Monthly Archives: February 2016

How to upgrading to the blackmagic cinema

There’s no question about it, the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera is one of the hottest cameras out there. Let’s say you already own a small compact DSLR – you’ve honed your story and lighting techniques and you’re ready to step up your image quality – the Pocket Cinema Camera looks like a good fit. Well it’s not as simple as just buying the body and being done – here are 7 things you must consider when upgrading to a dedicated digital filmmaking camera like the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera

1. THE IMAGE QUALITY IS FANTASTIC

Lets just start off by saying that yes indeed, the quality of the video coming off the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera is quite fantastic. The fact remains that DSLRs are stills cameras first, with video added as a side thought – what Blackmagic is doing in terms of their Cinema Camera lines is build a camera with the same type of stripped down form factor but engineer it for video from the ground up. The images off the camera are cleaner, crisper and easier to manipulate than footage from a DSLR.

I got to spend some time with an evaluation camera provided by our sponsor Blackmagic Design. It really wasn’t until I got the footage into post that I really got to see the true strength of this camera – and that’s the image quality.

I asked Victoria Patton to accompany me on a short impromptu test – shooting a melancholy stroll through San Diego’s Gas Lamp District . The following short was shot on the Rokinon 35mm f1.4 and 8mm f3.8 using a monopod for stabilization. The footage was recorded using the ProRes Codec on the camera and color graded using Blackmagic’s DaVinci Resolve 10.

The Pocket Cinema Camera is not a great low light camera but when paired up with an fast lens like the Rokinon 35mm f1.4, it can still deliver a decent image even under sparse street lighting with a scrumptious bokeh. Finding focus when fully wide open can be challenge as I fumbled with the inch wide depth of field through out the night – I relied on the BMPCC’s built in peaking (which highlights edges that are in focus in green) to try to find my critical focus.

The Rokinon 8mm f3.8 lens had a harder time compensating for the low light of San Diego’s gas lamp district. But here’s where Blackmagic’s 10-bit ProRes codec comes to rescue (or RAW if you choose to go that route). Shots that may have been deemed too dark can be rescued and the noise that comes with the boost in gain isn’t not terribly distracting like the video noise in DSLR cameras. Due to the limitations of time on location, I chose to shoot in ProRes to keep from burning through my cards (more on that in a bit).

This short impromptu test with no crew or staged lighting has proven to me beyond a doubt that the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera is certainly up to the challenge of producing quality video images in a small and compact size. With the right resources and planning the Pocket Cinema Camera can definitely deliver stunning results. Getting that level of quality, however, will requires a different approach to the camera than I was used to…

2. YOU’RE GOING TO NEED NEW LENSES

The single most challenging thing coming to the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera from Full Frame or APS-C sized Sensors is having to adjust for the crop factor. I have and still use the Full frame Canon 5D MkII for which I’ve built up a nice range of glass for it. But the smaller crop factor of the Pocket Cinema Camera means most of the glass I use on the 5D will be way too powerful to use.

As you can see from this chart above, Blackmagic Cinema Camera sensor (in red) is much smaller than the full frame Canon 5D with the Pocket Cinema Cameras sensor smaller still – about the same size as Super 16mm film. This means only a small portion of the field of view of your lens is being read by the camera sensor – resulting in a crop factor of 3.02. This means that a fisheye 8mm on the BMPCC (which you can see in the frame grabs above) will have the equivalent field of view as a 24mm lens on the Canon 5D MkII. And a wide angle 24mm on a BMPCC would have the same range as a 72mm lens – which is pushing into the telephoto range. A nifty-fifty will be like shooting on a 150mm super telephoto lens!

So if you’re coming at the Pocket Camera with a few medium or long lens for your Full frame/APS-C DSLR, you’ll need to consider investing in some really wide lenses. At the time of this article, Blackmagic is only offering the Pocket Camera in Micro Four-thirds active mount. The adapter that Blackmagic sent for review was a passive mount, meaning that I could not electronically control the aperture of the Canon lenses I had (another factor to consider). Luckily the Rokinon lenses I had at my disposal all had manual aperture control but if you need to electronically control your sensor you will have to consider something like the Redrock Active Mount Adapter.

You may also consider the Metabones Speed Booster offerings as a way to compensate for the crop factor from the small sensor size. Speedboosters essentially make the imaging circle of the lens smaller, widening the field of view and improving low light capabilities. But Speedboosters aren’t cheap – costing as much as a new Micro Four Thirds lens. But it may a necessary cost for someone with a existing collection of glass.

But if you are coming at this camera from a Micro Four Thirds background (shooting with a Lumix for example)- then you may see a relatively easy transition – at least in the Lens Department. But if you are looking into lenses – opt for image stabilization as it will help the handheld form factor which we’ll get to in further down.

