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Old June 22nd, 2014, 03:27 AM   #1
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UWOL - Discussion of rules and improvements

As the title says, this thread is for discussion and suggestions of the UWOL rules, suggestions of improvement to our procedures, and so on.
Let's keep the talk here and have everything in one place.

Over the years there has been a slow reduction in the number of players, resulting in a "hard core" of regulars, and only a few newcomers.

Any ideas of how to attract more people to join the UWOL challenges, are more than welcome.

Examples:
Sign up procedures - stay open or close, longer sign up periods...?
Number of challenges. We started with 6, currently we have 4 each year.
"Long form challenges" once in a while, or only one month from theme release to deadline.
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Old June 22nd, 2014, 05:29 AM   #2
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Re: UWOL - Discussion of rules and improvements

Reaching out to schools and universitys that educate in media, suggesting the students participate would probably encourage more people. Being more active on Facebook and other social media is important! Not everybody uses forums in the same way as 10 years ago.

I vote for open signup until deadline.

If the signup closes in the future it is a must to have a email notification newsletter that reminds people to signup.
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Old June 22nd, 2014, 09:05 AM   #3
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Re: UWOL - Discussion of rules and improvements

Hi Trond. You have been here from the start and I think the original idea was to challenge people to go beyond their comfort zone. To be given a theme and going out and making the most of it with what you could come up with. To have to get the footage for the current Challenge was to get people out and shooting and that is one rule I've always followed
.
I think the closing of the sign up before the theme is announced is what makes this interesting. If you know what it is before you make a commitment to do a video takes that away. If you don't like the theme you won't even bother trying but if you have already signed up maybe you will try to enter a video.
I like having the sign up closed before the theme is announced.

I do agree that maybe there could be a sign up list set up that people can have their email address entered in if they want to be notified of a new contest. Something simple that can be fired off to everyone on the list.

As for getting more people into the Challenge I'm not sure how to go about that. It can take a fair amount of time to come up with an entry so maybe that stops some. As for the time allowed to make an entry I don't know if allowing more time will help most people. It seems the more time you give the more time you think you have and before you know it the deadline is here.

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Old June 22nd, 2014, 12:46 PM   #4
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Re: UWOL - Discussion of rules and improvements

Good comments and thoughts you have. Thank you.

No matter what we end up with, some things are very important, and as Gordon mentions, it is about pushing yourself to improve your skills as a film maker, and to get out to enjoy the wilderness.

There are both advantages and disadvantages with the sign-up being closed before theme release.
I believe having it closed brings a little more commitment to participating.
Maybe just one week sign-up is too short? Maybe we should try 2-3 weeks?
But at the same time, leaving sign-up open, might attract players who feel the need to know the theme first.
The idea of an email notification is worth thinking about.
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Old June 22nd, 2014, 01:29 PM   #5
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Re: UWOL - Discussion of rules and improvements

I feel responsible for having started this discussion, but I don't have particularly strong feelings to contribute!

Maybe the 4 deadlines should be fixed dates (with the seasons) so that we can just set our calendars in advance and check the forum? That way nobody needs to manage the emails and we don't have to worry about spam filters and maintaining a listserv.

I think I understand what Gordon is saying about the deadline closing before the theme is announced helping to gauge people's seriousness before the event begins. But I question the necessity. Does it matter if 30 people sign up but only 10 complete the challenge? It's not as though our agreement to participate is contractual anyway. Or, conversely, would it be bad if we ended up with some sub-par, spur-of-the-moment submissions that someone just throws together in the final days of the contest? Is there some kind of quality-control that we are trying to uphold as a group?
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Old June 22nd, 2014, 01:42 PM   #6
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Re: UWOL - Discussion of rules and improvements

Finn, discussios and improvements are always a good thing, and it doesn't matter who start it. Do not feel any "guilt!".

As of today, the 4 annual challenges are set (March, June, September and December), with sign up the last week (minimum 7 days) prior to theme release, which is normally the 1st day of the month.
Deadline is normally the last day of the month, but I try to adapt it to give you as many weekends as possible, since that seems to be when most have time to work on their films.
This can of course be changed if/when we think the UWOL challenge will improve with new rules.

