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Old June 3rd, 2012, 07:35 AM   #1
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Criteria for judging UWOL Challenge films

How do you go about judging the entries for the Uwol Challenge and deciding on the first three places?

Judging is so subjective that it comes with the danger of allowing personal preferences rather than solid, educated considerations to determine the final choice.

Fortunately, more often than not, one or two films stand out as being a cut above the rest and it is not too difficult to decide on the best ones and consensus is reached. At other times it is more difficult to make a decision and evaluating consequently requires a bit of time and thought.

The question of judging was discussed previously but from a different starting point. Now that we find ourselves in a situation where we have to vote for the top three films every round, perhaps it would be a good idea to establish the criteria for doing this so the outcome is (in as far as it is possible), fair and without bias due to ignorance or lack of careful thought.

Meryem’s suggested parameters for judging (UWOL 6 Challenge):

“50% of your judging should be weighed towards production values
(shooting, editing, lighting, audio, composition, cinematography, motion, etc.)

50% of your judging should focus on the use of the theme
(did the entry hit the mark, its creativity, the ability to work the theme, approach, etc.)

Remember that this is a nature and outdoors contest, and it is also important that the winning entry should also reflect the overall spirit of the event...if you have any questions, see our mission statement and our website at to get a feel for that spirit . .”

Question: How do you go about this?
How do you discern between good and bad shooting? (A technical problem like overexposure can be considered an obvious, universal flaw but what else are you on the lookout for?)
What is cinematography?
What is considered good audio? (see the judge’s comment UWOL #4).
What do you look for in terms of the artistic merits of the film as opposed to the technical merits? (For example light and sound can be technically good but aesthetically destroy the mood.)
What do you look for in the use of text, graphics and special effects?

What about storytelling or story construction? A number of our external judges placed great emphasis on the value of this particular aspect of film-making. (eg Brant Buckland UWOL #9, Larry Elmore Uwol #18) What constitutes a good story?

Quite a lot to think about here but, if necessary, pick one or two subjects about which you feel strongly or about which you have knowledge/expertise and give us some tips! (Ruth, as a sound expert, please could you give us some insight into judging sound!?)

Obviously the comments others give on individual films can help us a lot to see things we may have missed regarding the good points of a film or the weaknesses that can be improved upon.

I know what most of you are going to say – read this book or that – that would be a good starting point and you can do that, but at the end of the day, some people are just not going to pick up a book covering the technical and aesthetic considerations of creating and evaluating a short film, so my suggestion is, let’s compile some of the important points here for quick reference and as a guide for judging fairly and so we are all using sound criteria.

Besides having fun, I would think most of us are here to learn as well; judging is just another way of improving our techniques and making better films when behind the camera or in front of the computer editing it all together.
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Old June 3rd, 2012, 03:50 PM   #2
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Re: Criteria for judging UWOL Challenge films

Well, if I ever finish an entry, this is how I plan to go about it.

I am trying to win a specific award at my local festival next year. The Iowa Connection Award.
I had an opportunity to ask a couple of the judges how they determine who gets this award. I've modified their answer to fit UWOl and this is how I am going to judge...

Does the film meet the theme? I think pretty much every film will meet the spirit of the theme.If it's so far removed from the theme that I can't find the connection then I'll discard it.

So my next and final step is simply take all the films that I feel satisfied the theme and ask myself, "If I had to send a film to The Discovery Channel and say this represents the filmmakers of the UWOL competition, what film would it be"? That's it.

The answer to that question could be because if different reasons every time I judge. You could have a film that is technically perfect but as dry as Death Valley. You can have an incredible story but is shot poorly.

I think the feedback threads address a lot of the things that the filmmakers are looking to in order to improve their films so for me, it's going to come down to if I had to say this is what UWOL is all about.

I guess it all depends on the films in how they shake out.
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Old June 4th, 2012, 01:54 AM   #3
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Re: Criteria for judging UWOL Challenge films

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Railsback View Post
"If I had to send a film to The Discovery Channel and say this represents the filmmakers of the UWOL competition, what film would it be"?
I love this, Kevin. Sums it up and works for me!

