May 30, 2012

RAW 1080p is Coming with the Blackmagic Cinema Camera, but Can You Afford the Hard Drives?

By now many of you may be familiar with the Blackmagic Cinema Camera - it made a splash at this year's NAB show in Las Vegas. There wasn't a person I talked to that wasn't excited to know more about this tiny little RAW-shooting 1080p camera. Thankfully, the camera shoots more than RAW video, as it can also shoot slightly compressed DNxHD and ProRes -- but what if you do want to shoot RAW? Just like with DSLRs, most of the RAW video available in higher-end cameras is slightly compressed, as bitrates can exceed bandwidth. To keep costs down, the RAW in the BMCC is completely uncompressed RAW video, which means, you're getting bit for bit everything that is coming out of the A/D convertor (which takes the information from the sensor and translates it into digital values). We've talked a bit about increased disk space requirements, but rarely about affordability. The trend for most technology is to get cheaper over the long term -- but that's not exactly happening with hard drives for a number of reasons.

The floods in Thailand last year destroyed the manufacturing plants for a number of major manufacturers, and as a consequence, prices rose dramatically. That is certainly to be expected, but as manufacturing normalizes or shifts to other places, we should start to see prices coming down -- or will we? ExtremeTech has been following the situation and has come to some interesting conclusions regarding prices. First, check out the chart they made below:

Prices for some products have come down, but for the most part, they are up across the board. Now you might say, what's another $20, $30, $50 for a single hard drive? Well, not much, of course, but we're not storing our footage on one hard drive if we're smart -- we're putting that data on multiple drives. Let's take for example, the Blackmagic Cinema Camera, which will record RAW files (full resolution in RAW mode is 2432 x 1366) at approximately 114 Megabytes per second. That comes to 6.8 Gigabytes per minute, and 410.6 Gigabytes per hour. Storage requirements add up - that Caviar Black hard drive that originally cost $150 is now $210. That's $180 more over the cost of three drives (for two backups), and if you're trying to shoot a 2 hour feature, say at a 15:1 shooting ratio, you'll need 12.3 Terabytes, and if you want that backed up twice, just about 37 Terabytes total. Those 19 2-Terabyte drives that you'll need for that footage would have cost you $2,850 last year, but with the costs rising, would now cost you just about $4,000.

It only gets worse for bigger projects, and as people move up to higher resolutions like 4K, 5K, and 6K, storage requirements get vastly more expensive. Regardless of the reason for the increase in prices (the other article points to profit motives), it's still something we've got to deal with. SSDs have come a long way, but they are still mostly $1 a Gigabyte or more, so it will be a long, long time before they are a viable substitute for spinning disks.

Should people stay away from RAW? Absolutely not -- in fact it's remarkable that you will now be able to get RAW video in a camera that costs only $3,000. The concern comes with shooting styles and project considerations. Not every project will need RAW, in fact most will not. But with longer projects comes different considerations for costs. Just because you can shoot something doesn't mean you have the money to back up that footage, and as resolutions increase, so do the storage requirements. It's not a "hidden cost," as some might say, but it's simply a fact of increased file sizes, and we as independent filmmakers know: every single dollar counts.

[via ExtremeTech]

Your Comment

99 Comments

RAW isn't that big of a deal for me. I know that isn't the popular thing to say.

May 30, 2012

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I personally agree. I do small projects, that will end up on youtube/vimeo. Most of which never even get watched in HD. Everything in life is situational though. If you are in the realm of needing something so perfect, and amazing quality is in high demand and absolutely needed, then you're most likely going to be able to afford 2-4k on HDD's..I know that most people actually factor the price of HDD's into their budgets as part of the customers price.

May 30, 2012

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Exactly. Unless your stuff is going to be viewed theatrically and/or will undergo extensive special effects work, RAW is downright ludicrous and a waste of space.

June 1, 2012

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Hummer

Funny, because I work in a small town at a computer repair/low budget web design company, and what we have to keep telling our customers who are wanting custom built PC's, that HDD prices went up because of this same reason. I never even THOUGHT that increased resolution/file size was going to eat up my pocket like that!!!

Unfortunately I don't think there's anything we can do in the "long run"...Unless somehow they start developing a new format of recording that will drastically decrease size, which isn't likely. Nor will HDD Prices drop so far that we can pick them up for cheap enough to compensate...I think this is just a section of film making that we're going to be stuck in more, and more over the next decade.

May 30, 2012

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I loved this post- really helped put things into perspective and was something I've been thinking about all morning. I work with a lot of musicians on music videos and live concert shoots. I think for me It will have to come down to what the client wants; explain to them what RAW is, how it could benefit the project I'm working on for them and if that's something they'd like to see, pass on the cost to them as an upcharge. There are some musicians I work with that make a decent amount of money and would be looking for that, and others that it would simply be cost-prohibitive to do so. Same thought process for me would go into short/feature films to be shot on raw. If you have the budget, do it! If not no sweat, nothing wrong with HD ProRes files (especially if you remind yourself how things were 10 years ago).

