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Blackmagic Micro Cinema Super Guide and Why It Still Matters


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A video from the OG BMPCC (the P2K!):  https://youtu.be/aKyG5JdSUNc. (for some reason YT won't embed the video)

On 4/21/2021 at 9:47 PM, austinchimp said:

Beautiful. Videos like this are the counterargument to the technical assertion that "every camera is the same, you just need to know how to process the images correctly". Yes, maybe that is technically true, but how much work and how many hours would you need to put into a Sony A7s or a GH5 to get it to have this emotional weight and texture? Something about these old Blackmagic sensors is just magical, it feels like memories. Lovely for you to have captured precious moments like this.

I agree.  Saying something is technically possible is one thing, but having the skill required and then the time to do so is another thing altogether.

Steve Yedlin has done great work matching the Alexa to film, but he built his own software to do so, and he says this about the capability of colour grading software, even as advanced as Resolve and Baselight:

Quote

Trying to take digitally acquired images and achieve a traditionally cinematic look using mere color grading is more problematic than often recognized, because color grading tools in their current state are simply too clunky for that kind of crafting. Though color grading may seem complex given the vast number of buttons, knobs and switches on the control surface, that is only the user interface: the underlying math that the software uses to transform the image is too primitive and simple to achieve the type of transformations I'm talking about here.

My attempts to replicate the look of the P2K and M2K were never focused on achieving a perfect replication, or even of a passable one, but more as a "shoot for the stars and potentially hit the moon" scenario where worst-case is that I'll learn more about colour grading, and I have definitely done that.

I have learned a bunch of stuff that I think really bridges the gap between, say, the GH5 and the BMPCC.  There are other things I'm still working on though.  Shadow contrast and levels are still a huge thing I'm experimenting with now, for example.

On 4/22/2021 at 3:47 AM, BenEricson said:

Good call. It also is very wide but still has threads for an ND filter.

And the 14mm and 7.5mm both have the same filter thread size, so if you use them as a pair then you can just swap the whole filter stack between them when you change lenses - making the setup must simpler and streamlined.

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On 4/21/2021 at 3:05 AM, BenEricson said:

Beautiful. I wouldn't say anything in that looks bad. It all looks great to me. From the first shot the image just feels right. 

Curious how your setup is rigged? I might need to pick up one of those lenses. I wish they made a pancake 8mm. I know there's a 10mm SLR Magic. Maybe a little heavy though.

Thank you Ben. I used this simple "super8" rig style.

IMG_20210424_112220.thumb.jpg.c697eabdb1f6a0e8aad542665d363bbe.jpg

IMG_20210424_112250.thumb.jpg.111681771e6e1e44cf1fd6f0eadc8ff8.jpg

It is very easy to  attach and dettach the pistol grip and the viewfinder, so I had it all in a dslr bag.

On 4/21/2021 at 10:42 AM, kye said:

Very nice.  I find that the footage looks 'right' with little to no work, and it really responds well to grading if you have the time/inclination to try.
It's also very unforgiving.  Sure, lots of your shots are overexposed from a technical point of view, but they don't look overexposed, or at least, look overexposed in a bad way.  Take a Canon camera and do that and watch the image fall apart into digital clipping hell almost immediately....

Totally agree! I thought many times to buy a second hand C300 or C100MkII for the usability (good audio preamps, internals nds, high capacity batteries)...but I knew that I would not like those clipping highlights that reminds me an old Canon DSLR when I had to edit and do the color grading.

On 4/21/2021 at 3:47 PM, austinchimp said:

Beautiful. Videos like this are the counterargument to the technical assertion that "every camera is the same, you just need to know how to process the images correctly". Yes, maybe that is technically true, but how much work and how many hours would you need to put into a Sony A7s or a GH5 to get it to have this emotional weight and texture? Something about these old Blackmagic sensors is just magical, it feels like memories. Lovely for you to have captured precious moments like this.

Thank you!. I think exactly the same as you. I have a GH4 and I had and an A7s (I also worked many times with A7sii, A7iii, Fs5 and Fs7) and a GH5s, and I had to spend a lot of time reasearching in internet and testing, to get a more filmic texture and good skintones from them. Also, I think that the old blackmagics are the best (cheap) cameras for mixing light (and poor CRI) conditions. Now I am preparing a documentary and I have convinced the director to shoot with the micro and the old pocket for various reasons, one of them is that due to the fear of covid some of the protagonists refuse the make up to avoid a person so close, and I know that blackmagics cameras will help with skintones.

 

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On 4/21/2021 at 8:42 PM, kye said:

I'd suggest staying away from the SLR Magic 8mm F4 - it's too slow for lots of things and the ergonomics are pretty rubbish.

