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


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Old December 7th, 2009, 02:50 PM   #76
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Finn-Erik,
Your film was very atmospheric and the island felt similar in many ways to summers I have spent on the coast of Denmark, so I felt very "at home" from the start! The storyline, framing and capture of nature was excellent throughout, with some great relaxed and precise camerawork and a wonderful feel for framing - the open garage with the tractor in particular really holds in my mind! I thought the research and subsequent telling of history was done with confidence and excellent narration from you both, and as others have said, the use of two voices added to a sensation of you discovering the place as a team - which worked well for me. I personally would have liked to have seen a little more of winter, the section felt a little rushed.Great storytelling on the story of the oil spill.
The photos at the end were great, but I kind of feel I wanted a little bit more of an ending, perhaps a summary or a few words about the islands past, present and it's future. But that would only make a very good product that little bit better.
The guitar music was wonderful throughout too, very appropriate and it ran almost like a metronome, setting the pace for the sections.

Note to self: must go back to Norway - soon!!!

Wonderful stuff!
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Old December 7th, 2009, 03:04 PM   #77
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Cat,
After watching this i just pulled out some of your old UWOL entries. Your skill at using AE has really come on so much in the last few years, and you should feel really proud - the intro sequence with map anims and the whole book effect is simply wonderful, not just professional in it's composition but also seamlessly in time with the V/O, which I must add was also warm, enthusiastic, well practised ( well, sounded it ;-) ) and well researched. It's an amazing educational tool at the same time as being really interesting and watchable. Your footage throughout was great too, I can imagine a lot of it must have resulted from a good few hour's hiking!! You have a wonderful playground and I feel as if I have been given a great insight into it. I hope this goes on to find a wide audience, it does deserve it!!
Well done :-)
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Old December 7th, 2009, 03:35 PM   #78
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Thanks for the feedback all,
Meeting the NT again next week, they have a few things they would like modded a little ( mainly down to me not paying enough attention when recording my facts!!) but they seem really happy with it, maybe I'll have to organise a launch party :-)

Steve, the comment about Gilbert White - thanks, that's really touched me. One thing that has really been reinforced this year for me is the aspect that everything in nature has behaviour, cycles and patterns, and it's only by taking time, observing and then thinking about what you're seeing that you really start to see the world in it's true glory. It's sometimes too easy to forget this when you leave the country to work in a conrete box in the city every day...

Cat, Cliveden actually has some really strong American tie-ins, from the Astor Family who owned the place for the first half of the 20th C, to the fact that it was a foreign campus for Stanford university in the 70's ( what a campus!!!) In fact I was speaking to a guy the other night who lived there for a while with his Californian G/F - but that's a story for another time!! It is a very special place.

Marj, glad you liked it! Birds. Yes. Birds. Must do better next time.
I only acquired by xlh1 with a decent Zoom in June, so a bit too late for the breeding season really, which was a big shame. The woodlands are also pretty tough for birdwatching due to the high overstory. Wanted to do a piece on woodpeckers or Jays, but never had much luck in the time allotted!!!! But yes, there are a lot of bird species living at cliveden, including most raptors and some fairly uncommon species - maybe next year :-) The audio was my bugbear. I think London Heathrow is the 2nd busiest airport in the world and most of the flights go over Cliveden at about 10,000 feet, so 75% of the time the audio is useless. But i did manage to scratch bits together here and there - should have gone somewhere else really ( erm which I think someone did actually suggest! oh well)
Funnily enough the mushroom sequnece was almost an afterthought that required the least preparation and shooting time - funny how things work out!
No need for the sunglasses, I've gone for a red cape and some spandex tights !!!

Bob, I never knew that PBS had done a series on NT, I'll have to track it down!
I did use a glidetrack for some of the earlier sequences, and a jib for the bluebells, and also a 35mm adapter for some of the early + roundgarden stuff. As the year wore on, I realised that I had to cover a lot more ground on foot so opted for the xlh1, which didn't leave much space for the other bits. I think i need an assitant/best boy/sound guy all rolled into one!!!

As a few others have said, I can't imagine where you would start to judge all of these, so good luck to whoever is brave enough to step up!!!

Cheers,

Rob
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Old December 8th, 2009, 03:20 PM   #79
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Mike. Fasinating. I watched your video last night and it was great. The concept of following the buzzard "over the mountain" was very interesting concept. I loved the way you went through the different eco-zones. You sure got a lot of different wildlife out there. I did not know the white tail deer was that far west. I lived in colorado and Idaho for many years and never got to see a mountain lion. Were they captive? Your narration was clean and clear, but your natural sounds were outstanding. Even down to the sound of the spider feeding on the other insect, and the beating of the hummers wings. If it is true that video is 90 percent audio then you really proved the point. My two comments are, I think you could have done away with the buzzards head in a few shots and just had gone with a buzzard flying. Also, the last scene of the buzzards feeding. Since you did not use music anywher else it was a bit distracting, and the scene may be cut down just a bit. Other than that, it was a really great video and an educational one also. Question, why did she leave her home and fly over the mountain? Is that normal? Bob
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Old December 9th, 2009, 06:35 AM   #80
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Steve,

Your video is fantastic, and so interesting to watch! You told me a lot about all those different birds. Thank you! I enjoyed watching it.