May 30, 2012

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Austin Mace

Yeah I agree, same goes for shooting commercial spots. If after explaining the pros and cons (storage) of shooting RAW to the client they opt for it, then the extra storage can be built into the budget. That scenario isn't necessarily applicable if you shooting a feature or even a short, but I'd still rather be given a RAW workflow and be able to compress to taste from there. And with 13 stops of DR, ProRes and DBxHD will suffice 90% of the time.

May 30, 2012

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Scott

we are all using the word RAW but i feel many are forgetting about the 13 stops of dynamic range, that filmic look that is sought after by many independent filmmakers, any video that is going to be distributed online, broadcast, or theaters needs a professional look.

May 30, 2012

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alguti

That is sobering information. I was going to build a new storage array *right* before the flood in Thailand. Once the floods came I realized I couldn't afford it until I noticed that external drives (including USB3 and eSATA) have been available at a lower price than internal drives. What I have done is create a new Windows Storage server using 1TB drives in a Raid5 and the external drives as backups. For just about $300 I have created a 6TB server.
I am interested in the Design Cinema camera but by your calculations I will not have enough storage for raw recordings. Forget weddings and concerts in raw. BUT even the compressed video will be great.

May 30, 2012

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I'm hopeful that like Atomos, they'll allow you to, either out of the box or through a firmware update, to use cheaper spindle based notebook drives to capture ProRes/DNxHD. Obviously these don't have the throughput to capture RAW, and they're more prone to shock-based damage, but in a studio or more control environment where RAW might be unnecessary (or frankly just to make ends meet by using cheaper drives) you could really benefit from this.

May 30, 2012

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I don't think that will happen, as it hasn't happened for their other SSD products. What you could do is record out of the HD-SDI of the camera, which will be identical to the footage going to the hard drive in 1080p mode.

May 30, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

Very true. A clean output with a slightly higher initial investment in an Atomos Ninja will yield very good results. Sure your kit just got bigger but it really seems those damn external recorders are a necessity in a lot of setups. I know for myself I'd be more than happy keeping a ProRes "negative" since I'm already doing that with my DSLR.

May 30, 2012

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Why not shoot raw but backup the files either using a raw compression or prores or something? Sure conversion times would take a while but it would be quick enough to batch process and let it go all night. Or is it normal to keep all the original raw files? im not sure im just a noob

May 30, 2012

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mike

If you need the resolution but not everything else, you can convert the RAW stills to a movie using ProRes 4444, ProRes HQ, or some other flavour, at native size. You will throw away some information in doing so, but you'll massively reduce the data rate and still allow high-quality zooming. The sticky point is going to be interpreting the CinemaDNG files with any decent fidelity. Ideally all our favourite NLEs will get native support sooner or later.

I've got a 28 second timelapse movie here in ProRes 422 and the odd resolution of 2592x1728; it's just over 1GB and plays back very smoothly in FCP X. Something like the workflow here should work, but you'll have to use Motion to create the movie instead of QuickTime Player. Motion can read a sequence of DNG files, but QuickTime Player can't.

http://www.macprovideo.com/hub/final-cut/advanced-time-lapse-with-final-...

May 31, 2012

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Blah blah blah... I wonder how mxf/prores will effect the 13 stop dynamic range. Thats the main factor for me.

May 30, 2012

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Carlos

I'd imagine recording in Log would handle it fine, just like ProRes LogC on the Alexa, or putting out RedLogFlim from Red files.

May 30, 2012

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Kevin Marshall

If it's 10 bit it should be fine. I've watched way too many VFX tutorials from people working on projects with way bigger budgets and higher quality demands than my own, talking about how they deal with ProRes 444 as their production footage. If it's good enough for them it's good enough for me.

May 30, 2012

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Small correction, at the risk of being pedantic. It's not RAW 1080p - it's RAW 2.5K. 1080p is only in the compressed modes. I don't know if this factored into your bit rate calculations, or if it was just for simplicity's sake.

May 30, 2012

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Kevin Marshall

Yes it was for simplicity's sake, and the full RAW resolution of 2432 x 1366 was factored in. Here's the equation you can use for any of these numbers if anyone is curious:

RAW Video Data Rate: (Horizontal Resolution) X (Vertical Resolution) X (Frame Rate) X (Bit-depth) / 8 / 1024 / 1024 = Data Rate

May 30, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

I haven't been able to find a straight answer on this, so maybe someone here can help me out.

Is the RAW 2.5k actually 2432 x 1366 pixels in frame size once imported into NLE, or is it scaled down to 1080p and the 2.5k just translates to a higher pixel density. I've read contradictory accounts, one talking about the 2.5k giving you extra room for stabilization and reframing (which would be great) and the other stating your usable frame size is still only 1920x1080.

Anybody know for sure?

May 30, 2012

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Scott

The Cinema DNG files coming out of the camera are 2432 x 1366. That's what you can bring into an editor that supports it if you so choose.

May 30, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

Thanks Joe.

May 30, 2012

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Scott

There's alot of talk on BMCUser.com about transcoding to CineformRAW just to save on storage requirements. Although not a perfect workflow, IMHO, it will allow smaller RAW file sizes comparable to ProRes and DNxHD. You still have to shoot RAW first but the transcode is very fast.

