Merry Christmas !! How has the joyful season celebration been for you guys?
I woke up to a grey sky Christmas early morning, and I decided to sleep in further. I woke up dangerously near noon, and I forced myself out of the bed because I have had something I wanted to accomplish on this very day. I have been thinking long and hard about what I wanted to do this weekend, and I decided to do something a little different than usual. Olympus E-5 that I have came equipped with video recording capability, and I thought to myself, why not give that a try?
Initially I have planned to do a street shooting session, so instead of street shooting in photographs, I did it in video. I purposefully chose Jalan Masjid India, a very vibrant place in Malaysia for a few reasons:
1) It is safe to walk around, and people here are generally friendly
2) The open air market attracted plentiful of people, flooding in from everywhere
3) I seldom cover this area before in my previous street walk sessions
A Walk Along Jalan Masjid India
I have no experience in shooting video before, apart from doing random recording with my previous compact point and shoot cameras which were all dead now. I must say, it was not exactly an easy task. I know most movie-style videos require immense amount of time, especially on the direction and acting part, hence I chose something which is rather lower in scale. I recorded whatever I saw on the streets, whatever that attracted my attention. I captured the contents that made the street, Jalan Masjid India special. I am presenting the unique culture and lifestyle of true Malaysians, being openly displayed in the public. Such open-air markets can be typically found everywhere in Malaysia.
All the short clips were originally recorded in its full 720p HD glory that Olympus E-5 offered, and the video quality was nothing short of astounding. However, due to my slow processing computer, and even slower internet connection (Malaysian broadband sucks) I have decided to downgrade the video quality to just 480p. It was compiled and processed in Windows Movie Maker (Windows Vista Version) which is already outdated software, and I had no controls over the compression settings, and the final output of the video was degraded much worse than expected. Nonetheless, we can all complain about sharpness and video quality but what I really wanted to do in this session was to kick start video shooting, to learn, improve and really try out something out of the normal stuff that I usually do.
The challenges that I have faced during shooting:
1) Manual focus. I really must improve on my manual focusing techniques; I find it a lot useful to shoot on manual focus than Autofocus, since all my lenses were not designed to work with the video recording of the E-5. Manual focus was a charm to use, I just needed to practice more. You can evidently see I have a lot of misses, or near misses.
2) Steady Hands. In video I noticed that I need steadier hands !! Slight movement can cause everything to be shifted out of the frame, especially on the longer end of the lens zoom.
3) Composition. Static composition on still photographs is easy. In video, I have to constantly think ahead of my composition especially on the places that I will move the camera to. At times I just accidentally bump into unwanted obstructions from left right front and back !!
4) Quick Response. The DSLR part of E-5 was brutally fast and responsive when it comes to immediate click to capture still photographs. On video, it was a real challenge. The autofocus was not really useful for quick paced scenes, and manual focus was not something I have gotten around with much lately. There were many opportunities that required lightning quick response, and I missed a lot of such opportunities, either by the failure to Autofocus, or my own failure to properly do manual focusing. I need to think and act faster.
5) Live View shooting. I am so used to seeing through the optical viewfinder, that shooting with the live view feels rather awkward. Nonetheless, I do admit that the variangle dual axis swivel screen LCD display was a welcome, especially shooting with live view in odd angles.
6) Time consuming. To come up with just 4 minutes video as shown in the youtube clip, it took me 3 and a half hours shooting time on the streets.
How did the Olympus E-5 do in real world video shooting? I really cannot say much, because I am not a video kind of person, in fact this was my first time attempting something other than recording a friend’s birthday cake cutting. I do find the ability to switch lenses a huge plus, allowing me flexibility, to go close (using the macro lens), to blur off the background (using large aperture, such as F2) or to have a long zoom (use of tele lens). It was really nice to see Olympus colors being represented in the video as well, though I do believe the compression of the video software and Youtube have somewhat unfavorably toned down the original lively colors. I find the Autofocus to be quite reliable and accurate, just very, very slow for quick paced shooting. When I used autofocus, I often set my focus first, then I started the recording on the already focused subjects, or else, I would just do everything in manual focus. Do bear in mind that extensive recording time will cause the sensor to overheat, and I have one encounter where there was a red icon warning me that the sensor was in high temperature, hence I stopped for a few minutes before resumed recording again.
I am sure many people have done this before, and the concept I am presenting in this video was nothing new. Although I did not have any precedence or reference to study, I did the clips based on the usual photo-journalistic approach in documenting what was already there. The arrangements were a little random and out or order, because I did not have a proper layout of what I intended to shoot, I just had some rough ideas in my mind and I captured whatever I found along the walk on the streets. I think the difficult part was waiting for that right moment, the decisive moment to record. The decisive moment sets a whole world of difference, than say, an ordinary recording. Something I must improve on, definitely.
It was quite interesting to see the streets of KL to be so busy, even on the day of Christmas. Christianity is the minority in Malaysia. It was a public holiday, meaning more business for the street vendors at Jalan Masjid India.
I thoroughly enjoyed myself on today’s unusual street session. I know I am new to this, there is a lot more to explore and learn when it comes to video techniques. Videography is an entirely different animal altogether, but having foundations from photography did help me a lot. I am glad I picked this up, and surely, I will take up more challenging, and hopefully interesting projects in the future.
If you have not viewed the video, please kindly check it out. Do let me know what you think !!