UWOL #37 - Balancing Act - by Marj Atkins at DVinfo.net

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Old March 2nd, 2016, 04:41 AM   #1
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UWOL #37 - Balancing Act - by Marj Atkins

It is hard to believe I actually went out looking for boring, inanimate, sleeping birds (not that easy to find when you need them either) !!! .... Patience, perseverance and perspiration par for the course (38deg. C). Even in high temperatures water can cool birds due to nights dropping in temperature so standing on one leg helps in these circumstances too. I also think it has become a natural thing for them to do most of the time.

The idea came from a genuine question that Tom asked me in December when we were watching some birds in a nature reserve. In one area there was a group of ducks taking a nap. But I was more interested in filming a bird on the opposite side so my answer was not immediately forthcoming. He decided to 'google' the question “Why do birds sleep on one leg and why don’t they fall over?” then and there, and proceeded to read out the answers. This movie attempts to describe the reasons but it is by no means comprehensive.

The first two shots and the last shot are previously shot footage – taken two weeks before the challenge started. I needed to include subjects actually doing something other than sleeping and while I did get some action shots during the challenge, these particular shots are of actions that one doesn’t see every day, so I included them for interest. I only thought to include the Hadedah and Barbet rencontre as I was rounding off my film – it seemed the perfect ending for my story so I included it - unapologetically. (The Barbet was not happy - presumably because the Hadedah was sleeping near its nest hole.)

Regarding my ‘animation’ of the flamingo falling – it is incomplete unfortunately – it should have included splayed legs. The antitochanter is a structure unique to birds which serves to prevent abduction of the femur that would cause the legs to splay.


Last edited by Marj Atkins; March 3rd, 2016 at 12:00 AM. Reason: Fix wording.
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Old March 2nd, 2016, 06:17 AM   #2
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Re: UWOL #37 - Balancing Act - by Marj Atkins

Hi Marj.

Another top notch entry. You have posed a "Why" question and very cleverly answered it with a mixture of film and animation. Although you say it is not a comprehensive answer to the question, by keeping the explanation in its simplest terms, it does allow the viewer to quickly have a basic understanding of what is happening and "Why". That is where you have been clever with your editing and animation. Narration top notch as usual.

With regards to the footage not recorded during the challenge I find that perfectly acceptable as they are only included to carry the story along and were part of the main subject matter.

I look forward to your entries each challenge and this one certainly does not disappoint
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Last edited by Mick Jenner; March 2nd, 2016 at 02:10 PM.
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Old March 2nd, 2016, 06:52 AM   #3
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Re: UWOL #37 - Balancing Act - by Marj Atkins

Hi Marj

You certainly maintaining the quality we have come to expect of your productions. Your introduction into the topic was very cleverly done with good supporting action footage before the switch to "inaction footage", which may be a genre you have created and owned all in one fell swoop!

Great work!

Tim
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Old March 2nd, 2016, 11:51 AM   #4
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Re: UWOL #37 - Balancing Act - by Marj Atkins

Marj:

This is awesome! And I LOVE the ending! It always lifts me up when nature provides it's own sense of humor to be shared by the keen and studious observer.

This is masterfully done and nothing comes to mind on how it could be improved, except for rounding out your animation to better show the difference between the bone structure in our leg versus a bird's leg and why we would tend to fall down and they don't. But you yourself said that the animations were not a finished work, so it's not even worth a mention. Your transition from real life to animation was masterfully done and very effective.

The title is perfect. It will be worth watching this several times to take in the wealth of information given.

Coincidentally, I asked the same question in my comments to Paul Wood's entry. His question was why do Storks live in towns? Throughout his piece he showed storks standing in their nest on one leg and I offered up that question of why do they stand on one leg as a side. Thanks for giving us a thorough study of the question as to why birds stand on one foot and not seem to fall over and seem perfectly comfortable in this position. In our temperate climate here in Colorado where winters can be snowy and very cold, I have often wondered how birds sitting on wires in sub-zero temperature don't have their feet freeze on the wire. Thanks for addressing this also. The slower rate of heat exchange with relatively cooler blood temperature in the feet must really work. Think of your situation with birds in water in a very hot environment and then extrapolate to our situation here where birds are sitting on wires in sub-zero temperatures and their feet are fine!

I thought your opening shot of the bird with it's wings covering it's head was stunning. As you know, Steve catches this behavior with the Reddish Egrets and is a beautiful and fascinating pose for a bird to do.

Thanks for the exceptional work!

Cheers!

Cat
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Old March 3rd, 2016, 12:34 AM   #5
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Re: UWOL #37 - Balancing Act - by Marj Atkins

Thank you all for your encouraging, helpful and insightful comments. It always helps to know what one got right and what can be improved.

Cat - regarding the temperatures - while our summers are hot, our winters are also sub-zero (albeit nothing like your freezing temperatures!) so birds here have similar icy problems.

