Vivo Malaysia has recently launched a short film titled "SHOUT IT OUT" which was filmed entirely on their X70 Pro smartphone. I was invited to attend the film premier at DADI Cinema in Pavilion, KL, so I took this opportunity to vlog the entire event, sharing with you what I experienced and also some thoughts on using smartphone for film-making, you can find my vlog here (click). In this blog entry I shall also discuss about the short film, the film-making process and my own take on using smartphone for movie production. 

The group photo of the panel on stage, I was too lazy to go in front. This was not my job. And I did not bring my camera. 

Let's talk about the short film first. I personally do enjoy the story tremendously. The film was well written, it was based on a true story about a coach taking a chance on a deaf kid, training her and pushing her until she won international championship. It was truly an inspiring story, a very Malaysian story too at the core of the film. The acting was generally quite good, the whole film was done by a full, professional production crew (as you can see in the behind the scenes part of my vlog) and as a short-film, I'd say the quality is impressive. After watching this film, there is no doubt that in the hands of those who know what they are doing, the smartphone Vivo X70 Pro is capable of delivering great results. 

The event was quite straight forward, there was some martial arts performance by the actual school of the Karate Master Vicnesvaran, then some singing performance by the songs used as soundtrack for the short film, and followed by a panel on stage to talk more about the film and answer questions from the media or anyone present during the event. On the panel, the real Coach Vicnesvaran, whom the short-film was heavily based on, was present and it was remarkable seeing in him person, on stage, sharing his life stories and shed a few man tears while doing that! He got me to shed my own tears. The sacrifices he and his students have made, how far they have come and how much they have accomplished, I think all Malaysians should know his story. And I am glad Vivo Malaysia used whatever platform and reach they had to spread some awareness of the Karate school for the deaf and their mission, hopefully they can receive the recognition and funding that they need to continue to grow, and pursue their dreams. 

My first time inside the newly launched DADI Cinema hall

I've never seen a USB charging seat! You can charge your phone while watching a movie here. 

Panel sharing more stories on the film and behind the scenes moments. 

I have mixed feelings about the whole production of the short film. Do not get me wrong, I think "SHOUT IT OUT" tells an important story, and I am glad it was made and it is gaining attention. However, the way it was produced was something I wanted to dive in further. You see, they used a full production team to make the short film. They utilized professional lighting (which by itself costs tens of thousands of dollars, and need humans to move them around and operate). While the film was shot on a smartphone, but tripod, gimbals and all sorts of professional support gear were used. Not to mention having the budget to hire professional actors and production crew. The output was nothing short of a high production film, we get it. All they did was just swap out the actual professional film camera and use a smartphone instead. In such environment, where you already have a large crew, pro actors, extensive lighting setup, using heavy ass tripods and gimbals, why is the point of using a smartphone? This particular environment was setup for camera instead, and the use of smartphone has lost its original uniqueness - simplicity and ease of use. 

I fully believe that a smartphone is capable of making a professional looking short film, no doubt about that. What I'd be more interested to see is how they make a cinematic looking output, without all the bells and whistles. Strip off the professional light, use cheap china made LED light. Take away the gimbal, use other improvisation to stabilize the smartphone. No tripod, rest the smartphone on something instead, or just go hand-held all the way. Don't go full production team, get an independent small scale filmmaker that only has like a team of 4 people, and make it happen. See what a minimal budget, small team and non professionals can do with the smartphone, that can be even more powerful because it can be so much more relatable to everyday person, which was what the smartphone was marketed to. Cinematographers will continue to use cinema cameras. Photographers will continue to use their cameras. But show what a normal non cinematographer or photographer can do, then you change the game completely. I think they are missing the boat here. 

I'd be more interested to see a non-commercial production content of a smartphone, but genuinely good content. 

Oh well, what do I know? I am just a vlogger running around with an action cam. Do share your thoughts!

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Oh wow, look at that, it is still in January and there is a fourth blog entry already! How is that? Not sure how long I can maintain this momentum, but I will continue to write here and share photos whenever I can. Last weekend, I was hanging out with my friends Sim and Van and we decided to do an impromptu portrait shooting session of each other. Nothing fancy, more like you shoot me and I shoot you. No objectives really, I guess I wanted to worked the itchy fingers for some shutter action and my friends become my willing victims. If you are around me you can't escape my shutter clicks. 

