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Blackmagic Micro Cinema Super Guide and Why It Still Matters


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Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera Super Guide and Why it Still Matters Today The Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera was released in 2012. At the rate that cameras are being announced these days, that’s

First outing with the camera. handheld with a 24-105. Loved the camera. I need to adjust a couple things but for the most part a near perfect camera for me. It was extremely dark with the forest canop

This dude shot a feature length doc with the bmpcc and the bmmcc. I think it had a festival release in 2018, but now available online. The colors out of the original bmpcc and micro have a point like

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Perhaps a somewhat basic question, but how do I do a custom WB on the Micro?  Google isn't forthcoming.

I know if you shoot RAW it doesn't matter, but it does for prores, and also for the tests i'm doing.

I have a grey card, and I can get into the menus and adjust things, but I can't figure out how to know what WB settings are the right ones?

Thanks :) 

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On 2/7/2020 at 10:36 PM, kye said:

Guess who just joined the BMMCC club.....  :) 

guess i have to start calling you junior 😉

if i had more money i'd probably buy one to round out the collection 😎

btw hows that light going ? you should stick it outside and point it upwards one night, then i get to see where you live 😁

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7 hours ago, kye said:

Perhaps a somewhat basic question, but how do I do a custom WB on the Micro?  Google isn't forthcoming.

I know if you shoot RAW it doesn't matter, but it does for prores, and also for the tests i'm doing.

I have a grey card, and I can get into the menus and adjust things, but I can't figure out how to know what WB settings are the right ones?

Thanks :) 

Idk if you can do a custom WB on the Micro, so I just always used the Kelvin temperature. Since navigating the menus can be a chore on the Micro you can set it at 4400 for raw 3:1 and then change it up or down as needed in post. Even ProRes files are hefty enough to give you some wiggle room in post, but it's probably best to get it relatively close. But you can keep it simple... 5600 for daylight and 3200 for artificial light. You can also shoot your grey card and then temporarily crop to just the grey card, in post, and adjust your WB until the dot on the vectorscope is dead center on the cross... uncrop and voila perfect WB.

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22 minutes ago, mercer said:

Idk if you can do a custom WB on the Micro, so I just always used the Kelvin temperature. Since navigating the menus can be a chore on the Micro you can set it at 4400 for raw 3:1 and then change it up or down as needed in post. Even ProRes files are hefty enough to give you some wiggle room in post, but it's probably best to get it relatively close. But you can keep it simple... 5600 for daylight and 3200 for artificial light. You can also shoot your grey card and then temporarily crop to just the grey card, in post, and adjust your WB until the dot on the vectorscope is dead center on the cross... uncrop and voila perfect WB.

Thanks.  I thought of that, but then you're at the mercy of your judgement on the monitor.  I thought that the monitor might have some sort of helpful feature, which it does, kind of, but not directly.  There's a channel view where it shows you only the Red, then Green, then Blue, then luma in greyscale, then back to normal view.  You could use that to see true B&W on the monitor, make an adjustment, then cycle through again but it's not ideal :) 

I even thought of using the GH5 to do a custom WB and then check what it set it to, but it doesn't tell you!  

Then I worked out that for RAW it doesn't matter, and if I do a custom WB on the GH5 then I'll know the GH5 is set properly and with RAW I can set the Micro properly in post, which should be fine.  It's an interesting idea though, and I guess the Micro is really just a 'shoot RAW or why did you buy this thing' kind of camera!

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No, there is no custom white balance so as @mercer says, you'll have to do it by eye.

The manual gives you the ballpark ranges for different light sources.

https://documents.blackmagicdesign.com/UserManuals/BlackmagicCinemaCamerasManual.pdf

They suggest to pick from 2500, 2800, 3000, 3200, 3400, 3600, 4000, 4500 and 4800K for indoor/artificial light so if this is for a repeatable test setup then I'd be inclined to shoot a couple of seconds at each one then eyedrop the colour of the grey card in whatever editor you're using to determine which one has the most neutral RGB values for your lighting setup.

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42 minutes ago, kye said:

Then I worked out that for RAW it doesn't matter, and if I do a custom WB on the GH5 then I'll know the GH5 is set properly and with RAW I can set the Micro properly in post, which should be fine.  It's an interesting idea though, and I guess the Micro is really just a 'shoot RAW or why did you buy this thing' kind of camera!

