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Is raw on the Blackmagic Cinema Camera worth it? Dispelling the myths


Andrew Reid
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[quote name='tabac' timestamp='1346517569' post='17103']
The Codex unit alone is around £1000 per day!
[/quote]

Interesting... I didn't know that the Alexa actually needed an external recorder for RAW. That makes the Alexa look like another over-priced hunk of crap, honestly. I might be the first person to state this... but the BMCC might actually be an Alexa killer. (well, besides over-cranking) But it does sound like Black Magic is working on the 60fps mode for 1080p... which would be amazing, even if it's only for prores. But for anything that's just straight narrative 24/25p... why even shoot Alexa now? Is that extra 1 stop worth it? Do you need more than around 24mm of wide angle? Maybe. I can't really see that many cases actually...

You'd have to be frickin insane in this upcoming year to purchase a $60,000 camera that requires an additional unit to record RAW... which then becomes a 30lb behemoth of a camera. Do "professionals" realize that the support-gear and personnel you now need to run this is about 20x the cost of what it would take to support a small compact BMCC camera crew? The BMCC even falling a bit behind the Alexa spec wise... easily pulls ahead here. And this is where it matters most... getting your crew down from 100's to only a few key creative roles and cutting all the bullshit out. Now, isn't RAW starting to seem a bit more affordable?

Again, while it does have some advantages, deep down... people really just like the Alexa because it's well, the most expensive digital cinema camera. People want to justify it's use, so that they can pretend like they're in another "league" of film-making than others. Well, I got news for these people... you aren't. People rave about the Alexa because, in the end, it's just big and show-off-y. Smoke and mirrors. People just want to get paid to play with big toys that other people can't afford.

[quote name='tabac' timestamp='1346517569' post='17103']
Do you guys know how much extra dough it is to shoot RAW on Alexa? I'm in process of working out a feature budget. On a £1.6M budget RAW is nearly impossible with Alexa.
[/quote]

Well, uhh, I guess the Alexa sucks then...

[quote name='EOSHD' timestamp='1346532196' post='17117']
Is creativity completely dead in the high budget movie world now?
[/quote]

Pretty much. People seem to prefer spending their energy on over-complicating film shoots, so they can get paid $2000 a day to play with matte-boxes, then pushing the industry forward and innovating new methods of production. I estimate, that with a new modern-approach... throwing all the old industry and "pro" dogma out the window... you could make any given movie for about 100x less.
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[quote name='bwhitz' timestamp='1346576004' post='17141']Smoke and mirrors. People just want to get paid to play with big toys that other people can't afford.
[/quote]


[left]Fundamental truth. Male brain stem. Threads like this (and the whole technical gadgets affairs) are more fueled by testosterone than by economical reason or technical needs (EDIT: You see that what you say about 'the people' tells a lot about yourself. Like in [font="Arial, Verdana, sans-serif"][color="#000000"][i]what I myself do think or do is what I expect of others too[/i], german proverb. [/color][/font]It's a mechanism called 'projection', which is my domain, but really in a technical sense ;) ).[/left]

However, on a commercial film set (no matter if it's a film with Diane Keaton or if the director is a woman), you have at least four people responsible for the image: DoP, operator(s), lighting technician(s), focus puller(s), a few hundred dollars more or less for gear rentals simply don't count much.

Why do we compare an Alexa to the cameras we can afford? Masochism? Penis envy? A sober calculation whether our finished feature might be rejected by the distributors because of some far-fetched color-issue? Are we indies or what?
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[quote name='EOSHD' timestamp='1346542509' post='17126']
There are certain lenses that look better on S35 and some that look better on a 2x crop sensor.

Nice to have a choice, I'd certainly prefer to use a 18mm T1.6 on S35 rather than Blackmagic. But then I'd rather use an 85mm F1.4 on the Blackmagic or GH2 as a super fast telephoto than on full frame where it is a standard boring portrait lens with uncontrollable DOF :)

All the comparisons to full frame and claims of 'small chip' are bunk.

S35 is large, Blackmagic is medium, consumer camcorder is small.
[/quote]

Hands up anyone who hypothetically would choose an s35mm sensor over a 2/3 inch sensor camaera if BMD offered them at the same price? IMHO, a sensor that suits the lens mount would have been more sensible even if more expensive.