May 30, 2012

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Better still would be to record to it in camera. GoPro's CTO and CineForm's developer David Newman thinks that if the camera can do ProRes or DNxHD, it could probably do CineForm RAW. The added benefits include virtually all of those afforde by CinemaDNG -- full sensor resolution, 12-bit encoding, greatest color-grading flexibility -- plus greater recording times and, potentially, with the reduced per-frame data requirement, higher frame rates.

June 4, 2012

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Tzedekh

The main turn off for me about the BMCC is its disgusting 2.4x crop factor.

Sigh, just give us an interchangeable lens mount super 35 prores 422 camera for 3k and be done with it

May 30, 2012

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john jeffreys

Too expensive. I've looked into what it costs to build a S35mm camera with basically off-the-shelf parts and it's just impossible at that price. Best you could do is probably $7K-$9K with no profit margin.

May 30, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

And that's why I have no problem with what you get for 3,000 dollars, for the most part :)

May 30, 2012

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Jason

sigh, I figured. I'll just wait; I am tempted at getting the camera though, I am going to rent it for sure and see how I feel about it. Probably can't use anything other than a duclos/tokina 11-16 and lenses wider than 35mm though right?

May 30, 2012

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john jeffreys

I'd love to read an article onwhat cameras actually cost, just so we can get a good perspective on what our money is actually capable of buying...eg a s16 sensor is cheap while the s35 sensor is too expensive and why

May 30, 2012

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It'd be tough to do a price analysis for video cameras because many of the parts are proprietary, especially the sensors. Blackmagic is purchasing an off-the-shelf sensor, so it might be a little easier to do a breakdown, but for the most part, all of the companies design their own sensors and they don't sell those designs to third-parties. Sensors, just like CPU processors, are made from big wafers, and the smaller the sensor, the more of them you can cut from the wafer. So even if you had the same technology inside, a S35mm sized sensor will cost more than a S16mm sensor for that reason. Wafers also don't make perfect sensors, and many of them have defects, so the larger the sensor, the more chance there is for defects - thereby increasing cost.

May 30, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

I think this is just temporary.
So you're out of luck if you need the drives immediately.
But drives are starting to come down in price.
And SSDs are half what they cost last year.

http://camelcamelcamel.com/Western-Digital-Caviar-Internal-Desktop/produ...

http://camelcamelcamel.com/Crucial-2-5-Inch-Solid-State-CT256M4SSD2/prod...

May 30, 2012

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mike

It's worth noting that this is less of a problem with Redcode RAW, due to the available compression ratios. I've had good results at 8:1 which is about 30GB per hour at 2K, 24p. ProRes 4444 would be about 4 times the size, and even 244 would be about twice the size. ProRes is absolutely fine for most uses, but will show it's limits in more extreme grading, especially if the color settings/lighting was off during the shoot. (full disclosure - I own a Scarlet, but I've shot with other systems, and I'm pretty brand agnostic - they're all just tools at the end of the day etc..)

May 30, 2012

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...Or you could just back everything up with one of the many affordable cloud backup services that have no storage limits?

May 30, 2012

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How long would it take to back up one terabyte online over the average broadband connection? A month? Not feasible for anything other than the final output file, IMO.

May 30, 2012

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Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

My school's internet is pretty fast. I bet I could back up a terabyte in less than a day; that is if I don't get throttled lol

May 30, 2012

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john jeffreys

If the alternative is paying $4,000 for hard drives, wouldn't it be more economical just to pay for a non-average (i.e., really fast) broadband connection?

May 30, 2012

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...and pay through the ass for Enterprise upload speeds? No thanks.

May 30, 2012

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Tom

Is that going to cost more than the $4,000 it would cost for tons of 2 TB hard drives?

May 30, 2012

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I think shooting drives and editing raids are going to be different devices. You may purchase 2 SSD's for this camera, but then offload them to a high capacity raid. And offload fast with thunderbolt.

That chart above are only showing moving drives—no solid state shown. OWC 240GN SSD's are around $270. That's a fraction of what a red drive or sony SxS card costs. I think people that have preordered need to make sure they have enough capacity and a good backup system. Mine will be:

1-2 SSD recording drives ($270 each)
1 main 6 to 12TB raid with thunderbolt (Promise Pegasus or G-raid) ($1200-$2200 depending)
1 backup drive at equal capacity, but could be FW800 or USB2 ($800-1000)

May 30, 2012

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David

LTO tape for backup, cheaper than hard drives per TB, the initial outlay for the drive is high, the media costs are low. I thought I was finally going "tape less" and for production and post I have, but with hard drives not coming down in price I may have to go back to tape for backup and long term storage.

Something to think about.

M

May 30, 2012

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Is the Bolex D16 a better option as it has a dual CF card slot. For a regular shooter wouldn't that bring the costs down a lot.

May 30, 2012

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Craig C

The cost that I'm referring to is mostly in backup. Uncompressed RAW is always going to be expensive for backup because of the sheer amount of data that you've got to deal with. The Digital Bolex, however, just like this camera, have compressed modes that will be helpful when you don't want or need RAW. Digital Bolex will do JPEG sequences and the Blackmagic Cinema Camera will do ProRes and DNxHD.

