UWOL 40 - State of Serenity by Kevin J Railsback at DVinfo.net

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Old November 1st, 2016, 07:59 AM   #1
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UWOL 40 - State of Serenity by Kevin J Railsback

First of all, how fantastic is it that this was the 40th UWOL challenge!? The challenge has ebbed and flowed over the years but it's still one of the best places to hone your filmmaking skills and get feedback from your peers!

Since it was the 40th challenge I really wanted to make sure I had an entry, even if it was just a static four minute shot of clouds drifting overhead.

Even though I would be attending the UWOL meet up and Wildscreen in Bristol, England, when the theme was announced I wanted to do something with the autumn colors here in my hometown.

Wildscreen and meeting people I've known for years but never had a chance to just sit down and have a conversation was fantastic, so I encourage all of you to try to make the next meet up when we decide where and when it will be!

I was really shocked when I returned form England to see all my favorite haunts were past prime for Fall color. Even though peak color was supposed to be a week or two away, the forest was dominated by brown rust colored leaves or bare trees that had already dropped all their leaves.

Here in the US a lot of states are known by their nicknames, the Corn State, the Show Me State, Land of 10,000 Lakes, Iowa for a while even had a foolish sign upon crossing into Iowa that said Iowa: A State of Minds. We got a lot of flack for that one!!

So while I pondered what my Plan B would be as usual, my time started slipping away from me and life was a non stop merry go round of stress and never having enough time to get everything done. I was really beginning to think I wouldn't have an entry yet again.

One thing that has always helped me that I've unfortunately let slip is meditation. In as little as sixty seconds you can feel a difference as the stress and worries of your day slip away.

I've licensed several sixty minute meditation tracks from a composer with the thought of one day making meditation films to help people like it has helped me. So instead of a virtual postcard of an actual place, I thought I'd do something about the state of mind.

I wanted to juxtapose daily life, even if on the surface it doesn't seem stressful. We are however bombarded with noise even if we aren't consciously aware of it. I thought maybe starting out with the bells of Bristol Cathedral which was right next door to our hotel and the music of the amazing Ambling Band with some of the sites from our time in Bristol would be a good representation of how are lives are filled with distractions and from the moment we get up to the moment we go to sleep, we are on the go.

State of Serenity is intended just to be a virtual mind massage. The idea was to just film simple things isolated against the rest of their world with no real rhyme or reason. There are a few exceptions like the fawns. It's rare that I encounter wildlife on my walks through the nature center so when these little ones which haven't learned to fear people hung out with me for a while, I just had to include them. But otherwise it's a lot of shallow depth of field to take away most distractions but to still give you something to look at.

While it may not be a virtual postcard in the truest sense of the theme, watch it, take a few minutes and just relax. You'll feel better, trust me.

Oh, and feel free to rake it over the coals and rip it apart. I'd rather know what you didn't like because that makes me do better for the next challenge.

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Old November 1st, 2016, 11:53 AM   #2
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Re: UWOL 40 - State of Serenity by Kevin J Railsback

Hey Kevin,

I'm glad you enjoyed the Bristol meeting. You obviously have been looking forward to it for a long time.
Your comment on the fall colors was of interest. I spent the last two weeks in the West (Yosemite and Zion, mostly) and expected a nice fall color show. The aspens were totally leafless. It isn't just Iowa.

As a relaxation tool, your piece is effective, the music, length of clips and flat lighting are all good. I just was a little surprised not to see that one "K.J.R. knock your socks off" scene that your videos always have. Maybe next time.
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Old November 1st, 2016, 02:40 PM   #3
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Re: UWOL 40 - State of Serenity by Kevin J Railsback

Hey Steve,

I really enjoyed both Wildscreen and the UWOL get together!
Wildscreen is very inspiring but it also made me realize how far I still have to go. Vishal and Mick got the most out of it I think. I felt a lot of times that I was out of my league. Saw some amazing films while we were there.

Really enjoyed meeting people I've known for years but never had a chance to just sit and chat about anything and everything. I think the next UWOL get together we should go somewhere that we can shoot some nature and wildlife for the challenge, like Alaska or something.