On the topic of this blog. Of course raw is a fantastic option. Can't imagine anyone arguing that the option of raw and prores isn't a fantastic concept.
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[quote name='EOSHD' timestamp='1346532196' post='17117']
You can't afford to shoot raw with a 4 million dollar budget?

Amateurs are editing raw in their bedrooms on laptops for the price of the camera.

Is creativity completely dead in the high budget movie world now? Is it all about the numbers and the money? Maybe try spending less on marketing and more on workflow?

£1000 per day for the Codex is a lot of money but it pales into significance relative to everything else in a $4m budget surely?
[/quote]
Not sure how £1.6 translates into $4mil, what is this the 60s? But every budget is different. I can tell you on ours, the extra money for Codex is do-able, but the post ramifiactions are not. Most low budget indies require a post equity deal, and you would not get a pst house to include RAW workflow in that. There is no mystery to it, for a big distributer to give you that sort of money the project has to be bonded, hence the likes of [i]Wild Bill[/i] (2012) and major british high end TV show use Arri's implementation of prores as opposed to the Codex. Also the marketing is never in the production budget, the 1.6 is for delivery. Remember on 1.6m the major chunk goes on talent - actors, costume, camera crew, the sript, the catering blah blah. The actual kit hire is a tiny portion of any feature. To answer your question "Is creativity completely dead in the high budget movie world now?", ours is not high end - its low budget. And it's not dead, it's just walking with a limp. I'm sure you've seen the shit on cinemas lately. But thats why I said, the BMC could change a lot of this, accelerate change, fingers crossed.
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[quote name='bwhitz' timestamp='1346576004' post='17141']
Interesting... I didn't know that the Alexa actually needed an external recorder for RAW. That makes the Alexa look like another over-priced hunk of crap, honestly. I might be the first person to state this... but the BMCC might actually be an Alexa killer. (well, besides over-cranking) But it does sound like Black Magic is working on the 60fps mode for 1080p... which would be amazing, even if it's only for prores. But for anything that's just straight narrative 24/25p... why even shoot Alexa now? Is that extra 1 stop worth it? Do you need more than around 24mm of wide angle? Maybe. I can't really see that many cases actually...

You'd have to be frickin insane in this upcoming year to purchase a $60,000 camera that requires an additional unit to record RAW... which then becomes a 30lb behemoth of a camera. Do "professionals" realize that the support-gear and personnel you now need to run this is about 20x the cost of what it would take to support a small compact BMCC camera crew? The BMCC even falling a bit behind the Alexa spec wise... easily pulls ahead here. And this is where it matters most... getting your crew down from 100's to only a few key creative roles and cutting all the bullshit out. Now, isn't RAW starting to seem a bit more affordable?

Again, while it does have some advantages, deep down... people really just like the Alexa because it's well, the most expensive digital cinema camera. People want to justify it's use, so that they can pretend like they're in another "league" of film-making than others. Well, I got news for these people... you aren't. People rave about the Alexa because, in the end, it's just big and show-off-y. Smoke and mirrors. People just want to get paid to play with big toys that other people can't afford.



Well, uhh, I guess the Alexa sucks then...



Pretty much. People seem to prefer spending their energy on over-complicating film shoots, so they can get paid $2000 a day to play with matte-boxes, then pushing the industry forward and innovating new methods of production. I estimate, that with a new modern-approach... throwing all the old industry and "pro" dogma out the window... you could make any given movie for about 100x less.
[/quote]
Not sure I can agree with any of that. Alexa is a Pro camera, no one ever mentions build quality. Alexa is a tank! we straped it to cars in the rain man, on a 40 day shoot, the thing gets bashed all over the place.
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[quote name='Axel' timestamp='1346577469' post='17142']
[left]Fundamental truth. Male brain stem. Threads like this (and the whole technical gadgets affairs) are more fueled by testosterone than by economical reason or technical needs (EDIT: You see that what you say about 'the people' tells a lot about yourself. Like in [font=Arial, Verdana, sans-serif][color=#000000][i]what I myself do think or do is what I expect of others too[/i], german proverb. [/color][/font]It's a mechanism called 'projection', which is my domain, but really in a technical sense ;) ).[/left]

However, on a commercial film set (no matter if it's a film with Diane Keaton or if the director is a woman), you have at least four people responsible for the image: DoP, operator(s), lighting technician(s), focus puller(s), a few hundred dollars more or less for gear rentals simply don't count much.

