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Oliver Daniel

Feedback using the BMPCC on a professional shoot

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Thanks for the compliments and for watching,

 

Yes I've enjoyed RedCode Raw shooting especially due to the exposure adjustment (just not yet used it on personal reel projects, but on others), Alexa I've only ever shot ProRes.  But that's a completely different piece of equipment, it has everything you need to shoot great footage. It's not incomplete.  It's also a fortune to buy and a lot to rent.

 

I also love shooting raw stills, exposure recovery is great, and yes it's good to be able to choose lower contrast and have shadow detail and make any look you want  so on, and yes it's amazing for natural light shooting.

 

Even when red epic shoots 6:1 compression or so while maintaining raw, that's a heavy strain on the system.

 

If I could, I'd love to have my own epic to play with.

 

But I couldn't really deal with a huge quantity of uncompressed raw that BMD cam or the 5D MKiii push out. It's not feasible in terms on memory card or in post really. I don't have the power or space, it's a lot to spend for not much return immediately, aside from vanity.

 

To be honest, the reason I've not completed the first mini project I did personally on Epic is because it kills systems to work with the stuff, it's incredible slow without Red Rocket cards.

 

Plus, the BMPCC doesn't actually shoot raw. It might say it on the box, but it doesn't actually do it now. That's the kind of thing I find annoying. It can't even do what it says on the box. The peaking is unreliable, the batteries don't last. There's no histogram. The sensor is so small I have to change all my lenses. There's no adjustment in camera for green/magenta (which does matter, since there's no raw at the moment...).

 

The cinema camera does have raw, and yes, even the CCam ProRes is nicer than H264 to use, but that's not what this thread is about...

 

So I agree, raw is great and so is proRes, they're both brilliant and kick H264. I just remain a bit unconvinced by this particular camera.

 

I like it, but I think biding time til the cameras that shoot it and hardware that deals with it actually work and are reasonably priced, respectively, makes sense.

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EOSHD Pro Color for Sony cameras EOSHD Pro LOG for Sony CamerasEOSHD C-LOG and Film Profiles for All Canon DSLRs

That's good to hear.  I'm not sure about this stuff myself since I don't do it professionally.  I just know what I see for myself when shooting.  I haven't shot anything for others where I was able to overcome the headaches you mention with RAW.  When I show that stuff to my wife, kids, friends, I can tell they thinking, 'just humor him.'  I've said above that some of the most fun I've had is with a Panasonic GF3 and that $30 CCTV lens.  Recently, the EOS-M with that lens. 

 

You might consider getting an EOS-M.  They're dirt cheap now.  I take it you have Canon lenses.  Even as an H.264 camera it's no slouch.  Probably work for you as a b-cam, family cam. It has a mic in and true exposure lock.  Also, you can run Magic Lantern RAW and get moire-less video at crop, 1280x720 24fps.  Unfortunately, the focus dot "pink dot" issue is a pain.  But if you have all those lined up, you can get some incredible dynamic range shots with that camera that in "limited applications" can give you clips you can't get elsewhere.  You can also do low frame-rate, higher res shots.  

 

You have a very good point.  The BMPCC is a very limited camera in so many ways.  I can get much of it's quality with my EOS-M and have a fantastic utility-knife camera the rest of the time.  My hope is that Canon releases new cameras that have 35MBS, crop mode, CR2 RAW.  They could do that tomorrow.   BM is making everyone wait a year.  I can probably wait another ;)

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If you have money, then you have lots of options. If you have good skill you can always get by somewhat. Otherwise, you have to depend on hacked cameras, or, yes,"beta" cameras like the BMPCC. Realizing this, and that there isn't much I can control besides my own skill, there isn't too much for me to get worked up about.

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I don't know, Dr. Brinkley.  It looks like you haven't seen that new color photography thing they have for portraits ;)  You might get worked up about that :)

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Thanks for the write up Olly P, looks like the BMPCC still need to have a few more polish before becoming a proper cam.

 

I can also shoot a day's long video using just 1 battery on GH3, the only time I have to change battery is if I didn't charge it right up on the day before.  Kinda regret getting 3 batteries as 2 batteries is really plenty enough for a GH3.

 

The only thing need to be unleashed on GH3 is the hack, All-I is seriously compromised with only 72Mbps.

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Dr. Brinkley, my father often said 'black and white is true, color is always fake'.  I tell that to my kids but they just laugh.  I showed my daughter "It Happened One Night", it's one of her favorite movies, but she still fights me on watching others.  Digital cinema is truly mind-blowing.  But it can't get the same look as a good 35mm print.  Whether that "look" is good or bad, it is definitely gone.  Glad to see you're still carrying the torch!

