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Blackmagic Micro Cinema Super Guide and Why It Still Matters


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3 hours ago, kye said:

I suspect the BMMCC is firmly in this camp.  After all, name another camera that was released in 2012 and is still available as a current product by a major manufacturer...  

Well, my ancient Nikon D5200 was announced by Nikon 2012, and is still available to buy refurbished from Nikon:

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/984944-REG/nikon_1501b_d5200_digital_slr_camera.html

Even the Nikon D3000 from 2009 is still available as a refurbished DSLR from Nikon:
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/731094-REG/Nikon_25460B_D3000_SLR_Digital_Camera.html
 

Sony PMW-F5 / F55 also came out in 2012, and can still be purchased new:
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/898427-REG/Sony_PMW_F5_CineAlta_Digital_Cinema.html

https://www.engadget.com/2012-10-30-sony-goes-red-hunting-with-pmw-f55-and-pmw-f5-pro-cinealta-4k.html

 

 

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7 hours ago, kye said:

I should also say that I shot a few outings (walk on the beach / visit to a park / etc) in Prores LT and even Prores Proxy and what was interesting was that although you can see the compression artefacts, the 'feel' of the footage didn't change, it still felt malleable and cooperative.

I'd be tempted to say that the linear response and overall cooperative colours isn't matched by other cameras because they do something in their colour science to tint or otherwise process the shadows differently to the mids and highlights, which is why when you underexpose or overexpose and then adjust levels in post you don't get the same kind of image as if you shot it with the right exposure.  However, I'm not sure if it's true.

In theory if you process all colours the same, regardless of their luma value then you should be able to pull up underexposed shots or pull down overexposed shots and still keep the same colours.  But it's more complicated than that to get a "neutral feeling image", because it doesn't work like that with magenta/green shifts in WB, like I obviously have in the above.
If you have a WB control that essentially moves the whole vector scope around then you have to process all hues the same otherwise you'll bend the colour response.  For example, imagine a scene where there is a white wall lit by three lights, one is neutral, one has a CTO gel and is mostly on one side and the other has a CTB gel and is on the other side.  If you WB the camera properly, you should get a straight line on the vector scope going from orange to cyan through the middle of the scope.  
Now imagine we introduce a magenta shift in the WB of the camera.  We'll get a straight line on the vector scope, but it won't go through the middle of the scope, it will pass on the magenta side of the curve.  Here's the kicker - the BMMCC rotates and desaturates hues on the magenta and green sides of the vector scope, which will bend that line.  If we then adjust that line in post we won't have to pull it towards green as far because the magenta got desaturated (quite a lot actually) and that will mean we still have magenta in the warm and cooler parts of the image - the middle of the wall will look neutral but the sides will look magenta.  If we adjust further towards green the sides of the wall will be warm/cool but not magenta or green, but now the middle of the wall will be green.

I haven't done this test, but I do know that the camera desaturates the magenta and green parts of the vector scope.  It's actually quite a long way from neutral, you'd be amazed at how something so distorted could look so nice.

I don't have the BMMCC one handy, but this what the Kodak 2382 film emulation LUTs in Resolve does, which the BMMCC and Alexa would be doing similar things to.

Unprocessed vs processed:

Screen Shot 2019-12-29 at 1.33.07 pm.png

Screen Shot 2019-12-29 at 1.33.31 pm.png

Note that hues are rotated, saturation is compressed, blues and green are desaturated and yellows are quite saturated.

Having said all that, I don't know what the BMMCC is doing because if you shoot something and then adjust the green/magenta WB it doesn't feel like it's falling apart or that colours are going off in that way.  Maybe they are but I just haven't noticed, or maybe there is some 'buffer' built into the skin tone areas so that if you get the WB wrong the skin tones will behave predictably when you try and recover them in post.  Who knows.

Very interesting. Do you think I could send you some of my S1 footage. Would be interested to see your thoughts on it.

