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#1 Jake Sorenson

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Posted 24 June 2015 - 09:40 PM

Hello everyone, 

 

New member here looking for some advice. 

 

I have three years experience in the motion picture world, mainly shooting outdoor activities. 

 

I have used the Panasonic AF100 for the majority of my time. 

 

I am now starting up my own venture and looking to purchase my own equipment. Need something that can be out in the elements, (sun, wind, snow etc) and has a durable housing. 

 

My budget is 18K. I need something that will shoot footage worthy of a T.V show. 

 

What recommendations do people have. Is it worth looking at the RED line of things? I like the idea that this can shoot stills as well. 

 

What about compatible formats? I will be editing from a MAC using Final Cut Pro. 

 

Thank you very much for any recommendations. 

 

Any and all advice is greatly appreciated. 


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#2 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 24 June 2015 - 11:40 PM

What lenses do you own? Would you consider using some of your camera budget for glass? Do you need to also purchase sticks, a handheld rig, monitoring?

Are you editing with FCP7 or X? Your camera options will be severely limited by the former since so many new codecs have been introduced since FCP7 was EOL'd.
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#3 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 25 June 2015 - 01:58 AM

Only one real choice for that kind of money and that style of shooting… Blackmagic URSA mini. 

 

It's whole purpose is as an ENG cinema camera. So shoulder mount, run and gun, with standard audio inputs and video outputs. It's really a versatile package and when you add V mount batteries on the back, it's not that bad to carry around for the day. 

 

You can buy the EF version of the 4.6k sensor, more standard glass and add on's for around $12k. Heck for the remainder of the money, buy one or two pocket cameras as "B" camera's. So when you need something that's not so expensive and maybe in the elements, you can use that and since it's similar color science, it matches pretty good to the URSA mini. 

 

The best thing about the blackmagic cameras is that they're quicktime native pro res output files. This means you can edit immediately in FCP/AVID/Premiere without doing ANY transcoding, unlike MPEG2 or RED code cameras, which require MASSIVE pre-editing processing. If you're a shooter/editor like I am, this is really the only way to roll! 

 

As a side note, I use my pocket cameras for everything and I've not yet found a situation where they won't past broadcast standards. Maybe not the best for recording critical audio, but that's a cheap issue to fix considering broadcast is 1920x1080. All that extra "bulk" to get 4k or higher resolution, I mean… what's the point of NOBODY will ever see that extra res? I just finished a film shot with the original 2.5k cinema camera in 1920x1080 mode, on the big screen and it looked like any other big expensive camera. 


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#4 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 25 June 2015 - 02:16 AM

How much low light filming do you do?


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#5 Jake Sorenson

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Posted 25 June 2015 - 07:14 AM

Thank you for the responses guys. 

 

I would like to spend 18K total on a camera and glass. 

 

I would say 20% would be in low light (sunrise, sunset). 

 

I will be using Final Cut Pro X. 

 

Yes, something that is mobile and can be held in your hands for extended periods of time is a must. Yes there are shots that will be set on a tripod, but mostly it will be handheld. 


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#6 Jake Sorenson

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Posted 25 June 2015 - 08:37 AM

Tyler, 

 

The camera you referenced looks to be something that may suit me well. 

 

What lenses are mainly used with this camera? Are any universal with a still camera? It looks like I will have budget left over to purchase a still too. 

 

I plan on using Go-pros for b role as they do the job well. 

 

The majority of my shots will be from 8 feet or less, away from the subject. 


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#7 AJ Young

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Posted 25 June 2015 - 12:36 PM

Hi Jake,

 

I recommend getting in touch with your local camera rental house. Check to see if they lease cameras from owner/operators. Basically, (budgets aside) you buy an Alexa package and the rental company stores it at their location. The rental company can then rent that camera out; you get like 70% of the rental and they get 30%. (Those numbers are just hypothetical. It may work out to 50-50 or even better for the rental house. It all depends on what you negotiate.) Doing this method allows you to make money back on your camera when you're not using it. You'll have to make sure a contract is drafted, of course.