There is NO quality control what so ever, and there will be no minimum quality requirement!
Anyone from professionals to amateurs who got their first camera the same day, are most welcome.
The feedback process after each deadline is just as important as providing an entry for the contest. Everyone can learn a lot from both giving and receiving feedback. This is very much part of the UWOL spirit - the interaction between the players.
This will not change as long as I'm running the show.
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Old June 23rd, 2014, 05:35 AM   #7
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Re: UWOL - Discussion of rules and improvements

Finn the original idea of the Challenge was that, to challenge a person to get out there. Signing up before you knew what it was you were getting yourself into was the more interesting part. Does it really matter. Most likely not. As you say you are not forced into producing a video and I suspect in some cases that is why some don't enter a video, as the theme doesn't interest them.
In the early days we had a fairly good turn out but maybe the the problem is people look at this as a competition more than a challenge. There are a number of people who have aways produced some very top notch videos and that may have other people thinking it is not worth participating. The Challenge was to let anybody participate no matter the equipment used or their talent. Just look at me!
As for the discusssion it never hurts. There is a lot of smart people here so I sure some good ideas will be brought up.
Also as Trond always points out Rule #11.

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Old June 23rd, 2014, 06:02 AM   #8
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Re: UWOL - Discussion of rules and improvements

Exactly! It is a reason behind the name choice of "UWOL Challenge" and not "competition".
Do not forget that.
Yes, the glory of producing the winning film is great, but it still is not the most important part of UWOL.

Personally, I could care less if I win or not. For me UWOL is about having FUN while I improve my skills as an film maker, and the interaction with all of you both during the challenge and before/after, is very important.

To me, not knowing the theme before signing up, has added to that challenge. No matter what I have thought about the theme, I have always tried to do my best anyway. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes not. That has been part of the game.

I have been with UWOL since challenge nr2, and it has been a pleasure to see how each and every player have improved their skills over the years.
Some players are not with us anymore for various reasons, and some new ones have joined in during the years. I hope everyone has fun participating.
Over the years, UWOL has become not only a film challenge, but also great friendships have developed.
The value of this can not be underestimated.

To everyone who have joined in, or think about doing so:
You are most welcome! Never be afraid to speak your mind! Every voice is equally important.
This will not change!
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Old June 23rd, 2014, 06:32 AM   #9
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Re: UWOL - Discussion of rules and improvements

I must admit, when I first entered, to have been a little apprehensive - more of my own abilities that anything else.
I was attracted to the idea of the ¨challenge,¨,as Gordon says - it's to stretch yourself a bit, and move out of your comfort zone.

I love the idea of the limited sign up time, and subsequent revelation of the theme, and I think this adds to the original idea - half of the fun is thinking up something as an idea, and the other half in the execution.

I have very much enjoyed the feedback threads, and although I have never met another member of the group, we have had contact outside of DVInfo, and it does add to being part of a community.

Regarding the rules - I don't see a major issue with some flexibility in the sign up - as has been said, it has been done before, but we should also think about the added admin of last minute entries for Trond.

Four or six challenges per year will always fit with some people and not with others, as we all have outside commitments, and sometimes not the time to compete, even if we sign up. - That is important, because you are under no obligation to submit a finished film, even though you signed up, although the alternative ¨wall of shame¨is no place to be!

Summing up - Im quite happy with the current setup - the dates are set, and the time to produce is fine, but I am open to new ideas, and of course more competitors - one of the aims with the UWOL Round the World collection was to showcase the group to a wider audience, and that can still be done.
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Old June 23rd, 2014, 06:32 AM   #10
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Re: UWOL - Discussion of rules and improvements

With reference to the the dwindling numbers I have long thought that critique has sometime been too pernickety and therefore put put people off from submitting further entries. I strongly believe it is an important part of the challenge but at times has been given where it is obvious that clips, cut aways and continuity etc were not able to have obtained/ achieved during the time frame of the challenge and often pointed out by the entrant on submission. We are after all dealing with nature that doesn't always perform to cue and therefore some obvious adaptations are made in order to submit an entry. Constructive comments are very important so maybe some broad guidelines on the could be drawn up?
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Old June 23rd, 2014, 06:43 AM   #11
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Re: UWOL - Discussion of rules and improvements

Mick, I'll look into your suggestions of possible guidelines for feedback comments.
Not sure if it is needed, but I see your points about to detailed feedback.
At the same time, it is worth noting that feedback is meant to be constructive with the purpose to let you know how you could improve the quality of your films. And that should not change.
There will always be differences in the feedback based on the players' background and skills. Some focus on tiny details and some on the broader picture.
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Old June 23rd, 2014, 09:42 AM   #12
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Re: UWOL - Discussion of rules and improvements

It's nice to see this topic opened up for discussion. I'd hate to see UWOL disappear because I still think it is both relevant and beneficial to nature and wildlife filmmakers of all levels.

