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First shoot on the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema camera


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#1 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 30 November 2013 - 01:23 PM

I'm so excited to be shooting with this camera, I've been waiting for it since the announcement earlier this year. 

 

I recently had a very bad experience shooting a feature with Canon 5D MKII and 7D's. I was completely un-impressed by the limitations, even with the software updates, the quality of the .h264 file and its 4:2:0 8 bit compression, left me extremely frustrated. Furthermore, the "lens shifting" issue plagued us the entire shoot, if you touched the lenses, the focus would shift. Plus, of course the focus racking is not smooth either. So in my eyes, the whole thing was a flawed design and likewise, when purchasing a complete cinema package, I wanted to try something different. 

 

The bigger Blackmagic camera did interest me, but the physical size vs performance, was not what I wanted. Besides, the internal battery concept was very flawed. So when the pocket camera was announced, I put my name on the list to buy and I received it less then a month ago and started very slowly building my package. 

 

My goal was to assemble a true "cinema grade" package including completely manual cinema primes. This is a challenging proposition because not only is the camera brand new, but there is no cinema glass made for the Micro 4/3rds lens mounting system. So immediately, it was all about adapting canon EOS mount glass to the camera. Rokinon makes some very cheap prime lenses, they aren't anywhere near the quality of canon glass or for that matter, any other cinema glass. However, they are cheap and they do allow me to use all manual controls without the need of powering the lens OR fighting with lens shift. Plus, with a camera this small, hand holding is a big problem and since almost everything I shoot is hand held, I needed to buy a shoulder rig with a follow focus kit. Having lenses which are already made for that type of rig, helps tremendously. 

 

Yesterday I shot my first video with the camera. Unfortunately, I didn't bring my shoulder rig with me and my wireless mic kit hadn't showed up yet. But the video below does give you a good indication of what the camera is capable of doing without any aids outside of a tripod for the interview shots. The day was very overcast and raining most of the time in between shots and its a very dirty environment for a camera. But for me, this video shows the potential of long lenses and the Blackmagic Pocket Camera. I will be posting another video in less-than two weeks, once my wireless kit comes in and I can get some good audio. 

 

Here are the specs for the shoot: 

 

200 ASA

172 degree shutter 

Film dynamic range, Pro Res HQ 220 4:2:2 10 bit codec

Rokinon 24mm F1.5 EOS mount prime for wider shots

Rokinon 85mm F1.5 EOS mount prime for close-up shots 

Edited with FCP 7 in native Pro Res 

Colored in FCP 7 without any difficulty, no LUT necessary 

 

The 15000mbps .h264 file upload to youtube, unfortunately damaged the true dynamic range of the piece. But its the best I can do as the original file is 4GB. 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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#2 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 02:36 AM

Just wrapped up my 2nd shoot with the camera today. It came out much better, still waiting for my mic's to show up, still have a few pieces of dust on the sensor or somewhere on the lens. However, all of that is fixable with a can of air for next time around. Today I had issues setting up my shoulder rig and changing lenses on the rig, as the mattbox doesn't fold out like the nice ones do. Ohh well, it was cheap! heh ;) 

 

Umm, ND filters, gradient filters and mic's are on the way. My next video will be shot this week and over the weekend, so I will get some better sound hopefully. 

 

So here is video 2

 

 

200 ASA

45 degree shutter 

 

Film dynamic range, Pro Res HQ 220 4:2:2 10 bit codec

Rokinon 24mm F1.5 EOS mount prime for wider shots

Rokinon 85mm F1.5 EOS mount prime for close-up shots 

Edited with FCP 7 in native Pro Res 

Colored in FCP 7 without any difficulty, no LUT necessary 

 


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#3 Matt Grover

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Posted 16 December 2013 - 08:44 AM

Hey, 2nd is a definite improvement on the grade front, much better contrast for this type of piece IMHO, looks like the Rokinon lenses have a bit of magenta in them, much like a couple of my old Nikkor lenses. Did you also have a zoom lens on this?

 

So couple of other questions (have recently taken delivery of my BMPCC btw), what EOS adapter are you using? And am I right in thinking that the sound on these are just off the internal mic?? The 2nd one has significantly less bg noise, and is surprisingly good if it's just the internal.


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#4 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 18 December 2013 - 05:49 PM

Yea, the coloring was interesting... most of the "faded" look is due to the Mpeg encode, the original pro res file on my color grading monitor is stellar. But when encoded, it looses some saturation. I need to figure out if its just not translating the rec 709 properly, its probably a simple checkbox I haven't found yet. The second video I maxed out the saturation on to see what it looked like, it pops on my monitor, but again, is missing all of that pop on the youtube clip. 

 

I'm using a cheap adaptor fotodiox from Amazon, but I wouldn't recommend it. Its already coming loose on me, its just a cheap piece from china. 

