Video Musings and some setup tips

I’ve been shooting some music videos lately and wanted to share a few tips and interesting quirks that you might find useful.  Shooting video on the E-M1mkII has been a very different experience.  I actually enjoy it…but there are definitely some quirks.

Lets take a look at my hand-held setup first.

music videos with an olympus
Useful accessories

In this shot there are 7 accessories I find useful.  From left to right we have:

  • a mini-trs cable (also known as 1/8″ stereo cables)
  • a second mini-trs cable
  • Iphone lighting to mini-trs adapter
  • Square Jellyfish phone holder
  • Hotshoe adapter
  • Bose Soundlink Revolve Speaker
  • Tiffen Variable ND filter
music videos with an olympus
All set up

You can see in this shot my basic set up.  In this case I have the 12-40 PRO on the E-M1mkII.  I have the variable ND filter on the lens.  I use a 77mm with an adapter.  It means no lens hood, but I prefer the easier access anyways when shooting video like this.  I have the hotshoe adapter on the camera hotshoe and the Square Jellyfish on the adapter.  I have my iphone with audio adapter going into a cable that plugs into the MIC port on the camera.  Then I have the second audio cable going from the headphone port to the Bose speaker.

music videos with an olympus
Close up of ports and RRS plate

Here you can see the RRS L-bracket extended.  I use this to help prevent the connections from getting hit or knocked out.

When I am working, I hit record on my camera and then I hit play on a song loaded on my iphone.  The audio goes into the camera and acts as the sound track on the video clip.  I turn the mic volume coming in way down, to around -10 on the camera.  It seems cleaner, and handles the phone signal better.  I also put my phone on vibrate so incoming text messages don’t interrupt the audio.

The headphone cable to the speaker plays back what the camera is recording…in this case the music.  I have the bose speaker usually in a waist belt or open camera bag.  It is plenty loud for my subject to hear and sing along with.  This makes playing the song for them very easy and convenient.  We can walk and move around with a very small footprint and not have to worry about cables, computers, CD players, etc…

And doing it this way, the audio in the video clips ends up being the same audio as the master track so syncing to the studio track is flawless and very easy to do.  Even manually.

I find myself using manual focus only, and primarily with lenses that have the focus clutch.  I also turn on focus peaking.  That helps me keep solid focus even on the small rear screen.  Which brings me to a few quirks and complaints.

music videos with an olympus
Cables preventing the screen from tilting

Why did Olympus think a fully articulating screen was better for video than the previous tilting screen from the E-M1????  The moment you use the audio ports (please ignore that I have an L-Bracket…it wouldn’t make a difference) you can no longer tilt the screen at an angle.  The cables also block you from seeing the full screen.  VERY ANNOYING.

music videos with an olympus
Cables completely preventing the screen from articulating

This gets even worse if you are sending an HDMI signal out.  Then you can’t even articulate the screen to the side.  The HDMI cable blocks the screen.  I end up just using the screen flat on the back of the camera.  If we had a screen like the E-M1 that just tilted we could still see it at waist level or elevated and use all the ports.  I am still a fan of a just-tilting screen.  I also like seeing my screen inline with the camera, not offset to the side.  Oh well.

Regardless, for doing handheld shots, walking, etc… during a music video this has worked out quite well.  Simple set up that gets the job done.  Any thoughts on other ways to do this?  What methods have you used when doing this in the field?



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