Van made a behind the scenes video documenting this whole session in progress, you can see me and my friends in action shooting, check out his vlog here (click). 

Both Sim and Van were armed with Olympus gear, OM-D cameras and some PRO lenses. They were 12-40mm PRO, 40-150mm PRO and even 25mm F1.2 PRO. As for myself? I got lazy. I decided to bring the dinosaur Canon 5D classic, with the super cheap plastic fantastic 50mm F1.8 II. Nothing fancy, I just decided to leave my Olympus gear behind because I have been using them the entire week for shoots, making videos for my main YouTube channel, and when weekend comes, I have a change of appetite and wanted to use something else, something different. So the Canon it was. This shoot was not a paid job, I do not earn anything, so I don't have to bring my best gear. Simplicity works best here. 

Of course, after we all shared our shots, it was evident that the OM-D shots were superior to the much older Canon 5D full frame, though this was definitely not a fair comparison. The 5D lacked dynamic range, the sharpness was not great (this was the biggest difference), the 50mm lens rendering was quite bad, with harsh bokeh and all assortment of lens technical flaws like severe flare, ghosting and chromatic aberration (which I actively corrected in post). The Olympus shines and I thought the gap would not be this huge, but I guess I should know better, else why do I use Olympus as my workhorse? Not that I wasn't happy with the Canon 5D, with all the flaws and imperfections, I still enjoyed using it. Sometimes, photography isn't about technical perfection. I am not talking about shooting professionally or in a commercial environment, I am using the camera as a tool for fun, to grab some quick snapshots of my friends, and photography was not even the main agenda here - spending time and catching up, that's more important to me than ultimate image quality. 

Did I wish I had my Olympus gear instead? Surprisingly, not really. I acknowledge the superiority of the E-M1 series cameras and PRO lenses (again not fair to compare to the older 5D) but I like the idea of using much older, almost forgotten, cheap gear. Old cameras are wonderful cameras, if they worked well 10, 20 years ago, it can work well today. They cost so little today being obsolete, and sometimes, being able to use something different is a joy in itself. 

So here are the shots, taken outdoor, with available light, all shot on Canon 5D with 50mm F1.8 II, with minimal post-processing. 

Image by Van Ligutom, used with permission
Back in December 2021, I managed to return to my hometown in Kuching, Borneo to visit mum, spend time with friends, eat good food and of course, I did not miss the opportunity to do some shutter therapy. I thought it would also be nice for me to show you guys around, now that I have started doing POV style video for my street photography sessions. 

I have made two videos on the main channel for this trip. The first one I have published last week about the one lens I used for the entire two weeks in Kuching shooting multiple photography sessions, which was the Zuiko Digital 14-54mm F2.8-3.5 II lens (video here, if you missed it). And the new video, which I have just published concurrently with this blog entry, is a POV of how I captured some of the street shots featured in that first video, and this second video I am bringing you with me around town, you get to see what I see and how I got my shots. 

I always enjoy doing shutter therapy in Kuching, my hometown. It is a smaller place, everywhere is easier to get too, the place has slower pace, more relaxing vibes and more importantly the people are generally friendlier. The only one hindrance stopping me from doing street shooting more often in this particular trip was due to the bad weather - it rained heavily for the almost entire two weeks I was home. I know some would argue that Olympus gear is weather-sealed and you can get some unique shots in the rain doing street photography. I beg to differ. The camera and lens may be weather-sealed, but I am not, and I cannot afford to fall sick, I was staying with mum, who was not getting any younger. Also, I prefer my shots in harsh light, with defined shadows and directional lighting. It is just my style which I have grown to love.

The location of shoot for the images shown in this blog entry is at Waterfront, Kuching and its surrounding areas. I walked along the Carpenter Street, Ewe Hai Street, China Street, then explored the Old Court House compound, the riverside/waterfront area where the Darul Hana Bridge was at, the Square Fort, Gambir Street, well, if you are from Kuching you'd instantly recognize the location and know all these streets and buildings I have just mentioned. If you are not from Kuching, these places are really awesome for some shutter action, and they are all within walking distance.  

All images were shot with Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and 14-54mm F2.8-3.5 II (lens borrowed from Jackie). Minimal post-processing applied, as you can evidently see from the POV video. 

Earlier today I attended the grand opening of the DJI Experience Store - which is a new premium store and service center at One Utama Shopping Mall. I was invited as a media, and I went without having much expectations. I don't get a lot of invites to events, do when I do get this one, I do wonder if my drone flying on the second vlog channel managed to get some attention somewhere? That would be interesting!

