UWOL #14 "Hunger"- Mike Sims at DVinfo.net

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Old August 3rd, 2009, 01:58 PM   #1
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UWOL #14 "Hunger"- Mike Sims

No “humor” this time.

I learned a lot making this one. For example, I need more practice lying on my belly in wet leaves macro focusing without getting the camera wet. Also, camera angle changes need to be very much exaggerated in macro compared to normal to avoid jump cuts. This effort owes a great debt of gratitude to Per Johan Naesje. Without having first read his patient and informative posts to these fora concerning camera setup and technique, I wouldn’t have been brave enough to shoot this with a new camera right out of the box. Thank-you Per Johan! I still have much to learn.

The salamander shots would have looked better with a polarizer to reduce the specular highlights. At the time I didn’t have one for that lens. (It arrived in the mail last Friday.) Compressing really made the highlights look blown out.

One of the shots was taken a week earlier with my old SD camera. I was unable to re-shoot it so I uprezzed with the Red Giant plug-in. Did you spot it? It looks much better on the original and seems to have suffered disproportionately in compression for the web. (This is something I’m still struggling with and I would very much welcome a thread where we can all discuss compression.)

The first shot is a still I took with a DSLR. The moon’s color is real, but it was taken when the moon was in a very bright sky. I replaced the sky with black and animated it in After Effects.

The storm in the video occurred the third week of July. It was the first rain at my house since the first week of April. The desert area where I’m working on my long form entry has had more rain this year than we have!

Here is a larger version- 120 Mb:
http://www.hotspot-online.net/Video/...ge14_Large.mp4
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Old August 3rd, 2009, 10:17 PM   #2
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Very good. Never would have realized there were dry conditions. Nice shots, especially closeups. My guess to your question is the bird scene at beginning. Seems to be stressed somewhat, for lack of a better term.
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Old August 4th, 2009, 08:57 AM   #3
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Mike
Getting down and in close to your subject certainly give the viewer a worms eye view.
I love those types of shots
I think your Salamander grabbed his lunch from the rear ☺

The earthworm certainly feeds a huge number of creatures.
I read that in some States they are endangered, and the main enemy is man, mostly caused by pollution.
I liked the short, a bit like a sequence from a bigger film.
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Old August 4th, 2009, 12:31 PM   #4
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Hi Mike.
What a great salamander video.
I do like the clip of the yellow bird too, but it somehow doesn’t make sense in this short (?).
Pans and close-ups together, is almost an impossible task.
But sometimes we just have to use those shaky pans and tilts.
Looking at wildlife programs on Discovery and Animal Planet,
there a lots of shaky tilts and pans. Loved the close up and the eating scene very much.
I wonder how big the salamander is.
One more question, is the soundtrack (background audio) from location or foley?

All the best.
Geir Inge
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Old August 4th, 2009, 01:16 PM   #5
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holy cow, what dramatic footage!

highlights seem a little blown in some of the close-ups, and I agree with Geir that the 2nd shot of the bird seems like a weak opening - doesn't quite fit, and the colors seem off.

but that was great. i always enjoy learning stuff from this contest...
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Old August 4th, 2009, 08:45 PM   #6
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Mike,

What a great video. You really captured some fascinating footage. As the salamander approached the worm all I could think of was: "run, worm, run" But, alas, worms don't seem to run very well.

Your script and narration were excellent.

The only criticisms I have are the bird sequence did seem a bit out of place. I did not care to much for the opening title font with the flames. But overall this video really kept my attention.

rich
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Old August 4th, 2009, 08:54 PM   #7
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Thanks everyone for the comments. I find them very helpful.

Chris- The leaves were wet but ¼ inch down it was dust dry. Your guess was right . The SD clip was the bird. “Stressed somewhat” is a kindness, I would have used a stronger term.

Ron- Thanks for the kind words. Besides pesticide pollution one of the main things threatening earthworms in our area is introduction of exotic worms. The problem is primarily with one native to the Canadian prairies that is used widely as fish bait. (Texas fishermen are notorious litterbugs.) They’ve become established in many areas and seem to be out competing native worms- especially the ones they are closely related to.