I spoke with Juan Melera on instagram a bit. He seems to be a big fan of the Pocket 6k. Enough to where he says he rarely brings out the Alexa anymore. He recommended me checking out the Sony Fx6 as well. 

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13 hours ago, IronFilm said:

Definitely not being used as an A Cam or B Cam! Unlikely even as a C Cam. 

But perhaps the XC10 might be kinda semi popular ish for EPK, maaaaybe. 

Can you share these BTS pics you're referring to?

Most of the BTS shots were from Cinematography Database YT channel, but were embedded deep within his videos.  The irony wasn't lost on me at the time, he was saying how everyone thought they weren't being used, but then he was only including the evidence hidden in the middle of other videos.  I remember at the time he was doing lots of lighting breakdown videos and so would be sharing stills from whatever BTS footage he could find, often of people being interviewed on set or other little snippets where you could see lighting rigs etc, and he'd go off on a little tangent and mention the XC10 seen in the background of the lighting setup he was breaking down.  It went on for 6-12 months IIRC, so to find them you'd have to watch a years worth of his videos unfortunately.

It was very difficult to tell what they might have been using them for.  Considering that they were designed to match exposure settings and colour profiles with other Canon cameras, and had a fixed lens, and internal media, all you had to do was to run a timecode into them and it could literally be a XC10 sitting on a tripod being used for a real shot.  There would be no way to know from the rig what it was being used for.  An A7S3 sitting on a tripod with the kit lens would typically mean it wasn't being used for anything significant, but if it had an anamorphic lens, matte box, monitor, etc then you'd know it was being used more seriously.
Often they were pointed at the set, and sometimes from interesting angles, so maybe they were being used for the odd random angle, or maybe as a webcam to the control room, who knows.  Regardless, they were on set and being used for something..

12 hours ago, IronFilm said:

  

Well, my ancient Nikon D5200 was announced by Nikon 2012, and is still available to buy refurbished from Nikon:

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/984944-REG/nikon_1501b_d5200_digital_slr_camera.html

Even the Nikon D3000 from 2009 is still available as a refurbished DSLR from Nikon:
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/731094-REG/Nikon_25460B_D3000_SLR_Digital_Camera.html
 

Sony PMW-F5 / F55 also came out in 2012, and can still be purchased new:
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/898427-REG/Sony_PMW_F5_CineAlta_Digital_Cinema.html

https://www.engadget.com/2012-10-30-sony-goes-red-hunting-with-pmw-f55-and-pmw-f5-pro-cinealta-4k.html

 

 

Lots of older cameras still being sold as refurbished units, but not available new.  

Comparing the BMMCC with the F5 I think is appropriate and really signifies the pedigree.  It was good at release and is still good now.  The unique form-factor of the BMMCC means it doesn't really have any direct competition, and typically the other options are GoPros or Zcam Z1, but neither of those are even in remotely the same league, let alone serious competitors.

8 hours ago, TomTheDP said:

Very interesting. Do you think I could send you some of my S1 footage. Would be interested to see your thoughts on it.

I spoke with Juan Melera on instagram a bit. He seems to be a big fan of the Pocket 6k. Enough to where he says he rarely brings out the Alexa anymore. He recommended me checking out the Sony Fx6 as well. 

Studying colour science is only possible in direct comparison of the same scene, or using a colour checker.  Otherwise who knows what is the camera and what is the scene.  If you have any stills from the S1 that include a colour checker then I'd be curious to see a waveform and vector scope of them.

If I didn't care about size, weight, or cost then I'd be a fan of the P6K too, and probably own a P6K Pro.  Of course, I'd be shooting 1080p Prores HQ downsampled from the whole sensor, but that's just me.  The FX6 seems like an interesting camera too, and capable of a great image.  

Of course, almost everything can make great looking images if you're a colourist of Juans capability, and although I haven't experienced it myself, apparently the Alexa is a complete pain to shoot with, especially as a solo operator, so if you can get 90% of the image from a P6K then you're going to reach for it almost every time I would imagine.