3. YOU’LL NEED FASTER (AND MORE) CARDS

There are a lot of young filmmakers out there clamoring for RAW recording capabilities in their cameras but reality is most filmmakers coming from a DSLR environment aren’t ready to handle the kind of data pipeline required for RAW and most projects don’t require it. Regardless of whether the RAW workflow interests you or not, you will still need to start investing in faster cards and more memory to store all your footage.

At the time of this article’s publication, the Blackmagic Pocket Camera can record in two modes: ProRes 422 HQ which eats up memory at about 1.2 gigabytes per minute and RAW which eats up roughly twice that much at 2.7 gigabytes per minute. So a 64 gigabyte SD card will carry less than an hour of record time using the compressed ProRes codec and half that if shooting in RAW.

But you can’t record to bargain basement SD cards. You need Class 10 45Mb/s rated cards for recording ProRes (and that might be cutting it close) and 80/MB and up cards to record in RAW.

FilmMaker Guide

images-25Introducing the pocket sized Super 16 digital film camera that’s small enough to keep with you at all times, so you’ll never miss a shot! Get true digital film images with feature film style 13 stops of dynamic range, Super 16 sensor size, high quality lossless CinemaDNG RAW and Apple ProResTM recording and the flexibility of an active Micro Four Thirds lens mount, all packed into an incredibly tiny size! The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera records 1080HD resolution ProRes 422 (HQ) files direct to fast SD cards, so you can immediately edit or color correct your media on your laptop. Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera is everything you need to bring cinematic film look shooting to the most difficult and remote locations, perfect for documentaries, independent films, photo journalism, music festivals, ENG, protest marches and even war zones.

T-SLATE (TABLET PRODUCTION SLATE)

Ikan’s T-Slate appears to be a traditional clapperboard but look closer and you’ll discover that it is the perfect companion for your iPad and MovieSlate app. Not only that but the T-Slate is an essential piece of your production arsenal.

Combine the T-Slate with your iPad and you get the smart features of the MovieSlate app along with the loud sound and motion of a traditional clapper stick. MovieSlate’s built-in clap detection software can detect T-Slate’s external clap stick using a combination of sound and vibration. Setup is extremely simple and you can use it with your favorite iPad cases.

Without your iPad, the T-Slate is still a fully functional marker/clapperboard that has become the timeless symbol and tool of any production.

CINEVISTA LENS

Watch movies the way the director intended you to see them. BIG! Flat panels can’t give you the immersive experience that you get on a UltraWide screen. The CineVista lens works with almost all home theater projectors.

TILTA 3 PROFESSIONAL DSLR RIG

The Tilta DSLR Rig Baseplate w/Shoulder Pad 4×4, CF Matte Box & FF Unit includes a baseplate with shoulder pad, 4 x 4 matte box, rod mounted follow focus unit, universal rod mounted handgrip setup, rod mounted top handle, three curved support arms, an articulating arm, and a lens support. All the components fit into a custom rolling case with a precut foam interior. The DSLR rig is a complete all in one solution for shooting with almost any available DSLR, small to medium video camcorder, and even large cameras. Its flexibility makes it ideal for someone who shoots with different cameras such as DSLRs, camcorders, and large sized production cameras and wants to use the same rig with each one.

WACOM CINTIQ 24HD GRAPHIC MONITOR

Made for creative professionals, the Wacom Cintiq 24HD interactive pen display lets you work directly on its high-definition LCD screen with Wacom’s advanced pen technology. This Cintiq features a brilliant 24-inch display with a wide color gamut and a widescreen aspect ratio for color-critical, large-format work. With 2048 levels of pen pressure sensitivity and pen tilt recognition, you will experience the same responsiveness as using an actual paintbrush or marker. Programmable ExpressKeys and finger-sensitive Touch Rings provide convenient shortcuts, while an adjustable stand lets you position the display just the way you want it.

MIC STUDIO QUALITY MICROPHONE FOR IPAD, IPHONE, AND MAC

MiC is the first studio-quality microphone to make a direct digital connection to iPad, iPhone, and Mac. About the size of an iPhone, MiC makes it easy to capture your best take with incredible quality, anywhere your music takes you. Record any sound you can imagine, from vocals to voice-overs, instruments to interviews and everything in between, and build a track right on your iPad, iPhone or Mac with GarageBand.

CAMKIX 4 IN 1 SAMSUNG GALAXY S4 S IV I9500 CAMERA LENS KIT

4 awesome lens options to help you get the most out of your mobile photography. Mini tripod features extendable/retractable legs for more precise positioning. Wide angle lens is paired with the macro – just screw off the top of the wide angle to unleash the macro power beneath. The hard case allows you to easily attach each of the lenses with no need for damaging adhesives. The universal phone holder allows you to mount a range of different smart phones on the tripod.

Filmmaker contest

Here’s your chance to show off your chroma keying muscle… Filmmaker IQ is holding a Greenscreen contest. We shot this footage for our Chromakey course and we’re giving you the opportunity to recut it.