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But I couldn't really deal with a huge quantity of uncompressed raw that BMD cam or the 5D MKiii push out. It's not feasible in terms on memory card or in post really. I don't have the power or space, it's a lot to spend for not much return immediately, aside from vanity.

 

To be honest, the reason I've not completed the first mini project I did personally on Epic is because it kills systems to work with the stuff, it's incredible slow without Red Rocket cards.

 

Thanks for the response on this guys. I enjoyed jghardings posts particulary as we both seem to share common ground where our type of work and tools are of a similar ethic. 

 

There is an undeniable obsession with specs, and that one person could never shoot on anything but raw and the other would like to shoot raw but must shoot h264 - and is happy with the situation. 

 

I'm a firm believer in this analogy: the really creative guy who is full of ideas will shoot a BETTER film on his iPhone than the guy who is a whizz on the Red Epic but lacks any sort of creative ideas.

 

Sure, if you shoot raw, it could give you power to make it look a hell of a lot better, but it won't make it anymore interesting. This comes with skill and an understanding of your practice and the execution of the whole idea. A 7 year old will likely make a more interesting film of trees, plants and bushes in their back garden than a ex-TV camera man with a BMCC. 

 

Tomorrow, I have the option to shoot in raw. Without a doubt, I'm shooting ProRes. I understand that shooting in raw will give me more room in post and a better image, but at the expense of disappointing other clients by not delivering their projects on time with a lacklustre effort, due to time constraints. This is an expense that will never happen. 

 

Raw is a fantastic tool that you can use when time and budget permits. Just because its available doesn't make constant h264 shooting any less fun, any less creative or fulfilling. If anything, it makes things possible for everybody in allsorts of different ways and tastes. Raw gives you power, h264 gives you convenience. There is no argument as everyone is different and make their own choices.....

 

Which brings me back to the subject of this post...the BMPCC. It would be suicide for me to use this camera on a bulk of my professional shoots, due to its drawbacks. I don't have the time and resources to overcome these on a constant basis.

 

As an addition to my camera kit to use for a short film - it would be a great option. Short films are personal and something I cherish most. The image from the BMPCC is enough for me to take my time and workaround the camera to get the best possible results.

 

That cheesy line from Spider-Man - "With great power comes great responsibility." No matter how cheesy that line is, it applies to everything.

 

Don't get carried away with power. Be responsible. Just do your best. 

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That cheesy line from Spider-Man - "With great power comes great responsibility." No matter how cheesy that line is, it applies to everything.

 

And there's no free lunch!

 

A couple of days was another illustration of what you're talking about.  A band was playing up the block.  I took my 50D and EOS-M to shoot RAW.  The card immediately filled on the 50D (and later discovered that the file got corrupted so I still haven't been able to view it).  I shot a little RAW with the EOS-M but then figured the kids might want a video on one complete song.  So I put it on H.264, put my toy lens on, and shot the whole thing.

 

Of ALL the videos I've posted I've gotten the most likes and comments about that one.  And they're all right.  I was having fun.  The camera wasn't getting in the way of what and how I wanted to shoot it.

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A friend of mine got a BMD, took it and a GH2 out with him to Europe. The BMD broke almost immediately: one of the pins connecting the SSD bent... Those are the things that worry me too. Not just the beta nature of the software, but hardware that snaps or malfunctions. 

 

Someone like Canon can use vast resources to ensure lower failure rate.

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Also, the last Superman film was shot Kodak Vision 3, Panavision anamorphic, all beautiful... yet it was boring. Orgies of samey violence and nasty propaganda.

 

Upstream Colour was shot on GH2 and about to see it a second time at the cinema! It's weird and interesting, I didn't really care about the codec or colour to be honest.

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I like the look of 5Diii raw tough, it sure gives  a lot of options, if you side by side it with Red and so on, the Red looks better, but side by side comparisons are pretty meaningless unless you're camera mixing from shot to shot...

 

But at the moments things like card capacity and speed vs price, as well as edit storage, reliability of alpha hack, computing power required for post, long workflow... all of that stands against using it on most projects for me...

 

Patience is rewarding I think!

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@jgharding.  A pin is bent in my CF card reader.  It still works. But it makes me nervous. You can probably buy SD cards and readers at the grocery store.  SSD drvies? CF cards?!  SOL

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I'm glad that works, but unfortunately this guy's BMCC didn't! :S

 

As a result, newer bodys have an extra part on the SSD bay door, but if you have one of the first ones it's a danger... and wasn't spotted before release! D'oh!

