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Old September 10th, 2013, 06:52 PM   #1
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Blackmagic Pocket Cine Camera - my first footage

Here is a sampling of my first footage shot with the Blackmagic Pocket Cine Camera. All shot tripod mounted with the camera set to 29.97 fps ISO 400 film mode using the Panasonic 14 42 lens (costing all of $160.00 US). You will note varying light conditions albeit mostly harsh and in your face. You might also notice the occasional white orb, but not a lot.

Post was done in Vegas Pro 12 and very minimal. How refreshing it is to work with such a robust codec. Learning DaVinci Resolve Lite is on my to-do list.

I do enjoy that this camera is so...handy, even when on a tripod! And I can get away with a small light-weight tripod adding to the portability which for me is becoming more and more important. Lugging the EX1 and the big tripod around is just too much especially if itís uphill and some distance to the shoot.

One thing is for sure: I have a lot to learn...

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Old September 11th, 2013, 03:30 AM   #2
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Re: Blackmagic Pocket Cine Camera - my first footage

I have been very tempted by one of these cameras, but the price is stopping me. You have given us a good look at its performance under a southern sky. I am impressed.
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Old September 11th, 2013, 10:56 AM   #3
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Re: Blackmagic Pocket Cine Camera - my first footage

Best footage I've seen so far from this camera.
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Old September 11th, 2013, 05:31 PM   #4
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Re: Blackmagic Pocket Cine Camera - my first footage

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Originally Posted by John McCully View Post
Here is a sampling of my first footage shot with the Blackmagic Pocket Cine Camera. All shot tripod mounted with the camera set to 29.97 fps ISO 400 film mode using the Panasonic 14 42 lens (costing all of $160.00 US). You will note varying light conditions albeit mostly harsh and in your face. You might also notice the occasional white orb, but not a lot.

Post was done in Vegas Pro 12 and very minimal. How refreshing it is to work with such a robust codec. Learning DaVinci Resolve Lite is on my to-do list.

I do enjoy that this camera is so...handy, even when on a tripod! And I can get away with a small light-weight tripod adding to the portability which for me is becoming more and more important. Lugging the EX1 and the big tripod around is just too much especially if itís uphill and some distance to the shoot.

One thing is for sure: I have a lot to learn...

Waikawa Bay Way on Vimeo
VERY nice footage. Thank you for using a tripod. Too many people doing all this crappy handheld stuff that is not enjoyable trying to watch cus they are lazy and impatient too set it it up. Handheld, a fad dthat gooes away I hope. And it should for the reasons you stated about using a very lightweight cheap tripod. I do the same,except I don't the BMPCC, I have the Canon M. I wish I had the BMPCC, especially after seeing your footage. Thank you,


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Old September 12th, 2013, 02:46 AM   #5
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Re: Blackmagic Pocket Cine Camera - my first footage

Thanks for the comments, folks; much appreciated. In as much as I was one of the fortunate few to score a BMPCC early in the piece I wanted to share footage in order that others might get a feel for how the camera performs under different kinds of shooting situations and under extremely bright sunlight and high contrast conditions.

I now have the Panasonic 14 140 lens, the new version, and yes, the in-lens image stabilization works quite well. While not up there with the latest Sony Point & Shoot active in-body image stabilization it does seem comparable to the in-lens stabilization Iím familiar with in the Sony E 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 which is semi-permanently attached to my NEX 5n. And I agree; the best image stabilization is a tripod.

I am happy with the general performance of the 14 140. It may not be the fastest lens or the most technically outstanding lens out there but it is working for me.
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Old September 12th, 2013, 03:34 AM   #6
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Re: Blackmagic Pocket Cine Camera - my first footage

Really lovely footage John.

How are you finding the grading ? Have you tried Resolve with Hook's LUT yet ?

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Old September 12th, 2013, 04:31 AM   #7
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Re: Blackmagic Pocket Cine Camera - my first footage

Thankyou John, I do appreciate and value your feedback of course. I am beginning to get the hang of it, to some degree, and each day I learn something more about how to make it work for me.

Grading, well; very early days yet in that department. The thing is I have never worked with a codec that is so easy to work with. Not even the faintest suggestion of banding, blocking and noisy shadows, and I am now beginning to appreciate the bliss of having a wide dynamic range to work with. At first I was skeptical (as I am about most everything) but now I’m convinced.

Resolve and Hook’s LUT? Not yet. I am at square one with that. I installed Resolve Lite and downloaded the manual (more pages and definitely more complicated than the Holy Bible) and so with the text in one hand and the software in the other I am...beginning.