I really like the opening shots, the magnificent colors, and the sky reflecting from the glass building. And same with the end. So great colors of the sky.

The sequence with the falcons hunting was awesome. I didn't know they were flying so low, like just above the vegetation.
Your voice over is calm and easy to understand. Together with well chosen music, it fits the video real good.

In my opinion this is more than good enough to be aired on tv.
You should try to sell it if you haven't done it yet.

Haven't watched all the long form videos yet, but the judge will have a tough job. :)
So many good videos.
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Old December 10th, 2009, 08:32 AM   #81
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Hi Rob:

Thank you for taking the time to watch my film, and adding the encouraging comment. I really appreciate that!

Hi Meryem:

Staying warm? Do you have a time estimate for the judging for the final round? Has it already happened and I'm missing something?

Looking forward to a warm up in the next couple of days...my toes will never be the same!

Cat
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Old December 10th, 2009, 05:04 PM   #82
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no, no time frame on the judging right now. the judge that I had lined up backed out, which happens occasionally. so I'm a little back to the drawing board. which is tough because it is not an easy time of year to find people with time to spare. but i'm working on a new plan. i will let you know when i get it figured out.

by all means, though, send me your address and t-shirt size prefs (L or XL), and i'll get those going...

Last edited by Meryem Ersoz; December 11th, 2009 at 08:12 AM.
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Old December 11th, 2009, 03:19 PM   #83
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Well we may all be in for a bit of a wait. In the mean time I want to thank each of you that stuck it out and crossed the finish line. No, let me just thank all of you UWOLer's for taking us to such magical places. We have traveled from a Norwegian village to an English garden, We flew over the mountains in Texas, migrated across the continant with huge flocks of birds, hunted the hard way in Canada, we read a book in Colorado while from South Africa we learned about the mathamatics of nature' s design. I have truely enjoyed this challenge. Bob

Last edited by Bob Safay; December 12th, 2009 at 09:05 AM.
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Old December 12th, 2009, 08:30 AM   #84
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Nicely said, Bob!

Cheers to great experiences and magical places.

Cat

Now, if only my ankle weren't still swollen ;-)
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Old December 12th, 2009, 11:06 AM   #85
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A note on the judging - I'm having a bit of trouble just getting through the first round. The short form has a theme that helps to set the criteria for evaluation. Without that, it becomes a very "apples to oranges" judging scenario. There is no objective criteria like a theme, so just wading through the first round already feels too subjective to me. Things have to happen a bit differently on the judging side, than they do for short form - another thing I didn't anticipate one year ago, but need to react to, in the moment.

Because of this, I'm enlisting Kevin and Mat to help me just get through the first round. I've never invited them into the judging process before, because they are so often players of the game, so we don't ever, ever discuss things like themes or judging while the games are underway. We limit our conversations to the technical aspects, design issues - that sort of thing. They also help me to talk through some of the issues with the contest as they arise, but only retroactively, after the contest closes, and we try to pull those suggestions forward, into subsequent rounds.

But to keep this as fair as possible, as part of going back to the drawing board to find a judge, I'm also going to invite them into the initial judging process, to form a committee that ensures a higher degree of fairness to the process.

Trying to be as fair as possible with the process, but finding this process much more difficult and complicated than short-form judging--

You guys probably just want to know the winner, but I feel that I have to open up the process a bit more, in this instance. Thanks for your patience.
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Old December 12th, 2009, 12:18 PM   #86
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One other thought that I had - with short form, we know the audience - each other. With this challenge, the audience suddenly broadens. The world, yes, but who specifically in the world.

It might help (not only for judging purposes, but also for yourselves, for your own project) if each one of you posted here a short paragraph defining your target audience for your project -- "other UWOLers" is, of course, a viable target audience, but I know that some of you edited and produced with a theoretical audience in your head (and, in fact, that is something that you should always always do!)...it might help in the evaluation process to know how each of you conceive of and differentiate your audience...
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Old December 12th, 2009, 03:05 PM   #87
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Meryem,
Tanks for the information. I think you have made a good choice. Kevin and Mat have achieved respect as great video-makers in UWOL for years.