Everyone is welcome to discuss all of this, but I would like to keep the sign-up thread at the top until after the theme is announced--just in case we catch the attention of someone doing a forum flyover. Thanks! :)
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Old June 5th, 2012, 05:59 AM   #4
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Re: Criteria for judging UWOL Challenge films

Marj.

Why not just make up your own criteria? What's important to you and the amount of emphasis you put on it. When you vote on a political party do understand every policy, every detail about what they stand for, nope you just motivate on things that are important to you.

But really, is it that important anyway. It's the critiques that will improve people's film making!

All I'll say is I'd ask people to not be scared to critique...really try to pull things apart. It helps the critiquer as much as the critiquee !
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Old June 5th, 2012, 06:32 AM   #5
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Re: Criteria for judging UWOL Challenge films

While I agree the 50% for Production Value & 50% for Use of Theme is a good place to start from; I would also put another 50% emphasis on the entertainment value (yeah, I know I suck at maths!).

I like to be entertained by documentaries, so every time I have judged a piece I have placed a lot of weight on how engaged I was while I was just sitting back and watching. Learning something new is equally important too.

I'm also a stickler for good editing techniques; I would actually prefer a well constructed story with bad camerawork over a badly edited piece with brilliant visuals. Editing is more important to me than cinematography, I guess, in the overall construction of a story.

I usually follow my gut though. In the last few competitions I immediately knew (without any analysis) which ones I liked the most, and in which order, after watching them. I had to force myself to analyze each video afterwards to see technically which ones were the best. In all cases it turned out that my gut was right first time. You can't argue with your gut; it just knows stuff before your brain can work out the whys.
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Old June 5th, 2012, 12:12 PM   #6
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Re: Criteria for judging UWOL Challenge films

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mat Thompson View Post
Marj.

Why not just make up your own criteria? What's important to you and the amount of emphasis you put on it. When you vote on a political party do understand every policy, every detail about what they stand for, nope you just motivate on things that are important to you.

But really, is it that important anyway. It's the critiques that will improve people's film making!

All I'll say is I'd ask people to not be scared to critique...really try to pull things apart. It helps the critiquer as much as the critiquee !

Hey Mat

Well just as it was important for Kevin to make the effort to find out from a couple of judges what they look for the when judging the film festival he is planning to enter, it seemed like a good idea to me to know how our films are going to be judged and more importantly to know we are all on the same page.

It was not and is not my intention to manage this thread I simply want to start the ball rolling - stimulate some thoughts on the matter and hopefully get some tips from anyone who wishes to share their ideas.

I am learning already!
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Old June 7th, 2012, 11:25 AM   #7
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Re: Criteria for judging UWOL Challenge films

I agree with what's been said so far. It is hard to have set criteria, and as Mat said, everyone pretty much ends up with their own criteria. And I have found, in critiquing every film for the contests I've entered, I learn almost as much about making films watching and commenting as I do making my own.

Thinking of which film to send to The Discovery Channel, as Kevin said, isn't a bad mindset. But as Simon added, there is the added 50% entertainment value, which for me is a major criteria. I enjoy a good nature documentary, but feel it is important also to go beyond basic facts and good technique and tell some sort of compelling story. I think if that was incorporated in more nature shows/documentaries, there would be a larger demographic watching them.

To add my thoughts on audio, I would say for me there are two major components. One is to get music that enhances the mood of the piece. This might be a single composition for a lyrical film, or consist of many different musical styles and transitions for a faster paced piece. In addition, where important, it is really helpful to add natural sound to put the viewer in the place. In terms of what I look/listen for, the sound should enhance the visuals, and definitely never be noticed except in a good way. If someone starts focusing on bad audio levels, distracting sound, unintelligible dialogue or a poorly chosen musical backdrop, then what should be a way of bringing value to the film can ruin it. I think audio is a major component, but it is often best when rarely noticed.
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Old June 21st, 2012, 06:59 AM   #8
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Re: Criteria for judging UWOL Challenge films

Hey Ruth - thanks for your input on sound! Sorry I didn't thank you sooner - I've been juggling three jobs along with this challenge and didn't manage to get back here to see it.
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