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39 minutes ago, kye said:

Studying colour science is only possible in direct comparison of the same scene, or using a colour checker.  Otherwise who knows what is the camera and what is the scene.  If you have any stills from the S1 that include a colour checker then I'd be curious to see a waveform and vector scope of them.

If I didn't care about size, weight, or cost then I'd be a fan of the P6K too, and probably own a P6K Pro.  Of course, I'd be shooting 1080p Prores HQ downsampled from the whole sensor, but that's just me.  The FX6 seems like an interesting camera too, and capable of a great image.  

Of course, almost everything can make great looking images if you're a colourist of Juans capability, and although I haven't experienced it myself, apparently the Alexa is a complete pain to shoot with, especially as a solo operator, so if you can get 90% of the image from a P6K then you're going to reach for it almost every time I would imagine.

More curious to just hear how you think the footage feels, rather than anything scientific. 

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11 hours ago, kye said:

Most of the BTS shots were from Cinematography Database YT channel, but were embedded deep within his videos.  The irony wasn't lost on me at the time, he was saying how everyone thought they weren't being used, but then he was only including the evidence hidden in the middle of other videos.  I remember at the time he was doing lots of lighting breakdown videos and so would be sharing stills from whatever BTS footage he could find, often of people being interviewed on set or other little snippets where you could see lighting rigs etc, and he'd go off on a little tangent and mention the XC10 seen in the background of the lighting setup he was breaking down.  It went on for 6-12 months IIRC, so to find them you'd have to watch a years worth of his videos unfortunately.

It was very difficult to tell what they might have been using them for.  Considering that they were designed to match exposure settings and colour profiles with other Canon cameras, and had a fixed lens, and internal media, all you had to do was to run a timecode into them and it could literally be a XC10 sitting on a tripod being used for a real shot.  There would be no way to know from the rig what it was being used for.  An A7S3 sitting on a tripod with the kit lens would typically mean it wasn't being used for anything significant, but if it had an anamorphic lens, matte box, monitor, etc then you'd know it was being used more seriously.
Often they were pointed at the set, and sometimes from interesting angles, so maybe they were being used for the odd random angle, or maybe as a webcam to the control room, who knows.  Regardless, they were on set and being used for something..

(emphasis mine)

Again, I take this with a heck of a lot of skepticism and a very big grain of salt!

What on earth Hollywood AAA blockbuster movies (or even tv series) are there out there being shot with a Canon C Series camera as their A Cam such that they'd want a XC10 to "match" it?? That doesn't pass the smell test. 
(again, the only reasonable explanation I can give for why you'd see them is that they were used for budget tight EPK. If you see an a7 series, but probably not a7S, with a stills lens on it and on a tripod in a BTS shot then it is probably there for photogrammetry or VFX plates)


It's more likely say small / mid budget budget TVCs, or corporate shoots, or web series, or reality tv shows, or other local tv series, or etc might be using them. 

That's the only rare time I've come across an XC10, where it was an Advertising Agency's internal camera for ultra low budget shoots (social media clips and such) and was brought along to a TVC just as a back up to their rental C300mk2. (almost was needed!)
 

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19 hours ago, IronFilm said:

(emphasis mine)

Again, I take this with a heck of a lot of skepticism and a very big grain of salt!

What on earth Hollywood AAA blockbuster movies (or even tv series) are there out there being shot with a Canon C Series camera as their A Cam such that they'd want a XC10 to "match" it?? That doesn't pass the smell test. 
(again, the only reasonable explanation I can give for why you'd see them is that they were used for budget tight EPK. If you see an a7 series, but probably not a7S, with a stills lens on it and on a tripod in a BTS shot then it is probably there for photogrammetry or VFX plates)


It's more likely say small / mid budget budget TVCs, or corporate shoots, or web series, or reality tv shows, or other local tv series, or etc might be using them. 

That's the only rare time I've come across an XC10, where it was an Advertising Agency's internal camera for ultra low budget shoots (social media clips and such) and was brought along to a TVC just as a back up to their rental C300mk2. (almost was needed!)
 

