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A Day with the Blackmagic Cinema Camera.

  • 1 September 2013

I finally got my hands on the BMCC, after being excited about it for several months. The excitement grew with everyone tweeting and testing it – proportionally with my expectations.

The biggest aspect I was excited for was the 13 stops of dynamic range – and by judging other people’s films, results looked very cinematic and quite frankly, pretty sick (in the good down-with-the-kids-way).

The very initial thing I noticed when I first held it was how INCREDIBLY awkward it was. The handling and ergonometrics that is, not the unpleasant and awkward type of silence you sometimes get on a date. However, this seemed like a date, and I was gonna take this baby for a spin, and hopefully bring her home later.

I figured that instead of doing boring technical tests (which’s been done by a million people already) I’ll make a short film and see how she performs in real production action. I had my photographer/filmmaker uncle (check him out on www.tomaszewicz.no) to disposal so I told him to direct and act in the film. ‘Ok, write a script’ he said. I came down with a few ideas and we came up with the film ‘Soulcase’, which is a film about a man’s ambiguous personality.

The next decision I had to undergo was the choice between the RAW 2,5K recording or the 1920×1080 ProRes format. The RAW recording has a better dynamic range than the ProRes, however as the film was gonna be edited in Final Cut 7…the ProRes was the obvious choice as we wanted it to be a one-day project. Let’s leave the RAW for next time and see how the convenience of ProRes correlates with the quality of the image. So I switched over to ProRes and selected the ‘Film’ option in the image settings.

I was overwhelmed when I saw the image on he screen. I thought that due to the fact that I’m using ProRes, the dynamic range will be much lower than RAW, but it looked fantastic.

The first scenes were shot inside on the Tokina 11-16mm 2.8, Canon 50mm 1.2 and the Canon 30mm macro 2.8.

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The rest was the Tokina except the last scene where the 50mm was used.

On the tripod the BMCC was easy to operate, and due to the fact that we did not use sound, most of our problems were negligible. Frame the image, double tap on the BMCC touchscreen to focus, press record and boom.

The more exciting bit was to test it outside. The sun was out which meant that we could really challenge the camera and its dynamic range against the sun. I specifically filmed a lot against the sun to see how it deals with it. First was the inside car scene. I instantaneously noticed that the image looks great and deals well between the transitions of sun into lens and not into the lens when the car was driving. However, the sun appeared as a black spot. This was due to its overexposure, something I thought was an inside the camera problem.

But it was not.

All scenes that were shot against the sun had an overexposed black ring. I researched it and it seems that other people have the same problem. I did not find an explanation why this happens, but it’s probably to do with the sensor or codec that can’t deal with such overexposure. Fortunately this could be fixed in post, something we chose not to do to show a more authentic product.
Other than that, the image looked very cinematic thanks to the sensor and ‘Film’ mode chosen in advance.

Color correction/grading

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As seen in the screenshots of pre and post grading, the image is very neutral and gives great flexibility in post. Grading was done in Magic Bullet.

In conclusion

Cons:
- Ergonometrics
- Battery time
- Sound
- Filming towards the sun

Pros:
- Dynamic Range
- 2,5K
- The image
- Price

Now please enjoy the video :-)

Update
The black spot is a known issue, and was resolved in a recent firmware update. That issue is no longer present.

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