I do personally own two DJI products and actively shooting with them at the moment. Firstly, the DJI Action 2 which is the default vlogging camera for my vlog YouTube channel andI also use this as my POV camera for street shooting in main photography channel. Secondly, I have the DJI Mini 2, a budget drone which I have been flying every week! Therefore, I was quite excited to see the new store, and knowing that there is now official service centers in Malaysia, it does put my mind to ease, whenever I am taking the action cam or drone flying to more extreme levels. 

I have documented the entire event in my latest video on the vlog channel, you can check out the video here (click). 

In conjunction to the store opening, DJI also offers some exclusive deals for walk in customers (deal expiring 28 February 2022):
DJI Tello RM399 (usual price RM499)
DJI OM4 RM379 (usual price RM459)
DJI Mini SE RM1199 (usual price RM1359)
DJI FPV Combo RM4299 (usual price RM5299)
DJI Mavic 3 + Shoulder Bag RM9999

The grand opening was quite fun. There were performances (professional Violinist), lion dance and also a talk sharing session by experienced film-makers using DJI Drones. 

I decided to bring along my Olympus Micro Four Thirds gear for this event instead of the usual DJI Action 2 for one very obvious reason, I was going to do recording in dimly lit environment. You never expect malls to provide ample lighting for video, that never happens. As much as I love the Action 2, and I have had a dozen or more vlogs filmed on that, and I must say I have started to like it a lot, mainly for the tiny footprint and convenience of using it, the quality is just not on the same level as a proper, professional system camera. I brought along the 12-40mm F2.8 PRO, just one lens to do it all. From vlogging myself speaking, video recording the event location, and snapping away some quick shots for this blog entry. There were official photographers and videographers roaming around the limited space, and add to that influencers, bloggers, YouTubers and media people all fighting for space to get that best shot - I'd just let them do what they do and I quietly shot everything from far. Hey, this was not a job and I was not paid to shoot this event, so do excuse the lower than usual image output. 

Here are some of my shots from the event. 

I sure hope to hear more about DJI and their events locally here in Malaysia soon, and hopefully get to attend them in one of the DJI Experience Stores! They look like the store interiors can be configured and set up as event space for future product launches, talks or workshops. I bought two DJI products last year. Maybe this year, I will add a third into my bag?

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Happy New Year 2022! I know I am late to make that wish here, but if you have followed me elsewhere, you would have known I have updated a few videos and some posts on YouTube and Facebook page. I don't know, it is now 2022, does anyone still come here any more?

In December 2021, I went home to my hometown in Kuching, Borneo for half a month holiday, to spend some time with mum, catching up with friends and of course eat some good food! I brought along only one camera for this trip, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II as I did not expect to do any shoots. The lens I had with me was borrowed from dear friend Jackie, the Zuiko Digital 14-54mm F2.8-3.5 II, which was made for earlier Olympus DSLR cameras. I adapted the lens onto my E-M1 Mark II via MMF-2 adapter, and I shared my experience using the lens on an OM-D body here (click to video) if you are interested to know. 

In this blog entry, I shall just share some shots taken from a short portrait shooting outing. It was tagging along Kieron Long (Leica Ambassador, Malaysia) and stole a few shots with my E-M1 Mark II with the 14-54mm II attached. If I knew I would have done a portrait session, I would probably have brought along the 75mm F1.8 and 45mm F1.8 for this trip, but the only lens I had was 14-54mm II. Not that I was complaining, the lens was more than adequate to do some casual, non-commercial environment shoot, and I was happy with what I saw coming from the lens. 

Do take note that I did not have full control over this shoot, it was organized by someone else, and there were half a dozen other photographers present shooting the same one model in a span of less than 2 hours. My opportunities were limited and I did not want to step on anyone's toes, as everyone seemed really passionate in getting the best shots. I just did what I could to get some sample shots with the lens, knowing I will make a video content discussing the AF speed/reliability and image quality from the 14-54mm II used on E-M1 Mark II. What I am trying to say is - these are not my best work, but I am putting them up here to demonstrate what the lens can do, and I must say - my artistic input (or the lack of it) aside, the lens does shine!

Special shout out to model Wendy Ling (IG @wendy_wendyling) and thanks Kieron for having me along.