The good news is that my house NLE, Vegas Pro 12, handles ProRes with ease albeit without the functionality I understand that lies under the hood of Resolve. However, with little todo I am able to generate very passable files that please me without having to know such a sophisticated program as Resolve.

As they say; in due course.

Let me hasten to add for those folks out there who might be tempted to give the BMPCC a shot please don’t be intimidated by the learning curve involved with Resolve as in all likelihood your current NLE will suffice to get you well and truly going with ProRes, at least that’s my experience. Now, when RAW is implemented...

So now that I have the mechanics of the device somewhat sorted and the rudiments of working in post up-and-running I can once again concentrate on composition and the subject, which is where I like to be.

Bottom line: Lovely camera; exceeds my expectations by a country mile - I’m a happy camper. I might even make a movie!

Thanks again.

Cheers...
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Old September 22nd, 2013, 09:49 PM   #8
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Re: Blackmagic Pocket Cine Camera - my first footage

I was considering this camera except for 1 thing I shoot mostly surfing and was concerned with not having 60fps.. Any thoughts since you've used the camera a bit now?
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Old September 22nd, 2013, 11:16 PM   #9
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Re: Blackmagic Pocket Cine Camera - my first footage

Good question John, and in as much as I have four cameras that shoot 60p AVCHD I should be in a position to offer a learned opinion, but I canít really, not yet. The reason being that I use the 60p AVCHD cameras, and in particular the Sony HX200v because of the long reach of the lens, for shooting fast moving wildlife in out-of-the-way places whereas I have thus far used the BMPCC for set shots more of a scenic nature and just recently a few around town shots of people in cafes drinking coffee and so on. Hardly action shots, I would say.

There are very knowledgeable folks here including Ron Evans, who consider 60p to be where the action is, so to speak. I donít doubt that 60p is better than 30p where there is lots of action but the more relevant question is how does 30p look when it comes to shooting surfers in action. Hopefully we may get input from others with direct experience. I have shots of passing speedboats speeding and millions of waves in the wind doing what they do and frankly I find 30p as good as gold. Iím not a fan of shooting 24p which produces the so-called filmic look so I donít go there.

I believe an advantage of shooting 60p for action, especially surfers in action, is that one is easily able to slow the footage in post and retain smoothness. Perhaps not so easy shooting 30p.

To be honest I would not rush to purchase a BMPCC, or any other 30p only camera, for action shots of the type you are contemplating but perhaps rent and give it a try first. My feeling is that 60p is where you might want to be, and that might be the BMPCC Mark 2 way down the road. In the meantime there are many options immediately available and that donít cost an arm and a leg either.
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Old September 23rd, 2013, 09:55 AM   #10
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Re: Blackmagic Pocket Cine Camera - my first footage

Thanks for getting back so quickly. I agree but wanted your opinion with it. I was hoping maybe a firmware update might include 60 fps. But a second edition of the camera? They barely can produce the first edition at present. I'm looking at the Sony EA50 U but some reviewers say it has a bad rolling shutter issue otherwise it's great. If it's not one thing it's another with having a camera that can do what I need for under $4k US.
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Old September 27th, 2013, 05:08 PM   #11
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Re: Blackmagic Pocket Cine Camera - my first footage

Dissent. This isn't what I see in this landscape with my own two eyes. The biggest factor may be the sensor. Back in the days of film, I could never get the right response from pyroxene; or from BaO-ZnO-SIO2 cystals: the camera didn't show what humans see with their eyes. The water's not right in the video; neither is the air; and it's not something that you can fix in post. Given that we can't do anything about the sensor, what if anything can we do to improve image quality through choices such as glass; work flow; skill?
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Old September 27th, 2013, 06:31 PM   #12
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Re: Blackmagic Pocket Cine Camera - my first footage

Ha ha, good points Shem. I take it you are familiar with the area. In fact I agree with you, to a point, and since posting that file I have gone back and adjusted the white balance in some of the clips in order to Ďmore accuratelyí portray the scene I see with my two little eyes too. I admit to hastily getting that footage out there as I believed there were folks wanting to see that kind of footage shot with the BMPCC and I was fortunate enough to score one early in the game. So I am in broad agreement with you.

However, just to complicate things I should also point out the water colour varies enormously according to the time of day and the lighting conditions. The air...do you mean the sky?

I would suggest that a huge amount can be done in post to change how things look especially when using DaVinci Resolve. The opportunities are essentially infinite.

