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Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K

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Prores Raw does have advantages.  It can be edited natively in Final Cut/Premiere (hopefully) and it's extremely CPU efficient.  Cinema DNG not so much.  It would basically be similar to working with R3D files only a little larger in size which is the one thing that turns people away from RAW in the first place.

From what I understand there are some problems with it.  Firstly, I believe it's 12-bit linearly encoded which is awful.  12-bit linear encoding is what the original REDONE caputured.  Log encoded raw or 16-bit linear is much better for preserving color information.  Secondly, a lot of color science stuff is contained within the CinemaDNG format which likely doesn't translate over to ProRes raw.  

I could be wrong about those things, but it definitely would be a nice feature to have when you want the convenience of ProRes with raw data.

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My guess is BMD were considering ProResRaw support during the NAB launch but may not anymore. First of all as mentioned, BMD already supports Raw & ProRes. Adding ProResRaw isn't as simple as just adding an extra codec to the camera. ProResRaw works primarily on the NLE side ( Demosaicing and processing are deferred to the time of playback and are performed by application software.). This means BMD would have to also develop and ensure full compatibility with Resolve, which they have just released a new version and probably aren't eager to mess with. I also suspect Apple have developped ProResRaw in an attempt to sell/convert more editors to FinalCutPro as the official ProResRaw white paper specifies: Final Cut Pro includes a streamlined and GPU-optimized demosaicing algorithm designed to meet the performance demands of real-time, multistream video editing. So it could also be BMD aren't eager to support a codec that may make their Resolve users switch to another platform and/or hinder current Resolve performance. Unlike other camera manufacturers, BMD's hardware is very tied to their software package. In addition there may be high licensing fees both for camera & software dev tools that BMD just aren't ready to deal with on both ends..

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I assume ProRes Raw will mature with future updates to Pro Codecs and FCPX.

Re: Jon’s critique on that Pocket cam video...

Obviously, being a fan of the camera and owning a couple of them over the years, I’ve seen that video, and although it has some IR pollution, I really like that look. It’s very analog and reminds me of a very distinct “indie film” look that was popular for a while. So for grabbing a camera and a lens, I think the kid was very successful.

@John Brawley any chance BM is going to reduce the price of the Pocket or Micro... or maybe another Summer sale?

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4 hours ago, mercer said:

 

@John Brawley any chance BM is going to reduce the price of the Pocket or Micro... or maybe another Summer sale?

I have no idea.

As far as I recall, they only did that once with the pocket.

And I do love using the pocket / micro to get shots I can't get any other way.

 

TR-105_BTS4_GD0016

JB

 

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15 minutes ago, John Brawley said:

I have no idea.

As far as I recall, they only did that once with the pocket.

And I do love using the pocket to get shots I can't get any other way.

 

TR-105_BTS4_GD0016

JB

 

That’s a cool little set up... what’s that rig/handle you’re using with it?

I’m hoping BM doesn’t discontinue the original Pocket or Micro but for the price of the Pocket2... it seems they may need a price decrease. 

Also since you posted it, I’m really enjoying your work on The Resident and it is pretty cool that you can use the Pocket in production... even if for close up/insert shots. What lens did you use?

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9 hours ago, Savannah Miller said:

From what I understand there are some problems with it.  Firstly, I believe it's 12-bit linearly encoded which is awful.  12-bit linear encoding is what the original REDONE caputured.  Log encoded raw or 16-bit linear is much better for preserving color information.  Secondly, a lot of color science stuff is contained within the CinemaDNG format which likely doesn't translate over to ProRes raw.  

It has been reported that ProresRAW bitdepth depends on what the camera sends. So for example it can be 12bit like with the FS5 or 14bit like the Varicam. While the linear 12bit signal is limited to 12 stops of dynamic range, one 12bit ProResRaw example from the FS5 looks great:

It appears that ProresRAW is very efficient both in the data rates and the playback performance. I am sure Resolve will implement it at some point and when that happens we will probably see an update of all BM cameras to support it as well. 

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Those shots look amazing, but the shot on top of the ambulance, is that done with gopro?  Is it some sort of stock footage?  That's the only shot that looks different from the rest.

3 hours ago, Don Kotlos said:

It has been reported that ProresRAW bitdepth depends on what the camera sends. So for example it can be 12bit like with the FS5 or 14bit like the Varicam. While the linear 12bit signal is limited to 12 stops of dynamic range, one 12bit ProResRaw example from the FS5 looks great:


If Blackmagic sends only 12-bit, then that's not better than the 12-bit log encoded DNG.  Plus a lot of Blackmagic's proprietary color science info is contained within their DNGs which might not work with Prores raw.    Long story short the only real benefit of Prores raw over Prores 4:4:4 is the ability to change white balance which is not a huge issue because a competent colorist can change the white balance of prores 4:4:4 quite easily.  Secondly, white balance is one of the easiest things to set correctly, so it's not a huge benefit in that area either.  There's nothing wrong with shooting Prores and then for shots where you think you might want to change white balance extreme amounts, to shoot Cinema DNG.  That leaves very little scenarios where Prores raw is helpful.