I bought it for ProRes, so it isn't crazy to use it for that. You get a lot more card space shooting ProRes as well. But I already own a raw camera, so the raw video on the Micro didn't mean so much. 

Kelvin temperature is pretty simple. Set it to the temperature of your light source and you will be damn close. Sunlight is 5600 Kelvin. Artificial light is around 3200... depending on the type of bulb. 

This is good for you. You're too talented to set everything to Auto all of the time. 😎

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13 hours ago, mercer said:

Set it to the temperature of your light source and you will be damn close.

Ah, yes.  This makes sense now.  Coming from shooting available light this is pretty much an alien concept, but of course.  I've heard how cinematographers speak about the various looks from different WB and lighting setups, it's all completely known and they can nail a look first try without having to test anything because they just know.

13 hours ago, mercer said:

I bought it for ProRes, so it isn't crazy to use it for that. You get a lot more card space shooting ProRes as well. But I already own a raw camera, so the raw video on the Micro didn't mean so much. 

I'm yet to test RAW vs the compressed modes, but the fact that big productions often render RAW to Prores then just use that as the master footage and never go back to the RAW suggests the quality involved, so it makes sense.  Thinking about all the people that shoot in h264 as their master when prores is of higher quality puts it back in perspective :) 

13 hours ago, mercer said:

This is good for you. You're too talented to set everything to Auto all of the time. 😎

I know it's good for me, but I'm not sure that manual is better than auto for everything...  with my limited cognitive CPU power the less time I spend on doing things the camera can do the more time I spend on the things that the camera can't do, like composition, camera position and movement, focusing, etc :) 

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1 hour ago, kye said:

Ah, yes.  This makes sense now.  Coming from shooting available light this is pretty much an alien concept, but of course.  I've heard how cinematographers speak about the various looks from different WB and lighting setups, it's all completely known and they can nail a look first try without having to test anything because they just know.

Obviously, even available light has a color temperature but yeah I get what you're saying.

There's an old trick where you use a low color temperature and a polarizer or ND filter to shoot day for night. It makes the image look like moonlight. So I am sure there are plenty of tricks and effects professional cinematographers know to obtain quick looks.

2 hours ago, kye said:

know it's good for me, but I'm not sure that manual is better than auto for everything...  with my limited cognitive CPU power the less time I spend on doing things the camera can do the more time I spend on the things that the camera can't do, like composition, camera position and movement, focusing, etc :)

I didn't mean to imply that it always is. I know I would much prefer DPAF than manually pulling focus to track my actors. My shooting ratio would probably be cut in half... or more.

But honestly, I'm surprised you aren't experiencing color shifts using AWB with your Panasonic. Canon always had pretty good AWB but with Panasonic I rarely had good results. The presets were pretty accurate though.

With that said, I loved shooting Shutter Priority and AWB with my XC10 and FZ2500. In fact, I often said that shooting with those cameras was liberating and felt like point and shoot filmmaking where the equipment got out of your way. You're just such a proponent of manual lenses that I assumed you shot full manual.

But shooting fully manual becomes second nature and lets you choose what you want to prioritize in a shot and it really only takes a couple seconds to decide and set.

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10 hours ago, mercer said:

Obviously, even available light has a color temperature but yeah I get what you're saying.

There's an old trick where you use a low color temperature and a polarizer or ND filter to shoot day for night. It makes the image look like moonlight. So I am sure there are plenty of tricks and effects professional cinematographers know to obtain quick looks.

I didn't mean to imply that it always is. I know I would much prefer DPAF than manually pulling focus to track my actors. My shooting ratio would probably be cut in half... or more.

But honestly, I'm surprised you aren't experiencing color shifts using AWB with your Panasonic. Canon always had pretty good AWB but with Panasonic I rarely had good results. The presets were pretty accurate though.

With that said, I loved shooting Shutter Priority and AWB with my XC10 and FZ2500. In fact, I often said that shooting with those cameras was liberating and felt like point and shoot filmmaking where the equipment got out of your way. You're just such a proponent of manual lenses that I assumed you shot full manual.

But shooting fully manual becomes second nature and lets you choose what you want to prioritize in a shot and it really only takes a couple seconds to decide and set.

