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RED Epic versus Blackmagic Cinema Camera - Part 1 - Grain, workflow and form factor

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Posted

Blackmagic vs Epic

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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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!

http://vfx-rants.blogspot.com/2012/08/bmcc-raw-to-cineform-raw.html

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Posted

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.

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Posted

I don't care about RED. It's the most hated company in the world besides Canon.

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Posted

Haha, no it isn't.

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Posted

Let's stop that line of conversation here shall we... And get back onto the article.

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 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:

890149.jpg

Mushkin Enhanced Callisto Deluxe 960GB, 2.5", SATA II (MKNSSDCL960GB-DX)

 

878360.jpg Mushkin Enhanced Callisto Deluxe 480GB, 2.5", SATA II (MKNSSDCL480GB-DX)

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Posted

So and why do you think that this particular Mushkin SSD is the only reliable one?

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Posted

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.

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Posted

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

Hey, I was just wondering what lenses were bing used here, especially the one on the BMCC.  Thanks for the post!

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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.

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Posted

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.

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Posted

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).

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Posted

Waiting for part two to see if this is going to be one of the most interesting articles I could expect!

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Posted

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!

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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.

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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.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Style-Original-Toshiba-Micro-Thnsnc128gmmj/dp/B009TF135S

 

The Red Mag version is $1250

 

http://www.red.com/store/products/redmag-ssd/750-0026

 

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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Posted

funny that this picture was posted on reduser forum. some people told their ideas about exclusive RED firmware in those drives but without any proof links. few days later moderators deleted the topic and comments as KGB agents :)

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Posted

Well... that is intriguing. Wouldnt be too surprised if true.

 

If I'm not mistaken Red isn't that big to manufacture semiconductor technology like SSD's, so it would be natural to outsource drives.  If anything, seeing how they are industry leaders in cinema it makes sense for them to price high for proprietory controller chipsets.  Regarding ''long life" just sounds like some flexible marketing as they would replace it within general warranty...

 

Unfortunately, it makes sense, regardless of agreeing or not, that you have to pay steep just for the proprietary (red mobo) controller and firmware.  I wonder if each controller is firm by number capacity when you order so that replacing the SSD might cause conflicts.

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If I'm not mistaken Red isn't that big to manufacture semiconductor technology like SSD's, so it would be natural to outsource drives.  If anything, seeing how they are industry leaders in cinema it makes sense for them to price high for proprietory controller chipsets.  Regarding ''long life" just sounds like some flexible marketing as they would replace it within general warranty...

 

Unfortunately, it makes sense, regardless of agreeing or not, that you have to pay steep just for the proprietary (red mobo) controller and firmware.  I wonder if each controller is firm by number capacity when you order so that replacing the SSD might cause conflicts.

 

Would love some one to give it a test drive, im sure its possible.

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Posted

It's always been expensive to use proprietary recording mediums on Pro systems (think SxS or P2).
 
The Sony F5/F55 will have similarly priced mags...the 4K/RAW AXSM cards (for external recording) will probably end up at a similar price point to Redmags, and what are the odds that, once one is cracked open, that'll have a SSD in it? Plus they're using SxS pro for internal recording internal formats - and they're not cheap.
 
It's all about stopping 3rd party recording options. Look at the trouble/issues with sdhc cards and various speeds vs systems vs manufactured. I'm sure the BMCC will have issues with preferred SSD's (which will be the more pricy models)... ie some work better than others.
 
Sony are following Red (and Arri) in terms of controlling the data acquisition system for their high end machines. 
 
... and yes, they probably all make a good profit. But this is the highest end of the industry, not camcorders or DSLRs and it always has (and always will be) an expensive game at the top end.
 
An EVF for a Red or F5/55 costs as much as some people want to pay for a full system.
 
As the process of democratisation has brought technology prices down, people still loose sight of  the fact that it's all about bottom line. RED probably make more from Redmags than any other item... Sony will (in comparative terms) only sell a handful of F5/55's in comparison to the amount of cheaper/lower-end pro-sumer systems, so it's all about large profit on higher ends stuff and lower margins (but greater volume) on prosumer.

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