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An organized competition for Under Water, Over Land videographers!


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Old June 26th, 2014, 09:25 AM   #31
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Re: UWOL - Discussion of rules and improvements

Not an ass, by any means. Your opinions are always welcome, and, as usual, valid. In fact , you have given me the push I need to do the next one. (No entry this time as my camera has been in the shop since June 3).
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Old June 26th, 2014, 09:51 AM   #32
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Re: UWOL - Discussion of rules and improvements

I gave myself a push too Steve! :)

I'm prepping to go to Montana to film for a couple weeks so I've been focusing on that but now I've motivated myself to get an entry done this round.

We're a small niche compared to nature photography. How many other nature filmmakers do you run into?
Never seen another one here in eastern Iowa. So our numbers will always be low compared to filmmakers that shoot zombie flicks. You can throw a rock any direction here in Iowa and hot at least two filmmakers that shoot zombie films.

Nature and wildlife filmmaking is hard. I challenge any still photographer to tell me it's easier than still photography.

If most are like me, it's not easy submitting a film we feel isn't up to par. But I just got over it because it's a challenge and the perfect film won't always happen.

There's not one entry that I wouldn't go back and change something. If I can find the original projects, I may go back and revisit them. We'll see.

We all know that UWOL is capable of supporting more filmmakers. Just need to figure out the right recipe to bring them in.
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Last edited by Kevin Railsback; June 26th, 2014 at 08:01 PM.
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Old June 26th, 2014, 11:10 AM   #33
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Re: UWOL - Discussion of rules and improvements

In the early days the challenge was supported by many posters in the then strong UWOL forum when filming wildlife with the technology available then was more of a challenge. In recent times this forum has been largely neglected. Those few who still post there get very little response. Kevin has alluded to how specialised our art is. I do not pretend to know all the answers to rejuvenating things. Although the history of the challenge is important I believe we must start looking outside the present format, maybe make some painful decisions and redefine the UWOL definition of challenge in order to give more people with limit time a chance to participate.
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Old June 26th, 2014, 12:03 PM   #34
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Re: UWOL - Discussion of rules and improvements

A notification on my Facebook page from Kevin saying he had posted a long comment made me come here to see what's up. Hope you don't mind me chiming in.

Attracting more people to DV Info Net and this forum is important, of course. Then words, my friends, will help inspire people. Getting away from the challenge for awhile and now reading your comments makes me wonder what would happen if those of you who have participated would send Trond private messages with words on what inspires you to want to shoot nature videos. He could post one in every sign up thread to encourage those who love the outdoors to pick up a camera and shoot something, especially if they are just learning. And you would want to get some blurbs from Meryem, a master of inspiring words.

Indulge me in some ramblings, if you will. I only completed one UWOL challenge. The challenge to shoot something interesting AND make it as professional-looking as possible demanded time I didn't feel I had, and I sure wasn't going to submit another video with handheld footage that would be sub par by the naturally evolving standards set here.

Finding a way to tell people who may not even own a tripod that they have nature stories to tell is certainly a challenge. To attract a new crop of shooters you may need to reset, focusing on entertainment and creative thinking over technical achievement. The pinnacle of filmmaking is to make it entertaining AND technically professional. Some here have definitely reached that pinnacle and I have loved watching their entries. The veterans of UWOL need to keep up the great work, which is inspiring in itself. For the record, no one here has ever made me feel I wasn't welcome if not a pro shooter, so I'm not saying there's a fault of any kind. It is my opinion that where the challenge stands now is, as I said in the last paragraph, the result of a natural evolution.

Remember the kids who made a blind out of a rowboat and shot a video from it? Everyone celebrated it, partly because of the hilarity that ensued when they caught on camera the windstorm that blew their blind to Smithereens. I would watch enterprising and out-of-the box entries like that in a heartbeat, right alongside the lovely, professionally-produced and provocative films we have all grown to admire and appreciate so much...and everything in-between. There's room, and I think a need for the gamut; finding a way to convince new shooters of that and then encouraging them to keep at it is the challenge, right?

These are just thoughts, of course, a perspective from someone now on the outside looking in. Trusting you all will find ways to ignite some new flames. :)
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Old June 26th, 2014, 06:50 PM   #35
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Re: UWOL - Discussion of rules and improvements

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Railsback View Post
The big downfall I believe was when we had a judge break the judging criteria and we ended up with co-winners. It certainly created a big rift and we lost filmmakers for sure because of it.
I remember that, I was one of the "co-winners" and the "rift" didn't last long. When I guessed (correctly) what the break in judging criteria was I totally supported Meryem's decision, congratulated the other co-winner, and closed off all further "discussion and dissension".