I got in on UWOL on the ground floor. Meryem, Mat and I had all kinds of discussions about what it should be and how it should go etc. I wonder if I still have all those discussions.

There were a lot of good things planned for UWOL but at that time Chris was pretty busy with things so we really were just kind of left to our own devices and never really had a chance to grow UWOL like we wanted to.

Mat spent a LOT of time working on a stand alone website that some of you may remember where the films used to be archived. We did that all on our own. We paid for the domain name, the hosting and Mat worked his arse off making it a great site.

In the early days we were hampered by codec compatibility so that limited what we could upload.

Meryem wanted a format that was universal between Mac and PC and coupled with size limitations this made the films less than stellar from a viewers standpoint. I don't believe YouTube was available in HD and I wouldn't upload my stuff to YouTube anyway back in those days.

Can't remember if Vimeo was even around then. But I know we worked with what we had at the time and tried to make sure the field was level.

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.

But I think people lost the reason for the purpose of UWOL and that was to challenge YOURSELF and get feedback from filmmakers that had a passion for the same subjects you did.

I never went into a challenge trying to beat anyone but my last entry. My competition was myself and trust me, I kicked my arse many a time because I felt I fell short. If you're in it to win it you don't get what UWOL was originally all about.

Critiques can be hard especially on someone just getting started. But I LOVED Mat's critiques because he pulled no punches. He expected the same from me. We never took any of the comments personally.
I wanted him to be brutally honest and when he said this didn't work or he didn't like that I knew it wasn't to be mean but to help me become a better filmmaker.

When Mat was working on his award winning film about stag beetles, he asked Meryem and I to go over each new revision and shred it and we did. We had some great discussions with Mat arguing for something he did and us arguing that we didn't think it worked. I guess I shouldn't say arguing but when you have passion on your side, you discuss your point very passionately.

Sometimes Mat made a change that we suggested, other times he didn't. It was up to him to make the film he wanted but he knew along the way what we thought and why.

The why was a big thing. We never said, we hate this. We said this doesn't work and this is why. It was up to Mat to decide if changing it would stay true to his vision or not.
In the end he won a Panda award and now travels the globe working as a professional cinematographer. I'd like to think UWOL helped him get there.

Same thing with Per. You knew if Per and Mat were entered you had to be on top of your game because one of them would usually walk away with the win.

Marj is another. Her films are hard to beat. But I never looked at it as I had to try to beat any of them. Their work pushed me to play on their level. Most of the time I fell short and that was ok because this is a challenge after all, not a competition. I'm a better filmmaker today not because I tried to win but because I tried to learn from Mat, Per, Marj and all the other filmmakers here.

You have Trond, Geir, Ruth, Gordan and a whole slew of other filmmakers that I learned from. UWOL helped change my way of thinking. The idea of many filmmakers shooting the same thing taught me how to see something in a different light. Ruth's talking animals and putting her daughter in front of the camera made for some great films. It caused me to pause and really think about how I wanted to approach the theme.

So where have I been for the past year or so?

I've certainly had a lot of life changes. Some good, some bad. The bad ones are pretty much behind me now so hopefully there's still time for me to complete this current challenge.

For the past year I've only taken my camera out to work on a feature film that I was hired to shoot about the abolitionist movement in America. We wrap finally on July 27 after more than a year of shooting on my free weekends.

Just a couple weeks ago was the first time I've shot nature in several months. I'm hoping now that life has hopefully stopped throwing me curve balls, I can get back into it. I'd love to finish this challenge.

I think there are two tracts, maybe three types of filmmakers here.

The ones that just do it for the fun of it. The ones that are just getting into it and think its a fun way to learn. The ones that want to see how far they can go and really want to hone their skills.

