Olympus challenges filmmakers with 48 hours to make a movie at Vail Film Festival

contestToday marks the beginning of a very important 48 hours for a hoard of aspiring filmmakers. Olympus and the Vail Film Festival have teamed up to give contestants two days to come up with a two- to four-minute film to present before the festival’s panel.

And forget the classic camcorder: Participants have been outfitted with Olympus’ E-PL2, its latest Micro Four Thirds in the PEN lineup. Before this year, contestants would use whatever device they could get their hands on, but a uniform camera lends a little twist to the competition. With identical quality at their fingertips, filmmakers will be challenged to utilize the technology, not to mention a renewed focus on story.

Vail Film Festival founders Scott and Sean Cross expect the high-end Micro Four Thirds devices to up the ante this year. Have any doubts that what might sound and seem like a traditional stills-cam can get the job done? Apparently, you shouldn’t. Cinematographer Kris Krosskove spoke to the E-P1’s (one of the veteran PEN models) performance this morning, telling the crowd the camera’s size and superior lens quality are what made it an ideal choice on the set of Secretariat. Krosskove said he jerry-rigged the E-P1 to a pole, and the photo revealing this duct-tape heavy solution showed the high-end camera inches away from the hooves of horses traveling 45 MPH…something a big-bodied professional camcorder would be unable to do because of size alone.

At a briefing this morning, before the 48-hour countdown began, the 20 teams learned a little more about what the E-PL2’s video recording features. It records 30 frames per second and filmmakers can manually control every aspect of their shoot if they wish. Of course, there’s also the easier option of choosing Olympus’ iAuto settings.

There are more regulations than just using the same camera however – which include using one of the E-PL2’s included art filters. This will add some challenge, since randomly throwing in one of the settings isn’t encouraged, and they also slow down the fps recording, something filmmakers will need to take account of.

This is where the learning curve becomes important. If participants can master the functions, in-camera editing, and manual controls of the E-PL2, it will help them significantly cut down on the post-filming process. Top choice gets $5,000, a PEN lens kit, and to connect with an experienced filmmaker.

The entire contest makes you think: If (largely in the case of short films) filmmakers were able to boil down the production process to existing entirely within one device, would it increase or decrease the quality of the final product?

We’ll find out soon. The winning film will be screened Saturday night, and we’ll be there to fill you in on all the 48 hour-E-PL2 madness’ conclusion.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robots that eat landmines and clean your floors

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!
Photography

The best mirrorless cameras pack all the power of a DSLR, minus the bulk

Mirrorless cameras have quickly become the preferred interchangeable lens camera for many photographers, both beginners and professionals. Today's models offer great performance and loads of features -- here are our favorites.
Photography

Skip the studio and shoot like a pro with our favorite lenses for portraits

Looking for the best lenses for portrait photography for your mirrorless or DSLR camera? While there's no shortage of options, there are some that stand out. Here are a few of our favorites.
Photography

Wet or dry, these rugged waterproof cameras capture your every adventure

Rugged cameras are designed to withstand nature's elements. These waterproof, dustproof, and shockproof shooters can go wherever you take them, making them the perfect travel companions.
Photography

Starting your very own vlog? Here are the best cameras to buy

Any camera that shoots video can be used to vlog, but a few models stand out from the crowd thanks to superior image quality, ergonomics, and usability. When it comes to putting your life on YouTube, here are the best cameras for the job.
Photography

Earn more likes on your photos with the best cameras for Instagram

Looking to snap better Instagrams? Instagram doesn't demand high-resolution files, but upgrading your camera can deliver better bokeh and low-light quality. Here our the best cameras for Instagram.
Photography

Capture life in every direction with the best 360 cameras

While 360 cameras are still a new technology, that doesn't mean there's not a few that are worth a look. Whether you want to shoot from the middle or just need a simple, affordable option, here are the best 360 cameras on the market.
Photography

These point-and-shoot cameras make your smartphone pics look like cave paintings

If your smartphone camera isn't giving you the results you want, maybe it's time to step up your game. The latest and greatest point-and-shoot cameras offer large sensors, tough bodies, and long lenses -- something no phone can touch.
Photography

These are the best action cameras money can buy, from GoPro to Garmin and more

Action cameras are great tools for capturing videos of your everyday activities, whether it's a birthday party or the steepest slope you've ever descended on your snowboard. These are the best money can buy.
Mobile

Which smartphone has the best camera? We found the sharpest shooters

They say that the best camera is always the one you have with you and that makes your smartphone camera very important indeed. Join us for a closer look at the best camera phones available right now.
Photography

Free your digital memories, and frame them, with the best photo printers

Printed photos are experiencing a revival at the moment, but you don’t need to go to a special lab. Here’s our favorite options for making quality prints, from pocket-sized printers to wide-format photo printers capable of spitting out…
Photography

When you're ready to shoot seriously, these are the best DSLRs you can buy

For many photographers the DSLR is the go-to camera. With large selection of lenses, great low-light performance, and battery endurance, these DSLRs deliver terrific image quality for stills and videos.
Photography

Selfie-taking millennials told to stop trampling about in Dutch tulip fields

Enthusiastic selfie snappers have been causing damage to fields of tulips in the Netherlands, with local growers complaining of travelers trampling over the flowers in search of the best shot.
Photography

Luminar Accent A.I. can now recognize faces for more natural instant edits

Want to edit faster? Skylum Luminar's latest update enhances the Accent A.I. to use machine learning for instant enhancements. The tool now recognizes faces for more natural skin tones along with other enhancements.