It's dirt dirt cheap though! And if you're trying to self film yourself (especially without a flip out screen) then max F4 is not at all a bad thing. Those two factors mean I like to use it often. 

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4 hours ago, IronFilm said:

It's dirt dirt cheap though! And if you're trying to self film yourself (especially without a flip out screen) then max F4 is not at all a bad thing. Those two factors mean I like to use it often. 

Cool that you're getting use out of yours!

I'd imagine that people using it for drone work are also quite satisfied, as that's what it's really designed for.

To each their own 🙂 

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17 hours ago, kye said:

Cool that you're getting use out of yours!

I'd imagine that people using it for drone work are also quite satisfied, as that's what it's really designed for.

Yes, the ability to screw in and lock off the focus is a very handy ergonomics design for drone fliers!

(or for clutzy clumsy people like myself who might bump around their lens while trying to film themselves.....)

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5 hours ago, BenEricson said:

Haha this is wild.

It's been about a decade since the GoPro Hero 3 camera was released.

Over that time, GoPro have released cameras that are roughly the same size, weight, battery life, price, and target market, but of course the specs got better, so they're a good benchmark to set a benchmark for the pace of technological progress.

Here's a comparison of the data rates over that time...  The Hero 3 Black (2012) could do 4K15 (124MP/s) and the Hero 6 Black (2017) could do 4K60 (500MP/s), a 4X increase over 5 years, or a 32% increase per year.  Therefore, we can either expect a 32% reduction in size and weight per year to keep the same performance, or we get that in a performance bump each year.

Taking the BMMCC, released in 2015, and extrapolating it to today would mean we could expect a camera with 7X the throughput, which if we round it up to an 8X increase would be full uncompressed RAW at 4K120, 2.7K240, or 1080p480...  at the same size, weight, and battery life.

I don't really think I need a camera that can do 4K120 or 2.7K240, but one that could do 2.7K60 and 1080p120 and was 66% of its current height and width and depth and 25% the weight, well, that would be something to have!! 

Not only would that be spectacular for drone users, but also great for those who are using these as crash cams, dash cams, and other tight-installation applications.

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18 minutes ago, kye said:

It's been about a decade since the GoPro Hero 3 camera was released.

Over that time, GoPro have released cameras that are roughly the same size, weight, battery life, price, and target market, but of course the specs got better, so they're a good benchmark to set a benchmark for the pace of technological progress.

Here's a comparison of the data rates over that time...  The Hero 3 Black (2012) could do 4K15 (124MP/s) and the Hero 6 Black (2017) could do 4K60 (500MP/s), a 4X increase over 5 years, or a 32% increase per year.  Therefore, we can either expect a 32% reduction in size and weight per year to keep the same performance, or we get that in a performance bump each year.

Taking the BMMCC, released in 2015, and extrapolating it to today would mean we could expect a camera with 7X the throughput, which if we round it up to an 8X increase would be full uncompressed RAW at 4K120, 2.7K240, or 1080p480...  at the same size, weight, and battery life.

I don't really think I need a camera that can do 4K120 or 2.7K240, but one that could do 2.7K60 and 1080p120 and was 66% of its current height and width and depth and 25% the weight, well, that would be something to have!! 

Not only would that be spectacular for drone users, but also great for those who are using these as crash cams, dash cams, and other tight-installation applications.

I would LOVE the bmmcc if it could steam wireless to my phone or if it had even a tiny reference screen. I often throw the OG pocket up on a tripod. Takes two seconds and looks good without much hassle.

I wonder if they'll ever make a 4K version. The Go Pro itself doesn't even sell very well because the iPhone looks similar and often better because of the color processing and resolution on the new phones.

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23 hours ago, BenEricson said:

I would LOVE the bmmcc if it could steam wireless to my phone or if it had even a tiny reference screen. I often throw the OG pocket up on a tripod. Takes two seconds and looks good without much hassle.

I wonder if they'll ever make a 4K version. The Go Pro itself doesn't even sell very well because the iPhone looks similar and often better because of the color processing and resolution on the new phones.

I bought a P2K (OG BMPCC) purely because it had a screen.  The M2K (BMMCC) is tiny, and some lenses are tiny, but once you add a monitor it instantly becomes the size of a 1DC or larger.

They did make a 4K version, it was called the Blackmagic Micro Studio Camera 4K: https://www.blackmagicdesign.com/au/products/blackmagicmicrostudiocamera4k

It has a group of loyal fans, but it truly is a studio camera and doesn't perform well outside of studio conditions, plus it's discontinued and there aren't many out there in the wild so is hard to get hold of.