 

As a shooter, I can't recommend the Blackmagic cameras. Personally, I've only had bad experiences with them, such as the fixed pattern noise on the BMPC 4k.

 

If you're going to be shooting and editing your own projects, then I recommend the FS7. It's one of the most popular budget cameras right now and packs more bang-for-buck than any Blackmagic camera. Additionally, it comes with the short focal flange distance which lets you mount virtually any lens to it (including the metabones speed booster). Check out the specs online and I'm sure you'll be sold.

 

One of the reasons I mentioned contacting your local rental house is because they'll give great advice on which camera to get as well, and which camera will rent more. There's a trend happening now (which I don't agree with) where producers are looking for DP's with a specific camera. The C100 is a great camera, and hell the 5D still does wonders, but the producers are looking for owner/operators with the Alexa, RED, or the hot new camera.

 

RED is just too post-production heavy for the low budget world and the Alexa is just too expensive for one person to own. Your only option is to own the hot new camera. Unfortunately, there's a hot new camera virtually every six months. Financially speaking, it's hard to keep up with buying a new camera system every six months.

 

The FS7 will last you for years, the C100 is still amazing (even though most are considering it "obsolete" now), and your AF100 is still a fantastic camera. However, producers don't think like DP's; they don't know cameras as well as you do and will research online for the "best" camera. Hence why they always ask for RED, Alexa, or the hot new one. Eventually, you'll get to the point where producers will ask you what camera to use; but until then, this is the game we have to play.

 

I see that you're based in Iowa? I don't know the market there, but I would wager that an FS7 would go a long way at the rental house there.

 

Hopefully this helps!


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#8 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 25 June 2015 - 01:21 PM

Tyler, 

 

The camera you referenced looks to be something that may suit me well. 

 

What lenses are mainly used with this camera? Are any universal with a still camera? It looks like I will have budget left over to purchase a still too. 

 

I plan on using Go-pros for b role as they do the job well. 

 

The majority of my shots will be from 8 feet or less, away from the subject. 

 

The URSA Mini has either an EF mount (canon still glass) or PL mount. I personally like the EF mount because the glass is a lot cheaper, you can buy cheaper zoom lenses for still cameras as well. I personally use EF primes because I'm not a fan of slow glass, I need fast glass because I'm always doing low-light stuff with my cameras. 

 

The GoPro's work great, but they're a speciality camera, really designed for certain shots that you need. They don't mix well with any camera because they have an 8 bit 4:2:0 color space. I think capturing 10 bit 4:2:2 as a minimal, is very critical when working on bigger shows. The moment you get into post production and start coloring, it makes a huge difference. 

 

Just a side note about the Blackmagic cameras. I've worked with them since the very first 2.5k cinema and have used all of them besides the URSA because it just came out and I can't afford it. People complain because they expect perfection from a new company developing an all-new type of product. Blackmagic had some issues with firmware, their 4K camera wasn't ready for prime-time when it came out and now it works great. I've shot some stuff on the URSA Mini at a recent trade show and it's an amazing package. I did all the tests I could to insure it worked and it performed outstanding. The URSA mini has excellent low-light capability, it over-cranks as well, two things people complained about with the older cameras. 

 

The FS7 is a good camera. It's a little bit more ENG then the Blackmagic URSA Mini as well, with filter selections and easy to access programmable side switches. However, it records in 10 bit 4:2:2 MPEG 2 files which Sony calls XAVC-Intra. These are highly compressed, low bit rate files and have a lot of loss. In contrast, the URSA Mini records in 12 bit 4:4:4 Pro Res files. These files are native to OPEN GL, so unlike MPEG2 files which are played back on the CPU (requiring a powerhouse computer to work) the Pro Res files use the GPU to play back, they don't load the CPU. Plus, XAVC files need to be transcoded to edit. I know FCPX will play them native, but good luck with doing multiple layers and effects, the machine will be rendering non-stop to catch up. 