I have no idea what they were doing there, but your confusion between "absence of evidence" and "evidence of absence" is a pretty basic logic flaw, and one that pretty much prevents reasonable discussion, especially when I told you where to go to look at the evidence that I have seen.

Let's get back to the BMMCC and stop assuming that our own personal lack of experience or understanding somehow translates to the rest of the world.

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I figure this thread might as well be about the original bmpcc too. I just bought it again. It's like an old girlfriend I just keep going back to. I was going to sell my Panasonic G9 but decided to keep it as a paid gig workhorse since I have some new work coming in. But the bmpcc will be for my narrative film projects. 

Also, if anyone happens to have a cage for the bmpcc they need to get rid of, message me because I need one.

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1 hour ago, mercer said:

Awesome work as always @Matt Kieley ! Do you remember which lenses you used?

Thanks man! 


The first two narrative shorts were shot with Rokinon Lenses (10, 16, 35)

The 15 second horror shorts and the promo video were shot with Fujinon c-mount lenses (18-108mm 2.5, 17.5-105mm 1.8, 12.5mm 1.4, 25mm 1.4, 50mm 1.4)

Lonely Astronaut was the Canon TV-16 25mm 1.4 c-mount lens.

Catch Hold was the Cosmicar 12.5mm 1.9 c-mount lens.

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Thanks to @TomTheDP for finding this comparison between the Original BMPCC and Alexa, and thanks to Alain Bourassa for performing the test!  As @Matt Kieley says, the BMPCC and BMMCC have the same sensor, so it's a proxy for the BMMCC as well.

Not a bad match, considering that this appears to have no adjustments, and shots have different White Balances:

BMPCCvAlexa_1.2.1.thumb.jpg.81d681968262ccf3abcbbbc4dee98a2f.jpg

The WB comparison:

image.png.997fbb0662858704477d16267b3e2632.png

Latitude tests:

BMPCCvAlexa_1.5.1.thumb.jpg.3bcbe5aef8a9af0bff835755e22755ce.jpg

BMPCCvAlexa_1.4.1.thumb.jpg.ab2d54da0fe337bf51368feb03c54cd6.jpg

BMPCCvAlexa_1.3.1.thumb.jpg.9ae3e62329a95b85af11a96b362255b5.jpg

BMPCCvAlexa_1.2.1.thumb.jpg.81d681968262ccf3abcbbbc4dee98a2f.jpg

BMPCCvAlexa_1.6.1.thumb.jpg.125fba5c32dc5c6cc75ca21e2be2477e.jpg

BMPCCvAlexa_1.7.1.thumb.jpg.effbac99265051d037fdec646630f133.jpg

BMPCCvAlexa_1.8.1.thumb.jpg.3e748963bc8299c1007cdced1089e012.jpg

BMPCCvAlexa_1.9.1.thumb.jpg.8072c16f81b55c43df9d282b2d49d944.jpg

What I see from this comparison is:

  • Obviously the Alexa has more latitude, no surprises there
  • Both comparisons vary quite a bit in tone and levels between the shots
    (this is an indication to me that the shots were taken quickly and the results not processed too much, so I think is a good indicator of what things are like when used for real rather than in meticulous lab environments)
  • The BMPCC fails at +4 and the Alexa doesn't, but both look reasonable at -3, so the highlights are where the Alexas increased DR is revealed
  • The BMPCC looks very usable across the whole range and this reflects my impressions of shooting with it 

Vectorscope comparisons, with colours extended 2X in the scope for ease of viewing..  

BMPCC Primaries:

image.png.869357ab5d33fcded0cf492f67ff7cdf.png

Alexa Primaries:

image.png.f54163ca722d79a9202138a3877284c9.png

BMPCC chart:

image.png.6f1ab2ef17ec4b31ae211c6dc43f26c8.png

Alexa chart:

image.png.0075661108693ed6f1a6567b676c8cfc.png

For reference, this is a colour chart I shot with my GH5.  The absolute level of saturation can't be compared as I can't remember what I did in post, but check out how different the overall shape is, which is much closer to 'correct':

image.png.7d9c44724de5b47f3726aca520b7e09f.png

I suggest this is a very good result, especially considering how old and how cheap this camera is, even after the price has risen since COVID lockdown and nostalgia shopping.

