And the WINNER of UWOL 17 is... at

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An organized competition for Under Water, Over Land videographers!

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Old September 30th, 2010, 01:28 AM   #1
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And the WINNER of UWOL 17 is...

It was an honour to be asked to judge this, the last of the UWOL competitions to be run by its founder, Meryem, before the reins are handed over to the capable hands of Catherine Russell.

Meryem has been steady at the helm of UWOL since its inception over 3-years ago, and I'm sure there are many who will be sad to see her go. Without her drive and enthusiasm UWOL would never have existed and I'm sure that Cat will grab the bull by the horns to steer the competition to even higher levels over future months and competitions.

On that last remark I'd like to dwell just a little, because it is 'higher levels' in which we all hope to reach; to strive to achieve our goals through the Yin & Yang of life so that we might eventually turn our dreams into reality. But often that dream we all hope to wake into is not about the final result, but the journey itself.

This is where competitions such as this, and the amazing library of information amongst the pages of forums, provide a platform of teaching and learning of almost every aspect of video filming and cinematography.

And now to the final results...


FAITH by Kevin Railsback.


THE BLINK OF AN EYE by Bill Thesken



Congratulations go to all three top places, and especially to the final winner, Kevin Railsback.

Notes and critical analysis on the final placings:

The very first video footage that I watched was “Faith” by Kevin Railsback. I watched this through to the end and although not totally enthralled by it, it did have some redeeming qualities. It lacked the 'wow' factor that I look for in a film, as I was hoping for more impact at both visual and emotional levels. I moved on to the next download on the list, and in all honesty it had less 'wow' factor than the first. I went on to the next, and the next, and quickly came to realise that possibly “Faith” needed to be re-evaluated.
I watched each of the entries for a second time and soon came to realise that in quality alone it stood head and shoulders above the competition.
The opening sequence was based in a church and although this initially threw me as it is not normally thought of as an Underwater & Overland subject, the title of the video 'Faith' certainly pointed in that direction. The video quality was good, as was the sound quality. Narrative sound quality and tonal ranges were also good, only bettered in this sphere by the voice-over in 'The Blink of an Eye'.
The clips during the opening sequences were nicely executed but I would have liked to have seen more varied angles or some camera movement via smooth side glides or maybe a steadicam shot walking through the church doors and along the isles. The light streaming through the windows during the fade to outdoor footage was well executed and lifted the interest levels. I still felt however, that the section filmed within the church went on for far too long and by cutting this time by half would have made it more powerful and helped to maintain interest.
The second half of the video mainly concentrated on nature subjects and I felt that these clips were the stronger part of the video. Again, like in the church scenes, I'd like to have seen more variety than static subjects such as flowers and plants and really needed some wildlife subjects to lift it a little.
Sound is probably the most neglected aspect of filming. There was a nice sound level between main narrative and background music. The only sound element that was missing were the natural sounds of nature. Just a low level of bird song, moving water, wind in the leaves, animal calls etc., would have added atmosphere - This was something that I feel all the entries lacked.
The music track was well chosen, but more emphasis needed to be taken in matching rising and falling scales of the music to actual scenes within the film.
The closing sequence provided atmosphere as the main solo character of the movie walked into the sunset; yes, a bit cliché maybe, but still a nice way to finish. The only thing I didn't like was that the framing of the sun was far too low in the left hand frame. It would have been better to position the setting sun higher in the frame so that the walking silhouette did not disappear from shot into the lower left corner. The eye naturally reads stories from left to right and more visual impact would have been offered if he had entered from the left of frame and disappeared out of one of the right quadrants. I'd also have liked to have seen short telephoto clips of the sun itself much larger in the frame to add weight to the wide angle clips.
Probably the overriding aspect of Faith was that it showed that Kevin had placed a great deal of thought and effort into his short project. He had not simply found a string of favourite clips and strung them haphazardly together. He chose a storyline and stuck to it.
The subject of faith is a strong one and can be interpreted in a kaleidoscope of different ways so not easy to fulfil in a short video sequence. Kevin chose to lead us through his own personal path, and in that I think he succeeded in many ways. Yes, the video could have been improved in some parts, but the simple fact is that it achieved to reach the goal set out by Kevin – to show us the sudden realisation of his own true 'faith' viewed not through a belief in a god or religion, but in the power and wonder of nature – a subject which binds us all together.