 

In my view, you should shoot the same format you deliver in. This way, there is no generation loss between shooting and distribution. Since the highest quality single-file distribution format today is Pro Res 4444, it seems logical that should be your workflow from start to finish. There is no need to shoot in raw with the URSA mini, they have a "film" mode that puts RAW dynamic range into the pro res file. Then you edit the show, export an EDL from FCPX and color it through DaVinci. It's a great workflow, I use it every day (though not with FCPX, I'm an FCP7/Avid guy) and it flat-out works. Not great if there is a client over your shoulder, but you can apply a basic color pass to the whole project in FCPX today since it finally has LUT's in it's coloring tool on the new version. 


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#9 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 25 June 2015 - 01:46 PM

You could also keep the 18K and just set it aside for rentals which you then charge back to production. Saves you from having to play the "i'm a rental house" game.


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#10 Jake Sorenson

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Posted 25 June 2015 - 03:05 PM

Aj and Tyler, 

 

thank you very much for the insightful information. 

 

Since I will be doing shooting and editing, it is very important to me that there is no transcoding as my time will be valuable. I want to be able to import footage into FCP and get to work right away, with as little time wasted in between as possible. I also want to keep rendering to a minimum. 

 

Tyler- Great info. It sounds like you have a very successful workflow. Some of that is a little over my head, but it seems efficient and something I would like to replicate. I will do some studying and come up to speed. 

Another side note. I will be required to upload my video to the T.V stations FTP site. The creative director for the station said .mov or .mpg is sufficient. To me that seems very low quality. I like the idea of shooting in Pro Res and delivering in pro res. 

 

Also, since I am going to be building a business and need to purchase these assets such as cameras etc eventually, I am planning to do it now to get it out of the way. If the business fails, I will still use them in my daily activities. I don't see much risk in it. 

 

I have a lot to learn here, but you guys have given me a great place to start. 


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#11 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 25 June 2015 - 03:46 PM

I would have gone with a used C300, they're going for less than $5k now. Or even a used C100. Cheap media, long recording and battery times, good in low-light, easily handheld for run and gun, light enough for a lower end 75mm ball tripod or monopod. Then spend the rest on nice glass, which will last you way longer.
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#12 AJ Young

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Posted 25 June 2015 - 06:24 PM

Another side note. I will be required to upload my video to the T.V stations FTP site. The creative director for the station said .mov or .mpg is sufficient. To me that seems very low quality. I like the idea of shooting in Pro Res and delivering in pro res. 

 

What will most of your shooting gigs be? Will it be for TV news? If so, a cinema camera (FS7 or Blackmagic) isn't the right choice. For example, if you're shooting mostly Electronic News Gathering, a broadcast camera or C100/300 would be a better choice. Transcoding 1080p video takes little time in comparison to transcoding 4k footage (RAW or not). Even then, C300 footage can be worked with directly in most editing programs.

 

I recommend looking at where your end codec, resolution, and exhibition will be. From there, you'll be able to find the right camera for you.


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#13 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 25 June 2015 - 08:26 PM

However, it records in 10 bit 4:2:2 MPEG 2 files which Sony calls XAVC-Intra. These are highly compressed, low bit rate files and have a lot of loss.

Plus, XAVC files need to be transcoded to edit. I know FCPX will play them native, but good luck with doing multiple layers and effects, the machine will be rendering non-stop to catch up. 

 

Tyler.. the above is totally wrong..you can even play XAVC in FCP7  .. !!!  let alone all the others.. and its not Mpeg2.. a lot of loss?..  Ive shot a lot of XAVC 10 bit Slog.. movies have been shot on this codec..  bit more home work please.. 


Edited by Robin R Probyn, 25 June 2015 - 08:27 PM.

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#14 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 25 June 2015 - 10:40 PM

Tyler.. the above is totally wrong..you can even play XAVC in FCP7  .. !!!  let alone all the others.. and its not Mpeg2.. a lot of loss?..  Ive shot a lot of XAVC 10 bit Slog.. movies have been shot on this codec..  bit more home work please.. 

 

Sorry, I did mistype, it's MPEG4, same as H264. 