Geir Inge- The yellow and black bird is a golden-cheeked warbler. It is the only bird that only nests in Texas and nowhere else. It’s on the endangered species list. The jerky pan is because my tripod head isn’t up to the job. I won’t be able to upgrade for a while. This salamander is 25 cm long. That’s a little larger than average for this species, but no where near the record 33 cm. The sound track has three layers. Voice-over, ambient, and foley. The ambient was recorded just after the rain passed and the birds you hear are white-winged doves, great-tailed grackles, and eurasian starlings. The location sound was unusable because of camera and tripod noise and sounds of me rolling around in the leaves. I tried to be a little more subtle with the foley mix this time.

Meryem- The struggle with the worm went on for eight minutes and you didn’t see the best part because I muffed the shot. A couple of times the worm got a purchase on the ground and started pulling itself out of the salamander’s mouth. The sally would shake his head side to side like a terrier to dislodge the worm and then go back to swallowing. Salamander skin is a shiny surface. I underexposed as much as I dared but there were still some blown out spots. Compressing made them much worse. I used the bird shot to bridge between the opening remarks about the theme and as an establishing shot for the location of the rest that followed. (Too bad it distracted instead.) I also wanted to see what y’all thought of uprezzed footage. Just part of the learning process, and as you say- that’s why we’re all here…
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Old August 4th, 2009, 08:59 PM   #8
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Thanks Rich. Sorry you didn’t like the “burning hunger”. I was just experimenting with a technique I had read about but never tried.
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Old August 5th, 2009, 04:48 AM   #9
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Mike,

What a great character the tiger salamander is and you have formed a really nice sequence. I agree with the others that the warbler shot was out of place. But the moon looked fabulous and the clouds/lightning definitely added to the feel of the piece.

I liked the way he winked at the end too.

Good stuff.

Mihali
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Old August 5th, 2009, 10:52 AM   #10
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Mihali- Thanks for the nice comments. I’m sure I shouldn’t have used that bird clip, but I still think that some establishing shot was needed there. Otherwise one might think that the salamander sequence took place on the moon! (A friend that saw the raw footage told me that he thinks salamanders are aliens. Perhaps he’s on to something!) I couldn’t go much wider at the burrow because there is a park trail sign very close by. You never know where these internet videos might wind up and someone might have recognized it. I’m trying to keep the salamander’s location a secret. I don’t want anyone to abduct him.
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Old August 5th, 2009, 02:32 PM   #11
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Hi Mike,

Thank you for a very interesting film.
I enjoyed, and it's always nice to learn something new.

To me, it's good to see you dare to experiment a little with the opening title instead of only follow the "standard" whatever that might be.
I did some similar experimenting in a previous round and got some negative critic for it as well, but I like what you did here.
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Old August 5th, 2009, 08:11 PM   #12
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Thanks Trond. I think that the ability to experiment and then get feedback on it is what makes UWOL such a powerful learning tool. That it generates so many amazing videos is really a wonderful bonus.
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Old August 6th, 2009, 02:47 PM   #13
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I like your video. The animated moon is a good idea. Maybe I will “steal” it.
Switching between the worm and the salamander before the meal is very well done.
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Old August 6th, 2009, 03:03 PM   #14
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Finn-Erik, thank-you for the nice comment. I’m glad you liked the moon animation. Please do give it a try. For a different effect try putting another layer on top with tree branches or a hill for the moon to go behind. Make them very dark grey- or not quite so black as the sky.
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Old August 7th, 2009, 09:57 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Sims View Post
This effort owes a great debt of gratitude to Per Johan Naesje. Without having first read his patient and informative posts to these fora concerning camera setup and technique, I wouldn’t have been brave enough to shoot this with a new camera right out of the box. Thank-you Per Johan! I still have much to learn.
Mike, thanks so much for your nice comment! I´m flushing all over :-)

I´m very impressed by your entry! You are one of my top films for this round!

Second what others already commented, your ambient and foley soundtrack was VERY VERY nice done!
What kind of lens did you use on the macro work? I think you´re using a XL1s as camcorder, right?

The only thing which didn´t fit in was the bird in the beginning, as many other also have commented.

Looking very much forward to your next films, Mike!
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