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Old February 16th, 2009, 04:19 PM   #1
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Sims_OverTheMountain_UWOLLongForm Feedback Thread

As I stated before, the story I’m working on involves a lone Turkey Vulture that leaves her normal territory and flies to the other side of the mountain to forage. Along the way she passes over several different habitats as the altitude changes. The vulture is a means to “look down” into the lives of various other animals in each habitat as she passes over. I think this is called the “chocolate box” approach. I won’t know what other animals are involved until I see what I can find. It makes it difficult to write, but I’ve made a good start. In January I was able to get enough footage for a short sequence. I think it is suggestive of what I’m trying to do even if it probably won’t make the final edit in this form- for example two shots are hand-held.

360x240 Mpeg1 71.5MB

720x480 Mpeg4 139MB

I welcome any and all feedback. I would especially like to know:
1) Does the sequence work? Would it interest you to see more?
2) The sound is only ambient sound and Foley. You may need to turn up the volume to hear all the Foley tracks. A finished sequence would have more layers of Foley like feather scratching and feet on branch etc. Since the Foley work is new to me I’d like some input on what I‘ve done so far.
3) I used color replace on the Cottonwood leaves so I can cross edit with green leaves later in the year- could you tell?
4) Encoding for the web is not my strength. Did these files work for you? What should I do different next time?
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Old February 17th, 2009, 08:58 AM   #2
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Mike, I was able to open it with no problems. I like the footag. It does give you the impression that he is sitting there just watching the world go by and all the little interactions below. I especially like the other bird wacking the snot out of that lizard. Very good footage. Bob
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Old February 17th, 2009, 12:51 PM   #3
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HI Mike,
Footage looks great, no problem from what i could see with the encoding for the web. Sequence looked good, i was sort of expecting the turkey vulture to fly down & pinch the lizard from the other bird! Great close ups too. What camera are you using? I thought the filey sounds were great. If you are adding more, then it should work out fantastic. I liked that although these were probably all shots from different days the sound tyed them all together. I can't wait to see what you do with the arial shots you've been talking about, i think that will work fantastically if you can pull it off.
Good luck with the project,
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Old February 20th, 2009, 06:42 AM   #4
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Mike, I thought the sequence flowed quite well. Gave the impression of some story progression, whilst creating a scene of other animals around, either watching or simply inhabiting nearby. It looks like you found some hard subjects to film - and have managed to capture them quite well despite zooming in lots.

I forgot about the foley bit before watching it, and the sound seemed fine. Maybe as you get further along and learn more it will be easier to come back to, and maybe redo the bits you really want to stand out.
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Old February 21st, 2009, 12:57 AM   #5
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Mike, nice footage. I think the sequences was good, but would like some narrating too. Maybe tell something about the different species while the footage run. For me the species shown are totally unknown, so it's important to inform the audience what's going on.
- Per Johan
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Old February 22nd, 2009, 02:45 AM   #6
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Hi Mike.
Great footage.
I am not familiar with these birds you're showing, but it all seems very exiting.
I would like some narration, explaning what's going on.
Looking forward to see more of your film.

Geir Inge
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Old February 23rd, 2009, 08:40 PM   #7
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Ahhh the turkey Vulture. An interesting bird. I have a picture i took not that far from you of about 30 turkey vultures all lined up on some power poles. With all the road kills in Texas you should be able to get some good feeding footage!! I used to frequent the south down by eagle to brownsville every fall. Astounding amount of wildlife!!

You have some nice footage already, I can't wait to see what you get over the next 6 months.
Dale W. Guthormsen
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Old February 26th, 2009, 09:55 AM   #8
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Like the footage and your story is a novel idea. I think some narration would help the piece.
I think the sound was great. Very natural.
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Old February 27th, 2009, 12:34 PM   #9
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Bob- Thanks. Could you tell on the web version that the lizard was very much alive through the whole ordeal? It actually escaped later.

Bryce- Yes, different days and locations. I’m using 5 cameras on this project. Most of what you saw was shot with my main camera-still my workhorse XL1s (I’ve been budgeted twice to upgrade it and life intervened. If nothing else untoward happens I should do in a couple of months. Wish me luck!). Second camera is an old 1-chipper Sony Digital8. I mostly use it in a camera trap in IR mode. The bird with lizard clips were shot hand-held with it. I had just driven 10 hours to get there and pulled up to my campsite. As I stopped the car I noticed them 5 feet out the driver’s window. This was the only camera I could reach without making a fuss. The shots you saw were at a distance of about 12 feet with my elbows jammed into the window frame of my little Metro for support! The other cameras are for special shots. A Canon still and intervalometer for time-lapse. A bullet cam for “down and inside things”. The little light weight one I mentioned earlier for aerial shots. I’m going to try flying it from a towed helium balloon soon. More on that later…

Andrew- I wasn’t sure what you meant by zooming so I took another look. I don’t think you mean the zoon where I follow the running bird so as to keep it at the same relative size. I think you mean where I cut from a wide view to a closer one with no change in camera angle or cutaway. In retrospect I found it annoying as well. Less so for the last instance since there was a slight angle change (different birds). Let me know if you disagree and thanks for pointing that out.