RULES

The rules are simple – we’re giving you seven greenscreen shots recorded for our course “History and Techniques of Modern Chromakey.” Your job is to use some or all of t his footage to create something AMAZING. The only rule is you have to use at least one shot from the seven we’re giving you – otherwise we’re giving you total free reign to let your imagination go wild.

IKAN ID500-V2 2-POINT LIGHT KIT

These LEDs will be a great addition to your lighting kit – they’re very soft and even lights – great for lighting a chroma key screen or just general purpose everyday lighting. Strike up these babies with pride because you made an awesome greenscreen video. (Value $1049)

FULL VERSION OF BLACKMAGIC DESIGN’S DAVINCI RESOLVE

DaVinci Resolve is a fully featured color correcting and grading software package from Blackmagic Design. This full version features real time performance, Unlimited Grades, Noise Recution and Motion Blur Effects, Object Tracking, Image Stablization and much more. (Value $995)

SECOND PLACE PRIZE

We’re adding a little something to this greenscreen contest. As you all know, first prize is a ikan Light Kit and a copy of DaVinci Resolve. Anybody want to see second prize? Second prize is a set of steak knives

HOW TO SEND US YOUR VIDEO

  • Create your video and upload it to Vimeo.
  • Make sure you post your video to the Filmmaker IQ Greenscreen Contest Forum in a new topic with the title of your video. Videos not posted to the Forum will not be eligible to win.
    (To post a new topic in a Forum click the “New Topic” button on  the Forum’s main  Page. )

 

DEADLINE

The Filmmaker IQ Greenscreen Contest runs from July 17th, 2013 to 11:59 p.m. EST on August 23rd, 2013. Winners will be posted on August 26th, 2013.

HOW TO GET THE FOOTAGE

Now for some techie stuff. We’re offering the footage in a couple of different ways. The quickest and easiest way is to download the compressed MP4 from our Vimeo page.  Click on this LINK and click on the tab that reads “Download”. There you will be given a set of options:

Select and download “Original .MP4 file” – it’s 726 megabytes – compressed using H.264 codec. Is that ideal for chromakeying? Heck no! But it will work…

But if you want the Best Quality footage – you’ll want the Blackmagic Cinema DNG Raw files and we’re providing you those on our Google Drive here. If you’re unfamiliar with Blackmagic DNG files – each clip is stored as a series of DNG files separated by folder. These folders correspond to file names in the Vimeo link above. Just realize – these files are BIG – 22 Gigabytes in total…

How to choose cinemas title

As humans, we make immediate and long lasting judgements in that very first moment of experience. Much like seeing someone across a room who catches your eye, a title should attract both powerfully and authentically, promising something exciting, stimulating, thought provoking and mysterious… If it can do this, the grounds for a solid relationship are laid (be that an actor turning the first page of the script, an audience member buying a cinema ticket or a financier choosing to read the whole synopsis instead of moving onto the next project).

Over the last week I have been teaching at a European initiative workshop called Four Corners. Film makers from countries including Greece, Bulgaria, UK, Germany, Estonia and more, all gathered in central London for an intensive week long development workshop.

All the students had reasonably well developed projects, some commercial, some art-house, some drama, and some just ‘out there’. One consistent issue that kept coming up for me was the titles they had chosen. To be fair, these filmmakers were not working in their first language (they were working in English) and it was clear a huge amount was being ‘lost in translation’. Titles often felt a little ‘on the nose’ or simply too esoteric. But after working hard all week, most of the films gained new titles and their pitches began to sizzle.

This simple title change made a huge difference to their pitches as the title is the jumping off point…

So here are my top ten tips for titling your film.

1. The shorter the better.

2. The title should hint at the genre of the film. Do this well and the second question people usually ask (what’s the genre?) is answered implicitly.

3. The title is a sales tool designed to get people to read the script, rent the film or ask for more information. It is NOT an artistic statement (think more craft than art).

4. More often than not, your title will be accompanied by a short pitch or key artwork. This should all work in harmony and feel like a component part of a whole and well rounded concept.

5. You will NEVER be 100% happy with the title. It always feels like a bit of a compromise. And why shouldn’t it? You are reducing 100 pages of story to a single word of phrase.

6. Once you decide on a title, if a better one comes along, use it. You are NEVER wedded to the title until the film is complete (of course this raises social media and online marketing problems). Ideally get it right up front, but DON’T hold on to a poor title if a new and better one comes along.

7. Check the titles ‘Goolgeability’ with the Google keyword tool. How many people actively search for that word of phrase each month? These metrics are important.

8. Don’t be clever. Titles are not something to be figured out. As film makers, we might like the idea of a title being a mystery or ephemeral, but audiences will just move right on by if they don’t ‘get it’ immediately.

9. he title should infer the central conflict of the film… ‘Jaws’ (the shark is going to eat people), ‘The Exorcist’ (there’s going to be an exorcism), or more recently my pal Mike Mindel, who renamed serial killer horror movie ‘The Hollow’ to ‘Don’t Let Him In’.

10. Above all, ‘do what it says on the tin’. The title should honestly and succinctly reflect the story.