The pandemic has eliminated my usual summer time photographic endeavors – I was even planning to try shooting some wedding events this year. So I’ve taken to shooting YouTube product reviews. But unless you have a cameraman and a sound man living with you, this becomes a purely solo effort. And I didn’t want to make boring static videos where the camera sits unmoving on a tripod.
Even though Olympus bodies are not known for their videographic capabilities they do have two important things going for them when compared to Panasonic bodies. Fantastic sensor stabilization (IBIS) and PDAF enabled autofocus (on E-M1.2 bodies and up). The IBIS allows you to perform panning and flying shots completely handheld while maintaining a buttery smooth video image and always with a solid AF lock.
But for video tracks without voice overs where I’m in the shot speaking directly to the audience about some aspect of the review subject, I don’t want to be reduced to the proverbial talking head in a static, stationary shot. I want to be able to move around and point to specific aspects of the car or motorcycle that I am reviewing.
And when reviewing cars & motorcycles you want to be able to show some beautiful shots of the vehicle underway with a scenic vista in the background. That’s easily possible with a camera team and a chase vehicle, very difficult when you’re it.
The solution is the PIVO.
It’s a small motorized mount that communicates with your smart phone via Bluetooth to control its movement. The application on the phone uses its built in camera to perform subject tracking, its optimized for human beings and faces so it has difficulty recognizing objects like cars. You can draw a square around the subject to be tracked but it has to be in its field of view from the onset to track accurately whereas a human being can suddenly appear and it will be tracked accurately. Of course the PIVO motor is not nearly fast enough to respond to a car racing past it since it is designed more for human speed. What is impressive is that the application can track and still shoot video on the same phone sensor but it can come with a Go Pro mount above the phone mount. This can be easily converted to a 1/4×20 screw mount and a small m43 camera body like the Lumix GM1 mounted above the phone to shoot the video with the much higher quality m43 glass.
I would have preferred to mount my E-M1.2 but I think it might be a little too heavy and stress or damage the Pivo, it’s really a rather delicate product. The reason being that the GM1 has no microphone jack relying only on its built in microphone which does not pick up sound very well even at the distance shown in the image above. So I also shot with the E-M1.2 concealed on a short tripod behind the motorcycle just to get a decent sound track to transfer to the GM1’s video track. I rigged up a wireless microphone system with a Bluetooth transmitter and receiver, both with short latency to prevent lag. I specifically chose the Audio Technica ATR3350 Lavalier style microphone because it comes with its own coin battery power source since condensor microphones need phantom power to operate.
You can see the results of my video review on my 1968 BMW R60US.
At then end of the video I have a track where I’m riding the bike and commentating at the same time by mounting a long aluminum boom from the base of the motorcycle and shooting with the E-M1.2 . It really demonstrates Olympus’ excellent IBIS technology because you can imagine that thin flexible boom oscillating up and down over every road bump as the motorcycle is moving, yet the video is fairly stable. Only at the very end when I place the bike suddenly on it’s sidestand that the increase in oscillation amplitude overwhelms the IBIS and threatens to induce nausea in the viewer.
And I want to reward faithful readers with some full disclosure. I was getting a lot of wind noise from the microphone during that final track so I decided to rerecord just the dialog with the sound of the motorcycle’s engine at high idle in the background to simulate the riding conditions. It’s pretty convincing especially since you can’t see my mouth with the helmet and I don’t have to worry about syncing the sound track to my lip movements.