Stråholmen:
I had a theoretical audience in my mind for this project. The NRK (the Norwegian Broadcasting) has a program called "ut i naturen" (out into the nature). This program is running once a week and has the allotted length of 25 minutes.
The video has to be a bit shorter than 25 minutes. Some more information and credits have to be added at the end. I have no appointment with NRK. It is my own goal to stretch for.

The audience is Norwegian and the narrating has to be in Norwegian.
Strong requests from UWOLers is the only reason for the English voice over in the final UWOL version. The Norwegian narrating will differ a bit at some places, because of "my" audience's more local affiliation to the area.

I also have some further plans for the video, but the above aim is what I had in my mind from start to end.
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Old December 12th, 2009, 04:19 PM   #88
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Meryem- It took us a year to make these things. I don’t care if it takes a year for judging. I’m sure no one would want a rush to judgment. It’s mostly a learning exercise for me anyway. I judge that my last project was a success because this one is better. I won’t judge that this project is a success until and unless the next project is better still.

As to target audience- everything I have produced to date has been targeted for a specific and narrow audience. This project was an attempt to produce for a much broader general audience. As such, I set an additional set of “rules” for myself from day one. I always intended it to be exactly 42 minutes long with a one minute teaser intro and a structure with obvious places for commercial breaks, in other words, one of the several models for an hour long broadcast program in North America. (I do not and have never harbored the illusion that it is worthy of broadcast.) I will not go so far as to say that the science is “dummied-down” , however several things are certainly simplifications. For example, while the major premise is certainly possible and plausible, it is in no way typical. Turkey Vultures don’t form flocks but they may form associations. Within a certain area or group of birds some may be somewhat sedentary while others are seasonally migratory. Some birds only become migratory when ecological conditions dictate and are otherwise sedentary. The fine points of this become subsumed by the needs of telling the general purpose story. It remains a “natural history fairy tale”. My hope was that some might watch this that would not watch the same material presented as “A Catalogue of Chihuahuan Desert Habitats with Notes on the Natural History of the Turkey Vulture”.

In critique a couple of questions were raised that I think may be better answered in a larger context here. The “feeding frenzy” sequence at the end is over a minute too long. This extra footage was a convenient way for me to maintain my 42 minute goal and act as a place holder for missing footage. The missing footage consists of both shots I was unable to get (yet) and older shots I have but couldn’t use for the challenge.

In this day-and-age of full disclosure in natural history programming I had intended to have material concerning captive animals in the credits. In the rush to meet the deadline I managed to omit this. I offer this now in the spirit of full disclosure. With regards to the mountain lion footage, the first two shots were of wild animals. Indeed they may very well be the same animal as they were recorded about 60 yards and five weeks apart. The next clip is 3D animation. The following clip is of a wild animal that was radio collared by a colleague that allowed me to tag along on one of his tracking ventures. It is shown in silhouette both because it fits with the story and to disguise the fact that it is wearing a collar. The remaining shots are of captive animals that are currently with a wildlife rehabilitator. They were rescued as kittens after their mother was struck and killed by a vehicle. They have been raised with minimum human intervention and are scheduled to be released next year. At the time of filming they were 14 months old. Similarly, the close ups of the coyotes were shot at a small local zoo.

Last edited by Mike Sims; December 12th, 2009 at 04:34 PM. Reason: omitted word
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Old December 12th, 2009, 09:41 PM   #89
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Thank you Meryem, Kevin and Mat

The intended audience for my project was strictly the UWOL community. My book theme relies heavily on this point of view as seen with the UWOL book press release, the dedication of the book to the UWOL community and the thank you to Meryem Ersoz and the UWOL community in the credits. I tried to have the film compliment the spirit of UWOL with its emphasis on nature, wildlife and the great outdoors.

My intention was to see how it fared in this contest. My thoughts were that if it was well received here in this community, with continued work into next year, I might broaden it to a wider audience. I have some ideas about this possibility that I won't mention here. It's just too premature to state dreams and aspirations when I have no idea if it will even make a first cut.

Thanks for the effort you are putting into the judging of these films. It turns out that a year's work is no trivial matter (whether one finished or not) and you honor us by sorting this out the very best way you can.

Regards,

Cat
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Old December 13th, 2009, 08:14 AM   #90
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Meryem, First off, thanks again for all your hard work on this. I do not envy your position. Like the others my intended audience was the UWOL community. However, I ended up sending copies to people I met on my trip. I guess you could say my intended audience would be people that are interested in Adventure Travel, going off the beaten path with the intent of seeing and photographing wildlife in out of the way places. I will also be sending a modified copy to my travel agency as a promotional video for people that are concidering going to the Galapagos. Bob

Last edited by Bob Safay; December 13th, 2009 at 10:22 AM.
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