Having said that, I suspect that in hot temperatures they use standing on one leg as a method to reduce heat - I watched one flamingo scoop up water and dribble it over his resting leg presumably to cool it down. I was so hot filming those birds that I was forced to stop in order to move out of the direct sun. Those legs and bills must also get very hot.

What amazes me is the way these problems are resolved! Who would have thought that a simple thing like a heat exchange system would be incorporated into a bird's leg - amazing! Actually there are similar solutions for fish and other aquatic creatures as well as reindeer but that is another story.

Incidentally, birds feet also don't stick to icy metal posts or fencing wire because they are always dry - they don't have sweat glands in their feet.
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Old March 3rd, 2016, 03:41 AM   #6
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Re: UWOL #37 - Balancing Act - by Marj Atkins

Wonderful fim as usual, Marj!

I can only add the what has already been said - your usual informative and easy to listen to voice over, and a tremendous amount of research gave a very interesting story some life - I particularly liked the combination of graphics and real footage to demonstrate your points.

Thanks!
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Old March 3rd, 2016, 05:28 AM   #7
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Re: UWOL #37 - Balancing Act - by Marj Atkins

Many thanks Paul - appreciate your input.
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Old March 3rd, 2016, 09:57 PM   #8
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Re: UWOL #37 - Balancing Act - by Marj Atkins

That was very nicely done. Besides all the good video shots - how you get some of those, so close and without them flying away, is really good.

Then there are the graphics - very well thought out and nicely done. You have a flair for not only being able to show your message with the graphics but also doing it in a manner that is easy to visualize.

The red and blue arteries in the legs - wonder if this could be the reason why some people have colder feet or hands than others? Hmmm…..

This is another excellent one (video lesson) for the grandkids.

Oh, and the ending clip was something else!
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Old March 4th, 2016, 03:32 AM   #9
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Re: UWOL #37 - Balancing Act - by Marj Atkins

Hi Marj

Thought I'd take a quick look at what you are up to these days. Nice short film! I enjoyed it and found it interesting. I like the way you intro'd it too, nice writing!

In critique.

There is very little to establish/setup-add character or mood to move us along. Shoot more wides to show me where I am and give me more about the personality of the characters. Once the concept was introduced you could have centred in on the 'flamingo' by name. Showed me some of its personality, move with it, let me get to know it and the place it lives in. Then when we find out about their 'balancing act' we will care a little more. The piece can contain the same science but deliver it in a more characterful manner and in my opinion make it more digestible.

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Old March 4th, 2016, 06:08 AM   #10
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Re: UWOL #37 - Balancing Act - by Marj Atkins

Thank you John – your comments are much appreciated.
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Nantz View Post
. . . The red and blue arteries in the legs - wonder if this could be the reason why some people have colder feet or hands than others? Hmmm…..
I think our resident MD, Steve, would be the best person to answer this question! I thought it was due to poor blood circulation. I do know that the human arm has some deep veins and arteries that run close together. The shallower blood vessels of the arms and hands constrict in the cold to avoid heat loss. Presumably the deeper veins can act as a heat exchange system. Not sure.
I also know that if you want to reduce heat loss in your hands you must make them into a fist – not keep them open – because thern the surface-to-volume ratio is reduced thus reducing heat loss.
:)
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Old March 4th, 2016, 06:10 AM   #11
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Re: UWOL #37 - Balancing Act - by Marj Atkins

Wow Mat – thanks so much for your invaluable input!

Once again you are yanking me out of my old textbook habits and reminding me of the basics of good storytelling.

Yes certainly, it would have been much improved had I structured my story this way giving it a different focus but a stronger more relevant story. Thanks for the kick up the whatsit.

Not sure if you will see this but does this sound advice come all the way from Zambia or are you back home again?
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Old March 4th, 2016, 07:44 AM   #12
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Re: UWOL #37 - Balancing Act - by Marj Atkins

Hi Marj
No worries. Happy to help and kick you up the whatsit :) !

I returned from Zambia (South Lwangua) yesterday after a 3.5wk shoot. I was also there for October/Nov last year for the dry season.

This shoot was mainly small critters and birds. The last for the big stuff. It's for a big new series of films for Smithsonian and a big new on-demand service.

I really love it there. So much life and variety!!

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Old March 4th, 2016, 12:18 PM   #13
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Re: UWOL #37 - Balancing Act - by Marj Atkins

How cool is that. Please keep us posted as to when & where we can view this.

I am so happy to hear that there is still wildlife in Zambia. The last I heard from a friend who was born there and went back for a visit was that most of the wildlife had either been poached out of existence or eaten. :(
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Old March 5th, 2016, 03:22 AM   #14
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Re: UWOL #37 - Balancing Act - by Marj Atkins

Hi Marj,

Thanks for teaching me something new (again). I really enjoyed watching.
Interesting heat exchange system the birds have, and you tell it in a very easy to understand way.

I also would have liked to see some more wide "where are we" shots in the beginning, but all in all, well done!
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