So you have two groups basically. One that wants some good feedback on what we liked etc. The other wants more critical feedback with no punches pulled.

For someone new to filmmaking even minor criticism can be taken the wrong way and their joy in doing these challenges be ruined.

Reading a critique can be misinterpreted. You don't see the facial expressions or the tone of the voice. Its easy for a helpful suggestion to be taken as a slam against your film.

Me? I'd rather know what you didn't like and why so that I can see your point and try to make better films in the future.

So maybe we need two levels of feedback. You can either ask for general feedback or ask for a more detailed nitpick critique.

I don't have any problem doing either for someone. I can tell you all the things I liked about your film and what worked for me and leave it at that. Or I can nitpick and say this shot is a bit too hot or this edit point is to jarring.

As for getting new people involved, maybe we need Chris to put up a prize every now and then. Look when the DVC was giving the winner a Black Magic camera as a prize. You had all kinds of people fired up about that.

The other thing is maybe Chris can pony up a few dollars to pay for some targeted Facebook ads. I mean a lot of people who may enter don't even know we exist. We're a small niche as it is. I mean I see nature photographers often here in Iowa but have yet find anyone else filming nature here.

You can't play if you don't know the game exists.

It would be nice if we could get like Mat and Per to shoot some interviews for UWOL about what they've gone on to do. Heck, Mat's out filming sharks right now and I remember when he was in Sumatra filming police officers that ride elephants instead of cars. I'd love to hear how UWOL prepared him for what he's doing now and some advice for people that want to do the same thing.

Maybe some of our more advanced filmmakers can shoot tutorials on ways they got some of their shots or how they went about tackling a theme that they won.

If Chris or someone pony up $100 for a gift certificate for camera gear maybe you would get the full $100 if you signed up before the theme was announced but only $50 if you signed up after the theme was announced. That way the people who took the challenge without knowing what they had to work with benefit from taking the chance.

I tell you what. I'll even put my money where my mouth is. If you want to do a two tier entry into the next challenge, I'll PayPal you Trond a $100 US before you announce the theme to go to the winner of the next challenge however you see fit.
If I win, you donate the money to either C-A-L-F Animal Sanctuary in the UK or Last Hope Animal Rescue here in Iowa, both of which I support.

$100 US isn't a lot of money but would be interesting to see if we had more people sign up. Maybe Chris could kick in $100 too. That's only $400 a year if he supported all the challenges. Heck, my last hard drive cost more than that! :)

Anyway, sorry for the long rambling post. But I truly do believe the best of UWOL is still ahead of us. We just need to find the right formula!

Thank you for carrying the torch to keep the UWOL fire burning Trond! I know this flame can burn much, much brighter!
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Old June 23rd, 2014, 09:45 AM   #13
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Re: UWOL - Discussion of rules and improvements

Not sure what all the *'s are about but that's what you get from copying from a PC to an iPad I guess. :)
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Old June 23rd, 2014, 10:23 AM   #14
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Re: UWOL - Discussion of rules and improvements

Everyone, thanks a lot for your feedback. It is very much appreciated.

Kevin, you have some great words of wisdom from the source of UWOL, which should never be forgotten.
I'll talk to you soon.


Just for the record:
This thread will remain open and is meant not only for discussions now, but also in the future.
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Old June 23rd, 2014, 02:25 PM   #15
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Re: UWOL - Discussion of rules and improvements

Great points, Kevin - and all the better from the perspective of your view of the beginnings of UWOL.

I must admit, coming from the world of the automotive industry, where constructive criticism is a fact of life (as is the other kind!), I found the level of comment here quite ¨tame¨ - granted, I am a relative newcomer to UWOL, but I find other views on my work, especially of the peer group we have here, to be excellent.

Look at the world outside - I rarely look at comments on YouTube because they are unbelievable - you'd think folks have better things to do - but here people understand where you are coming from, and what your are trying to achieve, and that makes a big difference.

I have had the good fortune to have studied with Den Lennie at F Stop Academy, and I can tell you - you never stop learning - as Kevin says, the inter web is not the best tool to chat - unless you are on Skype, and you can see the other person - comments left with the best intention, but viewed a day or so later, in a different time zone and maybe language can be hard to interpret!

Keep the discussion coming, folks!
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