By Will Holland ‘20
Have you ever been really excited to watch a video on a friend’s iPhone, but had that excitement turn to dismay when the footage was so shaky that its subjects were reduced to an indiscriminate blur? Well, I had, and far too many times. When I and my colleague, Will Nash, were preparing to make a movie for our Spanish class that would have a cast of over thirty people and end up being more than an hour long, I worried that our shots of actors in motion would look haphazard and unprofessional.
However, this fear of mine became obsolete upon acquiring a DJI Osmo Pocket camera. For those who are unfamiliar with the name, DJI is a Chinese technology company specializing in the drone industry. Enthusiasts consider DJI’s drones among the best in the business while professional film makers regard them as essential to any production. Such high esteem was on display in 2017 when DJI won an Emmy® award for Technology and Engineering based on the company’s outstanding performance in a variety of high budget television programs and movies.
I had known about DJI to a limited extent back in December, but I had completely failed to notice that their latest product, the Osmo Pocket, is not a drone at all. Rather, it is a camera similar built with the same stabilizing technology that is a feature of so many of DJI’s drones. When the individual holding it is on the move, the image remains completely crisp and steady for the entirety of the shot. If the camera is allowed to focus on a certain person’s face, it will track that individual automatically. In addition, the periscope-like head of the Osmo Pocket allows the camera to move seamlessly up, down, and sideways throughout a single take, allowing for the camera man to have more angles for the scene.
Thanks to our Director of Cinematography, Cliff McKinney, who brought this device to my attention, the Osmo Pocket was ready to be put to use on our first day of filming over Christmas break. And a few days later, nobody on our team could have imagined undergoing the process without it.
Even for simple walking shots, an iPhone camera looks jerky and becomes distracting to the viewer. The Osmo Pocket, in contrast, was so still that it appeared as though it were on an actual film track. Not only that, but when we had to film a chase sequence, the camera adjusted flawlessly to the rapid movements of both our cameraman and actors.
The camera didn’t just stay on this side of the pond, either. As Christopher Nash ran over the slopes and through the townships of the Cotswolds in eastern England, his older brother, Will, chased after him in order to deliver the footage necessary for the movie’s opening scene. At one point, Chris ran over a hillside that happened to have a grazing flock of sheep down below. Both Chris and Will chased the sheep (in a non-threatening manner) as they made their way through the field, deliver a remarkable moment for our movie.
After editing, the footage is of a quality virtually impossible on a smartphone or elite camera. The Osmo Pocket truly enabled us to film in ways that I would thought were out of reach for a group of high school students. Now finished with the project, I am so glad that such a camera is available to people our age to be as creative as possible when filming.
And, on a semi-unrelated note, make sure to see La Orden in Trapier Theater this Sunday at 6:00pm!