Why do we compare an Alexa to the cameras we can afford? Masochism? Penis envy? A sober calculation whether our finished feature might be rejected by the distributors because of some far-fetched color-issue? Are we indies or what?
[/quote]
I can agree with a lot of that.
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[quote name='Xiong' timestamp='1346536622' post='17124']
Any chance you can elaborate? I like to know more about what you cam across using the scarlet.
[/quote]

a couple of things turned me off the scarlet and made me cancel my order...
crop factor....the red sensor gets smaller and smaller as you shoot higher frame rates....that concept is just strange to me but it goes right along with the second issue i have with red....the higher and higher raw compression they use to get higher frame rates....a lot of the footage from the scarlet would have been highly compressed from a small portion of the sensor.....since i want to use the stills as well this just would not work for me.....
don't get me wrong: the EPIC is great and the stills are great as well....yes, i am not too happy with the raw compression there either, but 5k makes up for a lot....
another issue: a proprietary raw format locks you in with RED....the BMCC uses an open standard and from the first day on i have several options to find whatever works best for me.....
another big issue to be honest: price....i ordered the brain for 10000? and to be able to start shooting would have been another (realistically) 10000....selling SSDs and batteries with such a huge markup leaves a bad taste....
i can get 2 BMCCs, more then enough SSDs and some other gear for the price of a scarlet body (sorry, brain)...and i am pretty sure from what i have seen comparing raw files from both, the BMCC wins for a beautiful and detailed image....
the scarlet is a perfect back up for someone already invested in red....i do not see why anyone would get a scarlet over a BMCC right now....
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[quote name='bwhitz' timestamp='1346576004' post='17141']
I didn't know that the Alexa actually needed an external recorder for RAW. That makes the Alexa look like another over-priced hunk of crap, honestly.
[/quote]

Price and specs is not all there is to a camera, in the end it's all about the image they produce AND the usability.
Do you really think any serious DP on a high budget film would go with a camera that's limited to EF lenses???

Some of the best DPs of our times have only made the switch to digital after the Alexa came out, and this was even before it shot raw. The RED never convinced them, but the Alexa images they saw up on the screen together with its on set workflow finally did it for them.

Don't compare apples to oranges.
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[quote name='Bruno' timestamp='1346607747' post='17175']
Price and specs is not all there is to a camera, in the end it's all about the image they produce AND the usability.
Do you really think any serious DP on a high budget film would go with a camera that's limited to EF lenses???

Some of the best DPs of our times have only made the switch to digital after the Alexa came out, and this was even before it shot raw. The RED never convinced them, but the Alexa images they saw up on the screen together with its on set workflow finally did it for them.

Don't compare apples to oranges.
[/quote]

there are plenty of zeiss and canon cine lenses available, but you are absolutely right, on a big budget shoot the question if the camera costs 3000 to buy or 3000 to rent for a couple of days makes no difference....image quality and workflow (and of course lenses) are much more important....i would not be surprised if the BMCC will be taken seriously keeping these consideration in mind....
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[quote name='peederj' timestamp='1346458693' post='17050']
Can you get an Atomos Samurai and record the ProRes externally while you record RAW internally on the BMCC? If you can, then you have both with no transcode time, and an external monitor for the focus puller or director.
[/quote]

Yes. You can.

The HDSDI outputs 422 10 bit. Clean. (or dirty if you want).