I can't figure out how everything changed in a weeks time. When I left for Bristol, the prairie was very green, the goldenrod was brilliant yellow and the trees were only starting to get some color in them.

A week later the entire prairie was brown, the goldenrod had gone to seed, trees were bare and a majority of the rest were just rust brown. There are still trees that have brilliant color but no wide swaths of color like we've had in the past.

I'm honored and humbled that you feel I've had some knock your socks off scenes. I'm pretty much an opportunist filmmaker in that I just drive out to the nature center, walk around and shoot whatever looks like it might look nice.

My derailed Plan A kind of really threw me for a loop. I spent a fair amount of time on the flights to and from England brainstorming ideas and thought I'd have a pretty nice looking piece. I think Plan B was more for my sanity than anything else. Between work and other obligations I've been burning the candle at both ends so there's not much thought that went into Plan B other than to have it be a minimalist piece.

But fear not, I've been cooking up some new recipes since July and have been picking up knowledge that will hopefully allow me to get at least one knock your socks off shot in the next challenge. :) Some of what I've been working on won't be able to be shot until Spring but I'm thinking I can hopefully still come up with something that will knock at least one sock off! :)

I felt I accomplished my goal of finally getting an entry in since I've missed so many recently. Now I can focus on story and content for the next challenge.

I appreciate the feedback on the lack of wow factor. That's the kind of stuff I want to hear and that's the stuff that gets me off my butt to do more than mediocre. Unless Trond comes up with a theme that totally short circuits my brain in January, I hope to get back up to the level that you expect out of me!
Thanks again!!!!
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Old November 4th, 2016, 07:24 AM   #4
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Re: UWOL 40 - State of Serenity by Kevin J Railsback

Kevin I don't know if I would want a real knock your socks off shot in this type of video. For what your goal was I think you nailed it. A video like this I can watch over and over which I have and might do again to see if I can find something to pick on. Thanks for it.

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Old November 4th, 2016, 10:17 AM   #5
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Re: UWOL 40 - State of Serenity by Kevin J Railsback

Awesome music, i drifted off into a dreamworld and the images are divine, probably a tenuous link to the theme, the macro shots were brilliant loved the bokeh really well shot.

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Old November 5th, 2016, 05:14 AM   #6
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Re: UWOL 40 - State of Serenity by Kevin J Railsback

Hi Kevin,

I'm glad you were able to submit your film this round.
Your film is a great reminder that things don't have to be complex or fancy to be good. It is often easy to forget the small details in life.
I really like how you use the extreme shallow depth of field to point the audience to the details... From the leaf floating in water, to the small insects crawling over a flower...

The shot at 2:22:
In my opinion some of the background was too bright and became a distraction. Maybe you could blur the background even more to make it more smooth. Now the bright spots are pretty defined, and that is what makes it more distracting.
Notice in the next sequence (2:32) you also have a couple bright spots in the left part of the background, but here it doesn't matter, as the foreground (the plants you have in focus, stands out and attracts the focus to them, so the background gets ignored.)

Well done!
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Old November 9th, 2016, 11:10 PM   #7
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Re: UWOL 40 - State of Serenity by Kevin J Railsback

Beautiful images, Kevin, with music that fit perfectly. The rippling water was so hypnotic I felt almost sorry when it faded away. Serene...yes...and we all can use serenity wherever it can be found.
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Old December 7th, 2016, 10:58 AM   #8
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Re: UWOL 40 - State of Serenity by Kevin J Railsback


As always brilliant shots one after another, but I have to say the opening water shot is one of the best I have ever seen!!!! Great opener!!!!

I loved the pace! not made for the attention deficit! thats my personal favorite for all film!!

the yellow seed pod if it were here and it was red would be a perfect wild rose hip. what is it?

The seed at 332 brings back memories of my youth, as kids we played with them and called them angels. they float well when you toss them in the air and blow away.
An awesome video aas I come to expect from you.

No criticism, I would have liked an endeing with the angel and filmed one drifting away if I could get it and slow it down.

again, I love your work!!
Dale W. Guthormsen
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