Finally ”” she’s in the right spot, looks like the gaffer can hold the LED kicker right there, and the wind in her hair is just right … now if I could just get her to relax.” These were our thoughts as we lined up a frame on the four-year-old star of our commercial. Knowing how kids can be when they’re faced with unfamiliar people, settings and equipment, we’d already stripped down the gear to draw less focus to ourselves.
Unfortunately, our efforts proved insufficient to ward off the paralyzing artificiality that slowly crept into the golden moment as our star grew increasingly aware that we were working, not playing. We did the best we could as a crew, putting the camera down to be more present with the child before resuming shooting, but the stuff that makes the highlight reels was long gone.
We’d seen this before.
Over the years, we’d witnessed the stifling effects of cumbersome equipment on delicate shooting situations. How a genuine expression of community in the slums of Bangladesh completely vanished the moment the slider came out. When a non-actor was moved to tears on set but completely froze when the tally light switched on. When a toddler’s onscreen moment was cancelled by the fearinstilling grandeur of the camera rig. When wedding guests stopped being themselves once they saw you.
If only we had a dollar for every extraordinary moment we’d lost because of equipment that was too bulky or impractical for the job.
But that’s one of the struggles we face when working in this field ”” the constant tension between being able to execute camera movement that amplifies the story we’re trying to tell and not being so intrusive that we break the moment. Our equipment should help us tell a compelling story, not do the opposite. Especially in documentary filmmaking, every piece of rod support,
BNC cable and shoulder pad counts. It can be the difference between looking like a film crew and a tourist group. Often it’s the difference between getting the shot and ”” well ”” not getting it at all.
But the right equipment is not just for the quality of the work itself, of getting or not getting the shot. It’s just as much about us. Because filmmaking is a lifestyle career choice. You spend time away from your family, grow emotionally attached to the projects you care about, often work longer hours and harder than is demanded of you by the client, all because you want to create something meaningful, something you’ll be proud of. You do this because you’re creative by nature, a breed of human possessed of the idea that good stories can make things just a little bit better for all of us. Not to mention that you have a heck of a lot of fun while you’re at it.
And here’s the thing. When you’re standing on that mountaintop, the final rays of the day’s light receding into the winter sky, are you there to capture the moment, or are you merely “working”? Most of us would choose the former, and that is what the Olympus system allows us to do.
Gear like the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II makes our work feel like PLAY again, like we’re not just filling out a shot list, but rather, ensuring that the storyline ebbs and swells in a certain way. It reminds us why we went into the business in the first place: a desire to capture beautiful moments in life.
Not feeling like “the designated video guy” every time you pull out a camera stretches well beyond the camera’s price tag. It digs at the very core of who we are as creatives, reminding us of our “why,” giving us room to breathe again. When the gear serves not only the story but the storyteller, the most wondrous of things begin to come into play.
A sense of unhinged freedom is jet fuel for the creative mind. The uncharted terrains of “I have no idea if this will work, but do you guys want to try something crazy?” are where the happiest of creative accidents occur, stories are found, and moments become magic.
The OM-D E-M1 Mark II does this, in particular, for those experimenting with new ways of telling the story through camera movement. Because of its excellent inbody 5-Axis Image Stabilization, within a matter of minutes the filmmaker is able to go from what feels like slider or dolly trackin, to a mock gimbal follow, to a dead-solid tripod close-up, to the controlled energy of hand-held action, and back.
Not only that, but the capture format of the E-M1 Mark II, coupled with its extremely fast and sharp M.Zuiko Digital ED F1.2 PRO lenses, is an exceptional choice for filmmakers. Akin to a 16mm film camera, it enables you to use fast glass in low-light situations without having to deal with depth-of-field issues like you would with a full frame camera. Let’s be honest, it rarely serves the story if your focus is constantly drifting with all but a fraction of the image a blurry mess.
It’s systems like this that, by offering the freedom to play and innovate, can lead to outstanding work. The E-M1 Mark II, especially with the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12- 100mm F4.0 IS PRO lens, is the most nimble camera solution in the world for practicing professionally smooth camera movement with commercially representable end results.
We often say “the best gear is the one you actually like to use,” so it really pays to have gear that makes the creative process fun again.
To learn more about photographers who have made the switch to the Olympus OM-D system, visit getolympus.com/neverlookback.