You can also use the thunderbolt to record 422 ProRes through a laptop.

jb
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2.5k is not as impressive when you say [size=4][font=arial, sans-serif]2432 x 1366 vs 1920x1080. Really doesn't give you a ton of room to crop, would be useful for stabilization but you certainly not going to significantly recompose a shot with 512x284 pixels of headroom.[/font]

[font=arial, sans-serif]Honestly I think shooting in RAW would limit creativity more than it would enable it, you'd need to have a much tighter and scripted workflow and you couldn't be overshooting or experimenting too much.[/font]

[font=arial, sans-serif]I think this camera would be great for seasoned independent producers looking to take a shot on a well funded projects, but I think it would be an absolute disaster to use on a no budget or micro budget flick. Most people would be much better served by the flexibility of a DSLR, the softness is not an issue unless you are trying to replicate a HBO series like Game of Thrones.[/font][/size]
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[quote name='bradleyg5' timestamp='1346660617' post='17207']
2.5k is not as impressive when you say [size=4][font=arial, sans-serif]2432 x 1366 vs 1920x1080. Really doesn't give you a ton of room to crop, would be useful for stabilization but you certainly not going to significantly recompose a shot with 512x284 pixels of headroom.[/font][/size]
[/quote]

Upscaling is disproportionately easier than downscaling. And you err if you think that 2432 is anywhere near the actual resolution of the camera or if any of the nominal resolutions can be taken without a ton of salt. These facts are ignored so regularly that you have to wonder. Resolution specifies the amount of pixels the monitoring device will ideally be able to show, and this again is related to the ppi and so in last consequence limits the [i]size[/i] of the image (difficult to get it [i]smaller[/i], but Apple managed this with the [i]retina display[/i]). To ask about the resolution as a hint to the image quality is comparable to someone who judges the quality of a car by the size of the gas tank.
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The Alexa images are so gorgeous regardless of the paper stats or the 1080 resolution.

Sigma 50mm f1.4. Leica 50mm f1.4. One of those is horrid and one was crafted by the Gods! But the numbers are the same. It's the Leica bit and the price that give the biggest clue, and the performance and feel of the images that seal it. Anything with Arri in front of it is nearly invincible and fetishistic joyful to use. It may not be RAW, but by god does it look lovely.
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Of course lens manufacturers may make new lenses for the BMC especially if the demand is there. Also if the camera gives an image as good as an Alexa albiet with a smaller sensor then someone will work out a way to hack of the mount and put on a more user friendly one. Already many are looking into this.
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[quote name='bwhitz' timestamp='1346576004' post='17141']
Interesting... I didn't know that the Alexa actually needed an external recorder for RAW. That makes the Alexa look like another over-priced hunk of crap, honestly. I might be the first person to state this... but the BMCC might actually be an Alexa killer. (well, besides over-cranking) But it does sound like Black Magic is working on the 60fps mode for 1080p... which would be amazing, even if it's only for prores. But for anything that's just straight narrative 24/25p... why even shoot Alexa now? Is that extra 1 stop worth it? Do you need more than around 24mm of wide angle? Maybe. I can't really see that many cases actually...

You'd have to be frickin insane in this upcoming year to purchase a $60,000 camera that requires an additional unit to record RAW... which then becomes a 30lb behemoth of a camera. Do "professionals" realize that the support-gear and personnel you now need to run this is about 20x the cost of what it would take to support a small compact BMCC camera crew? The BMCC even falling a bit behind the Alexa spec wise... easily pulls ahead here. And this is where it matters most... getting your crew down from 100's to only a few key creative roles and cutting all the bullshit out. Now, isn't RAW starting to seem a bit more affordable?
[/quote]

That's sort of an outlandish claim with a lot of boasting about how superior one camera aimed towards independent to another aimed for professional cinema work. On a high budget shoot I wouldn't want to work with a BMC if I had the choice to use an Alexa, thats like crippling yourself. I tried to see the logic in you post but wound up with only closed minded aggression, there are more factors involved.

[quote name='pss' timestamp='1346601274' post='17172']
a couple of things turned me off the scarlet and made me cancel my order...
crop factor....the red sensor gets smaller and smaller as you shoot higher frame rates....that concept is just strange to me but it goes right along with the second issue i have with red....the higher and higher raw compression they use to get higher frame rates....a lot of the footage from the scarlet would have been highly compressed from a small portion of the sensor.....since i want to use the stills as well this just would not work for me.....
don't get me wrong: the EPIC is great and the stills are great as well....yes, i am not too happy with the raw compression there either, but 5k makes up for a lot....
another issue: a proprietary raw format locks you in with RED....the BMCC uses an open standard and from the first day on i have several options to find whatever works best for me.....
another big issue to be honest: price....i ordered the brain for 10000? and to be able to start shooting would have been another (realistically) 10000....selling SSDs and batteries with such a huge markup leaves a bad taste....
i can get 2 BMCCs, more then enough SSDs and some other gear for the price of a scarlet body (sorry, brain)...and i am pretty sure from what i have seen comparing raw files from both, the BMCC wins for a beautiful and detailed image....
the scarlet is a perfect back up for someone already invested in red....i do not see why anyone would get a scarlet over a BMCC right now....
[/quote]

