the action scene, is it in slow motion? If not, maybe you should make this particular scene in slow motion?
Maybe the average viewer won't pay attention to these things, but I have seen some norwegian owls and they don't make wing flapping sound when they fly. That's why their so good at hunting, their flight is almost complete silence. Just an idea, but what about changing the wing flapping to something more like a short/momantary windy sound?
Well done Mike, cant wait to see the final version.

All the best.
Geir Inge

PS
Is it possible to short'n the size of your file?
420 MB is almost too big for downloading at this stage in the contest.
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Last edited by Geir Inge; August 12th, 2009 at 05:06 AM. Reason: file size
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Old August 12th, 2009, 09:01 PM   #37
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Steve- There are so few Mexican Spotted Owls in the country I guess footage of them is unusual. Iím going to be shooting more wide shots of the mountains next week. Iíll try processing the shots with the blown out backlight with a luminance trash matte and maybe replace the highlights with a blue sky shot. Weíll see.

Geir Inge- That shot was tough. I was out of breath and my hands were shaking because I had just sprinted up the mountain, the tripod was still on my back, and then the bird pounced right in front of me (3 meters) and flew to 25 meters. To make matters worse there is a big (half the frame missing) dropout towards the end of the shot were I was finally in focus. That is why there is a cut away in the wrong place. I hadnít thought of slowing it down. Thanks, Iíll give it a try.
I was wondering if anyone would mention the wing flaps. You are correct. Owls have a specialization where the feathers on the front edge of their wings have no barbs. It makes their wing beats almost silent. The sound is from a captive hawk recorded in a large quiet room. I had turned the volume down so they could barely be heard but somehow they came out way too loud!

The contest file on the UWOL server is 170 mb, but Iíll try to get a smaller ďlargeĒ file up soon.

Thanks for the encouragement guys.
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Old August 14th, 2009, 05:04 PM   #38
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As promised, here is a smaller(248mb) large file. I didnít fix anything, merely recompress.
http://www.hotspot-online.net/Video/...in_Round3b.mp4
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Old August 15th, 2009, 07:59 AM   #39
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Mike,

Here you have good footage for your long form video.
I like the hummingbird in different angels and situations. Some of the owl shots are impressing.
Maybe you can darken some shots a bit, in the mid and lower range, to get some higher contrast?
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Old August 16th, 2009, 06:37 AM   #40
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Thanks Finn-Erik. Thatís a good suggestion. Iíll give it a try when I get back from the desert.
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Old August 17th, 2009, 03:41 PM   #41
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Wow Mike:

This is really coming together. Out of all the films, this is the most true to form nature film. I am impressed with the hunting owl footage, what a catch! And the hummingbird close ups in the wild is exceptional. Nicely done. I look forward to the next submission to find out just what that Turkey Vulture is up to.

All the best! You live in spectacular and rugged wild country where I know you must have lots of patience to uncover its secrets on film.

Cat
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Old August 25th, 2009, 01:14 PM   #42
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Mike,


You have some nice footage of the spotted owl and its chicks. Was the wing noise what actually was recorded?? I loved the humingbird and the audio of its wings!!!

You have some neat footage. Have you tried shooting the scenery shots shortly after dawn? Would be great if you could elevate the colors a tad!

A short piece of the footage was probably a little to shakey.


you win, I now want to see the other side of the mountain!
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Old September 12th, 2009, 12:18 PM   #43
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Hi Mike
You have some amazing shots of so many species in your three submissions and I really like the way you have edited them together. There is a real sense of these animals interacting with each other.
Your narration is easy to listen to and your sound effects are effective. While Steve appreciates the it, I still find the single bird call repeated endlessly rather distracting. Geir has already mentioned the wing beats you added for the owl.
Have you filmed your Turkey Vulture POVís yet?
I am interested to find out how you are going to construct all of this together into a story - looks very promising - I can see you are well on your way to making a fantastic film here and I am really looking forward to seeing the next installment!
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Old September 14th, 2009, 08:22 PM   #44
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Cat- Thanks for the encouragement. I guess Iím old fashioned, thatís the kind of program I most like to watch.

Dale- All of the audio was added in post. Itís really difficult to catch the ďgolden hourĒ out there. The land is all mountains with desert basins in between. Thereís hardly any flat horizon. By the time the sun rises over the intervening mountains itís already too high in the sky.

Marj- Thanks for your comments. I value them. I spent a good amount of time on this past trip recording ambient sound so I hope to do better on that next time. Iíve also been working on the TV POV. I have experimented with balloon aerial video (referred to elsewhere in these fora as ďthe purest form of insanityĒ). It actually works- with some limitations. It takes four hands to launch and requires dead calm. The only time Iíve been able to get to the desert with a helper the wind blew constantly. I donít yet have any BAV from the area and donít know if Iíll have a chance before deadline. One of the other techniques I mentioned (polecam) is showing promise though and I hope to have a clip up for comment soon. Iíll also put up a web page about the BAV with photos of the picavey rig when I get the time.
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Old October 13th, 2009, 08:29 AM   #45
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Round 4

Get out your best roadrunner-coyote jokes, here comes Round 4. Beep Beep.

First, apologies to those expecting a resolution of the Round 3 cliffhanger. Next time! I had planned to show you another sequence this time, but changed at the last minute. I now have a rough edit of all but the last two segments (very rough in places). I donít have them blocked out yet because Iím missing two crucial shots. One is a ďmoney shotĒ that I envisioned from day one of this project. So far, between scheduling and just lack of good luck in the field, Iíve not managed them. I am still trying. Iíve decided to start working on an alternative ending in the event I canít get the shots. The segment I was going to show will need to be re-edited to accommodate this new ending.

This segment gives a better idea of what Iím trying to do than what Iíve shown so far. It still needs much work. For example, the ambient track is way too loud in places- especially where the curve-billed thrasher is imitating the flycatcher and suddenly throws itís voice right at the microphone. If you turn up the volume in the beginning to hear the foley sounds be careful in the last half! Instead of working on this now, Iíve decided to send it up, as is, in hopes of coming up with a short form 15 entry. Some shots are pretty poor. In order to tell the story Iím having to use material I normally wouldnít. I view many shots as placeholders for better material that I have, but which is outside of the purview of the challenge. Theyíll be replaced later.

Take a look at the vulture POV clip. Itís not exactly what I envisioned, but itís the best Iíve come up with so far. I know some will be disappointed. What Iíd really like to know is whether you think it works, as intended, to convey the idea that the turkey vulture is flying over, and possibly observing, the events which follow.

I just got some new compression software. Here is a full size file for the supermen, and a contest size file for us mere mortals. All my attempts, so far, to produce an intermediate size have been miserable failures!

I look forward to watching all of your Round 4 entries. I will begin commenting on them as soon as I have either uploaded a UWOL 15 file or admitted defeat therewith. Thanks in advance for all your helpful comments.

Small 29MB:
http://www.hotspot-online.net/Video/...und4_small.mp4

Large 153MB:
http://www.hotspot-online.net/Video/...und4_large.mp4
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