RED Epic versus Blackmagic Cinema Camera - Part 1 - Grain, workflow and form factor
Posted 08 February 2013 - 06:17 PM
How does the Blackmagic Cinema Camera compare to an established film industry standard, the Red Epic?
Along with ReWo at MBF Film Technik in Berlin we decided to find out.
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Posted 08 February 2013 - 06:34 PM
A compressed raw workflow is something BMD should really focus on as I said a few times before.
It's probably even more important to have it on a cheaper camera than on a high end camera IMO.
RED have a huge head start, but BMD doesn't need to start from scratch. Cineform would be a good alternative, but they'd have to pay for a license to use it in their cameras, which they might be avoiding (as they avoided HDMI).
Same goes for Digital Bolex or any affordable camera that goes raw, an optimized workflow is extremely important.
Btw, do you have a way of transcoding the BMCC footage into Cineform?
I'd be curious to see how it compares and how big the file size differences are.
EDIT: Apparently it is possible!
Posted 08 February 2013 - 07:13 PM
I agree. I much prefer the Red codec to Cinema DNG. It is also better supported and more reliable than CineForm currently is.
These things take a lot of processing power to encode though, and a lot of time & skill to develop. I don't think Blackmagic are quite at the point of doing proprietary raw codecs yet on their camera line yet. This is their first attempt at a camera.
I'd like to see 4K ProRes though, and a stronger OLPF.
Posted 08 February 2013 - 08:30 PM
I don't care about RED. It's the most hated company in the world besides Canon.
Posted 08 February 2013 - 09:52 PM
Let's stop that line of conversation here shall we... And get back onto the article.
Posted 08 February 2013 - 10:18 PM
Although SSD media for the Epic is far more expensive than for the Blackmagic, the media is more reliable and built to last. I am a bit worried that the SSD for my Blackmagic Cinema Camera won’t last the year. Certainly for very regular shooters the fact that normal off the shelf SSDs cannot be wiped and filled thousands of times like Red media can, could be a problem in months to come.
I think Blackmagic should look at introducing some high end SSD media for their camera.
The main determining factor limiting the cheapest SSDs from reliably performing multiple-thousands of load-&unload or write-and-re-write-cycles is the manufacturing structure strength of the integrated memory-circuitry.
Currently the only viable option for the BMCC to allow for a truly exponential boost in reliability for literally thousands and thousands of full capacity write-and-re-write-cycles would be the exceptionally affordable (and reliable) 34nm Flash memory-equipped SSDs from Mushkin, such as these here:
Mushkin Enhanced Callisto Deluxe 480GB, 2.5", SATA II (MKNSSDCL480GB-DX)
Posted 08 February 2013 - 10:42 PM
So and why do you think that this particular Mushkin SSD is the only reliable one?
Posted 08 February 2013 - 10:44 PM
I much prefer the Red codec to Cinema DNG. It is also better supported and more reliable than CineForm currently is.
The RED codec, with its simple quicktime proxies system, is pretty neat.
CineForm could however be a good alternative to Cinema DNG, even if only for archival purposes, in case its workflow proves to be worse than Cinema DNG.
Posted 09 February 2013 - 12:45 AM
Hi Andrew, great start to the Epic / BMCC comparisons. I had one to play with over the weekend and shot about 1TB worth of footage. Its scary how quick that happens. I work in VFX so a lot of the plates were to work on later in resolve and Nuke, such as some green screen tests, low light and plates for some matte painting work. Everything you found I agree with, I hope once the MFT arrives I'll be able to dial in perfect exposure more easily but we'll see.
As for file work flows Ive been bringing them into nuke ass raw DNG then exporting to a 12bit DPX file with either the Alexa LogC colorspace or Cineon. This maintains the data for me without having to have nuke decompress the raw file every frame. Also the log colorspace keeps all of the DR. This is our workflow for the Alexa so Im just mirroring that. If resolve could spit out Cineon I would first go in there but from what Ive seen its export is Rec709?
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Posted 09 February 2013 - 01:24 AM
Hey, I was just wondering what lenses were bing used here, especially the one on the BMCC. Thanks for the post!
Posted 09 February 2013 - 01:56 AM
Yes lenses - forgot to mention in the post. The Epic had an EF mount. We used the Canon 85mm F1.2L on that and a Leica R 50mm F2.0 on the Blackmagic to match the field of view, roughly, across varying sensor sizes. I say roughly because the Epic has a different readout area depending on the resolution selected. 5K is more like APS-H, 4K is Super 35mm and most commonly used, 3K and 2K are smaller crops.
We did not use the lenses wide open for the resolution chart stuff. A minimum was F2.8. The Leica is plenty sharp at F2.8 but I did notice some drop off in the corners so won't be using the corners in Part 2. I'll be judging the resolution from the centre of the chart.
Posted 09 February 2013 - 04:38 AM
I really like this site and enjoy the articles. But not being able to find features and then assume things - that's not really a good comparison is it?
You can set the debayer quality in Resolve for Red footage on a project level and on per-clip basis. With a decent computer 1/4 resolution can play back in real time. There's also a thing called Red Rocket, which does a hardware debayering of Red footage, it's expensive but useful if you're working on a professional level. Red footage is also very well supported by Premiere CS6 and FCPX.
Not sure if it fits in the form factor section but I think the option to change lens mounts and adjust back focus is pretty important on the Red. That makes it possible to mount proper cine lenses and do focus pulls based on lens markings, which is likely going to be a problem on the BMC.
Anyway, curious to see how it holds up and still considering it as a B-cam.
Posted 09 February 2013 - 07:59 AM
That Canon 85mm L is like Charlotte Johansen's posterior dipped in butter (or chocolate, if you must, I'm just not much for chocolate).
Creative Director @ Spiderwood Digital
Posted 09 February 2013 - 08:17 AM
Waiting for part two to see if this is going to be one of the most interesting articles I could expect!
Posted 09 February 2013 - 04:42 PM
That sounds about right... Thanks for pointing this out, Shijan!
Andrew, thanks for taking the time to do this review. Loads of great info here. Can't wait for part two!
Posted 12 February 2013 - 02:28 AM
Checked prices on that line of Toshiba SSDs, and the markup isn't that much. I was wondering if I could get a 48Gig one and slap in a 256Gig drive and save some cash, but it's definitely not worth it. Interesting to see though.
Posted 12 February 2013 - 11:01 AM
What makes you think the markup isn't that much Paul?
I found the 128GB version of that Toshiba SSD with matching model number on amazon for $79.
The Red Mag version is $1250
I'm a little baffled as to what it is about the Red version that is supposably giving it such a high rate of reliability under constant use over the standard drive.
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