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10 hours ago, Matt Kieley said:

Thanks man! 

Thanks for sharing these.

10 hours ago, Matt Kieley said:

The first two narrative shorts were shot with Rokinon Lenses (10, 16, 35)

Were they speedboosted or did you use a regular adapter?

I've always been a fan of Samyang/Rokinon lenses. Sure they aren't SuperSpeeds, but for the money, they're hard to beat.

10 hours ago, Matt Kieley said:

The 15 second horror shorts and the promo video were shot with Fujinon c-mount lenses (18-108mm 2.5, 17.5-105mm 1.8, 12.5mm 1.4, 25mm 1.4, 50mm 1.4)

Nice, they look really good. I have the 12.5 and the 25mm and I'm always surprised by how well they handle contrast for old CCTV lenses.

10 hours ago, Matt Kieley said:

Lonely Astronaut was the Canon TV-16 25mm 1.4 c-mount lens.

That B&W really captured that Apollo era look and I think the dreaminess of those Canon TV-16 lenses helped accomplish that. I have a small set of old non-ai Nikkor lenses from that era (28mm f/2, 50mm 1.4 and 105mm 2.5) and as soon as I attach those lenses it is instant vintage.

10 hours ago, Matt Kieley said:

Catch Hold was the Cosmicar 12.5mm 1.9 c-mount lens.

I also have this lens and the 1.4 version. The 1.4 is an oddball because it isn't the silver one but it's a zebra version like the f/1.9. There is just something about those Cosmicar lenses. As you may already know, they were made by Pentax, so they share some similarities to old Takumars with color and contrast. There are some old shots I took from my first BMMCC and it takes me a second to distinguish which were from the Sigma 19mm 2.8 and from the Cosmicar. Great lenses.

Glad to see you're still shooting with the OG BM cameras. I think there is something special and unique about them.

Are you working on any new personal projects?

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18 hours ago, mercer said:

Were they speedboosted or did you use a regular adapter?

 

No speedbooster, just the straight adapter.

18 hours ago, mercer said:

Nice, they look really good. I have the 12.5 and the 25mm and I'm always surprised by how well they handle contrast for old CCTV lenses.

They do look nice, and I used them a lot for a while. But there's a lot I disliked about them too. The 12.5mm Is tack sharp int he center at f/1.4 but you had to stop down to f/4 to get sharpness from edge to edge. Plus the entire fronts rotate when focusing which can cause problems with polarizers. I'd only recommend them to people who are able/willing to do the heavy modification needed to adapt the 25 and 50. The 12.5mm and 50mm had nice sizes though, not as tiny as the 25mm and other c-mount lenses. The Fuji zoom lenses are good though. Here's a few more things shot with the Fujis:

Edit: top is a Reel of some of my favorite shots from a short film I DP'd years ago. It's called Escape Room if you want to watch the whole thing (I'm not even sure if it's online) but the director opted to add a shitty sepia filter to everything, though I offered to grade it for him. So this reel consists of my favorite shots (Micro + Pocket + Fujis) with proper grading.

This was a little promo shot for a friend/local library (one of a few I've done for them with these cameras. The only shot that isn't with Fuji lense sis the B&W stuff which was a Computar 8.5mm 1.3 that I used for effect.

18 hours ago, mercer said:

That B&W really captured that Apollo era look and I think the dreaminess of those Canon TV-16 lenses helped accomplish that. I have a small set of old non-ai Nikkor lenses from that era (28mm f/2, 50mm 1.4 and 105mm 2.5) and as soon as I attach those lenses it is instant vintage.

