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


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Old May 14th, 2009, 10:22 AM   #31
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Hi Chris:

This is an historical documentary extraordinaire. The effort of your research is apparent, and we will all be the beneficiaries of that. Nice narrating. Your beginning and choice of music give the big cinema feel to it. I'm thankful you have chosen the VO over the subtitles ;-). This is a start to a formative piece of work, where after UWOL it could be shown on TV in public broadcasting, or in schools?

Looking forward to seeing some footage of the park itself.

All the best,
Cat
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Old May 14th, 2009, 12:13 PM   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Catherine Russell View Post

The effort of your research is apparent

This is a start to a formative piece of work, where after UWOL it could be shown on TV in public broadcasting, or in schools?

Looking forward to seeing some footage of the park itself.
Cat... thanks for taking a look. Yes I actually have amassed hundred of pages of historical materials and writings (and not surprisingly am finding internal inconsistencies) but have few photographs, and of course almost ZERO actual footage I can use yet.

As I have been working on this, it strikes me that my endeavor could almost be done using stills, which of course is not what the UWOL Challenge is about. This "Placeholder" post was more designed to seek feedback on my handling of stills as it was anything else.

I will spend time this coming trip acquiring some footage within the park, and am pondering ways to incorporate that into and throughout the final project other than in solely the latter sections of the finished work. Obviously though, the main purpose at present is to visit with the Park Archivist and see what is available (and at what cost) for my use in their materials.

As for current filming, the main road through the park is not even plowed as yet and with a late storm may not even be plowed by Memorial day (their unofficial opening date). Winter looses her grip slowly in these parts.

Finally, while my use of HDV would minimize the potential markets for my finished piece, I have envisioned a final use for educational and entertainment purposes - provided I can produce a high enough quality product. Whether I get there or not, my skills have already improved just as a result of the effort. I ran out of time, but had planned to change background pics in the "talking head portion" but doing that piece gave me some chromakeying practice, and also let me experiment with a teleprompter.

Your graphics are magnificent, and I am jealous of your access that is allowing you to get those beautiful shots of the Elk, for example.

Chris
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Old May 14th, 2009, 03:03 PM   #33
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Hi Chris,
I got some odd looks while sat on the tube going through central london tonight watching your film - I was smiling! I'm really encouraged and inspired but the methodolgy and approach you are taking, and your narration really sits well with the visuals and information. I'm fascinated by your story of this wonderful place - looking forward to seeing lots more of it!!!! Good work, keep on this line!
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Old May 15th, 2009, 01:12 AM   #34
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Thank you Rob. I'm glad I could make you smile. Your recounting of watching it in the tube made me once again realize how small our world is these days and how this contest spans continents.

Yes I think I have found the right approach for at least the early part of my film, and will be working on having the early historical part in rough form by the next submission date.

Maybe you can view the next submission in Picadilly Circus?

Chris
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Old May 15th, 2009, 08:59 AM   #35
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You have an impressing natural ease when you talk to the camera.
It is a seldom talent. I think you should utilize this in your final film.

I think your film project will be great in the long format.
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Old May 15th, 2009, 09:25 AM   #36
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I don't seem to be able to get to the vimeo link ? Its says its for private viewing only....strange as others have viewed it ?
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Old May 15th, 2009, 09:49 AM   #37
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Thanks for the heads up Mat.. I've fixed it - should be viewable now.

Finn-Erik: My mother would be happy. Thank you for your kind observation. Like most folks who prefer life behind the camera, I have never felt myself photogenic nor my voice particularly good for VO type work. We are our own worst critics. I do a fair amount of speaking before large groups and my self consciousness disappeared long ago... maybe that is a plus. I'm curious what others think - could my voice serve as a VO for this film, with a little polish?

Last edited by Chris Swanberg; May 15th, 2009 at 10:55 PM.
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Old May 15th, 2009, 05:02 PM   #38
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Well firstly PLEASE tell me you were reading this talking head material from some sort of prompt cards/screen. If not you are a VERY gifted speaker indeed. If you were you are still a very gifted presenter. You are a very calm,confident and erudite speaker and it was a great way of telling us about your plans, decisions and reasoning.

However I have to say when it went to your VO only it lost something. I think most of it was in the recording itself but it did also seem to drop a level in personality. This is worth considering for the next stage. I also have to say that the narration seems to come thick and fast. This is a visual medium and a strong film should be led by the imagery, the VO should support and add to it and not just stream in the background like a book reading. I understand you simply don't have a lot of the footage at the moment but I thought it was worth raising this a critique anyway.

As I said previously, I'm really looking forward to this story and you have ooodles to get across, indeed this filtering of the information is certainly going to be a tricky part of your process.

Great stuff.
Cheers
Mat
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Old May 15th, 2009, 06:08 PM   #39
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Mat - thank you for your assessment, and kind words in the first paragraph. To be honest, I was using some free teleprompter software on my computer, and I had relocated the monitor to the camera position. It's a great litle shareware product called easyprompter:
EasyPrompter - Portable Standalone Version: the best free OFFLINE teleprompter. that I first read about on this site.