I don't think there was any lasting problem and I didn't see participation fall off at that point. I've kind of fallen away from the UWOL due to some personal things. Who knows, maybe I'll be able to jump in again.
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Old June 26th, 2014, 08:06 PM   #36
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Re: UWOL - Discussion of rules and improvements

Increasing the amount of time to do a challenge won't do much. We did a long for challenge and had a year to complete a film and most, myself included never finished.

I guess I'm just old school and a challenge should be just that.

Course, I also believe that kids shouldn't be allowed to use calculators on math tests, can't believe that kids have no clue what time a quarter to four is and couldn't make change to save their life if the cash register didn't tell them exactly how much to give back.

I still think a lot of it is that people come in, participate then life takes them elsewhere. I've never "stumbled" across UWOL searching for nature and wildlife filmmaking. If I wasn't already here, I'd never know it existed.

I think the key to keeping it going is to being able to be found.

What was the most people we had sign up back in "the day'? Thirty? Forty?
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Old June 27th, 2014, 10:48 AM   #37
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Re: UWOL - Discussion of rules and improvements

Back in the day, Kevin, we would have more like 75 sign-ups and up to 35 submissions. I think we averaged 20-25 actual entries for each contest. Usually roughly, half of the sign-ups would finish. Maybe a little less, say 40%

I put a ridiculous amount of energy into running UWOL - not saying that to toot my horn, just saying that is what it took to make the thing fly the way it did in the early days.

I ran it every other month consisently and, after two years of that, my head was ready to explode.

Trying the long-form contest was partly a way to give myself a break, as well as a way to introduce a new element to the contest and a way to challenge the "boredom" factor for the contest's loyal following. I would say it was the long-form contest which actually hurt the contest and not the "controversial" contest, (which as Bruce noted, was peacefully resolved).

(As an aside, Bruce and I had clarifying conversations about some mistakes that were made in the judging by my friend and mentor, who has now passed on from health-related issues which he struggled with, while judging UWOL. I can now say, for those who now remember that far back, that my Emmy award-winning friend made some procedural mistakes in judging which impacted the outcome. When I explained what happened - which I could not do publicly without discussing my friend's health issues, which I could not do without violating his privacy - then Bruce graciously accepted both the explanation and the outcome.)

Anyway, I think the long-form contest is what broke the continuity.

Although it gave a few some interesting experiences and challenges, it did not serve the many.

And honestly, by that time - year 3 - I was struggling to with burn-out. Three years of volunteering my time to anything - and especially something as demanding as UWOL was - is probably the limit of my endurance.

But here are the things that I think made it work so well up to that point.

1) consistency - running it every other month, rain or shine on the 1st of the month, let everyone schedule for it or decide against it, in advance. it kept the mojo - and it helped to draw in new players, so the core players didn't feel as much obligation to sign up for every round.

frankly, the more I was able to hew to this regimen, the more the contest thrived. That is really the big secret. I'm not trying to say Trond must do this - heck, I'm humbled and grateful to him and to Lorinda for caring enough to keep this thing going, for so many years! I'm just saying what worked.

in fact, between running the contest, finding the judges, putting energy into building the contest between the contests, I only had about 10 days-2 weeks every other month, before it started all over again. Plus, I was running a business and raising an infant - it was a little grueling.

2) I actually advertised the heck out of this thing, on my own accord. I forget all the names of the websites I would post to - but I didn't just post to DVinfo. I posted notices about it over all kinds of filmmaking and wildlife websites every month. I wanted it to be popular and fun and to build a following. I had link shares on our old website.

3) I paid for prizes out of my own pocket. These were pretty nice things. What became obvious, though, was it wasn't the prizes that were expensive, it was the international shipping! Dang those Norwegians for winning everything all the time, because the shipping usually cost more than the prizes! Eventually, I gave that up. It wasn't sustainable. I did it, because I was hoping that our numbers would help me to find some sponsors - and we did find a couple of small sponsors in DSC Labs and with an underwater company. I was grateful that they offered prizes - but they weren't things that they players themselves got that excited about....they never really became replacements for the goodies I was buying myself. So eventually, I was just giving away cash out of my own pocket. Which was cheaper than shipping prizes. But definitely not as exciting.

I think players would rather get a new $80 monopod than a $100 cash. It's more like a present, a gift, something you can point to and say "I won that!"

4) I tried to keep up the energy on the site between contests, keeping up with the players between contests, so it wouldn't just fade. I tried to make the community as important as the contest.

