UWOL #30 - Fenced In - Marj Atkins (late entry) at DVinfo.net

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Old July 6th, 2014, 09:37 AM   #1
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UWOL #30 - Fenced In - Marj Atkins (late entry)

Unfortunately I underestimated the time it would take to complete this video after filming, so I did not make the deadline! However, because I had already put a lot of work into this I wanted to complete it. Hopefully one or two of you would be happy to comment on it. (Also, because it was already late, I did not to rush to finish it.)

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Old July 6th, 2014, 09:42 AM   #2
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Re: UWOL #30 - Fenced In - Marj Atkins (late entry)

Perhaps it would be best to watch my video before reading this blurb as it may detract from the video.

Once again I tried something different with this challenge and I would like to know if it worked or not. Because most of my movies tend to have information overload I thought it would be good to try a music video and use subtitles to tell a simple story. I was aware that if I was going to do this the shots had to be non-distracting. This is where I ran into trouble. Even with the reasonably quiet shots the sub-titles competed for attention and I ended up having to narrate the story after all!

Before we took our break I spent more time looking for appropriate cinematic type music than ever before. I wanted something that would set the mood of my story. I did not find anything suitable for my chosen story and finally settled on this piece of music out of desperation. (I am constantly aware that my choice of music could be too ’loud’ for nature!) However, asd I worked with it, this piece of music grew on me and I was able to use its various moods and tempo to give direction to my story. Everything seemed to fall into place.

I read quite a bit about human/wildlife conflict in Africa but most of it is too contentious and/or impractical to film and I certainly did not want to go the poaching route - I wanted a break after all! While reading up about dangerous/destructive wildlife something touched me about elephants. I knew I had a good chance of finding elephants where we were going so the choice was made.

I went out with a very specific shot list – focusing mainly on elephants and fences. Some of these shots were more wishful than likely but as things turned out we seemed to find ourselves in the exactly right place at the right time.

I know the location like the back of my hand. I specifically wanted the opening scene to give a sense of time and space and I knew the exact spot from which to film. Not in my wildest dreams did I think I would see elephants walking across it but I did!!! I literally rubbed my eyes in disbelief when someone spotted them and pointed them out to their children!

The second jaw-dropping and fortuitous shot I got was the fence going up. I am still dumbfounded - not only did I find people putting up a fence, but I found people putting up the fence in a national park, and not only that, it was directly outside our specific bungalow!! They were replacing the fence that the floods in February had completely buried.

This was one UWOL challenge that I thoroughly enjoyed putting together. I loved looking for ellies. On one occasion we spent two hours watching five male elephants taking a mud bath – what a show. If I hadn’t been doing this topic for the challenge we would have missed it because when we first spotted them they were just browsing on the opposite side of the road – not exactly exciting stuff. We decided to wait for them to come closer so I could use the opportunity to get some shots. I made a cup of tea and we waited. (I used one shot from this to try and get across a sense of the close relationship they enjoy with each other even when having a tussle over a mud hole.)

By way of explanation for those unfamiliar with elephant behavior – the family group is lead by a female and the one scene shows four young bulls getting themselves into trouble with one of the females for some reason – hence their discipline! The body language is quite amusing. (You can quickly distinguish a female from a male by looking for the pointed forehead in profile.)

Because it is winter the shot of the mealie (corn) field is a proxy.. Also because this is not an official entry for judging I took the liberty of adding 25 seconds of text onto the end which I felt could be helpful. Not sure if it worked.

A few months ago I bought a Sony RX10 specifically for doing corporate work as I am often required to take both photos and video. It is excellent in low light conditions, especially indoors. I was not intending to take it with me as it is completely useless for taking shots of birds – for me the most important requirement. Quite surprisingly, however, I used this camera exclusively for filming this movie and in fact all the other wildlife we came across. I even got some decent shots of birds that were fairly close up. I had to use the ‘clear view’ zoom in most cases. The batteries last very well – charged the battery each night and never needed to use my second battery at all.

Regarding the mind mapping – I have used this technique for note-taking and planning for many years. I have developed my own style, but if you want to know more just google ‘mind mapping’ (I recommend Tony Busan’s info.)

Many thanks in advance - Marj

Last edited by Marj Atkins; July 6th, 2014 at 12:03 PM.
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Old July 7th, 2014, 02:48 AM   #3
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Re: UWOL #30 - Fenced In - Marj Atkins (late entry)

Hi, you will have to enable video embed on your Vimeo video, so we can watch it.
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Old July 7th, 2014, 04:44 AM   #4
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Re: UWOL #30 - Fenced In - Marj Atkins (late entry)

Hi Vegard

Just click on "Watch on Vimeo" at the centre of the frame or double click the title at the top of the frame to view.
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Old July 7th, 2014, 03:47 PM   #5
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Re: UWOL #30 - Fenced In - Marj Atkins (late entry)

