48 Hours with the BMPCC

The Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera outfitted with Viewfactor Cage, CoolLCD rails, Rode VideoMic Pro and SmallHD AC7 Monitor.  The lens is a Canon 15-150mm ƒ2.8 TV Lens I picked up on Ebay.

The Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera outfitted with Viewfactor Cage, CoolLCD rails, Rode VideoMic Pro and SmallHD AC7 Monitor. The lens is a Canon 15-150mm ƒ2.8 TV Lens I picked up on Ebay.

When Blackmagic Design announced the Pocket Cinema Camera I put in an order as soon as I could – one finally came in about a week and a half ago from DVE Store. This past weekend I had the chance to put the camera to the test a with a location production and limited support equipment.

For that production Electric Igloo teamed up with the Sharper Collective and Pulse Studios to produce a film for the Anchorage 48 Hour Film Challenge. The team was JR Foster and Myself directing and rolling camera with Dylan Welch covering audio.  I shot pretty natural only bringing in a couple LED 1×1 panels for scenes where we needed an extra edge to pop our talent out from the background.

THE KIT

  • BMPCC – firmware 1.2
  • Sony 32GB SD cards – make sure you format, don’t delete old files
  • 4x generic Nikon Batteries – these surprised me, and by keeping a charger cycling I never ran out
  • Viewfactor Cage + Riser
  • CoolLCD rails & handles
  • Canon ƒ2.8 15-150mm TV lens
  • Canon 10-22 EFS
  • Rode VideoMic Pro for reference track
  • Manfrotto 501 – nothing special just the lightest sticks I own

ERGONOMICS

For this first shoot I intentionally avoided any handheld setups.  A static camera fit the project style better and I really wanted to see the camera work without adding all of the handles, EVF, counterweights and other AKS that I like for that style of shooting.  That being said I really loved shooting with the camera.  It’s simple, like a film camera forcing you to focus on making the image beautiful instead of fussing with the camera.  The button’s are small yes, but once they are set you shouldn’t be messing with them much anyway – focus, check exposure, and hit record.

I have historically worked with much larger rigs.  MUCH larger.  We’re talking full size ENG cameras and Alexa’s and Reds as an Assistant Camera on national commercial spots, a fully rigged FS-700 on my own projects and occasionally C300’s.  When I finally picked up a 5D3 this spring I almost stopped using the larger cam’s,  I could operate steadicam for hours, shooting 50meg h.264 OR RAW if I desired.  Now the 5D3 may have to take the backseat with the others.  Both cameras (5D and BMPCC) have quirks with audio but deliver beautiful images; the BMPCC with it’s log profile delivers an even better looking image than the 5D3.  And when it comes to post ProRes is an editors dream.

IMAGE QUALITY / POST

I will put it this way:  for the 48HR Competition we developed a 5 minute timeline that was graphics heavy with lots of filters, camera moves and video layers… it rendered out in 20 minutes.  That’s the power of ProRes, when you start with a codec that isn’t very compressed it means the computer has less work to do interpreting your edits into a final product.

The camera handled highlights extraordinarily well.  Take this shot for example.  While we found it necessary to push extra fill into their faces with 2 LED panels the background highlights are holding.

BMPCC - HW69 Still 1

And in this scene – no supplemental light used at all due to location restrictions – the glass tiles in the background maintain detail while we have excellent exposure on the talent in the foreground.

BMPCC - HW69 Still 2

This is also an excellent example of the benefit realized with a small camera body.  This shot was composed with the BMPCC resting on the counter top roughly 6 feet from the talent with audio captured via handheld shotgun just off screen right.

Even in lowlight I was impressed.  Although it’s dark for my liking here is our ending scene.  Lit with the 2 LED 1×1 panels on the top stage of a c-stand off to frame right.  Just enough to fill in the shadows.  At 1600 the image IS NOISY but it’s not the blocky noise that you get from other cameras (5D3 or my FS-700 at really high ISO).  Without a side by side comparison I can’t say for certain BUT I would bet the FS700 is cleaner at 1600.

BMPCC - HW69 Still 3

WRAP UP

If I’m going for a corporate clean, polished, plastic’y look I can shoot LOG2 on the Sony BUT if I want to travel light, while maintaining quality and in limited low light situations the BMPCC is definitely another tool for the belt.

I’ll be doing an in depth image comparison of cameras next.

Check out the film here:

 

Written by Zak Melms

Zak's experience working across the state of Alaska has taught him to come prepared for any situation and think on his feet. With clients in all industries Zak prides himself in bringing new ideas and tech to the table, elevating any production to the next level.

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