5) this should be #1, really, but I'm saving the best for last. The best thing that I did to build this contest was recruit Kevin and Mat to help me. I was never alone. I had their support, their brain trust, their loyalty and friendship, their commitment. I made two life-long friends who shared my love of the planet, of imaging, of playing together. Kevin may not have all of those e-mails we shared while building this thing. But I do. It was a special moment in time for the three of us, I think, to come together and try to do something which inspired ourselves and others.

I think those were the things which I did right -- and which I lucked into!--, to build the contest. It was always more than most people, except probably Mat and Kevin, could ever know or appreciate. Probably the one really big thing I did wrong was build an unsustainable schedule....but I did enjoy aiming high, for those 3+ years!

The online world has changed a lot since then, as Kevin noted. We used to have endless discussions over codecs! Fortunately, that doesn't have to happen anymore...

I think the new big discussion is outreach and marketing. How can UWOL stand above the fray? It was easy for Kevin, Mat, and I to do this because the fray wasn't as big. But I think that is the knottiest problem with it today.

Incidentally, I think the criticism discussion is easily resolved. Just build a scale. Are you a 1-2-3 on the criticism scale. 1= let me have it! be ruthless! I want to be the next Mat Thompson, and I want to crack into the professional wildlife cinematography at the highest levels. 2= I want to get better at this, but I'm here to have fun so give me good feedback but let's keep it light and fun as we do it 3= I'm not really here for the feedback as much as I am here to have fun and make stuff with people who love getting out there with cameras. I'm invoking Rule #11!

Put it in your feedback thread at the beginning, as in - On the criticism and feedback scale, I'm a 2 for this entry. That should help others understand better what you want from the contest.

The degree of criticism was another issue that Mat, Kevin, and I wrangled over - I think this is an easy fix for everybody. People really do come to this contest with different hopes and expectations. It's not one size fits all. But there's plenty of room for all kinds of players.

Trond has the right heart and soul for this contest. Maybe he just needs a coupla folks to step in and form a team. It's a lot of work to try to grow this thing alone, and it's a lot more fun when you don't have to....

Anyway, this is probably a lot longer than it needs to be, but there's my fifty cents!

I'm happy to see it still lives, muahaha!
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Old June 27th, 2014, 11:09 AM   #38
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Re: UWOL - Discussion of rules and improvements

The Yeti bows his humble head in reverence to his master! :)
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Old June 27th, 2014, 11:20 AM   #39
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Re: UWOL - Discussion of rules and improvements

Thank you, Yeti!
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Old June 27th, 2014, 01:24 PM   #40
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Re: UWOL - Discussion of rules and improvements

Quote:
Originally Posted by Meryem Ersoz View Post
I'm not trying to say Trond must do this - heck, I'm humbled and grateful to him and to Lorinda for caring enough to keep this thing going, for so many years! I'm just saying what worked.
Thank you for your valuable inputs, Meryem. Much appreciated.

I'm already trying to spread the word about UWOL the best I can. (There are always room for improvements)
And as I have said before, ideas and suggestions are always most welcome anytime.

With regards to having someone to help. Several have already said "let me know if you need a helping hand", especially with theme suggestions. I might get back to you on that one guys and girls.
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Old July 15th, 2014, 04:54 AM   #41
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Re: UWOL - Discussion of rules and improvements

I found a email service thats free for up to 2000 people and 1200 email sends.

If you send out 1 email reminding on the signup tread before every UWOL signup (remember to link to the forum signup so people can press the link and sign up right away) that should go a long way with 4 emails a year.

Pricing | MailChimp

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Old July 15th, 2014, 08:12 AM   #42
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Re: UWOL - Discussion of rules and improvements

MailChimp is primarily for advertisers that want to send frequent ads and promotional marketing e-mails to thousands of customers. It is a bit overkill for us. Most e-mail client programs will allow you to set up a mail list. You send one e-mail to the list and everyone on the list receives it. Itís easy and the size restrictions are not limiting to us at the moment. I do it all the time in Thunderbird. If we ever get to the point where we would need to send out hundreds of reminder e-mails then MailChimp is one of several options available.
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Old July 15th, 2014, 10:37 AM   #43
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Re: UWOL - Discussion of rules and improvements

I'll have a look at it.
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Old July 15th, 2014, 12:33 PM   #44
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Re: UWOL - Discussion of rules and improvements

Just wondering if this is really necessary.

The UWOL Challenge happens regular as clockwork - March, June, September and December.

Simply put a reminder in your cell phone/calendar for one week prior to the next challenge and save Trond all this work.
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Old July 16th, 2014, 01:34 AM   #45
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Re: UWOL - Discussion of rules and improvements

This is a tool to make more people join the challenges. If you dont want to use it, dont sign up on the mailinglist, but i defenitely would!
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