Interesting, Its similar to Philip Blooms experience with the Scarlet. Its too bad. Yes, having to be stuck with RED only would have some hindrance. That alone with the cost of the Brain, Monitor, etc does cost alot compared to just having the BMC and a lense, and be ready to shoot. Thanks for the reply.
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For us, the real question isn't "Is it worth it", but rather "Is it worth it, if you already have and work with Red and 5D".
I think for someone who is about to gather his/her equipment, it should be a no-brainer. But as an already existing company with the equipment in place, it is not as simple.
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I'm in a position to work on shows with enough budget to have the choice.

Last few TV drama Shows I've shot are, in REVERSE ORDER

EPIC / BMCC
Alexa ProRes / EPIC / C300 / BMCC / GoPro
Alexa ProRes (cinema release - tested RAW, not enough difference)
EPIC / AF100 with Hyperdeck
Alexa ProRes / AF100 with Hyperdeck
REDMX / GH1 Hacked
Canon 7d / 1d



Every show I had the choice and often tested the currently available cameras and i then made a CHOICE. As much as I love the Alexa, it's not the only game in town.

They are, after all, just cameras.

I happily use what's actually required to tell the story, that best suits the resources I have available. Sometimes you need to be discrete and mobile. Sometimes you need to be polished and slick.

Every camera has it's strengths. Right now I'm leaning towards EPIC for a show over Alexa because it's got the resolution and higher frame rates options, plus it can build a hell of a lot smaller.

Every shoot demands different things. I'm lucky enough to get to choose and I've not had just ONE type of camera in my package for a long time.

jb
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[quote name='bradleyg5' timestamp='1346660617' post='17207']
2.5k is not as impressive when you say [font=arial, sans-serif]2432 x 1366 vs 1920x1080. Really doesn't give you a ton of room to crop, would be useful for stabilization but you certainly not going to significantly recompose a shot with 512x284 pixels of headroom.[/font]

[font=arial, sans-serif]Honestly I think shooting in RAW would limit creativity more than it would enable it, you'd need to have a much tighter and scripted workflow and you couldn't be overshooting or experimenting too much.[/font]

[font=arial, sans-serif]I think this camera would be great for seasoned independent producers looking to take a shot on a well funded projects, but I think it would be an absolute disaster to use on a no budget or micro budget flick. Most people would be much better served by the flexibility of a DSLR, the softness is not an issue unless you are trying to replicate a HBO series like Game of Thrones.[/font]
[/quote]

well i guess the alexa does not even have the extra pixels, so 2.5k is better then 1080HD...it's not 4k of course but what is?
and if you consider a 2.5k raw workflow to stop you from working creatively, i guess the EPIC wouldn't let you leave your room....

i just don't understand why 2.5k and raw is all of a sudden a problem?! just don't use it! shoot prores and be happy! if you don't see the advantage over a 7d, go with that! regardless: a great story well shot will be more interesting coming from an iPhone....
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[quote name='pss' timestamp='1346686316' post='17224']
well i guess the alexa does not even have the extra pixels, so 2.5k is better then 1080HD...it's not 4k of course but what is?
and if you consider a 2.5k raw workflow to stop you from working creatively, i guess the EPIC wouldn't let you leave your room....

i just don't understand why 2.5k and raw is all of a sudden a problem?! just don't use it! shoot prores and be happy! if you don't see the advantage over a 7d, go with that! regardless: a great story well shot will be more interesting coming from an iPhone....
[/quote]
ArriRaw shoots 2880 x 2160 in 4:3 or 2880 x 1620 in 16:9, so it actually quite a similar beast to the BMC.
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