 

The lenses do have a nice magenta tint to them, I have a video coming out full of lens flares which look awesome, very much as you said, like the older nikon lenses. 

 

I haven't tried a zoom yet, cinema zooms are impossible to purchase in my price bracket and buying micro 4/3rds glass is scary. I have other canon mount cameras, so it seems reasonable to spend money on that style of glass. 

 

I did choose a better location to shoot in the 2nd video with less background noise. The mic isn't bad, but its not great. It has a funny background noise that I filtered out in post as well. I purposely shot with the internal mic to show what its capable of doing, so people could hear the actual quality of the sound in real production. I now have a wireless kit and external shotgun mic, both work fantastic. My future videos are all going to be using the aftermarket mic's. 

 

I have two more videos being shot right now with the camera, one of which will contain some behind the scenes material of the rig, so people can see what I'm shooting with and the digital workflow. Every time I shoot with the camera, I get better and better results, I feel more confident with the package and I hope to get involved with a bigger production in the near future to really show its potential. 


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#5 Matt Grover

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Posted 19 December 2013 - 06:01 AM

Currently I've got NikonF-MTF and C-MTF adapters for mine (both ebay buys), using a c-mount zoom and my older Nikon Primes, big thing with any EOS glass is the lack of manual iris, can't currently afford or justify an active MTF adapter! 

 

I've noticed an odd thing with the internal mic on mine, in that sometimes it's fine, other times it seems to have some crazy auto-gain on it and a LOT of hiss, only had it a couple of times so far and haven't been able to replicate it on proper tests, just crops up randomly, not an issue in the sense that the camera mic is reference audio only, but I'm wondering if it will negatively effect pluraleyesing the footage with Zoom H4 recorded audio.

 

That said, thus far I'm very impressed with the camera!


Edited by Matt Grover, 19 December 2013 - 06:02 AM.

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#6 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 04:32 PM

Yea, I'll have to watch out for that audio issue. 

 

I thought about buying a PL mount adaptor and finding some old super 16 zoom's, but even they can be super expensive. 


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#7 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 05:06 PM

I highly recommend getting the wooden camera system with PL mount for the pocket if you go that route. Their cage/rails is aces, as is their PL mount. Also instead of buying, why not rent when needed?

Another option is to get Lomo lenses, which are russian, and either have them converted to PL or to track down a OCT to M4rds adapter.


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#8 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 08:18 PM

Yea, I'd rather own something then rent it. I rarely get much advance notice of shoots and a cinematographers "package" seems more important today then just simply owning a camera and renting the lenses. Its part of the reason I went this direction vs buying a cheap S16mm body and continuing to shoot film. For the same amount of money as a film package w/o glass, I got a digital cinema package WITH glass. Yea, the zoom lens issue is a problem, its not a HUGE problem, but it does get annoying.  I usually shoot with zooms unless doing extremely short or long focal lengths. So to have nothing but primes has been interesting. However, its been good for me as a cinematographer because its forced me to think outside of the box more. Zoom lenses are pretty much the "lazy-man's" way to deal with finding a focal length. heh ;) 

 

I haven't read anything about the lomo's, I'll do some research, thanks for the info! :)


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#9 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 25 February 2014 - 08:05 PM

Still shooting pretty much non-stop. Got my complete rig now with mic's and filters.

Here is my most recent video, shot without my filter rig, but everything else.

200 ASA
45 degree shutter

Film dynamic range, Pro Res HQ 220 4:2:2 10 bit codec
Rokinon 8mm F3.1 EOS mount prime for fish-eye shots
Rokinon 24mm F1.5 EOS mount prime for wider shots
Rokinon 85mm F1.5 EOS mount prime for close-up shots
Edited with FCP 7 in native Pro Res
Colored in FCP 7 without any difficulty, no LUT necessary


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#10 Heri Rakotomalala

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Posted 26 February 2014 - 09:38 AM

Great pieces.

 

How do you stabilize the camera? Especially in the 1st video - I was impressed. 

 

Also are you using ND filters? And if yes, are you also using IR filters?


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#11 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 26 February 2014 - 05:45 PM

How do you stabilize the camera? Especially in the 1st video - I was impressed.


First trick is the eye piece. This is the plain-jane stripped MOS rig. Just push the viewfinder against your face and that helps stabilize.
 
bmcrig.JPG


Second trick is a cinema rig. This is a counter-balanced shoulder rig with matte box and follow focus. It allows me to use 4x4 filters of any kind as well. You'll notice the mic as well. This is the rig I use when capturing sound. 
 
tyebmcrig.JPG

Also are you using ND filters? And if yes, are you also using IR filters?


I'm using 1.0 ND's when its super bright outside. When its not, I don't use any filtration. None of the video's above were using filtration.

Here is a video that uses the fill cinema rig in the 2nd picture with 2.0 ND's!


