UWOL #13 - "Order on a Giant Scale" - Mike Beckett at DVinfo.net

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Old May 26th, 2009, 11:57 AM   #1
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UWOL #13 - "Order on a Giant Scale" - Mike Beckett

What, don't you believe in giants?

My little video is about the Giant's Causeway, a unique geological wonder on the Northern Irish coastline. It consists of thousands of regular, hexagonal (and some octagonal and other-agonal) rocks, which really look like they are man-made.

That was the "order" I was trying to portray - how magnificent that nature can create something so regular and ordered.

There is a legend that it was all made by a giant, Finn MacCool, but until they find his bones I'll just not believe it.

I also aimed to contrast the order with the chaos of wildlife; last time I visited I went right along the cliffs (away from all the public) and there were thousands of sea birds on the cliffs. Not this time though; there were very few birds in the section I walked. Maybe it's not quite the right season, or they have moved away due to over-fishing by man.

My plans to revisit were scuppered by the weather, there was only one good weekend day for filming in the whole three weeks. So I had to make do with the footage I had, and try to spin something out of it.

It's quite hard to video a place like this, which can be really busy with tourists at times. I managed to get there early enough to avoid the crowds, though I did gather small huddles of men (It's always men) fascinated with what I was doing. ("He's got a furry microphone, he must be from the BBC." "Not with a hat like that." "Just look how sunburnt his arms are.")

Also, due to time pressures, I didn't get to do a lot of colour-correction or anything like that, just a few simple corrections here and there. I think I got the exposure and framing a lot better this time round, compared to my earlier wildlife efforts.

I got some bird shots that I managed to use. Some of these were shaky and had to be rescued with proDad Mercalli and VirtualDub Deshaker. They're not brilliant, but they could've been a heck of a lot worse. Birds shown are: Pied Wagtail (how exotic!), Rock Pippit, Herring Gull and Fulmar.

I had a few problems with the encoding, I'll admit I'm a Windows guy and I can't seem to get the .mov files compressed down to a perfect size and quality. This is noticeable on some of the pans and tilts, and some of the cross-fades.

UWOL download: http://www.uwolchallenge.com/challen...giantscale.mov

WMV download (slightly better quality, I think): http://www.mikeb.org.uk/uwol/03_UC13...giantscale.wmv

Wikipedia page for the Giant's Causeway: Giant's Causeway - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Both are around 45MB. I may try to encode a higher quality/slightly larger WMV later if I get the time.

So, please be gentle with me!
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Old May 26th, 2009, 02:42 PM   #2
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What an interesting spot... I had never seen anything like that before.. wow. Great stuff.

On my monitor, film could have had a bit more saturation, I think.
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Old May 26th, 2009, 03:08 PM   #3
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Mike, a very interesting piece! As Chris, I've never seen rocks like that before.
You had some interesting sequences there too, the pull focus at 01:08 was very well done!
Very good editing phase and your narrating is very good and easy to understand.

Very well done!
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Old May 26th, 2009, 03:41 PM   #4
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Thanks guys!

I actually worked on the saturation before I encoded... then I encoded to both WMV and MOV and the saturation went away again. The picture was much richer, and warmer before that. As an example, there was a little girl in a darak pink jacket in one of the "people" shots, and it went all washed out and white after encoding.

Unfortunately there isn't a "don't mess with my colors" tick box in the PP CS3 encoder!
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Old May 26th, 2009, 04:48 PM   #5
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Re: Saturation: I kind of steer a way from Window Video files these days because of that. I also had a similar problem with Vegas to Quick Time. I think Quicktime fixed something cause the .mov files now come out well. Most recently, using mp4 encoding has been more satisfying.
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Old May 26th, 2009, 05:33 PM   #6
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Mike,

Really an interersting piece to watch. the area reminds me of the Post Piles in California.

Some very nice shots, First rate.

Very enjoyable and the clear naration really accented your imagery.

Great entry!!
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Old May 26th, 2009, 05:46 PM   #7
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Mike,

Nice! I particularly like the fact that I learned something interesting.
Great subject and nice camera work.

And very nice narration. Very clear and easy to understand. Plus you sounded very comfortable with the subject.

Bob
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Old May 26th, 2009, 07:37 PM   #8
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excellent, I always love learning a bit about other places. very interesting.

i liked how you used the shallow DOF to add some shot variety.

you have a nice voice.

and it's a unique take on the theme as well....
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Old May 27th, 2009, 03:16 AM   #9
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Thanks everyone for the kind words.

Chris - I didn't try MP4. I think I will give that a go and see how it works out.

It's a bit frustrating having to use SD instead of HD for editing. I think a computer upgrade is going to happen soon!

Meryem: aw gee, you know how to make a guy blush. I was using my best telephone voice (the one I use when talking to US customers on the phone), my everyday accent probably wouldn't be as clear!
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Old May 27th, 2009, 02:04 PM   #10
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Hi Mike,

This was entertaining to watch, and I learned something new. Thank you!
True order, that's for sure.
Nice how you play with the DOF.

Well done!
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Old May 28th, 2009, 11:27 AM   #11
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Mike,
I donít think youíll find Fion mac Cumhaillís bones. I heard heís sleeping one off in a cave beneath a pub in Dublin and that when he awakes heíll reunite all the Irish folk in the world (what a party that will be!). I have seen the causeway before on various television programs, mostly the Scottish side, I think, with Fingolís Cave. I think your video holds up extremely well against those commercial productions. It was a good choice for the theme. The first ten years I shot video I donít think I ever pointed the camera at anything but a bird. Now that I shoot other stuff, I have come to appreciate what truly difficult subjects they are. By the way, that wagtail is VERY exotic in Texas! I enjoyed seeing it. You put together a nice sequence following itís movements. Keep up the good work!
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Old May 28th, 2009, 01:14 PM   #12
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Mike,

Thanks for the kind words! I actually found it incredibly challenging not having a thousand birds to point my camera at! That made it quite tough, but in a way I'm glad, it's not called a challenge for nothing.

The Giant legend is great, for children both young and old. I overheard a little girl asking the question of her dad: "Daddy, did the giant really wear that boot?"

Wonderful!
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Old May 30th, 2009, 04:41 AM   #13
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Mike,
You have made an interesting video.
I came recently home from a journey in Scotland.
There I observed some interesting basalt formations.
But, what you show is even more monumental and impressing.
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Old May 30th, 2009, 12:39 PM   #14
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Mike,

Really enjoyed your film. I think you and Marj should swap some footage. Your basalt columns and her honeycombs would compliment each other. :)

Very well told story. I enjoyed watching it and learned something new at the same time.

Well shot, well paced and solid narration. Good job on the rack focus shots.
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Old June 1st, 2009, 03:39 AM   #15
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Thanks for the comments, guys.

I used to do the rack focus shots with the shot transition feature on my Sony, but this time I got brave and did them manually with the focus ring. The peaking feature is a great help with this, as was a new, solid, tripod.

Despite all the bad things you hear about the Sony V1 with its 1/4" CMOS chips, I managed to get some brilliant depth of field, helped by the extra screw-on ND filter.

UWOL is always a learning experience!
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