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Grant Petty reveals origins of Blackmagic cameras (concept was offered to major manufacturers)


Andrew Reid
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The one major error that people haven't mentioned, is that they should have given the Pocket the ability to record RAW externally - 18mins of RAW on a 64gb card is going to kill the bank to film a decent amount of footage. Quite frankly, they already have their own external recorder & missing the boat to marry the two was a huge mistake! And please don't give me they couldn't, of course they could!

 

I had missed this. I just assumed that as the BMPCC has HDMI out that you would be able to record RAW to the Hyperdeck Shuttle. So what does the HDMI output do?

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Raw would need HD-SDI and those would be expensive to do.

 

And why go to all that effort in putting the BMCC into a tiny pocket form factor... When have it require a chunky external box?

 

Compressed raw internally to SD cards is a miracle and worth celebrating. In my view it's easier to buy a couple of 64GB cards for $200 and recycle the card via a Macbook Air when it fills up than it is to use an external recorder. This is no problem on a production and even for a one man operator with a backpack taking a break in Starbucks from shooting, it's perfectly easy to do and takes a few minutes via USB 3.0.

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Meanwhile Mr. Petty can sit on his high horse and complain about these money-grubbing big boys that scoffed him and his ideas. But at the end of the day, he still needs to employ HIS tiny workforce of 350 people, by choosing at least SOME products that can make money... such as his excellent high-volume, low-margin post-production equipment that put BlackMagic on the map.

 

 

Exactly.

 

Anyone that has 350 mouths to feed has an agenda.  Which is fine.  Just don't accuse everyone else of being bad because they have an agenda as well.

 

Black Magic likes to make unfinished, unpolished, very delayed beta devices.  If Canon and Nikon don't want to be in that business that is their choice.  I don't see why both markets can't coexist.

 

And anyway if you produced a BMPCC to Canon's specification it would not cost under $1,000.  You could probably double that or more.  Canon has the EF and EF-S line of lenses.  It's not in their business model to put out removable lens cameras with sensors that are more cropped than APS-C.  And producing an APS-C sensor that does what the BMPCC does seems like it would be an expensive affair.  And keep in mind Canon doesn't put out any cameras with a native 800 ISO that you have to control with ND filters.  It's just so different from any of their existing product lines I don't see why they would introduce the confusion.

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I hardly think a Resolve deck or Resolve 10 is an unpolished beta device!!

 

Be thankful Blackmagic are giving us interesting cutting edge products, because Canon just isn't. That's the crux of it!

 

I don't think producing an APS-C sensor version of the BMPCC has to necessarily be expensive like a typical Canon spec APS-C video camera - i.e. $15,000. Why do I think that? Well the Blackmagic Production Camera has an APS-C (Super 35mm) sized sensor, shoots 4K raw with a global shutter and costs $4000.

 

Canon's strengths are based on their legacy as a leader in optics and a leader in CMOS sensor development.

 

None of their current products have shown anything like the same amount of innovation or class leading attributes. They all seem to be cynical high margin money spinners or in the case of their DSLRs, barely any different to the old models.

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And anyway if you produced a BMPCC to Canon's specification it would not cost under $1,000.  You could probably double that or more...

 

 

 

 

No argument there.  It would cost twice as much and come with a shitty codec.  They'd fill it up with BS and create a half dozen models with meaningless, incremental differences between them and none containing all of the features most asked for.  Something like what we have.

 

Not that it matters to anyone but I don't want them in this market.  All I've ever pointed out is how effortless it would be for them to have done it if they wanted to.  The BMD cameras are far simpler devices than the $300 Rebel at BestBuy that's essentially designed to be crap so that someday you'll buy one that's maybe less crap...but still crap.

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I love my Bmcc. This last month I've worked it like a Hebrew in freezing cold weather and it delivers a beautiful image. It's aesthetically dirtier than I've gotten used to with other cameras. My C100 was sterile as a cotton ball in low light and I DO miss that. I wish the Bmcc had cleaner lowlight and less noise in the shadows. Other than that though, it's pretty much a $1000 2.5k badass with a copy of Resolve. I'm curious what BMD can or will add to the firmware updates later down the line & what it's capable of

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The BMD cameras are far simpler devices than the $300 Rebel at BestBuy that's essentially designed to be crap so that someday you'll buy one that's maybe less crap...but still crap.