 

Here are the problems with MPEG files: 

 

MPEG files don't have "frames", they have sequences of frames. So the software has to interpolate what any given frame looks like. This interpolation is done via the CPU, making it extremely processor intensive because MPEG is a very complex mathematical equation. Imagine having cut's which land on non-frames? Then imagine doing a dissolve between those areas and expecting it to maintain resolution, it just doesn't. On 4k 10 bit 4:2:2 XAVC, the difference may not be perceptible, but trust me, it's there. 

 

Pro Res is a 1:1 codec. That means it's inherently lossless throughout post production. When played back, it uses the GPU through open GL, which means there is ZERO CPU being used. When you edit, the codec doesn't need to be unpackaged, there is a literal 1:1 moving of the data into the render files. When you export again, there is a 1:1 bit for bit moving of the data. So camera original will have IDENTICAL quality to the same codec delivery file. 

 

There are lots of other problems related to MPEG files as well, more then I can get into. My point is, why strangle your production being stuck to MPEG files? There is no reason for it when Pro Res is such a better codec. 


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#15 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 26 June 2015 - 12:12 AM

Are you talking about Long GOP. ?. XAVC I (intra frame) doesnt have frames ..? pretty sure it does..

 

I would argue that Pro res is a very old,and very inefficient codec.. it wasn't even meant t  be a capture codec.. but Arri had no choice at the time.. XAVC files are the same quality but much more efficient .. as expected of a newer codec rather than a 30 yr old one.. 

 

Strangle your post.. I,d say at least 70%.. conservatively .. of the worlds TV footage is shot MPEG..   Out with pro res !! holding everything back  !

 

The BMC camera,s are not really production camera,s used in the real world  .. they will never be requested .. except the pocket cam,s for very specific shots.. 


Edited by Robin R Probyn, 26 June 2015 - 12:19 AM.

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#16 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 26 June 2015 - 02:34 AM

Are you talking about Long GOP. ?. XAVC I (intra frame) doesnt have frames ..? pretty sure it does..


Yea, Long GOP is the efficient codec. XAVC Intra Frame isn't nearly as efficient and on the FS7 it's limited to 4:2:2 10 bit encoding. In fact, standard Pro Res 422 is nearly identical in efficiency for file sizes.
 

I would argue that Pro res is a very old,and very inefficient codec..


Pro Res was developed at a time (2005 - 2007) where uncompressed 10 bit was the only real solution to get quality in post production. It knocked the bit rate by 1/5th, retaining identical quality. It was never developed to be a capture codec. It was meant to be a editing/finishing codec.
 

XAVC files are the same quality but much more efficient .. as expected of a newer codec rather than a 30 yr old one..


MPEG has been around for decades, Pro Res was first introduced in 2006.
 

Strangle your post.. I,d say at least 70%.. conservatively .. of the worlds TV footage is shot MPEG..   Out with pro res !! holding everything back  !


This is a cinematography forum, not a broadcast news gathering forum. I shot ENG news and produced live news programming for 8 years. Quality wasn't even a consideration, camera's shoot, stuff is edited quick and put on TV. In fact, most TV is "disposable" and absolute quality doesn't really mean anything. They were the last to convert from analog tape to digital, they were the last to convert from linear editing to non-linear and they were the last to upgrade from standard definition to high definition. Up until that switch from standard definition to high definition, MPEG formats didn't even exist in the world of "television". Now MPEG owns that world because they're stuck broadcasting in that format and licensing MPEG is a lot cheaper then Pro Res. So cameras are less expensive and camera companies can easily make proprietary formats like DVCPRO-HD/AVCHD (Panasonic) XDCAM/XAVC (Sony), .r3d (Red), which require special workflows.
 

The BMC camera,s are not really production camera,s used in the real world  .. they will never be requested .. except the pocket cam,s for very specific shots..


So you just don't like anything new and different. Blackmagic designs has struck gold with the URSA mini (which isn't even out yet).