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24 minutes ago, Savannah Miller said:

Those shots look amazing, but the shot on top of the ambulance, is that done with gopro?  Is it some sort of stock footage?  That's the only shot that looks different from the rest.


If Blackmagic sends only 12-bit, then that's not better than the 12-bit log encoded DNG.  Plus a lot of Blackmagic's proprietary color science info is contained within their DNGs which might not work with Prores raw.    Long story short the only real benefit of Prores raw over Prores 4:4:4 is the ability to change white balance which is not a huge issue because a competent colorist can change the white balance of prores 4:4:4 quite easily.  Secondly, white balance is one of the easiest things to set correctly, so it's not a huge benefit in that area either.  There's nothing wrong with shooting Prores and then for shots where you think you might want to change white balance extreme amounts, to shoot Cinema DNG.  That leaves very little scenarios where Prores raw is helpful.

Well spotted.  Yes the shot of the ambulance lights is a stock shot.

DNG in most BMD cameras is actually 16 bit LIN, but it gets converted to 12 bit LOG to be recorded as a DNG, and then unpacks in Resolve as 16 bit linear again.

And yes. 444 ProRes is mostly what I’m shooting these days and is very very robust.

JB

 

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Yeah.  I work in VFX and every show I've ever worked on is Prores 4:4:4.  Never had the luxury of an Arriraw show other than maybe a few Game of Thrones shots (not sure if they were raw) but I don't think it would make much of a difference.

The only real difference between RAW and Prores that I see is that you can adjust your exposure using linear sensor values which makes it generally easier to just slide up and down the exposure.  With log, it's a bit more tricky and using a color space transform to linearize helps too. But even then, that's not a huge issue unless you expose incorrectly which shouldn't happen.

Maybe if you have moire/aliasing you can change how you debayer to help hide some of that too, but I don't work in that area so I wouldn't know how much that helps.  Other people at work sometimes blame keying errors on the internal sharpening that some of our shows shoot with, but I haven't found it a huge problem.

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22 minutes ago, Savannah Miller said:

 

Maybe if you have moire/aliasing you can change how you debayer to help hide some of that too, but I don't work in that area so I wouldn't know how much that helps.  Other people at work sometimes blame keying errors on the internal sharpening that some of our shows shoot with, but I haven't found it a huge problem.

I find ProRes tends to reduce the chance and incidence / severity of moire and aliasing.

JB

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5 hours ago, John Brawley said:

I thought they’d already discontinued the pocket ?  Watch that become a cult camera if it isn’t already.

I think they’ll keep the micro going for some time.  It’s really a different camera.

In the photo above the camera has a wooden camera cage, a Noga arm and a BMD 5” VA as the operating monitor. On front is the SLR Magic 10mm T2.1.  I’m manually focussing myself, using peaking on the VA.  

By way of example almost all of this promo is either Ursa Mini Pro or Micro using that exact rig.

This whole scene is shot Ursa Mini Pro

 

 

I have used a LOT of Ursa Mini Pro and Micro in the resident.  Not just as an insert camera, but shooting whole scenes using only the Ursa Mini Pro.  Most scenes have a mix of Ursa Mini Pro and ALexa, and I’d estimate more than 40% of the show is Ursa Mini.

I tend to use the micro camera for these kinds of surgery shots where I can very easily reach into the scene and get super close before diving down to almost inside the surgical field, and then transitioning back to another actor. It keeps it very agile and alive shooting this way.  I’d anticipate the Pocket 2 will replace this rig for these kinds of shots.

JB

B&H still has the Pocket up for sale at its original price.

Nice promo. It’s amazing how well these BM cameras intercut with an Alexa.

So, it makes sense when you would use the Micro or the Pocket, but what makes you decide to use the Ursa over the Alexa? Is it a matter of crew size on the call sheet for certain days? Are you given carte blanche which camera you use, when you want to, or does the line producer have a say?

Sorry for all the questions, but it isn’t often I get the opportunity to pick the brain of an established cinematographer.

Btw, have you been able to use an Olympus on the show?

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He answered many times on various forums that it's basically smaller and lighter so you can handhold it and get the shots you want.  Alexa is a huge camera and hard to wield.  Alexa Mini is smaller than Ursa Mini/Pro but it's a nightmare in terms of ergonomics so you have to rig it and then it's larger.  So it's more/less a matter of which camera is easier to use to get the shots you need.

He does use Olympus EM-1 Mark II as well on the show.

Actually sometimes the Ursa Mini Pro is actually a BETTER camera image-wise too.  It has much more shadow dynamic range vs the Alexa so it tends to look better in low-light.  I'd also say it has slightly more FPN if you have to lift the blacks of your image (which you never do), but in the upper and midrange it's a cleaner image.  In the scene he linked of Nevin and Hawkins privately chatting in one of the rooms, the Ursa Mini likely performs better than the Alexa would in the same situation.

 

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5 minutes ago, mercer said:

B&H still has the Pocket up for sale at its original price.

Nice promo. It’s amazing how well these BM cameras intercut with an Alexa.

