Dumbing down GH2 to make it look less video’ish

My latest challenge with GH2 is to make great looking videos that look very close to film, as cheap as possible. That simply means, at the moment, using the standard 14-42mm kit lens that came with the camera and by using whatever light that is available.
Many bloggers talk about the importance of great lenses. Yes, I agree, to a point, especially when it comes to STILL pictures. HD video is dumbed down so much in DSLR’s and micro 4/3 that it’s not going to make a huge difference in video quality. On an average, yes, but when an artist pushes the limit on whatever lens he/she already has, I strongly believe the results can exceed most of the other footage out there with $1000+ lens. Too many people blame the equipment for poor capture and upgrade to the latest and the greatest, fueled by sponsored equipment review bloggers. NO! We should not be caught up in such BS. Sponsored athletes and artists are always biased, because it’s their job!
The footage below was shot with Lumix 14-42mm kit lens, ISO 160, 1/125-1/250, f16-f20. I didn’t want shallow DOF, just to see if I can make it look filmy without any help from it.
Without any color grading, the footage from GH2/14-42mm looks pretty good, but even ‘regular’ people can tell that it looks video’ish. I dumbed down the footage by adding blur and by lifting the shadows. The highlights got blown out a bit during the process, but not too bad. Sometimes less is more.
Again, it’s work in progress. I am constantly experimenting, trying to get best results with whatever I have without falling in the trap of getting the latest and the greatest.
Other lenses will probably give me better filmy look, but what’s the challenge in that? 🙂
Oh.. one more thing. DO NOT use the OIS (optical image stabilization) when video’ing freefall. It works sometimes, but when it doesn’t, the video looks almost awful, as shown the last 1/2 of the footage below. It has something to do with frequency vibration and OIS overcompensating.

Herb, the pin striping master

I am going to shoot a documentary someday, but I need to work out all the glitches before that.
Herb is a world-renowned pinstripe artist who lives only a couple of miles from me. He travels all over the world, giving workshops and freelancing. I thought it would be interesting to shoot him of how he does what he does.
I believe in minimum gear, therefore I use whatever light is available to me. Unfortunately, he had flicking fluorescent lights at the shop. I just hoped that 1/50 shutter speed was slow enough to hide that. It kinda did. Flickering cannot be seen during regular playback, but when using fast forward, there definitely is some kind of weird rolling flicker.
I had a chance to use the $79 Igus slider with $24 foldable adjustable sawhorse. They worked better than I expected. To get a smooth sliding motion, I simply pulled the apparatus with a rubber band. I don’t think I need to build a motor control after all, for general use.
Rode shotgun mike was used for the interview. It sounded a bit hollow, due to the distance from the camera to the subject. I need to build a boom pole for next time. Also, the microphone picked in some kind of buzzing sound in the background, probably from the lighting. I tried to filter it out during post, but was not very successful since I don’t know much about audio processing.
Overall, I am pretty happy with the footage. The video quality of GH2 is amazing. My color grading for this beast is getting better. With more practice, I think I will get it licked and make it look rich like I was able to get with T2i.

Computar 12.5mm for skydiving

I had high hopes for the cheap Computar 12.5mm when I took it up to the sky. The plan was to take a video in its native state (25mm full frame equivalent) and crop it in 2.40:1 cinematic mode during post to get rid of the vignetting.
I knew the lens was not real sharp compare to the kit lens, but it produced very filmy looking footage on previous tests, so I expected it to perform accordingly. When the footage was loaded into FCP, I was pretty disappointed. The image looked somewhat filmy but just didn’t have enough details to make it pop, like it was for last week’s footage. Also, there was a blue light streak/blob in the middle when shooting against the light. This, however, might to due to the bad glass since I bought the used, pulled off some video equipment.
In conclusion, I will not be using this lens for skydiving and use it once in awhile in a very low light situation when I really need f1.2