I saw an amusing video that talked about how people always grade moonlight as being blue but in reality it isn't, it's just kind of grey, but it's like a cinematic trope that we all just kind of know what it means :)  I didn't realise there were tropes in colour grading, but it makes sense that symbolism would be everywhere!

I do get colour shifts with the GH5.  It's pretty good, but I spend a lot of time and effort on correcting them, and even then, I'm still nowhere near as good as I could be.  I've posted a couple of problem images to the LGG forums and those guys post back images with it nailed and I couldn't even replicate them after an hour or so directly copying.  I think it might be one of the most critical part of colour grading TBH, I'm sure we've all experienced shots where we just add contrast and saturation and it's glorious, but when the WB is off, you can spend hours on a single shot and not even get in the ballpark of the 5s grade of something perfectly shot.

The tricky thing about shooting in available light is that there is so much fluorescent / cheap LED and other poor quality lights that the magenta/green balance is off, which was never a problem before when all we had was incandescent lights.  You can even get the WB a bit off and it just looks warm or cool, but get the green/magenta even a little bit off and things look absolutely awful!

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7 hours ago, kye said:

I saw an amusing video that talked about how people always grade moonlight as being blue but in reality it isn't, it's just kind of grey, but it's like a cinematic trope that we all just kind of know what it means :)  I didn't realise there were tropes in colour grading, but it makes sense that symbolism would be everywhere!

That's interesting... I never really thought about it but it makes sense. When I think Day for Night, I always think Jaws but after looking at some stills there definitely is a lot of grey in the shots as well. I shot an impromptu short film years ago... well it was actually a scene for a larger film that I attempted to turn into its own short film but I needed a Day for Night establishing shot of a cabin... for other reasons, the short ended up being in B&W and that ended up being tremendously helpful selling the Day for Night effect.

Which brings me to my next point... I have been so spoiled by shooting raw. I aim to get my WB close in camera, but it's so easy to correct in Resolve's Raw Panel, that it doesn't really matter... I don't know if I can go back to a traditional compressed codec. Even when I originally had the Micro, and shot ProRes, I used 4500 as a middle ground and I would just correct it in post. I wouldn't do that now that I know better, but ProRes is beefy enough that I didn't have any issues. If I were to shoot on a compressed codec now, I really think I'd shoot mostly in B&W. In fact, if I ever get a second camera... a GH5... or whatever... I'd probably use it as a B&W only camera.

There's an old saying amongst editors when they couldn't get a cut to match... "If you can't solve it... dissolve it." I use a similar saying when it comes to color... "If it don't look right... try black and white." 😎

7 hours ago, kye said:

I do get colour shifts with the GH5.  It's pretty good, but I spend a lot of time and effort on correcting them, and even then, I'm still nowhere near as good as I could be.  I've posted a couple of problem images to the LGG forums and those guys post back images with it nailed and I couldn't even replicate them after an hour or so directly copying.  I think it might be one of the most critical part of colour grading TBH, I'm sure we've all experienced shots where we just add contrast and saturation and it's glorious, but when the WB is off, you can spend hours on a single shot and not even get in the ballpark of the 5s grade of something perfectly shot.

Those guys at LGG are either professional colorists or aspiring professional colorists. When you devote yourself entirely to one discipline, you're going to get really good at that one discipline and learn a ton of tricks. A lot of us end up being Jacks of all Trades, out of necessity, and as Jacks of all Trades, sometimes we need to choose our battles.

7 hours ago, kye said:

The tricky thing about shooting in available light is that there is so much fluorescent / cheap LED and other poor quality lights that the magenta/green balance is off, which was never a problem before when all we had was incandescent lights.  You can even get the WB a bit off and it just looks warm or cool, but get the green/magenta even a little bit off and things look absolutely awful!

Oh I know... my whole film is basically shot with available light. I have a few shots at the end of magic hour that have been giving me trouble. As I said before, with raw it's a bit easier because I can adjust the color temperature but getting the tint right has been a chore. Sometimes I'll just scrap the shot. I'm usually chasing the light anyway, so the shot probably wasn't that great to begin with since it was often rushed.