 

Rebels are stills cameras that happen to shoot video as well.  Their main purpose is to shoot stills.  100% stills photographers are their main market.  I have used one of those "crap" Rebels for many years and as an amateur sold pictures that were published on the front pages of national periodicals, used in national ad campaigns, and used full page in global textbooks.  If you can't pick up a "crap" Rebel made in the last four years and sell a picture for a large ad campaign or make the cover of multiple national newspapers then maybe it's not the camera that is "crap."

 

One thing I do know about Rebels is they work as advertised on day one.  No glitches.  No constant firware updates.  No weird work arounds nor batteries, etc.

 

As far as video you can spend $300 on a rebel.  $100 for a new 50mm 1.8 and do things out the gate that would cost almost $2000 to do with a BMPCC... if at all.  That doesn't mean Rebels are great.  They are just different.  I can't tell you how many times on this very forum I have moaned about the moire and aliasing on the Canon Rebels.  But to totally disregard the excellent stills the camera takes for $300 is a bit disingenious.

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One thing I do know about Rebels is they work as advertised on day one.  No glitches.  No constant firware updates.  No weird work arounds nor batteries, etc.

Amen! I love the forward thinking of Black Magic and Magic Lantern but I needs me some Quality Assurance. They've got some great advanced abilities, but they're missing basic usability necessities.  

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And he totally missed the real point of that particular reference, but that's okay.

 

You are missing the point that the "crap" Rebel's target market for the most part NEVER uses the video function.  And even if they do their reference point is an iphone video.  You are comparing an excellent $300 stills camera that happens to shoot video on the side to a buggy $1,000 dedicated video camera and calling the stills camera "crap."  If you want excellent video pay more than $300.  It's that simple.  In a competitive marketplace why would Canon drive up the cost of it's best selling camera improving a function the majority of consumers aren't even going to notice?  Making a guy on a forum happy isn't a good enough reason to spend millions.

 

I mean I see fridges with TVs built into them.  I don't compare them to my gigantic plasma TV in my living room and say it's a "crap" fridge.  I don't have time to do this again but in multiple place on this forum I posted links to photography forums full of people complaing long and loud about Canon and Nikon expending resources putting video functions into their cameras instead of fulfilling their photography wish lists.  The problem is you guys live in your little world and assume that's all there is.  Trust me I want video improved a heck of a lot more than more megapixels or whatever other photographic nonsense (wifi, flaky battery draining GPS, etc).  But I realize I am in the minority.

 

 

I hardly think a Resolve deck or Resolve 10 is an unpolished beta device!!

 

 

 

You are correct.  In my previous statement I was wrong when I said Blackmagic had nothing to lose when it came to value of their brand.  Amoungst professionals they did have some cache.  Obviously they weren't as big a name as Canon but their brand value wasn't zero.  But you correction of me here illustrates my point.  Most of us consumers were introduced to Black Magic through their cameras.  And we know the brand as ridiculously delayed product launches, ridiculously delayed delivery, bugs, constant firmware updates, quirky cameras, etc.  For the broader public their brand is unfinished cameras.

 

I took several upper level marketing classes in university and no one in their right mind would call what Black Magic is doing with their brand a success.  It's not even up for debate.  And a multibillion dollar multinational corporation that has spent decades and untold billions building it's brand deciding not to get in bed with these people is not at all surprising.

 

 

 

 

I don't think producing an APS-C sensor version of the BMPCC has to necessarily be expensive like a typical Canon spec APS-C video camera - i.e. $15,000. Why do I think that?

 

I never said that.  I said that to build a BMPCC to Canon's specification would probably cost double if not more.  I never said $15,000.  By Canon specifications I was refering to a finished tight product that may get one minor fimware update over the course of it's working life, delivered on time and in quantity.  And no there is no way that would cost $15,000 but it ain't gonna happen for less than $1,000.  And once you start selling it for $2,000 that's going to eliminate a big chunk of the market right there.  The majority of the cameras Canon sells are sold for less than $2,000.

 


 

Be thankful Blackmagic are giving us interesting cutting edge products, because Canon just isn't. That's the crux of it!