The Canon TV-16 Lenses are probably my favorite c-mount lenses for the same reason my FD lenses are my favorite FF lenses: that vintage Canon magic. I can't put my finger on it, but they're soft and a bit dreamy wide open, and stopped down they get sharp but not overly sharp. They just hae a pleasing rendering that goes well with he Pocket and Micro. Here's a bit more of them. Nothing special, just some random BTS footage and another home movie:

This was all 3 lenses in the set, mostly wide open (the 25mm shots were at f/2) with the Micro.

This was the 25mm the first day I got it. Shot on the Pocket.

This was shot on the Micro. Two fo the interviews are shot with the 50mm 1.8, one shot on the 13mm. The b-roll was a mix of the 13mm and 25mm, plus the Fujinon 18-108mm 1.8 and 18-108mm 2.5 zooms.

18 hours ago, mercer said:

I also have this lens and the 1.4 version. The 1.4 is an oddball because it isn't the silver one but it's a zebra version like the f/1.9. There is just something about those Cosmicar lenses. As you may already know, they were made by Pentax, so they share some similarities to old Takumars with color and contrast. There are some old shots I took from my first BMMCC and it takes me a second to distinguish which were from the Sigma 19mm 2.8 and from the Cosmicar. Great lenses.

I know the newer 1.4 cctv versions were made by Pentax, not sure about the vintage ones which have the Cine Ichikuza logo, which are the best ones. They're sharp wide open, and look nice, and don't need any modification, unlike some of the newer ones. I used to have the "zebra" versions but now have all black ones that are a little smaller but seem to have the same optical quality. I got the 12.5mm for $10, the 25mm for $30, and the 50mm for $50 I believe. I also have a more modern 8.5mm 1.5 that covers the s16 sensor and a Pentax 6.5mm 1.8 fixed focus lens that covers s16.

18 hours ago, mercer said:

Glad to see you're still shooting with the OG BM cameras. I think there is something special and unique about them.

I always go back and forth but keep coming back to these little cameras and c-mount lenses. I have a lot more videos shot with them, including an entire concert at the Wasteland Weekend festival (it's like Burning Man + Rennaissance Faire + Mad Max). There are more home movies as well that I shared here a long time ago. 

The entire concert is on my YT for those morbidly curious and 45 minutes to waste. Above is an excerpt. We shot with a Pocket and Micro with Fuji zooms, plus a friend's Canon 80D and Sigma 18-35mm for the wide shots of the stage. I've been hired to do some pretty fun little jobs and I've used used the Pocket and Micro cameras for most of them. I also shot a number of episodes of a food contest web series, a country music concert, promo videos. Too much to share, really.

18 hours ago, mercer said:

Are you working on any new personal projects?

A few feature length scripts. My pet project for years now has been a feature based on my Crazy Pete shorts. I want to shoot it this winter possibly. Unless Covid gets in the way again.

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On 7/17/2021 at 4:57 PM, kye said:

I have no idea what they were doing there

Well, at least we can agree then that the XC10/XC15 is not being used regularly on major Hollywood AAA Blockbusters as Main Unit's B Cam or even C Cam. 

As there is no logic reason behind why they would be, nor evidence of it. 

On 7/17/2021 at 4:57 PM, kye said:

stop assuming that our own personal lack of experience or understanding somehow translates to the rest of the world.

Why would you attack with a comment like "personal lack of experience"??
I'm out there every week working on film & tv sets, the whole range of them, from small indie ones to big major productions with top talent. 

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On 5/12/2021 at 2:41 PM, Andrew Calvetti said:

This was filmed on BMMCC with Zeiss Superspeeds (the ones with the rollei aperture, no less!)
It's what sold me on the camera years ago:

 

In fact the full 16-minute short is available too. Not a single word of dialogue in the whole film, but lots of scrumptious footage. Still the best stuff I've seen from the Micro.

 

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On 7/30/2021 at 2:59 PM, bjohn said:

In fact the full 16-minute short is available too. Not a single word of dialogue in the whole film, but lots of scrumptious footage. Still the best stuff I've seen from the Micro.

 

Dang I've been trying to find the full length version for a long time! Thanks!

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