I did that intro 4 times, and each time found places where a little ad lib was added. Otherwise that intro was standard interview lighting with a green screen background and captured with a SONY ECM-44 lav mic moleskinned to my chest just out of sight. (Note to self: SHAVE the area where you plan to moleskin ANYTHING to your body before EVER doing something like this again!)

Your comment on the narration is excellent feedback. I was using a studio mic on a stand and had intentionally boosted the bass frequencies for my voice in the mixer )and was also using a tube preamp which furthers emphasises the lower frequencies,) but it ended up feeling/sounding muddy. In addition I was nearing the deadline so more or less wrote and read a script (with my usual ad libs) and then added photos to the timeline to match the VO, then added minor motion effects. I did the reading once, and the hour was growing late. (Note to self, do VO's early in the day when you are fresh).

"More enthusiastic VO with better tonality, timing and tempo" is the note I made for myself based on your comments, which I fully agree with.

That is one of the great values of these periodic showings, the feedback you receive from like minded film makers and the helpful critiques that enable you to alter your product as you go along. Thanks for yours.

Chris
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Old May 15th, 2009, 07:44 PM   #40
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Well done Chris,
This for me was a definate improvement on the ken Burns affect. I loved your VO, you have a great voice, very easy to listen to, & i have to agree, it was an awesome talking head piece that came across as very professional. Now it looks like you have the speed & movement sorted out with the stills, i wonder if some of the transitions could be smoothed out with a cross fade here & there, also, maybe you could try using a still from the opening & blurr it slightly to fill the frame behind the photos. Please understand though, i'm really just thinking out loud, & am wondering if it would work that's all.
Anyway, well done on the 2nd part to your film, i am really looking forward to seeing more now after having seen this latest part.
Regards,
Bryce
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Old May 15th, 2009, 10:42 PM   #41
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Bryce: Thanks for the vote of confidence. As I was putting the stills on the timeline, and stretching them to fill the needed length time-wise and then adding motion, it occurred to be that often they would not fully fill the frame. Your idea is as good as any, but I need to go back and watch some more Ken Burns stuff to see how he handled it.

I was troubled by the transitions too, and never could decide on the best way to do it, fade to black, cross dissolve, etc. Again I will be watching Ken's work with a more critical eye. I hoped that my "technical" audience would comment on the speed. I also need some slow pans acros the stills, but only the last picture here really lent itself to that.

I'm learning and feedback here is an important tool in that maturation process as a film maker. So, thanks... to you and again to everyone else. Also,for those reading this, you don't have to be a contestant or even a film-maker to critique what you see and offer your suggestions! I gratefully accept and consider all.

Chris Swanberg

ps. If you watch the vimeo clip, I suggest you click on the full screen button too, not JUST the HD.
pps. We should all post a short talking head clip just so we have a sense of who our fellow film-maker's are!
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Old May 18th, 2009, 09:32 AM   #42
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Chris, awesome done! I liked it very much.

Your VO is perfectly done to my ears. As a foreigner I picked almost every word on the first play, which I seldom do. Take this as a big compliment, Chris!
If I should be picky - audio level is a bit low. Also there's a change in audio, starting at the Ken Burns visuals. The VO is only in one channel, with soundtrack in the other. I think VO in both channels will be better.

Your chroma keying was perfect made too. But as mention by others, changing backdrops a couple of times or three would have been better as the sequence with the talking head was a bit long to me. Or you could have done some Ken Burns cut-ins for a few seconds.

I like your concept very much, think you have a very nice and interesting piece here. Good luck on your trip out in the wild. Hopefully you'll get the footage your after.
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Old May 18th, 2009, 11:45 AM   #43
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Hi Chris

I am not sure that I can add any more to what others have said here. I agree that you have done a very good job of narrating - you are very easy to listen to - and your handling of the photos is very polished. I am looking forward to seeing how you incorporate them into your film.

It must be pretty frustrating not being able to get out and get into something more concrete as yet but you have at least made good use of the time to do some very thorough research by the sounds of it and that will pay off in the long run I am sure.
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Old May 18th, 2009, 02:52 PM   #44
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Chris,

Not sure what else I can say that hasn't been said already.

I think you should definitely do your narration as your are obviously very good at it. You have a very clear voice and I think you come across very well. A bit more emotion wouldn't go a miss. You have done a lot of research and I look forward to seeing some great footage next time?

Great stuff.
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Old May 18th, 2009, 10:22 PM   #45
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[QUOTE=Chris Swanberg;1143674]...I was using some free teleprompter software on my computer, and I had relocated the monitor to the camera position. It's a great litle shareware product called easyprompter:
EasyPrompter - Portable Standalone Version: the best free OFFLINE teleprompter. that I first read about on this site.

Actually, it's freeware - use it as much as you like. All the features are enabled and there's never any nagging :)
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