Furthermore I might chose, for stylistic reasons, to move the colours towards teal/orange that is so popular right now, or in any other direction for that matter. Cinematography, for me, is not so much about accurately portraying reality (whatever that might be) so much as delivering moving pictures that please me. Coming from the world of still photography I have no qualms in taking the imagery in all kinds of directions as takes my fancy on the day. The undo button gets lot of use here. Not so easy in the good old days of real film.

Another very significant factor in the viewing experience is the screen, monitor, whatever that one is using to view the footage. I use a Dell 24Ē high end monitor and while the differences are less these days I have viewed my clips on other devices that presented a completely different picture, so that is potentially a very significant variable easily overlooked. Just the other day I viewed these clips on a friendís monitor and was shocked when I saw the results. Turns out he had the colour setting way off default but as pleases him.

So the bottom line is that quality, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. The sensor is more than just fine, in my opinion, and changing glass in this situation would not transform the results that much.

Workflow for me is changing as I learn the camera and the post-production opportunities, and as for improving skill...one would hope that would be an ongoing endless journey.

Today it is blowing a nor-wester with dense white puffy clouds racing low across the sky bringing dark shadowy lumps to the forest and black patches to the water. The light (colour) is Ďdifferentí yet again, and enormously variable. Iím off out there to see what I might make of this.

Thanks for your comments, and cheers.
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Old September 27th, 2013, 08:46 PM   #13
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Re: Blackmagic Pocket Cine Camera - my first footage

I use the same low quality monitor for everyone; and get results acording to quality in. That aside,what I'm trying to find out is how far can we push image quality from this relatively inexpensive; small and convenient camera. Sure each artist has his/her own special "eye". So I'm not going to lump you in with the generalised dark and brooding NZ cinema tradidion. There's a lot of atmosphere in this landscape; a lot of subtle colour and joy. The air is usually what is between the camera and the subject; the water is a transluscent material of H2O + sediment. OK, IR is an issue with the BMPCC that can be adjusted in post. One other issue getting in between me and assessing this camera is glare. It's quite normal for me to accept glare creating a haze on distant hills when looking toward the sun. But for some reason my brain doesn't output glare or haze in the foreground. With my own eyes I see any rust or gunge on the shipping in super duper HD; I dismiss a lot of the glare on the water to see into it. John, I want your video to be as if I could smell the sea in it. Would a circular polariser help?
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Old September 29th, 2013, 04:45 AM   #14
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Re: Blackmagic Pocket Cine Camera - my first footage

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Originally Posted by John Beattie View Post
I was considering this camera except for 1 thing I shoot mostly surfing and was concerned with not having 60fps.. Any thoughts since you've used the camera a bit now?
I would get a panasonic g6 if you plan to shoot surfers, it also produces some really sharp footage with great color right out of the box and you can use the etc mode to magnify your lens reach with 2.5 without any visual loss in image quality and have 50p to slow down if needed. The pocket cam can produce great looking footage, like John has shown, but I believe there are better camera's out there to shoot fast action sports.
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Old September 29th, 2013, 04:36 PM   #15
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Re: Blackmagic Pocket Cine Camera - my first footage

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So I'm not going to lump you in with the generalised dark and brooding NZ cinema tradidion.
Cinema of Unease - Sam Neill. Heavens no, I don't belong in there even in my wildest dreams. I do love the landscapes here in the South Island and capturing that 'colour and joy' is my main thing these days. This camera, the BMPCC is my first go at cinematography as such and all I can say right now is that it's a whole different ball game compared to short documentary-style shooting using a Sony EX1, or wildlife shooting using various non-cinematic cameras as has been my previous preoccupation.

My biggest challenge right now is a simple practical one; how to actually see the screen and get exposure and focus dead on, especially focus. Right now I need to extend the tripod way up in order to get my nose right up close to the dimly-lit screen, two pair of reading glasses, howling winds buffeting everything around! I'm about to place an order for a Kinotehnik EVF (costing more than the camera). I shall tilt the thing up, lower the tripod which will make it less prone to wind wobble, and actually get a clear view of what I'm doing. Right now just using the screen outdoors for me it is too much of a hit and miss exercise.

Let me add that I am not a young muscle-bound Rugby football player with a steely grip and eyesight to match and for those so endowed my problems are perhaps somewhat irrelevant (but not entirely, I suggest).

And then I shall proceed to refine everything perhaps including looking at filters such as a circular polarizer.

It will take some time before I reach the 'smell it' objective you desire, but I'm working on it. The limiting factor...I do believe it is not this little camera but rather me.

Thanks for your comments.

Last edited by John McCully; September 30th, 2013 at 02:39 AM. Reason: an unforgivable typo...
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