May 30, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

For features, producers should look into backing up raw footage to LTO tapes at post houses. Not only will that give you a solid magnetic tape back up of your data that will last a hundred years but it will free up the need to buy so many expensive hard drives. You still need, on each day of the shoot, 3 hard drive back ups of your dailies but once one of those drives has been backed up to an LTO tape you can erase two of the back ups (once you the post house has verified all your dailies are present). LTO tapes are relatively inexpensive as they are an older technology but very solid. Hard drives need to spin, tapes can simply sit on a shelf.

May 30, 2012

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Just wondering - how much would the warehouse cost to store this much film?

May 30, 2012

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Rich

You could theoretically store it in an indoor storage place as long as it was somewhat climate and humidity controlled. But let's do the math anyway - 30 hours of footage in 35mm would equal 162,000 feet, or 162 1000 foot loads. 30 hours of 16mm would be 64,800 feet, or 162 400 foot loads. You'll get more footage with both Super 35 and Super 16, but those numbers are for standards gates. Ideally, you don't shoot this much film if you're an indie, you'd probably try to do a 5:1 on a small indie feature. I did a short film on Super 16mm that was a 5:1 ratio, basically 1 take for most shots, 2 if we had film to spare. But I've also said this before about digital, that more care needs to be taken the higher your data rates.

But yeah, the costs are high to properly store a negative for a feature, and if you don't store it properly, you're negating the reason why you needed it archived on film in the first place. Film has gotten better, but an independent filmmaker isn't going to store a film properly most of the time. I don't know if they still do this now, but the proper way to store a film for a longer period of time was to have three separate reels of B&W film that corresponded to Red/Green/Blue. This way you wouldn't have to worry about color fading, which was inevitable.

Even with the issues surrounding storing all of this media, I'm still a big proponent of digital storage versus film. Sure, your film print might physically last decades, but when you open it back up, how much work will it take to restore it should something happen to your digital files? Restoring film is no small task, and personally I'd rather have the headache of dealing with a perfect copy than dealing with one that will need to be rescanned and restored anyway.

May 30, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

www.undergroundvaults.com

Just send you negs here, to the Kansas Underground Salt Mine for long term storage. Don't store them in grandma's basement or attic, pls. BTW, this is also a great place to to store data tapes and magnetic tapes.

June 4, 2012

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Jorge

I'm not trying to slam the Black Magic camera but, after reading this, the thought occurs to me that it really may be a "camera without a country".
The chip is too small for cinema. Maybe it's good for documentaries but, do you really need raw for documentary work? If you gotta have raw, and have the where-with-all to deal with that workflow, you're, probably, not going to shoot your film on a $3000 small chip cam. I think it's a very cool concept but, I think it packs it's punch in the wrong places and I don't really see a market for it. I think I would be pretty happy with a 2.5K super35, recording 10 bit ProRes.

OK, I'm ready for my beating now...

May 30, 2012

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dixter

There is a gigantic market for it, because for $3,000, there isn’t another camera on the market that can do not only RAW, but ProRes Log with 13 stops of dynamic range. To get that type of quality in-camera you’ve got to step up to a RED Scarlet, but even then, you’re stuck with RAW, you’ll need an external recorder or you’ll have to convert in post.

Anyway, my biggest problem is the lens mount, if they’d put a Micro 4/3s mount, we’d have a lot easier time adapting lenses, but as it is, there are definitely options with the Canon mount – for example, you could get a 11-16mm 2.8, 24mm 1.4 or 24mm 1.8, and 35mm 1.4. In terms of a full frame 35mm sensor like the 5D, these would equal 25mm-36mm, 55mm, and 80mm – which happen to be right around the focal lengths I usually use. In terms of depth of field, most feature films with Super 35mm sensors are shot at f/2.8-f/5.6, with many choosing f/4. Unless you're shooting in the dark, the shallowest you might go in a professional situation with a camera like the RED Epic is f/2.8 (I know there are exceptions, but most Super 35mm stuff is around 2.8-5.6). In terms of angle of view, a 24mm lens on the BMCC will compare to a 40mm lens on a RED Epic (16x9 mode). So let's compare depth of field if we are shooting in a standard higher end production scenario with the RED Epic, which might stick to around 2.8, to the BMCC shot wide open. Length is the distance to the subject.

RED Epic 40mm f/2.8 20-feet 10.5 feet

BMCC 24mm f/1.4 20-feet 9.42 feet

RED Epic 40mm f/2.8 10-feet 2.48 feet

BMCC 24mm f/1.4 10-feet 2.26 feet

RED Epic 40mm f/2.8 5-feet 0.61 feet

BMCC 24mm f/1.4 5-feet 0.55 feet

I understand the reasons why shooting open can be a bad thing (resolution, etc.), but what this means is that you can shoot wide open at the equivalent FOV and have the same depth of field as many Hollywood movies. We’ve gotten so used to very shallow depth of field, but there really isn’t a huge advantage to shooting a 50mm 1.4 wide open on a 5D Mark II at 1 foot. This camera is much shallower than 2/3″ or even 1/3″, so I don’t think that’s a problem. To me, latitude plays a far bigger part in defining a film look – and the only cameras that can approach 13 stops are at least five times as expensive.

