UWOL #7 An Otter Adventure by Warren Cook at DVinfo.net
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Old February 23rd, 2008, 07:18 AM   #1
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UWOL #7 An Otter Adventure by Warren Cook

I started this challenge to be an adventure to look for otter tracks and signs. I figured that I would check out some of the many ponds and lakes in my area and see if I could find signs of otters. I live between the western edge of the Catskill Mountains in New York and the eastern edge of the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania.

I have permission to hike and film on a 14,000 acre scout camp which has over a dozen ponds and lakes and many swamps.

I spent my first day walking around three ponds and one large swamp and found no tracks or signs. The second day I walked into a pond that is more remote, about a mile and half off the main camp road, and found fresh otter tracks by open water near the dam. It had warmed up a little over the past few days and there were some soft spots in the ice.

I decided to sit down and see what happens, even if nothing happened itís just so great to sit there and listen to the wind and sounds of nature.

So after about two hours of sitting in a light snow I looked to my right around a tree that was blocking a small section of the pond and I couldnít believe what I saw, a head poking up through the ice.

I watched the otters and every time they went under the ice I moved the camera closer until I was near the edge of the pond but still behind some brush.

The first day there were a family of 4, they were about 1000 feet away, they are what most of the film shows. The next day I again sat for an hour or so before an otter showed itself, this otter was about 600 to 700 feet away at first and got to within 300 or 400 feet at the closest.

It was not snowing on the last day and the sun was out, and over a period of about a two hours the otter slowly got closer, by coming up through holes in the ice that were closer and closer to me.

This gave me a little better quality video at the end of my film. But, the otter family was better footage in regards to activity, especially the part where they pulled out the largemouth bass, and the running and sliding on the ice.

This is my first attempt at the challenge. I hope you like it. Iím looking forward to your feedback.

My equipment:
- Sony DCR-TRV340 Digital 8 format Ė The camera has a 25X lens which the Sony manual states is equal to 1050mm and on this I have a Sony 2X teleconverter that doubles it to 2100mm.
- Manfrotto 503HDV head and 351MVB2 legs
- Edit with Sony Vegas Studio 7 Platinum
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Old February 24th, 2008, 02:10 PM   #2
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in some ways, this is one of my favorite videos in this round--i can't quite put my finger on it, but it really captures how hopeful we are when we set out with one of these goals in mind, that we are going in search of a specific creature, and that miraculous feeling of wonder when the animals actually cooperate with our silly human schemes!

the convergence of our cameras with what we are seeking is always a magical moment, and even though some of the footy is a little soft on focus, it was great to go along for the ride with you, warren, and to see the outcome.

sadly, i have only ever seen these amazing animals in a zoo, and they are incredible creatures, perfect blend of water and sea navigators...
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Old February 24th, 2008, 04:14 PM   #3
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Thank you Meryem for the kind words. I wish I could have given better quality video. Any other time I would not have used this quality of video. All the times I’ve been in the woods and around ponds and lakes I’ve only seen glimpses these animals, they are so elusive.

I felt privileged to have had the opportunity to sit there and watch and film these creatures.

So even though the quality is not great I felt that some would enjoy watching them also.
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Old February 24th, 2008, 04:16 PM   #4
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Warren that was a fun film of a not often seen animal.

You have the right spirit in that just being out there is what it is all about and you were rewarded with some incredible sights.

The ice formations in that stream were killer!!!

Great job!!
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Old February 24th, 2008, 09:25 PM   #5
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Thank you Kavin for your response. Many times while walking in the woods I'll just set down and do nothing more than look and listen to the sounds of nature. When I filmed the icy stream I stood leaning against a tree for 20 minutes just watching the water flow under the ice and listening to the water.
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Old February 25th, 2008, 03:54 AM   #6
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Warren, good job!