To the original point about AWB and working without it. I stopped using AWB once I moved away from Canon to Panasonic. But you can use AWB to see what's "supposed" to be right and then adjust your Kelvin temperature until it matches... but more often than not, your eyes will tell you what's what and it will be damn close. Once you figure out how each camera and sometimes lens affects WB, then the Kelvin temperature becomes second nature.

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2 hours ago, mercer said:

That's interesting... I never really thought about it but it makes sense. When I think Day for Night, I always think Jaws but after looking at some stills there definitely is a lot of grey in the shots as well.

I think the video mentioned Jaws.  

It does make sense though, considering that at sunrise and sunset the sun is warm and the shadows are cool, so we've probably learned that at those times of day dark things are bluer, so logically (and incorrectly) we'd assume that night would be very blue :) 

2 hours ago, mercer said:

Which brings me to my next point... I have been so spoiled by shooting raw. I aim to get my WB close in camera, but it's so easy to correct in Resolve's Raw Panel, that it doesn't really matter... I don't know if I can go back to a traditional compressed codec. Even when I originally had the Micro, and shot ProRes, I used 4500 as a middle ground and I would just correct it in post. I wouldn't do that now that I know better, but ProRes is beefy enough that I didn't have any issues. If I were to shoot on a compressed codec now, I really think I'd shoot mostly in B&W. In fact, if I ever get a second camera... a GH5... or whatever... I'd probably use it as a B&W only camera.

B&W is great.  For one thing, you don't lose resolution in de-bayering, which is great if you're shooting on 1080 or lower.  It's also great for bad quality codecs.  and any camera that has chroma noise.  I found the luma noise on my 700D with ML RAW was terrible, but when you de-noise only the chroma the remaining luma noise was very nice.

2 hours ago, mercer said:

Those guys at LGG are either professional colorists or aspiring professional colorists. When you devote yourself entirely to one discipline, you're going to get really good at that one discipline and learn a ton of tricks. A lot of us end up being Jacks of all Trades, out of necessity, and as Jacks of all Trades, sometimes we need to choose our battles.

In a sense, I have.

I decided early on that I wanted to get a high quality but neutral capture, and then I want to process it heavily in post.  In a sense I'm implementing a kind of human-based computational photography.  As I shoot available everything and try to exert as little influence over what I shoot as possible, it's just about capturing it in the most nimble way possible, and spending the limited skill and attention I have on what matters, which was composition and artistic elements.  I very quickly realised that lenses can't be simulated in post, and also that AF is stupid, which is why I went manual.  

It's also why I chose Resolve.  Resolve was (at v 12 when I bought it) a very basic editor, but it had advanced features for processing the image.  The colour engine is good, the stabilisation was great, and the slow-motion was world-class.  It also cost less than the standard stabilisation plugins and the slow-motion plugins at the time too.

My adventures in Micro-land are primarily to learn how to make the GH5 look as good as possible, which feeds into learning to grade, which feeds into my pursuit of post-processing.  The Micro and P2K are a reference image second only to the Alexas (and five-figure cinema cameras) of this world, so this is my main goal.

Everyone knows that a well-edited film is a joy to watch.  If I had to choose between a solidly-shot and beautifully edited (including sound design, music, grading, etc) piece and one shot on an Alexa but edited by a first-year film student, I know which I'd choose.  Anyone who has shot anything on a GoPro and tried to make it look good in post knows that the footage SOOC is garbage unless you're doing something with huge insurance premiums.  Anyone who has downloaded the sample clips from RED and tried to grade them also knows they don't immediately spring to life in post either.  

Of course, if you own a Micro and light well, then you can set a few settings in the RAW panel and get a lovely image out, which means that with some basic editing and sound and music you can end up with a very nice final product, which makes it easier.  My approach is to try and get more convenience when I shoot for less convenience in post, but to get broadly the same result.  I'm optimistic :) 

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The trailer looked awesome.
I'd never be able to tell that it was recorded with consumer cameras.

I don't know about you but to me this goes to show that having an experienced colorist on board hugely elevates the production value.
Surely, a well-seasoned DP that knows how to properly expose the camera helps tremendously, too.

Great piece.

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On 4/19/2020 at 1:36 AM, BenEricson said:

This dude shot a feature length doc with the bmpcc and the bmmcc. I think it had a festival release in 2018, but now available online. The colors out of the original bmpcc and micro have a point like quality and texture. Really beautiful. 

 

Impressive!!

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