 

Being thankful for Blackmagic doesn't mean I have to pretend they don't have some major problems.  Being thankful for Black Magic doesn't mean I should lambast Canon for not copying their dysfunctional business model.  I've said it before.  I buy film from Kodak and I buy film from Ilford.  Both are profitable film businesses.  Kodak can profitably supply film for the entire movie industry no problem while also supplying color and b&w film to consumers.  Ilford cannot supply film to the movie industry or indeed color film of any kind to anyone but they are right sized to profitably supply consumers with all manner of b&w film in a wide variety of market conditions.  I don't hate one or the other.  I don't say one should adopt the business model of the other.  I just take what I need from both entities.  They both serve a purpose.  Praise for one does not have to mean automatic denigration of the other.

 

I absolutely would like to see certain improvements with Canon DSLR video, but things aren't exactly roses at Black Magic either.  Maybe Canon could take a sprinkle of Black Magic's envelope pushing and Black Magic could take a spoonful of Canon's ergonomics and quality control.

 

Maybe Canon is full of it and they can produce a tight BMPCC equivalent for $500.  Maybe.  Unfortunately no one including Black Magic has presented any credible evidence that is the case.

 

Black Magic is doing their thing and I'm glad they are around.  As with a lot of people I gave very serious thought to purchasing a BMPCC but the quirkiness, ergonomics, and bugs stopped me in my tracks.  What we have in the sub $3,000 space is a bunch of compromised cameras.  You have to pick your poison.  No one is doing a perfect job and all these companies have different but overlapping target markets.  Everyone has to service their niches.  Honestly if Black Magic was making money hand over fist with their cameras they would be telling us.  No body that is wildly profitable keeps it a secret.  Nobody.  When someone says profits aren't important that tells me they have none.  That's fine but approaching a profit making entity with hundreds of thousands of stake holders and suggesting they should deploy their precious capital into an unprofitable business will garner a predictable response.  Canon after all has certain fiduciary responsibilities.

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Oh man. Who gives a flying fuck about what the target market of the Rebel is.

 

If I were an accountant at Canon I would care.

 

I'm a filmmaker. I don't care. I care that Canon started something pretty magical with DSLR video and then proceeded to let their accountant fuck it over for them.

 

The Cinema EOS story was written by their finance department.

 

You say if you want excellent video pay more than $300 do you… Hmm… That'll be $15,000 for very good 1080p, $25,000 for okay-ish 4K and $3000 for shitty video on the 5D Mark III, which took Magic Lantern to fix, through reverse engineering, legal threats and all.

 

So do us all a favour and shut the fuck up when it comes to defending Canon. They are indefensible. Their actions towards this community speak louder than any 'target market'.

 

PS...

 

Rebel is also shit as a stills camera. It's just that the soft, undemanding target market hasn't realised it yet.

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Sheesh... can't believe folks are getting attacked for suggesting Blackmagic needs better quality control and basic usability fixes. You guys DO know it's possible to be a fan of something while at the same time not liking every little thing about it, right? Just because we want Blackmagic to make a few fixes doesn't mean we hate them and are Canon apologists. Not everything is so black and white.

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For me the argument before has nothing to do with Blackmagic's quality control. It's about the contrasting philosophies of Canon and Blackmagic and how well they are serving our specific community of filmmakers. Perhaps the main quality control that should be happening is the one applied to a post before submitting to the forum.

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As someone who struggled with those damn light-losing-dust-collecting 35mm adapters for DVX100 to get some basic interchangeable lenses on a budget video camera, I'm grateful to Canon just for their still L lenses that are now widely used by many entry indie filmmakers.

 

I'm further grateful to Blackmagic for grabbing the ball and running with it by choosing to adopt the EF mount and pairing it with RAW. 

 

So no matter how much Canon cripples their cameras from now, the cat is already out of the bag, - all the elements to a perfect budget indie cinema camera are already out there, it's just a matter of BM's shipping now.

 

Until then, Magic Lantern is the best band-aid solution to shoot movies NOW!

 

We WON, and Canon can't do anything about it!

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For me the argument before has nothing to do with Blackmagic's quality control. 

 

Ah... well it does for a lot of us. I don't think anyone here is unhappy that Blackmagic exists. I certainly love what they're doing RAW-wise. I can't wait for my production cam to come in. But I REALLY can't stand their business practices, and a lot of their camera design. They'd be the top camera to grab in my book if they'd fix basic necessities like having a Total Recording Time Counter (blargwhyisthismissing), In-Camera Card formatting, clip erase, improve the awful screen, etc.   and if they'd actually have quality assurance (see black spots fiasco, SD card randomness, white orb problem, lack of RAW on release, numerous sensor issues, shipping nightmare.)