Otters are cool, I have never experience otter in the wild, but I would truly like to after you film. I missed some close ups (long lens shots) but hey, it was good. Maybe you could have hade some more change between full zoom and wide instead of many full zoom after each other.

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Old February 25th, 2008, 12:29 PM   #7
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Hi Warren,

I have never seen otters in real life, so I really enjoyed watching your film.
The water flowing under the ice, that was awesome.

I'm looking forward to watch your future films.
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Old February 25th, 2008, 12:36 PM   #8
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thankyou for going to so much trouble to get us some great Otter footage. for those of us who do not live where such things exist it is a real treat. I loved the closer footage, but I totally understand how hard that kind of footage is to get at the best of times!!!

Great job
Dale W. Guthormsen
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Old February 26th, 2008, 03:00 PM   #9
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Warren, awesome film you got there!
The only time I've seen otter in the wild was when I was visiting Geir Inge last summer.
There was some minor things I've noticed in your film. First of all the beginning of the otters on the ice seemed a bit out of focus, did you use AF in this shoots? AF have often problems in snow or rainy weather so my advise will be to shoot manually as much as you can!
Your best part was from 2:18, that sequence was very nice and good looking. You could see the shine in the fur very well.
A very good and nice film of a species not often seen on film. Good work!
- Per Johan
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Old February 26th, 2008, 03:40 PM   #10
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I too have only seen otters in the wild once, and for about 2 minutes - you must have felt utterly blessed in front of such a display. The waiting paid off, and it was very nicely put together -thanks for sharing this!!!
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Old February 26th, 2008, 09:25 PM   #11
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This is good docu style entry Warren. Interesting footage, and smooth edits made it a joy to watch. Some CU's would have been nice to intersperse throughout, but at those ranges while snowing I can see the difficulty. I'll have to admit I've never seen an otter other than on tv/film, unless you count sea otters that is.
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Old February 26th, 2008, 10:21 PM   #12
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Hi Warren:

I loved this! It was wonderful! I have only seen film of Otters in the open ocean. What a delight. What a sense of wit and humor with the .... did I mention playing? Everything was pulled together perfectly. I really like how we only see your back. Thanks Warren, what a treat! It's all your hard work, for us to enjoy.

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Old February 27th, 2008, 02:48 AM   #13
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Hi Warren
Good wildlife/nature adventure. I dont know if I could ever live somewhere That has snow for part of the year.If the sun goes behind a cloud here I dont even venture out.You put in great effort to capture those little guys...well done.
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Old February 27th, 2008, 05:33 AM   #14
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Hi Warren,

I really enjoyed watching your film - with the bonus footage of otters! Sounds like they are quite difficult to find?

Some points, which others may have commented on (didn't have time to read the other feedback);

- the wind noise was very noticable from the 0.47 mark onwards and given there was no ambient noise, it was probably best to just delete the audio from your footage at this point.

- given the footage of the otters was the same for a while there, it may have been better to use the opening shots of them appearing up from the snow, and then starting the otter scenes from maybe 2:11 onwards. Then use the remaining time at the end to capture the delight on your face and the walk back home - or even some shots of the otters playing, shot from just behind you showing you in the footage as you sit and watch the otters. This would show us things from your perspective. Just some thoughts.

Overall, I really enjoyed watching your film. The music was nice - although I probably would have gone with a more playful upbeat approach.

I bet you wish you had greater reach on that lens. Isn't it frustrating when you capture such a rare moment and just don't have the reach to get some real close ups!

Congratulations on finding the otters and on the capture of some very nice footage.
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Old February 27th, 2008, 07:41 AM   #15
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Hi Warren.
I love otters and your film is great.
Suitable music mixed together with the backgriund sound.
Next time try out VO instead of text, as it can be difficult to read in small windows :)
I have an ongoing film project here on the west coast of Norway and otters is one of my stars :) I know how hard it can be to film this cute and charming animal. I think you have a real wildlife adventure in this one.

Thank you for sharing
Geir Inge
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