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Andrew Reid

Why the Olympus OM-D E-M1 is better than expected for video (Review)

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The E-M1 is a real surprise for a video.

For this review I decided to set myself a challenge with a musician friend, where we'd shoot a music video 'Dogme 95' style.
  • Entirely handheld with the Olympus 5 axis stabliser
  • Very basic lights (iPhone torch and a flame)
  • Maximum of 2 shooting days

In the process I learned a lot about what makes the E-M1 such an effective camera for filmmakers.

Read the full article here

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Andrew,

I really appreciate your having kept an open mind about this camera. Yours was the first site I saw mention that the E-M1 might be even remotely suitable for making movies - everywhere else had it that a lack of 24p made it borderline unusable for anyone "serious" about filmmaking.

I was already most of the way sold on it purely for stills purposes, but your early assurances sealed the deal. I've been shooting on my E-M1 for a little over a week now, and it really is a pleasure to use. I think that's actually - for me, a casual video shooter - the most important thing: it's just plain fun. There's no stress, no worrying about rigging; you can just take your camera out as you would if you were shooting stills and still end up with remarkable results.

Thanks for all your hard work and research!

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Yours was the first site I saw mention that the E-M1 might be even remotely suitable for making movies - everywhere else had it that a lack of 24p made it borderline unusable for anyone "serious" about filmmaking.

 

Indeed, what tends to get overlooked by tech heads is the fact that content trumps all else.  

 

If you're constantly getting caught up in the notion that you can't effectively tell a story because an imaging device does't shoot at an certain frame rate, it has less resolution than some other camera, or maybe it's missing a few extra steps of dynamic range, I'd wonder if you're the type that'll ever be an effective filmmaker.

 

Having all those premium features help make a story look better, but that's not going to help you TELL the story at a fundamental level. (in fact, there's a strong argument to be made that technical obstructions foster creativity rather than hinder it.)

 

Are you consistently worried more about image quality than narrative?  You're probably a technician, not a storyteller.  And here in the lower-end marketplace of filmmaking with all this democratized gear, the latter really tends to matter a whole lot more.

 

These cameras are just tools, they're not the craft.

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Andrew,

 

Could you please do a short video showing how you do this?

 

However if adding film grain you must make sure not to stress the codec you’re mastering the final project in. Do NOT use the ‘DSLR’ preset in Adobe Premiere for your timeline and do not let the timeline take the form of the E-M1′s H.264 video at just 24Mbit. Instead use ProRes 444 otherwise the image will break-up when Film Convert is applied.

 

I feel like I am missing something beyond the initial import. (maybe my lack of mac too) I am on a windows machine.

 

Thanks,

 

Brian

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Indeed, what tends to get overlooked by tech heads is the fact that content trumps all else.

 

I actually consider gear to be part of the content. It's the camera and lens that helps shape the look and mood of the content. And without the 5 axis stabiliser this video wouldn't have had the same spontaneous content, it would have been more staged.

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Having all those premium features help make a story look better, but that's not going to help you TELL the story at a fundamental level. (in fact, there's a strong argument to be made that technical obstructions foster creativity rather than hinder it.)

 

Why does 'content' always get reduced down to 'story'. I've seen a lot of great stuff that has absolutely no story whatsoever!

 

I see this also in marketing and in the workshops, it's always a focus on story telling.

 

Story telling like a children's book :)

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I feel like I am missing something

 

He just means that if you're going to add an effect that introduces a lot of activity to your image (like film grain) in post-production, you need to convert your video to a codec that can handle all that "new" motion information.  

 

A codec like H.264 can't compensate for all that new visual activity, because the data rate is too minimal, so it "crushes" those details and makes them mushy.

 

Thus, he changes his format from from the camera, H.264, to ProRes444 and then edits with that converted footage.

 

Essentially ProRes444 is a big wide pipe and data flows through it easily.  H.264 is a thin garden hose and can only handle so much data before it starts to fail under pressure.

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I actually consider gear to be part of the content. It's the camera and lens that helps shape the look and mood of the content.

 

Agreed.  I shot one of my last films deliberately 24p, FF, a single 50mm lens, and always @f1.4 whether day or night.  Those were the considered parameters I decided to use for my own exaggerated aesthetic reasons.  I felt that particular visual look supported the narrative, so I utilized it.   

 

The issue I'm driving at stems more from the assumption I've seen that without 24p one's work could be dismissed as not "pro" --whatever that means.  Obviously, based on my posts, I tend to believe that so many other considerations are more important.

 

In the case of the Oly, the 5-axis feature is so incredible it makes that camera a viable choice for productive shooting.  The lack of 24p is too bad, but more than a worthwhile concession.

 

BTW, I shoot my corporate gigs @30p almost all the time.

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I wonder how does the E-M10 do since it share the same processor as E-M1, though only 3Axis IS (from video it look pretty stable). No pdaf sensor means no pdaf strip will be shown on specific condition, and at half the price I am much more tempted to get as 2nd camera for handheld

 

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Andrew thank you for being open minded. Though, i remember your post "best and worst things for 2013" or something like that, where you said that E-M1 is disapointment among other things it has even more moire than E-M5.

 

Nevertheless, this is not the purpose for my post here, what I want to tell you is that I would be one of the first to buy "The Olympus E-M1 Shooter's Guide" if you ever put one together :D

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Guest 89e2bdf5797fbbdc17c2cc6da1413fa0

The Herdwhite video is awesome. I don't particularly like the b/w head shots at the start - too video-ish - but the rest I really like. You say you gave yourself 2 days to shoot it - how much time did you put into prep?

 

His voice reminded me a bit of Berlin-era Bowie at times ...

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