You basically have what you’re looking for in a Sony F3 with some sort of external recorder, but again, you’ll need a recorder capable of dealing with S-Log if you want all that dynamic range. There’s just nothing in this budget range that will give you remotely the same quality image. Do I wish there were other lens mounts possible? Absolutely, but I would rather shoot 10-bit Log ProRes with this camera over a 5D Mark II or Mark III if I’m shooting outdoors or if I can actually light properly.

May 30, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

Exactly. The crop factor is basically no problem besides choosing the right lenses. A lot of feature films have been shot on Super 16mm film which is even smaller. Buttery, excessively shallow depth of field is rarely used in films. Shallow, yes, full frame at 1.4... NO!

May 30, 2012

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Well... OK then. Good breakdown, Joe. Guess I didn't realize you can get proper (cinema-like) DOF with the right glass. I do believe, as some others do, that excessively shallow depth is not something you see much in real movies. Excessively shallow DOF is and will be 'the mark of the amateur'.

May 31, 2012

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dixter

The "right lenses" for the Blackmagic CC would need to be lenses in the range of 6mm to 10mm focal lengths. Can someone pls line up those for me with Canon mount? Thanks!

A 6mm optic mounted on the BCC will give you the equivalent horizontal angular field of view (i.e. perspective) of what a 14 or 15mm optic would give you in FF 135 terms. Ultra wide angle bordering on fisheye, in other words. So good, so helpful is no many shooting scenarios.

And a 10mm focal length optic would give you the equivalent perspective of a 24mm standard WA lens (in FF 135 terms).

Now, if all you would ever need to shoot are normal perspectives, telephoto, and super telephoto, BCC is your camera, for sure. It's an ideal birder's cam, since a 100mm lens will give you a 240mm telephoto look right off the bat.

June 4, 2012

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Jorge

And on your last comment, Joe, on your preference for 10bit Log ProRes... I would think, if you're really serious about a film project, you would want to shoot it on just about ANYTHING BUT a 5Dmk2 or 3.

May 31, 2012

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dixter

I only mention those because they're popular and in the price range, and the Mark II is what inspired Blackmagic to make the camera in the first place - people who wanted something more - basically as a companion to DSLRs. But sometimes money just doesn't allow for anything more than a Mark II or a Mark III, and you can absolutely get good results with any project you're serious about as long as you understand the limitations.

When you can actually be able to purchase a D800, I think people will be pleasantly surprised at the quality when paired with an external recorder. While only 8-bit, and I've said this before, when lit properly and used at lower ISOs, its one of the cleanest images I've ever seen come out of a DSLR, and I think the image certainly rivals cameras that are much more expensive. But you can't buy one - so it's hardly part of the conversation.

May 31, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

not sure I understand... my buddy bought a D800 several weeks ago at the local camera shop. Are they not on the shelf in other places?

May 31, 2012

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dixter

I'm sure they only had them in stock for a short time. No you can't find them anywhere. If they are in stock anywhere they are immediately out of stock. Any of the online retailers are sending them out as they get them, but Nikon hasn't been sending out too many at a time. So no, it's next to impossible to get one right now. I mean the people that really wanted them pre-ordered them immediately, but if you didn't, tough luck, as it might be another few months before they are reliably in stock.

May 31, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

Also re the 'shallow DOF is for amateurs'. See 'Snow White'. I was amazed at how much super shallow DOF was in it. Looked good too.

June 3, 2012

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mark london

I think Blackmagic is doing the world a favor by making their inexpensive camera super16 sized... I think shallow depth of field should be left to the professionals. (those that will do it)

It's crazy to run around handheld at f1.4 on a 50mm lens without cinetape and professional AC.

June 7, 2012

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Daniel Mimura

Considering that Blackmagic is using surveillance cameras sensors initially made for a camera mfr that is no longer in that business (Sanyo), I have my doubt how the 13 F-stop DR figure came about in urban folklore. We'll let Zacuto and other labs test this claim properly once the time arrives. Meanwhile, unless you can line up some good quality 6mm to 10mm focal range matching lenses fop it, you can forget about recording fisheye and UWA perspectives w. the Blackmagic Cinema Camera.

June 4, 2012

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Jorge

I agree. For me, as a D800 owner, I'm actually choosing between the BMDCC and the Ninja2! The D800 is outstanding if treated well.

June 3, 2012

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mark london

You see 13 stops in the shoots BMCC? Really? More than Canon C300 with stops 12?

May 30, 2012

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Felipe Leonardo

BMC's spec sheet says 13 stops. I've seen no independent chart tests as of yet to prove this but you can bet there will be plenty of them once it starts shipping so I doubt they'd bolster that amount of range if it weren't somewhere close. That being said, even if it was 12 stops - it's $3000... C300 is $16000!