 

I love the Blackmagic Cameras for pushing the technology forward. I just want them to actually get their products working, out, and reliable. I'm not a hater or a Canon fanboy for pointing these issues out... am I? I don't even own a Canon anymore! :lol:    

 

 

Perhaps the main quality control that should be happening is the one applied to a post before submitting to the forum.

 

I agree with you there, Andrew. Trust me. :)

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You are missing the point that the "crap" Rebel's target market for the most part NEVER uses the video function.  ...

 

 

No, genius, you're missing the point that that is a camera doing more, more work, more over-engineering, than what's going on in the BMD cameras.  I'm not talking about how good it ultimately is I'm talking about what it is and what went into its manufacture FFS.

 

It's doing more work for a lesser result, because it has to have all this other stuff that can be ignored in a narrow-focused device like the BMD cameras.

 

That is why it's complete garbage that if Canon or any of the "majors" were to do a comparable camera it would just have to be more expensive.  Strip all the junk that now doesn't have to be designed, poorly or well, all of functions that don't have to be tested, all of the extra engineering necessary to take the raw imagery off the sensor and completely ass it up into some low-bit AVCHD in realtime, take all that out and you're left with a much simpler camera doing less work.  

 

The ML-enabled raw 5D is doing less work, generating a better image, than what Canon themselves designed, intended or would really rather you be doing.  Strip all that still stuff out, all that garbage AVCHD out, what you'd be left with would be a camera that might actually then be even cheaper than a BMD given the advantage of scale and manufacturing that the "majors" have.  

 

It could, they don't and the people who say they couldn't are full of it.  They don't want to or don't care to.  That's it.  The only question then to ponder is why.  It doesn't matter anymore now that there are alternatives.

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They don't want to or don't care to.  That's it.  The only question then to ponder is why.  It doesn't matter anymore now that there are alternatives.

 

Absolutely spot on.

 

Let's ponder why. They have a top level management whose job it is to deliver ever larger increases in profit, year on year. It's a pressurised business environment in Asia, Japan especially, it makes Europe look quaint. When you are a large company, massive profits are just not enough. Success is relative. If you're only making $2.5bn profit on $40bn sales you need to be making $5bn profit on $80bn sales or better still $40bn profit on $80bn sales!! Where does it end? Canon's management have figured out how to go after this profit and until now figured it out pretty well... in the short term.

 

In the long term they are a mess because they are ignoring the products, their selling points in a shifting marketplace, rapidly evolving technological progress and the demand of their customers.

 

Their compacts long ago could have morphed into an online photo sharing experience. Canon could have bought Flickr and YouTube in one stroke and included a one touch share button on all of their compacts. They could have done this if they'd had the future vision and foresight to do so, before Google snapped up YouTube. Canon just didn't see it. Their ageing management mostly didn't even use the internet in 2005. Canon's buck stops with a CEO who is nearly 80 years of age. I am sure with some careful consideration and thought, Canon's combined talent could have come up with something far far more compelling than I just thought of in 5 seconds on a forum post with the benefit of hindsight, but for whatever reason they were content to churn out the same product again and again in tiny incremental steps until the market had shifted completely away from them and onto smartphones.

 

Sounds familiar?

 

DSLR video was a golden opportunity. You can't say it was a flash in the pan or inconsequential, a niche. What it did was launch a multi-million dollar business division at Canon which didn't even exist before the 5D Mark II. What's even more incredible is that where Blackmagic purposefully targeted and nurtured a new market, Canon accidentally stepped into it. If it wasn't for live-view on the 5D Mark II, they would not now be in the cinema business. End of story. They would be churning out small chip camcorders or XL1 successors with fixed zoom optics. They'd have been no opportunity to add mark up on their EF lenses by creating Cine versions. No opportunity for a halo effect to spread to their consumer business from Hollywood DPs actively shooting and endorsing their Cinema EOS cameras and DSLRs.

 

Canon had no video capable CMOS in development planned for cinema cameras. They had live view capable CMOS sensors in stills cameras that just happened to be the same thing.

 

It's about time Canon actually THANKED the enthusiast DSLR video community for the manner in which we embraced Canon and allowed them to grasp the opportunity to launch Cinema EOS.

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