The Blink Of An Eye
This was visually the most dramatic and powerful of all the entries, and in that sense alone it should have been the winner of this contest.
I was not keen on the choice of opening music. Ride Of The Valkyries has a powerful Star-Wars or Apocalypse feeling and pace, but I feel that it is so famous and overpowering used as a background to Bill's work that it detracted too much from the viewers experience. A lesser known or softer paced theme music would better match the storyline.
The Blink Of An Eye has a stunning choice of landscapes and subject matter backed by a nice toned and changeable narrative which was more interesting to listen to compared to the level pace of Kevin's voice; although Bills voice sounded a little too tinny so would have benefited from a higher quality microphone with more base.
What this film fell down on was on several levels. First was the actual video quality. Some of the clips were either very soft and washed out, such as in the Grand Canyon, and other clips were overly sharpened and filled with jagged edges and artefacts. Some of this may have been attributed to poor editing software or over-compression during download, but I think the use of low quality lenses or added wide-converter glass were also at fault.
The time-lapse footage added impact to the visual message and there was a good swing from fast-pace driving to slow moving clouds that kept the interest levels high, and I liked the change from car bonnet to surf board.
Up until the 2-minute mark my interest levels were still high, but this is where it began to slide. All narrative stopped and we are then left with a blurry, washed out underwater sequence that was locked down on one subject for far too long while still left listening to the overly loud Valkyries. Suddenly we are dragged out of the water to view some horses at a fence and drowned again to watch the same UW scene. The horse clip was completely out of place and if it were used it needed to be at an entirely different section of the video.
It seemed more like the editor had chosen footage from his archive in an attempt to fit the length of the music track, rather than the storyline, but ran out of viable clips and frustratingly just dropped anything in place and lengthened the UW sequence.
The actual varied subject matter and powerful first 2-minutes of footage was in my view the best of all the entries, and if it had ended at this point the movie would have possibly taken top honours.

More Than A Monument
“More Than a Monument” carried a very strong message and the opening few seconds of 'shock' tactics worked well.
It is always difficult to make a moving video from a series of still photographs without it turning into a home-grown slide show. Unfortunately this film felt just like that and rarely lifted it to a more visually interesting level. Mike tried to up the tempo and interest by including a selection of clips taken of varied wildlife, but the fact that everything seemed to be taken inside a zoo environment failed to lift it from an 'amateur' level. Captive animals in parks and zoos can sometimes provide strong and exciting imagery, but needs to be filmed with a variety of lenses and/or camera angles and at varied times of day to heighten the interest factor.
Video quality was not high throughout the footage. This was of course not helped by the need to film static photos and old prints, but with care and a good choice of lighting and technique old photographs can be given a new breath of life, and I feel that is one place where 'More Than A Monument' needed an added lift.
One way of maintaining interest for the audience is to add good narrative. The big problem was that it seemed as if Mike was reading straight from a book and the complete narrative was spoken throughout in the same monotonous tone. There was a mine of information provided in a few short minutes, but in many ways it was system overload with clips and photos snapped in and out too fast. A slower pace of clips with some fades, a touch of dramatic music plus natural background sounds, and better post editing techniques would have greatly enhanced the film.

Final notes
It would have been easy for me to judge the UWOL 17 videos and wrap everyone in cotton wool by simply congratulating everyone on their marvellous efforts and how wonderful each video viewed was. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and like all things in life, each and everything we view is through our own eyes and different eyes viewing the same scene often draw completely opposite conclusions.
The main aspects which help a judge to truly offer a fair ruling and constructive criticism is through previous experience, and I hope that my experience has leant a guiding hand to help me make the best judgements to find a final and worthy winner in this contest.

Last edited by Tony Davies-Patrick; September 30th, 2010 at 01:10 PM.
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Old September 30th, 2010, 02:06 AM   #2
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Congratulations Kevin! You deserve the win, that is a great short film.
And to Mike and all the other entrants.
Thanks to Tony for taking the time to view, and for the critiques.
I'll take a while to digest the critical analysis and get ready for the next challenge.
Thanks Meryem, and hope to see your entry in the next challenge. -BT
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Old September 30th, 2010, 06:33 AM   #3
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First of all, congrats to Bill and Mike!

Tony, thanks for taking the time to judge our entries and gives us honest feedback. We can't grow as filmmakers without it.

There's nothing I can disagree with in your feedback about Faith.

Once I strayed cutting the piece together I realized that I really didn't have a lot of variety inside the church. I called the church to see about getting back in but their schedule was maxed.

One of my opening shots was to be a jib shot as I was walking down the aisle but couldn't find anyone to operate the jib so that was cut out.

I picked up a Zoom H4n to record natural audio. However in Iowa, there are always trains, cars, dogs, tractors and some guy on a Harley trying to prove he's got a bigger twig and berries than everyone else.

I've thought about adding in some pre-recorded nature sounds but for these challenges I like to keep it just my work. I don't know, maybe I need to invest in a parabolic dish or something but the only usable audio I've ever really been able to use in. UWOL challenge was the little creek in my Geocaching entry.

I pretty much had the camera on the ground for that last shot walking into the sunset. I really wished i had been able to get a full body silhouette but with a good sized hill in the distance there was no way I could isolate myself in order to do that.