So, it makes sense when you would use the Micro or the Pocket, but what makes you decide to use the Ursa over the Alexa? Is it a matter of crew size on the call sheet for certain days? Are you given carte blanche which camera you use, when you want to, or does the line producer have a say?

Sorry for all the questions, but it isn’t often I get the opportunity to pick the brain of an established cinematographer.

Btw, have you been able to use an Olympus on the show?

I think you’ll find the pocket is EOL. 

I have a few different camera builds for different jobs. 

Ursa gets used when we need to be hyper intimate with the actors.  It’s smaller build means you can go inside the acting space.  It gives you more intimate and more reactive coverage. I call this visual jazz.

A scene like the two hander with the leads conspiring together is perfect for this.  The operating is very improvised.  I do multiple takes with very short reset times.  On each pass I emphasise different story telling beats, taking my cues from the actors themselves. Between each setup, often without cutting I tell the actors what I’m hoping to catch and then we dance.  Each take has a different story beat emphasis.  I try to build in the insert shots (like the phone) and also build in trades between the cast to emphasise story moments.

Sometimes you’ll do a regular pass with three cameras, all Alexa.  This tends to be more conventional storytelling coverage.  Then we do a “football” pass with the Ursa at the end in the manner I listed above.  A first started calling it a football because that’s about the size of the camera and the way I tend to hold it.  

I have used the Olympus a little, but not much on the Resident.  I tend to use the EM1 for its stabiliser and small size.injust did a pilot where we used it a bit.  

JB

 

 

 

 

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On 5/4/2018 at 5:37 PM, TwoScoops said:

I agree with not comparing it to a new 4k camera, but this is the best I've seen from that sensor (BMMCC tho)
@mercer "The beauty of the Pocket/Micro is that it can look however you like. Throw on one of those Veydras or Leicas you like so much and you can have a crisp modern look. Throw on a cheap lens and you can have a soft vintage look."

So, once more hommage, BMPCC and Sigma 18-35, 3 years ago... Funny story is understandable, I think/hope, without translation -

 

Refrain "I do not burn the engine, I have nothing to do with life. I'm sitting alone and meditating... I do not miss the gold, carats nor the ounces.. But all I'm missing is she, my sun... I miss her laughing, her signs of love... My God, where is she now?" :)

 

 

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15 hours ago, John Brawley said:

I think you’ll find the pocket is EOL. 

I have a few different camera builds for different jobs. 

Ursa gets used when we need to be hyper intimate with the actors.  It’s smaller build means you can go inside the acting space.  It gives you more intimate and more reactive coverage. I call this visual jazz.

A scene like the two hander with the leads conspiring together is perfect for this.  The operating is very improvised.  I do multiple takes with very short reset times.  On each pass I emphasise different story telling beats, taking my cues from the actors themselves. Between each setup, often without cutting I tell the actors what I’m hoping to catch and then we dance.  Each take has a different story beat emphasis.  I try to build in the insert shots (like the phone) and also build in trades between the cast to emphasise story moments.

Sometimes you’ll do a regular pass with three cameras, all Alexa.  This tends to be more conventional storytelling coverage.  Then we do a “football” pass with the Ursa at the end in the manner I listed above.  A first started calling it a football because that’s about the size of the camera and the way I tend to hold it.  

I have used the Olympus a little, but not much on the Resident.  I tend to use the EM1 for its stabiliser and small size.injust did a pilot where we used it a bit.  

JB

 

 

 

 

I never realized the Ursa was so small and ergonomic. Very interesting to learn a little about your process. The “football pass” seems like a great way to get some impromptu camera and acting moments that basic coverage doesn’t always allow.

It’s a shame the original Pocket is EOL, a price reduction could keep that camera relevant for a few more years. Or I’d love to see BM release a mini Pocket that expands on the S16 original with multiple frame rate 1080p or 2.5K. At $750, that camera could be a huge success... but I guess we live in a 4K world now... ugh.

Btw, are The Resident’s Ursa shots recorded in 4K and then downsized to match the Alexa? Or do you just shoot in 1080p on the Ursa?

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5 hours ago, mercer said:

I never realized the Ursa was so small and ergonomic. Very interesting to learn a little about your process. The “football pass” seems like a great way to get some impromptu camera and acting moments that basic coverage doesn’t always allow.

Btw, are The Resident’s Ursa shots recorded in 4K and then downsized to match the Alexa? Or do you just shoot in 1080p on the Ursa?

The Resident is “only” shot 1920, but it’s 444ProRes, so 12 bit.  

Fox only air in 720 remember !  I’d say the majority of TV production in the US is still 1920 ProRes.  They’re not interested AT ALL in 4K.

JB

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44 minutes ago, John Brawley said:

The Resident is “only” shot 1920, but it’s 444ProRes, so 12 bit.  

Fox only air in 720 remember !  I’d say the majority of TV production in the US is still 1920 ProRes.  They’re not interested AT ALL in 4K.

JB

Funnily enough, I’m only interested in 1080p as well. The show looks gorgeous and I can’t imagine it would look any better in 4K. Hell sometimes I see movies on my 1080p TV and it looks better than my eyes normally see the world.

Btw, thanks for being so open about the production. 

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