Sunday, August 26, 2012

My Experience Entering A Vimeo Contest

So I finally did it. I entered one of those Weekend Project contests that Vimeo does every now and then. This one was called "Wetter Is Better", and the rules were simple. The video had to be 60 seconds or under and the theme was water. This was my entry:

River Dawn from Steve Savage on Vimeo.

Before I came up with that idea and video, I spent a good few days thinking about what I could do. My ideas went from a short film (I even went as far as writing out the shooting script, and I'll probably film it either this year or next), to more underwater videography (ideas went from a 60 second compressed timelapse of the sun rising as seen from underwater to a fun, crazy water adventure like jumping off cliffs, water skiing, swimming, dock jumping and freediving) and a few other things.

I liked the idea of filming a sunrise over the St. Lawrence. While thinking of different ideas, I came back to that a few times and so that was what I went with. I ended up pulling an all-nighter before I went out to shoot the sunrise on Aug 18th just to make sure that Rhonda and I would be up in time (she went out to shoot some still photography of the sunrise).

I got a lot out of entering the contest; probably more than I thought I would. It was a challenge to try to get a bunch of varied shots when you're in a real crunch for time and there's a bunch of signs everywhere restricting where you can and can't go. The reason for that's because when you're filming a sunrise or a sunset, it's not about the sky in your shot. You're gonna get that no matter what, unless you're pointing your camera at the ground. It's about what else is in your shot. So being blocked to go to a bunch of places threw me off, because I was expecting to be able to get out on the docks and shoot a few different shots, and I couldn't. So I was forced to stay on the outskirts. I was planning to go out on the breakwater, but with the poor light, how hard the rocks were to navigate and the short amount of time I had, I called off that idea. The next challenge I had was editing. I wanted to keep the edit simple to compliment the simplicity of the images. I also wanted to make the colors pop more, but not really change them too much, since it was all about the colors of the sunrise. I was frustrated by one thing. I never got "the closing shot". I always shoot one shot that I pick to end out my videos on, but I ran out of time. So during the edit, I picked 3 different scenes that I filmed, and picked the best out of them, but it's not the shot I would have liked to have ended on. 60 seconds was really limiting, too!

Once I had the shooting and editing done, I posted it up on Vimeo. Since I had no DSLR looking shots and no fancy Magic Bullet color grading, I knew from the get-go that I'd lose the contest, but it wasn't about winning or losing. It was about being faithful to the scene that presented itself to me that morning. I was curious about how other Vimeo users would react to the video, whether people thought I went in the right direction or the wrong direction. Right from the get-go, the video was #1 in the "likes" category and hung up at the #2 and #3 spots for views and comments respectively right up until the contest winner was announced. Even now, almost a week later and 5 days after the contest closed and the winner was announced, the video is still #1 for likes, #3 for plays and #3 for comments. So though I didn't place or win the contest, I feel like I won in the eyes of my peers and that kind of floors me. The video might not have won the heart of the guy running the contest, but I'm glad that it was able to speak to others out there.

I'm not sure whether I'll enter another of these Vimeo contests or not. I guess it all depends on what the weekend project is about and whether it speaks to me like this one did. What I do want to say is thanks to everyone who liked the video (on Vimeo, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and in person), commented on it and supported me in the contest! It's because of you that this was an awesome experience for me and it made staying up all night to catch the sunrise and all the time I put in for editing totally worth it!

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