It will be interesting to see what happens to GoPro, both the camera line and also the company.  The camera line seems to be a YT mainstay as it's a tiny camera that with its wide fixed-focus lens and excellent in-camera stabilisation is perfect for vlogging on the go, but the image quality is always a disappointment with DR issues / plastic colours outside and bad ISO noise and drab colours inside.  Many YT channels were built on a single GoPro, often used without any accessories whatsoever, just literally holding the camera between thumb and finger and relying on the stabilisation to work magic, or putting it on a shelf or on top of a bottle as a temporary tripod to do a talk-to-camera section.

I'm not sure what pressure there is for BM to update the Micro, but maybe there is with increasing VFX prevalence.

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On 5/3/2021 at 10:41 PM, kye said:

Are there any other cinema cameras you could fly on a drone this size?

 

I can get a gopro 9 on a mavic2 pro. Whether you call that cinema is subjective. 
Some would question the logic of mounting a smaller sensor on an already 1 inch sensor platform.

Personally i haven't been infatuated  with the look from the freewell or other cheap anamorphic options for the mavic, i do prefer the look of the letus anamorphic. Plus i already own it.

I can turn the gopro to any position i like thereby giving me two shots for the price of one. Its not on a gimbal however the hypersmooth works a treat. 

the letus anamorphic is made for the gopro4, so the anamorphic needs a mod to make it fit the 9 but i think i have it sorted and hope to have it fitted shortly.

gopro9.jpg

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2 hours ago, leslie said:

Whether you call that cinema is subjective. 

Here's my subjective opinion...  NO.  🙂 

Relating this back to the subject of the thread, I couldn't possibly think of a better example of why the BMMCC still matters, because the GoPro is perhaps the best example of what is wrong with modern cameras - it has more pixels than the BMMCC but looks worse in every way, even in an unfair situation such as being put on a 4K timeline.

The BMMCC matters because it has a nicer image than almost all of the current cameras, regardless of resolution and including cameras many times the purchase price.  The fact that a GoPro is a real competitor for the form factor is laughable.

The BMMCC intercuts with an Alexa without much trouble or issue, but studios create contractual clauses specifying the maximum length and number of shots that a GoPro can be used for on real productions.  There couldn't be a more stark comparison than that surely!

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2 hours ago, kye said:

Here's my subjective opinion...  NO.  🙂 

Relating this back to the subject of the thread, I couldn't possibly think of a better example of why the BMMCC still matters, because the GoPro is perhaps the best example of what is wrong with modern cameras - it has more pixels than the BMMCC but looks worse in every way, even in an unfair situation such as being put on a 4K timeline.

The BMMCC matters because it has a nicer image than almost all of the current cameras, regardless of resolution and including cameras many times the purchase price.  The fact that a GoPro is a real competitor for the form factor is laughable.

The BMMCC intercuts with an Alexa without much trouble or issue, but studios create contractual clauses specifying the maximum length and number of shots that a GoPro can be used for on real productions.  There couldn't be a more stark comparison than that surely!

obviously alexa's are jealous if their exerting some sort of bullying tactics on studios to create contractual clauses to lock the poor old gopro out. I see it as a tool, maybe not the greatest tool ever, but a tool no less. As you have stated it has been used on real productions, so i rest my case 😛  

Perhaps my expectations are low, sorry if that offends you. Still i'm much happier to throw a gopro around rather than my p4k. I presume i'm not alone in what i would risk with a cheaper camera, compared to a dearer one.

I feel you have misread my intent if you have concerns about the form factor.  I merely stated that i could mount a 4k action camera to my drone. I did not say the bmmcc didn't matter.

 If you mount a bmmcc, taking lens and anamorphic, then i doubt that drone would lift it. 

 I do have some dastardly plans to mount a letus anamorphic to the 9 and then to the drone which excites me because i know i can lift it. Feel free to ignore my invites to the world premier. 😉

Did you know the  bmmcc compared favorably with an alexa before you bought the bmmcc or learn that afterward ? 

Thanks for raising the issue of intercutting, hadn't really considered it before, but now i plan on shooting with the p4k and gopro tomorrow and see what happens. 

 

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On 5/4/2021 at 3:49 PM, kye said:

I bought a P2K (OG BMPCC) purely because it had a screen.  The M2K (BMMCC) is tiny, and some lenses are tiny, but once you add a monitor it instantly becomes the size of a 1DC or larger.

Same. I own both with the RAW Lite filters and barely use the bmmcc. I keep telling myself I will use it for weird POV angles and pick up shots but haven't yet. I'm trying to keep the 60p to a minimum so it has been sitting.

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4 hours ago, BenEricson said:

Same. I own both with the RAW Lite filters and barely use the bmmcc. I keep telling myself I will use it for weird POV angles and pick up shots but haven't yet. I'm trying to keep the 60p to a minimum so it has been sitting.

