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Old September 1st, 2011, 07:43 AM   #1
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UWOL 21-Here Be Dragons-Mike Sims

Here Be Dragons 640x360 55MB

Last edited by Lorinda Norton; September 1st, 2011 at 09:29 AM.
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Old September 1st, 2011, 07:44 AM   #2
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Before anyone asks, the naked guy is the same one that does my voice-overs (little talent, but works cheap!). In some takes the total nudity was painfully blatant. I went with this clip with the skin across the lap to preserve a bit of modesty. We should all be grateful for the poor kangaroo that gave itís life to protect us allÖ
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Old September 1st, 2011, 01:08 PM   #3
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Re: UWOL 21-Here Be Dragons-Mike Sims

Very cool.

I loved the surreal introduction (glad to know that kind of stuff is done around here; that opens up a few potential ideas for surreal animal documentaries I have been thinking about recently)! Beautiful creature that salamander by the way; the color grade you did in that sequence really worked with it.

Congratulations on squeezing all four animal classes in there while still focusing on the one main animal subject. You really found an excellent location to tell your story.

I am interested in the sky in the top right corner of the shot at 1.13 - is that real or an effect?!
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Old September 1st, 2011, 06:34 PM   #4
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Re: UWOL 21-Here Be Dragons-Mike Sims

I loved this one, Mike, which is saying a lot since alligators aren't at the top of my list of creatures to watch. Your opening set the stage for the more whimsical look that helped make it such a pleasure.

Timing of narration to shots...first time through I wondered if maybe the timing could have been tighter (either talking a bit more slowly--which would have been weird--or shaving the clips some). But upon subsequent viewings I thought it flowed just fine. It's good to give people time to fully absorb what they're seeing and hearing. My parents complain that my cuts are too fast, so I'm taking lessons here.

Narration to shots brings me to the question that kept popping into my head: Which came first, the script or the footage? I couldn't believe the way you matched them and appreciated the great payoffs we got scene after scene. Very fun writing. "...and we waited...and waited..." :)

Wondering, too, how hot it was when you shot this. I know how you all have been suffering in Texas, yet, this belied the heat--the beautiful shot of the flowers and butterflies looked downright inviting.

Thanks for giving us such an entertaining look at the alligator habitat and the great variety of other creatures and birds there. This was accented with interesting graphics and information to support the images, and the very cool map wasn't lost on me, either. It's a complete package.
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Old September 2nd, 2011, 07:39 AM   #5
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Re: UWOL 21-Here Be Dragons-Mike Sims

Thanks, Simon. This isnít my usual cup of tea. I wanted to try something different so Iím relieved you liked it. The answer to your question about the sky is both really. In exposing for the scene the sky was quite blown out. Without moving the frame or tripod I took a second shot exposed for the sky. I exported a frame from the second clip and prepared a matte from it in Photoshop using the Channels technique. I then imported both clips and the matte into AfterEffects for compositing. After a precomp, I graded the composite with Color Finesse and then, using the same matte, did secondary correction on the sky. It looked pretty good in edit. Compression seems to have put it a bit over the top. It really looks much like a slightly overcooked HDR image, donít you think? Actually, it looks much like what I personally saw. The human eye/brain (itís both really) has much greater latitude than any camera. We think nothing of seeing something like that ourselves, but weíre not used to it in video so it seems a bit ďdisturbingĒ and ďnot quite rightĒ.
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Old September 2nd, 2011, 09:20 AM   #6
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Re: UWOL 21-Here Be Dragons-Mike Sims

Mike, you trumped me on the alligators. Excellent job, I really did like the beginning, it gave it just a bit more meaning and showed that man was/is afraid of some forms of wildlife. We all must remember at there was a time in human history when WE were the pray and THEY ruled to earth. One scene that really hit me was the way you got the three gatters coming to the surface...first one, then in two's etc. Very effective way of showing the repopulation of a species due to management and conservation. It was clear that each of us was telling a story, and each of us taught one another something new. We are becoming educators as well as videographers. Bob
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Old September 2nd, 2011, 09:49 AM   #7
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Re: UWOL 21-Here Be Dragons-Mike Sims

Thanks, Lorinda. There are lots of ways of editing. I donít that any one is ďbetterĒ. I usually record the voice-over first, process it with noise reduction and EQ, and then bring it into Premier. I cut it into phrases and equally distribute them on the timeline. Then I listen to it a few times and move things around to get the general pacing I want. I edit the video to the VO and adjust both afterwards. Then I add the rest of the sound. There is no location sound used here. The audio is VO, music, several layers of ambient (recorded with a Zoom H1), and last Foley and SFX. I had finished the Foley and something didnít seem right. There was no sound when the Channel Catfish scratched. Logically, you shouldnít hear such a sound from underwater but itís lack really stood out. I added some sound, which I hope you didnít consciously hear because I tried to be subtle, and it fixed the problem.

Most of the shots here were taken between 9 and 10 in the morning, and on the days I was out and the temps were only in the mid 90ís. It was always considerably hotter later in the day.

I made the title map in Photoshop from hand drawn elements. It shows the Texas coast. The map in the credits is a small part of the famous Carta Marina. I used the part showing the Norwegian coast because I thought our Viking friends might enjoy seeing it. (Plus it had cooler sea monsters!)
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Old September 2nd, 2011, 09:54 AM   #8
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Re: UWOL 21-Here Be Dragons-Mike Sims

Well, when I'm looking for someone to star alongside a Raquel Welch lookalike in furs I know where to go :-)

Good idea, well executed - Sims style. Wondered how you managed to predict where the croc was going to surface, then watched it back and figured it out - clever!