FS7 is a 23.6 x 13.3 sensor
Ursa Mini is a 25.34x14.25 sensor

FS7 captures at 4096 x 2160 max (using external recorder)
Ursa Mini captures at 4608 x 2592 (max sensor use) or 4096 x 2304 (16x9)

FS7 records XAVC at 10 bit 4:2:2 at best (can capture 12 bit raw with lots of money)
Ursa Mini captures 14 bit 4:4:4 3:1 CinemaDNG RAW at best

FS7 records at 60fps @ 4k and 180fps @ HD
Ursa Mini records at 60fps @ 4k and 120 @ HD

FS7 has a rolling shutter
Ursa Mini has a global shutter, switchable to rolling for lower light situations.

FS7 uses special XQD memory cards (128gb $689 USD) special reader required
Ursa Mini uses standard CFast card's (128gb $369 USD) no special reader required

FS7 uses special Sony E-mount lenses (requiring adaptors to use any normal glass)
Ursa Mini uses standard cinema-grade PL mount lenses with EOS/EF option.

FS7 has dual 3G-HDSDI outputs and no timecode or reference
Ursa Mini has a 12G-HDSDI output, timecode input and reference input. Plus industry standard 4 pin 12v in and output. Plus industry standard battery connection mount. It also has built in 1/4 rail mounts.

FS7 retails @ $7999 body only
Ursa Mini retails @ $4999 + $1499 for OLED viewfinder + $395 for shoulder kit = $6893 body only

Sure, the URSA doesn't have the low-light capabilities of the FS7 or A7S for that matter. However, all the other functionality is either close, equal or better in many ways. Plus, when I'm done shooting with the blackmagic cameras, I can AMA link the files and edit many video layers in real time, without even batting an eye. Throw the final piece into DaVinci for color and send to the client without having to render anything outside of the final output for delivery. Pro Res is a great workflow, no it's not as efficient as MPEG, but neither is film and it's still unrivaled by digital.
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#17 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 26 June 2015 - 03:10 AM

Yes so you can shoot XAVC MPEG4 and it has frames.. its not Long GOP.. all this stuff about not having frames is wrong Im afraid.. your telling people stuff that is wrong.. for newbies this is not helpful.. XAVC is supported by Avid/Adobe/Sony Vegas/FCP7/FCPX.. your telling people only FCPX and its some tortuous route of transcoding hell.. simply incorrect.. this is not helpful for new comers who believe this.. 

 

Pro res was around long before XAVC..you were the one who got it mixed up with MPEG2 remember.. thats what we are talking about .. files are much smaller than pro res 

 

The original OP said he wanted a camera for TV production..

 

Struck gold with a camera that isn't even out yet.. ?  

 

Im just stating a fact.. BMC is not an established production camera at all.. I wouldn't advise someone to buy it .. unless they are going to be shooting their own stuff exclusively..the mini is best so far.. but no internal ND,s..?? this will make it useless for a lot of shooting.. Alexa doesnt either.. but really this is a different market.. 

 

Im fine with new and different.. Im on my 5th camera.. just BMC have not come out with a decent camera yet.. and pro res is the old.. XAVC is the new.. 

 

Im not trying to get onto your case.. but a lot of totally wrong info ..to a new guy.. could really screw things up for them.. 


Edited by Robin R Probyn, 26 June 2015 - 03:20 AM.

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#18 Jake Sorenson

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Posted 26 June 2015 - 09:23 AM

I will be shooting outdoor T.V shows such as fishing, hunting,  etc. 

The majority of the time, the camera will be in a boat. The other times it will be on shore getting b role.  

 

This footage will be made into a 30 minute T.V show, which is then shown on a broadcast network and dispersed to 300,000 plus households. 

 

I hope this clears things up a little. 

 

A lot of very good information here, again, thank you for the input. 

 

I am newer to this side of things and right now most of this is over my head so hang with me as i try to find the camera that will suit my scenario best. I realize different people will have different workflows and preferences but to a guy who will have limited time, just a macbook pro for editing, and not a lot of resources behind him, i am guessing one will stand out to you knowledgeable folks more than the other. 

