Blackmagic Production Camera 4K Footage

My Neighborhood – 4K from DavePerryCinematographerLLC on Vimeo.

Blackmagic Production Camera 4K Footage

Blackmagic Production Camera 4k.

The Blackmagic Production Camera 4K footage is finally here! This is a short sample of some of the first footage I’ve captured with it. The camera offers some wonderful potential for beautiful imagery. My first tests were shot in the BMD Film log profile to ProRes. Although the camera will be capable of shooting RAW after the next firmware update, BMD Film log to ProRes is a proven workflow for master quality final output. However, I certainly AM eagerly awaiting the firmware update.

Everything in this sample has been graded in Final Cut Pro X using custom LUTs developed in DaVici Resolve via the LUT Utility from Color Grading Central. A variety were used, however, I mostly wanted to get the footage close to the rec 709 color space rather than explore specific looks.

The camera is speced out at 12 stops of dynamic range, which is one less than the 13 the other three Blackmagic cameras have. However, it’s still quite a bit of latitude. In particular, I was impressed with the ability to crank the luma all over the place. The Roanoke Valley overlook at :32, was shot just after sunset. I had missed magic hour and the sun was completely behind the mountains, however, I was so excited to finally have the camera that I headed up Mill Mountain to the Star anyway. After bringing the footage into the edit, I started pushing it around and found a luminance level I liked. From there I started adding back in the color from the sun coming from behind the mountains. I was satisfied with what I ended up with when I noticed some graininess. I was a little disappointed. I then realized I had pushed the luminance levels to where I thought I was working on a clip shot in full daylight! I actually tricked myself! The dynamic range is so forgiving that I inadvertently created a “night for day” shot. What’s in the final sample here has been backed down to represent the actual time of day though, which effectively dealt with the grain.

Another aspect of the camera I’m so pleased with is the global shutter. A global shutter exposes the entire sensor at the same time, whereas a rolling shutter exposes the sensor from top to bottom. CCD sensor cameras of years past have a global shutter. Most current CMOS sensor cameras, including RED and Arri Alexa, use a rolling shutter. (RED has recently developed a new lens mount called the “Motion Mount” which effectively turns their cameras into global shutter cameras and Arri has developed a sensor that fires fast enough to significantly reduce the effect). In most situations this is not always a problem but when the camera pans somewhat fast, or there is fast action, the effect of a rolling shutter is to skew the image from side to side. This becomes a problem for compositing in post production when an object needs to be tracked. CMOS sensor cameras, like all Blackmagic cameras, typically have a rolling shutter. I’ve shot with CMOS cameras so long that the rolling shutter artifacts and “jello” image have become things I’ve learned to shoot around and deal with in post.

I immediately noticed the difference when shooting with the BMPC 4K (which is the only Blackmagic camera using a global shutter). Quick pans don’t produce the side to side wiggle that most CMOS cameras produce. Hand held shots feel more steady with a global shutter, even though they aren’t.

These two features, high dynamic range and global shutter, go a long way in creating an image that recaptures the familiar temporal aspects of plastic film. Digital acquisition and data management enables us to call what we do digital film production.

Expect more samples soon and Cinema DNG tests when it becomes available. I’ll also be using the camera on its first commercial gig next week and I’ll post the final results and impressions ASAP!