I’m surprised no one has pointed out the “jump cut”. In one clip the vulture in the tree makes a rapid movement of a tail feather. Only about an inch. It starts on one frame and finishes 2 frames later. On the compressed file it looks like a horrible jump cut. Gotta fix it.
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Old February 27th, 2009, 01:25 PM   #10
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Per Johan and Geir Inge- Thank-you. Yes, there will be narration and music. Please allow me to apologize. I actually left the voice over out on purpose. It was selfish of me. I wanted feedback about the Foley sounds (after all it’s really just me mucking about in a box of dirt!) and didn’t want to distract from you hearing them. I should have taken the needs of the viewers into consideration. Sorry about that- it won’t happen again. Please allow me to now introduce you to some Chihuahuan Desert fauna in order of appearance:

Turkey Vulture- this is a New World vulture and not related to your Old World vultures, but with similar feeding habits. It is called Turkey because it’s red head resembles that of a wild Turkey.

Roadrunner- Doesn’t look much like the beep-beeping cartoon! It is a ground dwelling member of the cuckoo family and a voracious predator on insects, rodents, other small birds and reptiles including snakes and lizards.

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake- This is the poisonous snake from all the cowboy movies. Roadrunners kill and eat them.

Desert Spiny Lizard- The second one on a rock is doing a territorial display.

Western Screech Owl- A small Otus owl not unlike, I think, your (in Europe anyway) Scops Owl.

Gray Fox- Widespread from southern Canada to northern South America. It is our only fox to climb trees.

I hope this helps. Thanks for being patient with the newcomer.
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Old February 27th, 2009, 01:38 PM   #11
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Dale- An interesting bird indeed. And an unlikely hero of the story? They’re here year around but in winter we have lots of them. There is a microwave tower nearby that has 150-200 roosting on it every night. Next time you’re down on my patch give us a holler, or as we say in Texas- “Y’all come.”

Mihali- I’m feeling better about the sound now. Thanks for your input. I’m not sure how novel the idea is. At this point I’m just hoping people will find it interesting!
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Old March 1st, 2009, 04:22 AM   #12
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You have many great shots for your long form.
I like The Turkey Vulture´s red head against the blue sky.
You have a good cut where the T.V. raises its head and looks at the snake.
When the T.V. is folding out the wings and you in the next cut show us the birds back from a different angle, that is very good.

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Old March 1st, 2009, 11:39 AM   #13
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Hi Mike,
That was nice of the bird with the lizard to make it so easy on you. It's funny how it just happens like that sometimes.
I was thinking all along for some reason that you would be doing the arial shots with a remote controlled helicopter or something. Funny thing is, i was thinking the other day how cool it would be if i could get some arial shots myself. A remote controlled helicopter would be out of the question both for the financial reason & having to learn to fly it. I was then thinking about the possibility of a helium balloon. Now i have seen your response to me i see that that's what you're actually doing. I will be very interested to see & hear how it goes especially how much control you have over where it faces & how responsive you can get it. Great idea, & i'm really looking forward to seeing more of your film.
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Old March 1st, 2009, 12:23 PM   #14
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Hey Bryce,
Like you say, sometimes it just happens. I was once able to document a new bird for our state list like that. The bird had been seen several times but no one had managed any shots of it. There were about 150 people waiting for it to return- most with cameras. I was on the edge of the crowd and had pointed my camera a different direction to help keep it out of the sun. After several hours of waiting I looked up and realized it was sitting on a branch in my field of view. I reached over and hit record and managed to get 10 secs before it flew. It was the only image recorded and got the bird accepted. No telling how long it had been there before I saw it. Just think of all the things we’ve all seen when we either didn’t have a camera or weren’t set up to shoot!
I’m still going to try those other ideas I mentioned. I also would like to try RC helos but the expense and near vertical learning curve prevent it for now. I got the balloon idea from this guy:
Information on Killer Camera Rigs That You Can Build
Don’t let the kitsch put you off. He has some really good ideas (like cranes and dollies that are easy to build) and very detailed instructions. I found it well worth the cost. I’ll definitely let you know if it works, or not, and post photos of my rig.
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Old April 15th, 2009, 02:53 AM   #15
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Sounds like you have an interesting movie in the making, Mike.

I have absolutely no idea what is causing the problem, but no matter what I try I cannot get your movie to download. It chews up bandwidth, so it appears to be going through the process of downloading, but absolutely nothing materializes - no site, no movie. I am sure I could get it downloaded from the Uwol site but you haven’t uploaded it there for some reason.
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