 

Again, thank you very much. 


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#19 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 26 June 2015 - 09:47 AM

FS7 hands down.. forget BMC..not a production camera..   C300 total dog..  you can shoot plain old vanilla XDCAM 422 HD.. absolute stalwart of global TV.. or up 4K XAVC..

Cheap and reliable media .. as mentioned before.. by far the best bang for the  buck of any camera around.. 


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#20 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 26 June 2015 - 02:03 PM

Yes so you can shoot XAVC MPEG4 and it has frames.. its not Long GOP..


That's correct, I was agreeing with you earlier. The camera shoots in both formats.

XAVC is supported by Avid/Adobe/Sony Vegas/FCP7/FCPX..


I just download several XAVC samples this morning and the LONG GOP versions worked fine, the intra frame versions didn't work at all. Avid, Premiere, Final Cut 7 or Final Cut X. Now, I read FCPX added support in this most recent version, but it's not a free update, so I don't have it. Quicktime has no idea what the files are, so Avid can't AMA link them either. Premiere and Final Cut 7 can see them, but when you double click on them in the bin, it won't recognize. I have the XAVC plugin installed, it allows the XAVC Long GOP file to playback perfectly on both my systems. I can't download the updated plugin because it requires Mavericks and people who work in the industry on stable systems, can't constantly be updating operating systems because a camera manufacturer makes them. I physically can't move to Mavericks or Yosemite because they break FCP7 and Avid 7 has major glitches.

So no, XAVC Intra Frame is not natively supported by Avid, Final Cut Pro 7, Final Cut Pro X or Premiere. It requires special software to function and I tried for two hours to make it work and it flat-out doesn't work.

Pro Res is built-in to the operating system. All versions are quicktime native allowing drag and drop editing on Avid, Premiere, Final Cut Pro 7, Final Cut Pro X and DaVinci without any importing or transcoding. Plus, Pro Res is backwards compatible down to Mac OS 10.6, so there is no reason to update/upgrade anything for it to work.

Im just stating a fact.. BMC is not an established production camera at all.. I wouldn't advise someone to buy it .. unless they are going to be shooting their own stuff exclusively..the mini is best so far.. but no internal ND,s..?? this will make it useless for a lot of shooting.. Alexa doesnt either.. but really this is a different market..


I've been using my pocket camera like an ENG camera for almost two years. I've done tuns of run and gun shooting with them, using my shoulder rig, follow focus and matte box. The kit works fantastic. I keep an ND filter on the front all the time and pulling it out is easy. The blackmagic cameras have focus tools, histogram and zebra's to help make sure your shot is perfect, without resorting to zooming in and out. It's not an ENG camera, but who said you need to shoot with an ENG camera? If you're a good cinematographer (this is the cinematography forums) then you can use any camera and still get a good image. I only recommended the URSA Mini due to the quality, but since he's going broadcast, I'd change my mind and focus more on a 1080p camera.

Im on my 5th camera.. just BMC have not come out with a decent camera yet.. and pro res is the old.. XAVC is the new..


The Pocket camera is very "decent" and having shouldered the Ursa Mini, it's more then decent. I'm a filmmaker, so I shoot and edit mostly. It's my business to understand technology, that's where I make money. People ask me all the time what camera to buy and I hand them my pocket and they're blown away by the ease of use and results. I'm a steadfast blackmagic devotee, their workflow IS the future. You may not think that, but with Arri adopting the identical workflow, (pro res/Davinci) that's the current film industry standard. It will take time, but eventually that workflow will make into broadcast because they're about 5 years behind.

Frankly, I refuse to own any Sony products after owning and working with them for two decades. I don't like the processing they use, it's overly crisp and over-exposure highlights clip harshly, even on the FS7. It's a problem Sony's always had, they focus on specification rather then a good looking image. To me, image is everything, thats why I don't shoot ENG anymore because it doesn't matter what the stuff looks like. I care about image quality and thats why I shoot Pro Res with Blackmagic cameras.
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