I’ve been flat out in pre production on a new Telemovie I’m shooting in Vancouver, but I wanted to share this little short film project from earlier in the year.
I’ve been doing a lot of testing of the new FLAT video profile for the Olympus E-M5 Mark II and I was really keen to find out how far I could take the image if it was recorded to a more robust codec using an external recorder.
After the initial launch of the E-M5 Mark II Olympus have been taking feedback from video users and have included some of that feedback into firmware updates to further improve the video capabilities. Most significantly they’ve created a FLAT profile for shooting video and the thinking is to try and squeeze a little more DR into the image by starting with a lower contrast and flatter picture profile. This then allows you to put the colour and contrast back in during the final grade.
About the Shoot
I wanted to see how the camera and new profile would produce in a very minimal environment. For me, this is when using a mirrorless camera really excells. I can be very discrete and shoot without any requirement for permits. With just two crew and the two actors, I was keen to try the camera in a few scenarios where I knew it might shine.
So I had three days. Luckily I had some friends in LA on a recent trip to California that I was able to rope in for this shoot.
Now who hasn’t thought about driving the open highway in a classic car like a nice ’65 Mustang ?
So I had in mind to shoot some in-car work and also to visit some of the more iconic locations of California.
Starting at a wonderful standing “movie version” of an American gas station, we set the scene between our couple who meet for the first time.
After some initial frisson over the bowsers he leaves before they can talk, but she eventually finds a little surprise he’s left her. A ring !
Later she realises that he’s left her a message inside the ring, it’s an Instagram handle. Looking it up she realises he’s left her a picture clue for where he might be next, so she takes off to track him down. After arriving at the beautiful Joshua Tree, she again finds another ring. Checking in on Instagram, he’s left yet another clue, and she’s off again, this time to the snow capped mountains of inspiration point, about 90 mins outside of LA.
Once in the beautiful mountains she finds a third ring and it points her towards Santa Monica Pier where she finally meets up with the mysterious stranger. They have a dance by the sunset before he finally offers her a final ring.
I had no tripod. This is all shot handheld. No gimbal, no monopod. There are a couple of shots where I had the camera mounted using a suction mount when it was on the car, but that’s IT ! So everything you see here is done using the amazing 5 axis image stabiliser.
With a grand total of four people, three days and 600 miles of driving this is what we got done !
Everything was recorded on an external recorder over HDMI using the “clean feed function” of the camera. I used a 5″ Blackmagic Video Assist recorder to record the HDMI signal to 1920 ProRes HQ on it’s internal SD card.
Intrigue was edited and graded using Blackmagic’s DaVinci Resolve (which is available as a free download here)
If you’re interested in what the visual differences are with the flat profile, you can get a sense of where the grade started to where it ended up by looking here. The first image is the final grade and the second is the ungraded shot.
I used a combination of lenses, mostly the outstanding Olympus 12mm F2, and the Olympus 9-18mm F4-5.6. I love these lenses because they are so lightweight ! For ND I used the SLR Magic Vari ND and in addition to these lenses I had some PL mount Zeiss MK 3 Superspeeds from my friends at Blacklist Digital and an MFT–> PL lens adaptor from Hot Rod Camera.
Special thanks to the awesome Jane Harber, Armen Taylor on acting duties and especially to Jessica Clarke-Nash, who helped shoot and cut this for me. My good friend Hook did the grade.
I also really want to thank Kristy Galea and Olympus Imaging Australia for her awesome support and making this shoot possible, and Quett Lai for his masterful technical support.
Download your own files
For direct viewing in vimeo go here.
If you want to download some juicy large ProRes files to try editing and grading your own clips then go here.
Very special thanks to my friends at Digital Pidgeon for making these files available for download, it’s not easy doing such fast hosting of large video files.