So back in the summer, I get a text message off Mark at Olympus UK saying "how would you like to be a movie star?" Well it caught my attention, so I said sure, why not! Turns out he was putting me forward to Olympus Europe for a series of three web tutorial videos for their new Olympus PEN Lite E-PL5 camera.
After several emails, phone conversations with Olympus in Germany and Skype conversations with the production company, we were go! About a month before the shoot, I was able to meet up with Olympus Europe whilst at Photokina for Hasselblad. This was handy because it meant that we could have a proper face to face chat so they could get to know me, and they could also give me the new camera to play with ahead of the video shoot. I also got a sneaky invite to their party!
So fast forward to October 2012... About a week before the shoot, I managed to get a throat infection, which causes me to get all manner of voice issues. Not ideal, however, I just about manage to get my voice in check before heading to the airport... phew! First thing in the morning, I fly out to Hamburg, Germany, home of Olympus Europe, and location for the videos. The flight itself was uneventful, although the Lufthansa pilot was obviously in a hurry to land, because our rapid descent caused my ears to pop... and quite painfully! Because of my throat, I had loads of Strepsils with me, so I was sucking on them and yawning profusely to try and un-pop my ears before filming the next day.
After collecting my luggage, I grabbed a taxi to the hotel, setup my stuff before heading into the centre of Hamburg for a pre-production meeting. Now by this point I'd managed to un-pop one of my ears, but I was basically deaf in the other. This wouldn't have been too much of a problem (albeit an annoying one), except it transpired during the meeting that we were going to film one of the scenes as soon as we'd finished the planning! Doh!
This was my first time talking to camera, and having only landed a couple of hours earlier and completely deaf in one ear, I have to say I wasn't exactly ready for it! Nothing like a baptism of fire though! Before my first speaking part (on a bridge in the cold, talking about blurring car headlights), I was put on a bike (that was actually too big for me), and told to ride up and down the road a bit. The basic idea for the videos was that a professional photographer was riding around and stopping to take photos using the Olympus PEN, to illustrate the features, and that the camera produces results comparable to any professional camera. The videos were split into three... Creativity, which showcased the various art filters and creative functions of the camera; Image Quality, which demonstrated the dynamic range and high sensitivity of the micro four thirds sensor; and finally a video featuring the endless lens and accessory options in the PEN range. I had been given a rough outline of each of the scenes. The shots and locations I was demonstrating were pre-chosen by the production company, and I was given certain terms to use, however, the videos themselves were un-scripted. A couple of scenes did give me a chance to flex my own photographic muscles, but I still had to stick within the original plan. All images were shot JPEG and un-edited though to show exactly how the camera performs.
Filming took place Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Monday. Apparently German's don't work on Sundays, so I had the day to myself to do some sightseeing around Hamburg. As usually happens when I travel, it rained... a lot! Thankfully, I managed to find plenty of places to dry off whilst gorging myself on German sausage, and ice cream! By this point, my ear had un-popped, so with my massive headphones on and my iPod Shuffle up loud, I got to see pretty much everything Hamburg has to offer within the short time available.
Monday saw the end of filming before I headed back to the airport to fly home. It was quite an intense few days, and I definitely learned some new skills in terms of talking to camera. I definitely relaxed a lot more as the time went on! I'd definitely be up for doing some more video work, although not sure I'm ready for Hollywood... and definitely not ready for live TV!
I suppose I should probably mention the camera... The Olympus PEN Lite E-PL5 is a stunning bit of kit! It takes many of the features from the Olympus OM-D. The focussing is lightning quick, the sensor produces awesome results, even at high ISO. It feels nice in the hand, and if you like to customise and make things your own, you can replace the hand grip with a multitude of different styles. It really is an awesome camera!
So here's the three videos. They're a bit cheesy, but I'd love to know what you guys think!
Of course, these videos are for all of Olympus' European subsidiaries, so I'm subtitled in loads of different languages, that is except French. Apparently the French don't do subtitles, so I've been overdubbed...
And as ever, here's a complete photographic diary of the entire trip...