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Reading through this thread I kept thinking, "If you're in a studio, just plug it in." The camera comes with an AC adapter. You can shoot all day long without fiddling with batteries. Battery issue gone. Or for shooting outside, just get a few more batteries for like $8 US each. Would be nice to know exactly how much memory you have left. The REC red light does flash as you near full...I'll stop typing now. :)

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The OP's example of the director's dis-satisfaction is illustrative. As a director I wouldn't mind the whole thing being shot well on GH3 (granted, this is greenscreen, but for most shoots), but to have to pick up a few shots on a remarkably different camera at short notice because A-cam didn't work, would be annoying and a bit of a negative mark... you expect people to know their gear. how many people want to expose themselves to the possibility of looking foolish when their livelihood depends on it?

 

I liked this because it describes the challenge for me as BMPCC owner. It seems as if the camera was not as unreliable as it was demanding. Got to know your gear. With GH2 and now with G6, improvisation suggests itself, with manual modes being more or less slightly modified automatic routines. Shutter speed? Fixed for most shots. Aperture? ETTC. Focus? Easiest thing to to do, WYSIWYG, with an ideal DoF-ratio resembling that of classic 35mm film. Color style (film mode or scene guide, actually a bunch of baked-in look-variations)? Appropriate for the situation, main goal: True colors with maximum dynamic range. Are those really artistic choices? No, the aesthetic aspects are being offered on top of the camera's excellent automatic features as predominantly intuitive reactions to what I see.

 

I just got the BMPCC, and I can attest to the GH3 similarities. The ONLY advantage I've seen for the BMPCC is the Log recording for extreme color grading. If you're doing any type of normal grading they are very similar.

 

Yes, that's correct. But in contrast to my first feelings of success when I saw my GH2 shots out-of-the-box (2 years back or so), where at least 50 % of all shots looked good, my first impressions with the BMPCC were frustrating. I tried to shoot like I had with the Lumixs, but only, say, 5 % of all clips were good. What I realized later: They had the potentional to be very, very good. And in retrospect the rejects were bad because of something that went wrong, stabilization, framing, exposure, focus, sound, sloppy grading. Because of something I didn't know enough about or hadn't enough experience with. So despite my oath not to do any more 'test shots', I did a lot of them during the last six weeks. I was starting to avoid mistakes, obvious mistakes. 

 

What I found is, that I did a lot of things off the cuff with the GH2. The place was too dark? Why did I buy these little, handsome LED floods? I even recommended them in ancient threads, said it was ridiculous to carry big halogen or tungsten floods or fresnels with you when your camera was so good in low light. That you just sometimes had to add a little fill, very discreetly and preserve the mood of the environment.

 

But the light is terrible! It's ugly, I don't know why, it just looks like dim nuclear glow, even if filtered for 3200°K. It never occured to me then. Now I see the mixed color temperatures of evening sunset through the windows, only slightly different from the warm halogen spots reflected from my living room wall on the face of my friend - it's still not intentional, it's an epiphany, but no way to see something comparable with the Lumixs. The gradual fall-off on the (concrete) ceiling would probably have caused banding. 

 

Since this camera can capture light like this, the next step is to make it happen. This has to do with good exposure, sure, but more than that. 

 

The same is valid for all the apparent 'shortcomings' of the BMPCC. To keep this post short, I take only two more examples: Sound and focus.

 

The sound has to be external. And since it is external, it's best not to level it yourself but have someone else care for sound exclusively. Did you ever hear of a cinematographer who checked the sound?

 

My biggest concern is Focus Peaking: You say it doesn't work from time to time (so I have to guess the focus point) or is it misleading (incorrect) ?

 

Yes, the peaking sometimes outlines good contrasts though they are not perfectly in focus, and if something is in focus, but has no clear outlines, it won't work at all. Question is, if something with so little contrast is lit well enough or worth recording anyway. It's the complaint of a point-and-shooter. Magnifying (clicking OK twice) helps to make sure if the peaking is right.

 

There is another issue with the focus, and it has to do with the sensor size. You often have a deep DoF you can mistake for absolute DoF, misguided by the overall peaking. This is dangerous, because the whole image will not look unfocused, it will look soft. It's definitely easier to focus with a very shallow DoF. 

 

What can be done? Close the aperture, if the light allows it, to really get absolute DoF. If you focus on infinity but have people cross the street 20 feet away, it's not going to look good. 

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