 Although I wish the BMMCC had a small monitor on the top like the Komodo, I still prefer it over the BMPCC. I usually shoot ProRes, but I like that it has the 3:1 compressed raw and the 60p. The miniature cinema camera form factor also looks kinda cool. My rig is almost complete...

70239D3C-9947-41F2-B9A8-7135FA7D2414.thumb.jpeg.fbf35a03179de27c8e6391d9638ee5c6.jpeg3CA05110-072D-4AD9-9AC0-B910CA11AC13.thumb.jpeg.03a3dd17fb80e067ea704cd01d605182.jpeg

I may eventually buy a BGH1 for a similar reason, especially with the new Tilta rig for it...

BF860CFE-4C12-4485-AD7D-E14BADEA8002.jpeg.c9ab71dd644a7ac06ef52b40fa3e53d8.jpeg

I'd lose the baseplate/rods and the top handle and throw a Ninja V on their for some ProRes Raw. This looks pretty good...

But I digress, I kinda like the infuriating form factor of the BMMCC.

 

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Beautiful looking camera and rig @mercer I am hunting for a good package, but they are rare and rising in prices. If import taxes to Europe would be cheaper the I could surf the US bay for good offers. I love to browse vimeo for the latest videos. Camera is really tempting, when in a neat package.

 

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On 5/5/2021 at 7:10 PM, leslie said:

obviously alexa's are jealous if their exerting some sort of bullying tactics on studios to create contractual clauses to lock the poor old gopro out. I see it as a tool, maybe not the greatest tool ever, but a tool no less. As you have stated it has been used on real productions, so i rest my case 😛  

Perhaps my expectations are low, sorry if that offends you. Still i'm much happier to throw a gopro around rather than my p4k. I presume i'm not alone in what i would risk with a cheaper camera, compared to a dearer one.

I feel you have misread my intent if you have concerns about the form factor.  I merely stated that i could mount a 4k action camera to my drone. I did not say the bmmcc didn't matter.

 If you mount a bmmcc, taking lens and anamorphic, then i doubt that drone would lift it. 

 I do have some dastardly plans to mount a letus anamorphic to the 9 and then to the drone which excites me because i know i can lift it. Feel free to ignore my invites to the world premier. 😉

Did you know the  bmmcc compared favorably with an alexa before you bought the bmmcc or learn that afterward ? 

Thanks for raising the issue of intercutting, hadn't really considered it before, but now i plan on shooting with the p4k and gopro tomorrow and see what happens. 

 

No offence meant, nor taken 🙂 

I just find the current camera market to be rather odd.  It seems to be that people assess cameras based on size, cost, and resolution rather than image quality.

To me, the BMMCC has an image that is, let's say, 80% of an Alexa Classic (maybe it's less, but let's go with that as a point of comparison).  Compared to the BMPCC at 80%, the GoPro has an image, let's say, 20% of an Alexa Classic due to its poor DR, brittle codec, garish colour science, and fixed lens.  To put that in context, I think perhaps no camera under the $1K retail price of the Micro gets over, maybe, 50% of an Alexa Classic, maybe less.
So that said, if the BMMCC was $3K and the size of an FS5 no-one would compare it to anything other than cinema cameras.

I just find it odd that people judge every camera based on specifications, except the Alexa which gets a pass because it looks so glorious, but then the BMMCC and the OG BMPCC somehow don't qualify for being judged on image quality and get classified as small, cheap, 1080p only relics, when the image should speak for itself.

Or maybe the GoPro look is the future and I'm just lingering in denial.  Although that doesn't explain why the cheapest functioning Alexa Classic is still more expensive second-hand than a brand new Komodo, Canon R5, Zcam E2-F6, Canon C70, etc.

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I should also add that we almost never see Alexa footage that hasn't been shot with hit-end glass, and hasn't been professionally lit, directed, and colour graded.  The RAW footage I have seen often shares some of the tendencies that other cameras have, like the notorious green tint that it's famous for with colourists, but that you never see in final footage.

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I'm on a prime time tv drama series currently (in their sound department though of course), and GoPros have been used for this. (mainly is 3x Panasonic Varicam LT though, plus a bit of Panasonic EVA1 for when a 4th camera is needed on big days, or for splinter unit. Also a few times ARRI AMIRA, I think simply because they can't source any more Varicams for when they need five cameras all at once)

WHY is a GoPro still used on this type of show? Because it is "there", they've got it hand, and because it already by default waterproof and easy to use with zero hassle. 

Don't think using a BMMCC crossed the DoP's mind for even half a second. He's got bigger things to worry about than that maybe two second shot it might have been used in, out of the entire tv series. 

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