Hi Marj,

Thanks for putting this up. Don't ever not narrate your videos. Your voice is magical. I have often used subtitles when I was too lazy to narrate, and have never been happy with them. I am truly amazed at how you can collect so many good shots of elephants in a short time. Over here any time we see elephants in the media it has to do with poaching, so I figured they were very hard to find. Hopefully your local reserve is successful in protecting these families. Your choice of music was fine, and adds a mystical sense to the piece. If you are not using ambient sound, that sort of music is excellent. I have only two criticisms. One, a couple of your cuts are jarring, and might have benefited from a dissolve. Two in one or two the camera shake when you touched the unit is visible. You might want to edit these out if you plan to show this some more.
But as always, your piece is wonderful, and don't worry about information overload. What would a Marj Atkins film be if we couldn't learn a ton of stuff from it. Let's have some more math!
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Old July 7th, 2014, 03:56 PM   #6
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Re: UWOL #30 - Fenced In - Marj Atkins (late entry)

Thanks, Marj,

Well - I echo some of the comments Steve made about some of the shots - BUT - an excellent story, very well paced, and your voice over tilts very well.
Also very topical, and Im sure it would show well on TV in a longer version .

Pity about the timing (not that I can say anything, as I failed to complete), as Im sure you would have a wing entry again!
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Old July 8th, 2014, 08:21 AM   #7
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Re: UWOL #30 - Fenced In - Marj Atkins (late entry)

Hi Steve and Paul

Thanks so much for your feedback and for your observations - really appreciated!
I must say I completely overlooked the bumpy shots simply because I was so pre-occupied with constructing the story thanks for pointing that out. There were several handheld shots in there - only because I had no option but should be easily fixed with warp stabilizer.

The jarring cuts in the conflict/human progress part were deliberate to give the feeling of tension and of things happening at a fast pace, but I can see that they should be cleaned up. I dont really want a dissolve there because that tends to soften the mood, but Ill experiment.

Regarding the elephants, Steve, they have long been protected in SA. However they reproduce so rapidly that they are fast out- growing the space provided a real headache for everyone.

Thank you once again for very helpful feedback!
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Old July 8th, 2014, 08:51 AM   #8
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Re: UWOL #30 - Fenced In - Marj Atkins (late entry)

Hi Marge,brilliant film, a subject very close to my heart as I have filmed wild elephants a lot in Kenya and Sri Lanka.
My only point has been covered that is the hand/slightly shaky clips which you quite rightly point out can be corrected in post. Your narration is crisp and clear as usual. Well done

In some of the large fenced conservancies in kenya that also protect rhino, Ol Pejeta is one that come to mind, they have gaps in the fences that that allow the elephants to pass through, there is some sort of ground landscaping around these gaps that rhinos don't like walking therefore keeping the rhino inside. Not sure if you have anything like that in SA.

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Old July 8th, 2014, 12:23 PM   #9
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Re: UWOL #30 - Fenced In - Marj Atkins (late entry)

Hi Mick

Thank you for your encouraging feedback on my entry.

Regarding the openings in fences for elephants - I am not aware of anything like that in South Africa. Sounds interesting though. I know many African countries are opening up migration corridors to try and mitigate the conflict problems but we don't have these corridors other than the Transfrontier parks that were intended to accomplish the same sort of thing - allow better wildlife movement. They are proving to be a disaster because the neighbouring countries have such serious social and economic problems that the wildlife that comes into their territory is being decimated at a rapid rate. Its a long story. They are re-thinking the idea at present. Really sad.
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Old July 8th, 2014, 05:27 PM   #10
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Re: UWOL #30 - Fenced In - Marj Atkins (late entry)

Hi, Marj. It must be truly wonderful to know that place like the back of your hand. Thanks for sharing it. I think this is the best take on the theme and I can’t wait to see more work with the RX10. Best wishes.
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Old July 9th, 2014, 01:42 PM   #11
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Re: UWOL #30 - Fenced In - Marj Atkins (late entry)

Hi Marj,

You did it again, delivering such a great film with a strong story. As Steve said, this film would not be the same without your narration. Music video wouldn't do justice to the elephants.

Some technical details have been mentioned already, and I agree, especially about the abrupt cuts Steve mentioned. (I know you replied it was on purpose, but I would still have changed it as I felt it took my focus away from the story at those moments.)

Well done! I look forward to see your future films!
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Old July 10th, 2014, 02:24 AM   #12
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Re: UWOL #30 - Fenced In - Marj Atkins (late entry)

Hi Mike and Trond

Thank you both for your feedback.

I will have to find a solution for those cuts. Still don't want a dissolve for something fast-moving but maybe I need to look at each of the shots concerned to see if I can improve the start and end so they cut over properly. I felt one or two of those shots were clumsy but I have an opportunity, now that the pressure is off, to get better shots.

Mike it is wonderful - we have visited this park often and find it so relaxing. One never knows what will make an appearance next - each day brings its own basket of surprises. It does help to be familiar with locations and wildlife behaviour in order to find what you want - it certainly helped in this case.
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