I will certainly use the great advice you've provided in future challenges. I've learned a lot from the UWOL judges as well as my entire UWOL family. It's refreshing to be able to give and get feedback both positive and negative in a place where we all understand the underlying goal is to become better.

This is a unique place. Negative feedback really doesn't sting. I know behind the scenes, Meryem, Mat and I talk back and forth all the time about our outside projects. We have no problem telling each other what works for us and what doesn't. I think what sets UWOL apart from a lot of places is that we all go on to say why something doesn't work or maybe if you did this it might better. There's not many places where you can do that and not bruise egos.

So thanks again! The feedback was more valuable than you know. Hopefully my next entry will reflect what I've learned.

Last edited by Kevin Railsback; September 30th, 2010 at 07:23 AM.
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Old September 30th, 2010, 06:34 AM   #4
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Congratulations Kevin! You really laid yourself out on this one and did something a bit different, great stuff !
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Old September 30th, 2010, 06:48 AM   #5
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Congratulations Kevin and Bill! Thank-you Tony for judging and for taking the time to provide such detailed critiques. That’s what keeps us coming back for more. You are truly one of the dvinfo “good guys”.
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Old September 30th, 2010, 06:53 AM   #6
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I'd also like to add some thanks to Tony for his very detailed and honest critique. As you all know know because I always harp on about it, I think this is what really makes us improve our skills and learn!
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Old September 30th, 2010, 07:07 AM   #7
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Congratulations Kevin! This was a very heartfelt message that you achieved.
And congrats to Bill and Mike!
Tony, great critiques on the films. Many things mentioned that I missed that I will definitely keep in mind for future productions. Thanks for taking the time to judge this round. If you're ever in middle Tennessee the Duck River has a few catfish and carp I could put you on. : )
I really enjoyed being a part of this contest and look forward hopefully to trying it again.
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Old September 30th, 2010, 08:51 AM   #8
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Feels good to finally pass the crown to our boy, Kevin. You know these contests are not rigged because if it were solely up to me, it would have happened long ago. Congratulations, my friend, I know you work very hard to make yourself a better filmmaker.

And great work, Bill and Mike.

And a thank you to Tony for taking time off from Globetrotting to offer everyone your thorough analysis and feedback. It's what makes us better filmmakers. These boys will all take everything you've said into their future endeavors.

And finally, one last huzzah to the hundreds of you who have turned out to play with me in the past several years. Keep getting out there and shooting. Our planet needs your love.
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Old September 30th, 2010, 02:51 PM   #9
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Congratulations to the winners! Kevin, Bill and Mike well done! I am absolutely thrilled for each of you. But Tony did not leave you on the podium for too long, eh? You have had an opportunity of a lifetime to actually receive critical feedback from one who has world class experience, technical skill and artistry. If only we all could be so fortunate!

Thank you Tony, for the effort you put into judging this round. You have handed three very talented people the tools to improve their craft and push them higher as filmmakers. That is what this forum is all about. I hope some day, after a hefty rest and recovery time, we may call on you again? You are an asset to the purpose and vision of UWOL and we sincerely appreciate your time.

Well done to all who submitted. I sincerely hope to see everyone sign up again come October 22 for UWOL 18. Mike D. that means you too! You can't submit once and move on! This forum is for you too! It should be fun, challenging and we all have to do Meryem proud don't we?

See you then,

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Old October 1st, 2010, 06:14 PM   #10
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Congratulations all three of you!!!!

This was a well deserved win!!!! Very fine piece.

Thank you for taking the time to access them and give constructive criticism for all of us to learn from!!

Considering there were something like 28 sign ups, thanks to all of you who took their time, finished and shared their work !!!

Hope the next round everyone that signs up can complete with out any personal disaters, etc!!

See you all in November I reckon!!
Dale W. Guthormsen
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Old October 2nd, 2010, 06:43 AM   #11
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Congrats to you Kevin, Bill and Mike.
Thank you Tony Davies-Patrick, for taking the job, judging this round.
I haven't got time to watch the videos, but I'm sure the quality was on the plus side - as always :)

Sorry I could not join you, but I think it is better to sign up in case time let me play or not signing up at all.
After all I love uwol and you great people in this comunity.
I did some videoing, and I had a plan, but in the edit face I had to focus on family matters.
Also I'm very happy that uwol is kept in the family :)
I'm sure you will do a great job Catherine.

Bye for now and I hope to join you in the next round.

Geir Inge
Geir Inge B. Brekke
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Old October 3rd, 2010, 01:27 PM   #12
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Congratulations to Kevin, Bill and Mike for great films!
Great feedback you got from Tony!

See you all next round.
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Old October 3rd, 2010, 05:57 PM   #13
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Hey guys, I just got home and read the news. Congradulations. Kevin, I told my wife last week yours were going to win. Bill and Mike, way to go guys. This was such a fun challenge, Again, Congradulatios. Bob
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