I thought the cameo duck appearances felt a little random to the story path at times, but all so crisp and beautiful i can't really complain - I watched this with my wife and we both commented on the beauty of the visuals - along with the atmos really made for an absorbing, and entertaining piece.

Cheers,

Rob
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Old September 2nd, 2011, 12:23 PM   #9
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Re: UWOL 21-Here Be Dragons-Mike Sims

Hi Mike

This film is packed with information, as your films usually are, and I learned a lot watching it.

Salamanders arenít found in Africa - except in a very narrow strip along the northern coastline - so the story around the Fire Salamander was particularly fascinating to me. Sorry to ask this but werenít fire-breathing dragons conjured up in Mediaeval times rather than in European Pre-historic times . . . or am I now spoiling your fun? ! :)

One thing that always amazes me is the way you manage to include so many different effects and techniques in your film. Did you use Neat Video on that beautiful iridescent duck (1:39) or is it smooth due to compression?

Mike I know I'm nit-picking here but just check - one or two of your water scenes aren't quite level.

Always find your films interesting - I'm glad you managed to get this one finished despite the heat.
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Old September 2nd, 2011, 12:31 PM   #10
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Re: UWOL 21-Here Be Dragons-Mike Sims

Thanks, Bob, but I like your alligators better. Mine were all busy doing their floating log imitations. I had to resort to some video trickery. The shot where one submerges and swims underwater then emerges is highly time compressed for example. (Three minutes into three seconds.) You know the first teachers were storytellers around the campfire. I think most of us here come from the lone-wolf cameraman tradition. Thank-goodness for UWOL to help us all transition into real storytellers!
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Old September 2nd, 2011, 03:55 PM   #11
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Re: UWOL 21-Here Be Dragons-Mike Sims

Oh, dear Rob. You mean thereís a ďSims styleĒ? Now Iím really worried. Actually, I did invent a method for monitoring the health of nitrifying bacteria in the biofilters of large aquariums. In some facilities itís referred to as the Sims technique. (Alas, that name is also applied to a gynecological procedure which, I assure you, I had nothing to do with.)

Yep. You found me out. I rolled tape on him for about 20 minutes until he finally submerged and for a few seconds after. Then I clipped it and played it backwards.

I have to agree about the Wood Ducks. The idea was to portray them as observing and reacting to the ígators but I got so little 'gator behaviour that it didnít work well.
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Old September 2nd, 2011, 05:26 PM   #12
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Re: UWOL 21-Here Be Dragons-Mike Sims

Marj- Not many African salamanders but there are some very interesting African caecilians. Iím not aware of any in your vicinity but that whole fauna is so poorly known that I wouldnít be surprised. The oral origins of dragons go well back into pre-history (though the addition of wings and fire breathing is, as you say, medieval). The story of Salamander is from the Classical Period and the belief persisted well into the 1700s. There are many subspecies of Salamander salamander distributed across much of Europe (though the name Salamander is Germanic). The specimen shown is the Czechoslovakian subspecies. It was collected in the wild and lives in the private collection of a local zoologist. The Marbled Salamanders (there are two individuals shown) were recorded in the Big Thicket Preserve in East Texas near Gore Store Road.

I use a lot of different techniques because, basically, Iím still learning them. I try to include at least one technique that is completely new to me in each Challenge and I often fall back on using ones learned in past rounds. No noise reduction this time though, itís just compression (the bane of us all!).

Donít apologize for nit-picking! Thatís rather the whole idea. I usually donít get upset by honest criticism (Though I freely admit I got rather hot and bothered by one comment last round that I took to be overly personal and unwarranted. Iím actively trying to learn to react better to that sort of thing and hence my earlier remark about lessons learned. I can only hope they are.) The static shots were leveled to the true horizon using two ball levels (one in the tripod base and another in the head). Vagrancies in topography and camera angle can yield false horizons and Iím often in a quandary as whether to frame for them because of possible parallax problems. There is no more true level than the surface of the water, however. In looking back at the clips I suspect you may be talking about some of the waterfowl clips which were essentially grab shots. The water surface isnít square to the frame. My tripod allows 30 degrees of correction for this but the process is slow and I probably would have missed the bird in many cases. This gives me much to think about.

I usually handle the heat pretty well but my intestines have been bleeding a good deal this summer (I have Sprue). The anemia not only makes it harder to deal with the heat but I am tired, cranky (I hope not overly obnoxious) and somewhat dispirited. I am very fortunate to have good UWOL friends like you to buck me up and get me going. Thank-you!
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Old September 3rd, 2011, 03:53 AM   #13
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Re: UWOL 21-Here Be Dragons-Mike Sims

Hi Mike
Nice opening, and nice executed film. You did a good job on this one. I like the gator shot.
I think that others have covered most, I just like to ad that I liked it A LOT!

Cheers
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Old September 3rd, 2011, 09:22 AM   #14
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Re: UWOL 21-Here Be Dragons-Mike Sims

I like the easy and humoristic style of your film. Donít misunderstand me. Many hours of work is needed to come up with a result like this.
I am impressed by your knowledge and use of the possibilities in the software.
I discover many smart ways to coordinate picture with comments.
The sequence 01:17 Ė 01:30 (the alligators disappearing) is a good example.
I appreciate your video.
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Old September 3rd, 2011, 12:35 PM   #15
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Re: UWOL 21-Here Be Dragons-Mike Sims

Thank-you, Markus. I tried to do something that was less serious this time and I was nervous whether people would like it. Feedback like that is very helpful.
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