May 31, 2012

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Scott

C300 has a superior sensor with the specific dimensions necessary to use cinema lenses. It also utilizes a wonderful codec, that in my opinion... yields just as good results as a camera shooting RAW. Ergonomic body perfect for the style of shooting on many films.. ie. handheld guerilla cam. Movable screen and EVF. Removable battery ;-) All the bells and whistles to get nice exposure.

Just another example of blindly reading a spec sheets and negating some very important features. Black magic makes nice products, don't get me wrong. But this camera is the first of its kind for them. I doubt it will be a home run on it's first try. Something is gonna give... and for most, it is the 2.4x crop factor. Bye bye wide angle.

May 31, 2012

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Tom

An 8bit codec is better than RAW? Really? Wow, this is great news! I can get rid of my external recorder now.

May 31, 2012

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dixter

The C300 is great, we just shot a spot with it a couple weeks ago... it's also 5 times the price, and therefore a rental unit.

You seem to be missing the point that the reason for the excitement is the professional features (dynamic range, RAW workflow) for a comparably low price. I'm sure there will be issues, and then like with every other camera we will learn to work around them. The crop factor sucks, so I'll probably pick up a Tokina 11-16mm and use a Mk II or III for ultra wides. As opposed to 'blindly reading a spec sheet' as you suggest, I'd say I'm thoughtfully weighing cost vs performance as I do before any new equipment purchase.

May 31, 2012

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Scott

Tokina 11-16mm mounted on the Blackmagic-cam will give you comparable angular fields of view of (in full-frame 135 terms) as what a 26.4-38.4mm lens would be. In other words, you would need a 10mm lens just to give you the perspective of a standard 24mm wide angle lens.

I think the BCC will excel for normal perspective and super-telephoto shooting particularly, not for close quarter and cramped interior types of scenarios.

June 4, 2012

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Jorge

Well the C300 is a super 35 sensor so it is actually cropped as well compared to 135 (full frame). Sure the BMD is 2.4x compared to 135. but your C300 is 1.6X cropped as well.

jb

July 15, 2012

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John Brawley

Caviar Black 2TB - $209 or 10 cents a Gigabyte
RED one 256 GB - $3200 or $12.50 a Gigabyte

yes, I can totally afford the hard drive space for the BMCC RAW video. No problem.

May 31, 2012

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sean

I think RED's SSDs should be 1/3 of the price that they are. That said, you can't compare SSDs to platter hard drives, regardless of brand.

May 31, 2012

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Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

True, however for the price of a single 256GB RED card, I could buy an entire 4 disc external RAID system as well as a couple 256GB SSDs for capture.

There is an entire economy of scale going on with RED media.

May 31, 2012

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sean

Anyone know when this camera is actually going to start getting into some reviewers hands? Or at least some more official tests?

I thought they were having a conference mid-may but nothing came from it!

Want to know some more details!

May 31, 2012

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Archie

Later in July reviewers should be getting it. There wasn't really anything new that came from the conference if I remember correctly.

May 31, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

They showed the same pre-prod camera in NYC last month than what we could already see in Las Vegas the month before.

June 4, 2012

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Jorge

Wait a minute....

I just checked the price on a 240GB OCZ Vertex SSD, which is a good reliable brand, and they're $220. Now compare this to the ~$80 SanDisk Extreme Pro SD cards I usually buy, and you're looking at $0.91/GB for the SSD and $2.50/GB for the SD card. Granted you'll probably record as much footage onto each in ProRes mode, but it's not terrible by any stretch. So all things considered I would budget ~$500 extra for a couple of drives (off-load one while you keep recording with the other) and not feel that bad about it.

As for the storage costs for the backup drives, I always make sure I pass that onto my clients (if it's client work). I'm a fan of the Caldigit VR dual drive enclosure. Each client pays for two drives for RAID1 redundancy ($400) and when they're not being worked on actively the drives come out, go into the nice little CalDigit drive box, and get stored somewhere safe. When I can afford it I'll just daisychain another Caldigit VR and use that as a backup of the RAID1.

May 31, 2012

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I don't think I'd take this camera out of ProRes mode. ProRes 1080/24p right out of the box? No transcoding in Final Cut Pro 7? Hell, I'd take it in a New York minute. The only thing is this: supply is going to be tight for months.

May 31, 2012

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I'm with you on the ProRes. It's funny, people will pay $1000 for Resolve for color correction, and $1000 for a simple harddrive-based ProRes recorder. Throw in another bunch of money for a simple two channel audio recorder. Now take all that and throw it into a single camera and you'll STILL have people who think it's not that great of a deal. Mind boggling.

May 31, 2012

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Black Magic rules. They just proved that all other brands make huge profits and deliberately slow technology to milk us all.
This camera is so cheap that the price of hard drive and back ups are irrelevant. 3000$ camera+4000$ drives and back up is not even the equivalent of a week of renting the Alexa or half the price of a Canon C300.
A production that really needs RAW can for sure afford 4K of drives?or not ?