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#12 Heri Rakotomalala

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Posted 26 February 2014 - 06:13 PM

Thanks Tyler.

 

Nice technique with the viewfinder. And quite a lightweight package you got there :D

 

I'm never sure with ND filters. I find they add a color cast to the footage. A few colleagues suggested using IR cut filters. Not many alternatives though...


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#13 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 26 February 2014 - 07:10 PM

Had you thought about one of those little HDMI EVFs?

 

P


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#14 Lance Soltys

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Posted 26 February 2014 - 09:19 PM

Good question about the EVF. As someone who is considering buying a BMPCC, is having an EFV necessary? I would think it is for exteriors, but I'd like to hear from someone who has a pocket camera. Tyler is using the LCDVF, which I have for my DSLR, but they are limiting if you're at any kind of angle

As far as the ND's go, I remember seeing a great comparison on here of different filter brands. I know I have the CAVISION ones, and I'll tell you I couldn't tell if they have a color cast because they let so much IR pollution through ( I guess I could do a test in tungsten light, but I almost never use them in tungsten). Keep in mind, I like their stuff, I have a lot of it, and the 4x4 filters are only $60 a pop (as opposed to $200ish), so I really can't complain. Because of this, I also got their Hot Mirror, and that helps, but it still is pretty bad. I'm using it on a Canon DSLR and not sure if they are particularly susceptible to IR pollution.
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#15 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 27 February 2014 - 03:13 AM

Filters are best to go name brand. I went Schneider NDIRs after .9 (so I start with an NDIR 1.2) and haven't regretted the cost yet. Every other ND filter (minus my tiffen SENDs) has had bad color cast issues and really cost more money (in post or redoing/lost time/relighting) than any savings I'd've gotten. Particularly bad was a SEND Formatt .9 which turned 1/2 of the image into the matrix.

 

As for EVFs; I preffer them. Sure, there may be a bit of  lag, but I like to have my face on an EVF and the camera off to the side sitting wherever it'll give me the best balance.


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#16 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 27 February 2014 - 04:03 AM

The only disappointing thing is that the cheapest ($300ish) EVFs are only about 800x480, which is barely more than standard def. Well, it essentially is standard def. And even more alarmingly, the slightly more expensive types (say $800) are the same res. 

 

Makes me wonder about just using an old CRT EVF I have around, and an HDMI to composite converter (or at least component or YC, and take the Y).

 

P


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#17 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 27 February 2014 - 04:05 AM

You could probably do it and sell that for money. I think the primary use of the EVF is to protect from glare and be reasonably sized. ACs will hopefully be pulling off of the the barrel so focus isn't as big an issue as getting an idea where you are.

 

What would be fantastic is if you invented a way to turn a droid phone into an EVF.


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#18 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 27 February 2014 - 04:15 AM

Really? 'cos I can do that! I even reverse-engineered the shift-register-based indicator light drivers in my Panasonic EVFs!

 

(Honestly, who puts a 21-pin connector on the damn thing, or whatever it is, then decides to use a complicated shift-register based system to drive the indicators?)

 

Phones are tricky. Lacking high bandwidth inputs, you end up having to compress it to get it onto the device, which immediately implies almost-certainly-unacceptable latency. Actually driving their displays, if you can get one as a spare part, isn't generally that hard, as these things go, but it's still a tricky bit of high-speed PCB design that I wouldn't attempt without enough funding to do it properly.

 

But seriously: I'm somewhat disappointed that there aren't more EVFs based around smartphone OLED technology - although if you look into this closely it becomes clear that many smartphones aren't much more than 960x540 anyway, before you start hitting paperback-sized mini-tablet displays (although someone should still do that anyway).

 

The best current option is probably the Sony DVF-EL100, which is the OLED finder for the F5/55. But they run about UK£3500, which in dollars is equivalent to Way Too Much For a Blackmagic, and they're still only 1280x720. And I'm not even sure if they could be run from an arbitrary SDI source or if they use some specific Sony interface. It'd be very Sony behaviour if they did.

 

P


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#19 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 27 February 2014 - 04:18 AM

Don't some of the Samsung and Nokia phones have pretty insane resolution? I mean hell, think of it, you make up a "loop system" and sell just a jailbroke rehoused samsung galaxy whatever, or even just the screen from one with an HDMI input and battery and people will lap it up. Your Slogan can be "Have your View Philed" The Phil Finder.

All Rhodes lead to quality.


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#20 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 27 February 2014 - 04:25 AM

even just the screen from one with an HDMI input and battery and people will lap it up

 

Don't tempt me.

 

But in all seriousness, just the FPGA dev boards and software to even try would probably set you back $5k.

 

(By the way, great use of the word "Just" there!)

 

The TVLogic EVF-035W is effectively an iPhone 4's display, as far as I know.


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