May 31, 2012

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Renaud

This camera is priced pretty much right for what they are giving you with it. Downsides are the fact that you have to give up fisheye and UWA angular FOV perspectives due to lack of matching lenses in the 6mm to 10mm focal range, and the fact that you are basically shooting with a camera using a surplus surveillance camera sensor. Regarding the dynamic range, I am guessing 10-11 F-stops. But if it is indeed 13, then it's great news for everyone indeed.

June 4, 2012

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Jorge

lots of planning....lots of early discarding...lots of ongoing consolidating/editing.........or lots of money......always a ............

June 1, 2012

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rich lehrer

With the cost of recording raw because of all the memory, it may make better sense to record in Pro Res or DnxHD. The DNxHD codec seems better because it will be 10-bit with the Blackmagic Cinema Camera. Too bad the ProRes codec which the camera records is only 8-bit.

June 4, 2012

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David Slater

Really? Where did you see that ProRes is only 8-bit? Of course, the ideal compromise would be CineForm RAW recorded in camera: SSDs would have several times the shooting time, and storage requirements wouldn't be 20% greater than 5K RedCode RAW at 5:1 compression -- which is what uncompressed 2.5K CinemaDNG requires.

June 4, 2012

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Tzedekh

ProRes is a 10-bit only recording format. This is taken directly from the Blackmagic site:

Compressed Recording Formats: Apple ProRes and Avid DNxHD. All compressed recording in 1920x1080 10-bit YUV with choice of Film or Video Dynamic Range.

June 4, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

Blackmagic apparently uses the Sanyo closed-circuit (security) camera sensor now that Sanyo is out of business, period. They probably got a load of these already made sensor for next to nothing. Where 13 F-stops of dynamic range is coming into the picture from these sensor, I haven't a clue. I was at the Blackmagic demo day in NYC a few weeks ago, they were not too good answering questions. Even about the crop factor of this camera. Another beauty item is the fact that once the built-in battery loses its capability to be recharged, even Blackmagic will not replace it for you. Beware.

June 4, 2012

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Jorge

What's up with everyone using "period" in their posts?

It's getting irritating :O

June 4, 2012

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Tyler

Don't read them, then.

June 4, 2012

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Jorge

The spec is not folklore as you say but comes directly from Blackmagic, who have little reason to exaggerate specs that far. If you look at the still images taken from the RAW capture at John Brawley’s site, 13 does not seem like an exaggeration in the least. Here is the link to that post with the ungraded RAW stills:

http://johnbrawley.wordpress.com/2012/04/17/blackmagic-cinema-camera-let...

Also, not sure where you’ve read the information regarding the sensor, but they haven’t revealed where they are getting them from. I find it hard to believe that a closed-circuit security camera would have a sensor almost the size of Micro 4/3s and a maximum resolution of 2.5K. It’s more likely that the sensor comes from one of the few sensor design companies and was made for medical and scientific uses. The sensor resolution does not match any that I’ve found online anywhere, but if you’ve got a link somewhere, I’d love to see it.

June 4, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

Amazing how a $2,999 camera with close to $1,500 worth of software bundled with its price can handle the same heady dynamic range as can a $20,000 to $140,000 digital film camera. Hopefully AJA will come out with their own camera model to compete head-on w. the BCC, something priced around 2 grand that can do 13 or hopefully 14 F-stops of DR.

Re. what BMD had revealed and what they had not revealed, you are right that did not officially reveal the source of this odd-ball sensor. Which makes one naturally suspicious.

http://us.sanyo.com/High-Definition/Full-HD-1080p-Day-Night-Network-Came...

http://us.sanyo.com/High-Definition

Start here, then go to the specs of the individual models. Again, these are no longer being made, so the sensor mfr had to find some alternative buyers. Granted, these Sanyo sensor are not 2.5MP but 4MP (2288 x 1712 pixels), but you can always take this physical size sensor and make the active area what the BCC uses. But hey, if you are sure the BCC actually uses some medical device's sensor instead, pls send along the URLs where they say that. Either way, the sensor's 2.5MP size is pretty odd, considering it is not related to any broadcasts standard resolution I know of. But it will downscale to 1080p HD fine, I am sure.

Regardless who supplied the sensor itself, we were told at the New York demo lat month that once the internal battery dies for good and won't be taking any more charges, BMD will not be able to replace it even at the factory. I guess I am old school in that I just hate the idea of tossing away a perfectly good camera just because of a dead battery.

June 5, 2012

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Jorge

Like I said it would have been crazy for a security camera to have a senor that large. That Sanyo uses a 1/2.5" sensor, which is tiny (you can read that from the spec sheet here: http://us.sanyo.com/dynamic/product/Downloads/VCC-HD4600_spec-49039088.pdf

It's the type of sensor you'd find in a point and shoot camera. I wasn't saying positively one way or another, but the reason that the sensor they are using has non-standard dimensions and a non-standard pixel count is because it's not made for traditional filmmaking applications. In the scientific/engineering/medical fields, sensor noise and dynamic range are very important - and in some cases more important than super high resolution.

The full resolution of the sensor used in the Blackmagic camera is actually 2592 x 2192, which is completly non-standard for filmmaking applications. This is why I say it is an off-the-shelf sensor used in something other than movie cameras, because no sensor design company would make a sensor if no market existed for it. As for what potential sensors the camera could be using, I have found many off-the-shelf sensors that could be re-purposed to build a movie camera (as I was considering building my own at one point). Fairchild Imaging has been making sensors for a long time (they were recently acquired by BAE systems) and they make a sensor that is very, very close to the specifications of the BMCC, which tells me that the sensors are out there.

Here is the link to that sensor, which has the same pixel pitch as the Blackmagic camera, but there is a slight discrepancy between the resolutions, which doesn't quite sell me that this is the exact sensor they are using.

http://www.fairchildimaging.com/products/fpa/cmos/area/sCMOS.htm

Also, while it does seem amazing that they are doing this for the price they are doing it for, I think part of it is that besides the sensor, they've been making similar technology already for awhile, so they've probably been able to greatly reduce the price because of that reason. I mean there are plenty of sensors that exist out there for reasonable prices, but it's the R&D in the camera that makes the price what it is. Here is a square sensor that is a 5K full frame 35mm size and costs between $4000 and $5000, depending on quantity. I'm sure if purchased in high enough quantity you could probably get it even cheaper.

http://www.onsemi.com/PowerSolutions/product.do?id=NOIV1SE025KA-GDC

So the sensors are coming - newer sensors have better technology - and costs are constantly coming down.

June 5, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

Sanyo could have sourced their sensor from these Fairchild Imaging, or another imager maker like it. No big shake either way, really. Good sensor or not, the BCC has other issues to contend with that are more serious, such as lens availability, crop factor, and camera battery situation. Also, they claim that the mini-RCA 3.5mm jacks for ext. audio inputs are balanced, but even if that is true, how are you going to properly shade a 3.5mm cable that carries audio into the camera? There is also an external remote control mini jack there, if I recall correctly, but what goes in there exactly, is it LANC type or what?

June 5, 2012

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Jorge

Honestly, I'm not sure - I wouldn't be the person to ask when it comes to adapting XLR to 1/4" or 1/8" (3.5mm). I think for a camera in this price range, in-camera audio should be scratch at best. I think they are aiming for this to be a camera used with dual system sound - and the sound was added just so you could get something in the camera, not necessarily professional quality audio - because it was the only way to keep the size down. That philosophy is very similar to the RED Scarlet/Epic cameras.

As for the remote port, yes that is going to be LANC with start/stop, iris, etc. I'm really not worried about the battery situation, it's got a standard port with 12V-30V DC. Yes, where to fit the external battery is an issue, but I would think of this camera just like any other camera with a removable battery - but it also happens to have a bonus internal battery. So it's a cinema camera - it's not a DSLR. But you can either kit it out, or not, depending on what you're shooting.

June 6, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

Shouldn't the external battery still power the camera in the event of internal battery's death.

June 16, 2012

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Japetto

Yes it will.

June 16, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

BMD will replace an out of warranty battery for about $80 US.

jb

July 15, 2012

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John Brawley

The storage argument is completely flawed.

First of all, this camera can't use ANY of the hard drives listed. This camera uses flash hard drives. Those have been plummeting in price every year. They weren't really effected by the flooding in Thailand, since they're mostly built elsewhere.

Second of all, this is a temporary adjustment in the market. These companies are too lean and compete so much on price. As supply bounces back, the prices will start dropping through the floor again. That's not even taking into account any technological advances.

June 8, 2012

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Right, it would be a flawed argument if the article was about drives for shooting. I am only talking about hard drives for storage and backing up.

As for the prices - stock is back and prices haven't come down. If you check out the article that I linked to, they are specifically talking about the fact that this could be a new normal because these companies might finally be making a decent profit.

June 8, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

jeorge seems like a hater. i dont think they are using the Sanyo bud. Its more like the BAE Sensor that was acquired thru Fairchild Imaging.

June 9, 2012

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george

Koo:

Publish the formula that explains how to determine hard drive space for a hour or two hour movie.

Regards,

Everette

June 13, 2012

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Everette

Having Been heavily involved in the VFX of a feature film shot on red, I can back up that 15:1 in my experience is a good estimate, we have hours and hours and hours of footage stored inside terabytes and terabytes.

September 26, 2012

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Josh

I'd be really curious to see the price comparisons to backing up on blurays rather than duplicate hard drives. Knowing that the disks wouldn't fail would be a plus, but it'd be more work obviously, burning each disk individually.
From a quick google search I see that a burner costs about a hundred dollars and a 50 pack of blurays (25GB) is about 60 bucks. So that's about 1.25 TB of storage for 60 bucks.

What are you thoughts about that?

August 11, 2012

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From a time constraint point of view it's only good as a second or third backup. I would imagine their might be a way to automate your own software to burn everything you needed and make it fit correctly on discs but it would take absolutely forever to restore from those backups. If you've already got it backed up once it might not be the worst idea in the world, but ideally this is more of a tape backup type deal.

I've thought about it, if I remember correctly when I did the math it was slightly cheaper than tape - but many would also say more unreliable.

August 11, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

Pretty! This was an extremely wonderful article.
Thanks for providing this information.

January 25, 2013

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