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John Brawley Shows off More Graded Material from the Blackmagic Cinema Camera

07.24.12 @ 12:06PM Tags : , , ,

While most of us have been waiting to see new material from the Blackmagic Cinema Camera, John Brawley has been shooting a great deal of footage with the camera. If you’ve been following his blog or following him on Twitter (he also frequents this site), you’ll know that the camera has been thrown up against C300s and Alexas, and it has fared extremely well. At times he has even referred to it as a baby Alexa. This is not a toy, this is a proper digital cinema camera, and it has the image quality to back up its name. Though the first footage was released all the way back in April, John has now released some graded material on his blog, which you can check out below.

These are some still images from the footage is in the process of being graded. All of these were shot in ProRes HQ Log with Zeiss CP.2s (click on the images for the full size file):

It’s amazing what can be pulled out of the image. The skin tones are nice and natural and the red lipstick and blouse have been accentuated. At times when using these types of log profiles on Canon cameras (or many compressed format cameras really), selectively bringing out particular colors can lead to a great deal of noise, and the image falls apart.

Taking a look at all of the footage that has been released and then looking at these graded still images, it’s clear that Blackmagic is making color, and not specs, a priority. In the end, that’s really what matters. What does the image look like? Granted, these are only still images, but you can see a lot in these, even in their compressed form. Opening up the ungraded still in Photoshop, I found that there is a tremendous amount of headroom, and the skin tones have an incredible ability to remain clean and natural even when the rest of the image is pushed to the extreme.

Here are two more:

In the photos above there is a lot of detail in the shadows, and you’ve still got highlights that haven’t blown. That is extremely difficult to get naturally unless the camera has a tremendous amount of dynamic range. Things are surely going to get more interesting over the next year as other companies try to compete with this baby Alexa.

For more of these stills and details about this shoot and the lenses used, head on over to John Brawley’s blog. Hopefully he will be allowed to release more footage soon, as these stills are only a glimpse of what this camera is really capable of.

[via John Brawley Blog]


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Description image 54 COMMENTS

  • This camera is looking better and better by the minute. Damn, I can’t wait to get it in my hands!

    • KahL, I completely agree! This will definitely be the route I go before deciding if I want the C300.

      • Before you make that decision, consider ergonomics as well. It all depends on what you’re after: an extremely adaptable image (raw 4:4:4) in post shot with a clunky brick, or a very gradeable image (8-bit 4:2:2) shot with a hasselblatt style camera that can be handled in any configuration.

  • It’s nice to see where BM’s priority is right now or last as it has been perceived so far. The art of color in film with the BM camera could bring about some great new short films within the next year, and who knows what they will come up with next equipment wise. It is easy to complain about the camera’s limitations, thats what we as consumers do, we ache for a better product, but its nice to see they are concentrating on the little things like the codecs and color. I have to say, I am pretty optimistic about this camera, despite the limitations it has spec wise. It may take up more space to shoot RAW, but that may remind us to do our shots right the first time and conserve hard drive space rather than having unnecessary amounts of video stored.

  • john jeffreys on 07.24.12 @ 1:30PM


    you know what, maybe I want one, just a little bit

  • The few samples of footage and stills that have been released get me more excited to see the finished camera. Got mine on preorder and can’t wait to see what the camera turns out to be. Either way I think it spells a new era of cheaper, high quality digital cameras.

  • Ben Incahutz on 07.24.12 @ 2:34PM

    Just curious. How much better would the BCC be over the AF100 with a black magic Hyperdeck shuttle? The AF100 has a larger sensor and hdmi/hd-sdi out which can interface with the hyderdeck so shouldnt the Af100 provide a better final image?

    • the AF100 only has 8 bit sdi out

    • The AF100 sensor is very close to the same size, also with 8bit out it will be much lower quality than the 10bit ProRes of the BMCC, and even another step down from the RAW option. DR is also 13stops out of the box on the BMCC so you could easily push that to 13.5 if you know what you’re doing, the AF100 has around 10 maybe 11 stops if you know how to work it right.

      Both cameras are just the box that collects your image though, if you light it, dec it and frame it right you can make any camera look stunning. The Zacuto shootout 2012 proved that.

      Personally I can’t wait to get my hands on the camera! I am third in line at my retailer with my preorder so here’s to hoping they get at least 3 in and I get one right away! Can’t wait to shoot with it

  • Will the BBC put the BM Cinema Camera on their approved camera list?

    • uncompressed 1920×1080 10-bit 4:2:2 far exceeds the BBC’s 50MBps requirement…so I would think yes.

      But then Black Magic Design is an Australian company, so prolly not.

  • A lot of green grain on the last picture I find

  • the camera is suppose to be release in 6 days and all they can release is stills..i have some frame grabs from my canon dslr and it looks filmic like that too. i dunno man…..hhmm..

    • john jeffreys on 07.24.12 @ 4:15PM

      You cant grade dslr footage like that without it falling apart.

    • The release is going to be very gradual thanks to the demand, so most people who pre-ordered immediately probably won’t see cameras until the first or second week of August, and then those who pre-ordered later could even see it going well into September/October.

  • Why isn’t anyone talking about the horrendous crop factor on this camera?

    • john jeffreys on 07.24.12 @ 4:46PM

      We all know about it, but these screenshots kinda soften the harshness of that fact. Its still a camera of much compromise, but the compromise is much more palatable than the traditional DSLR ones that we all deal with every day.

      • I don’t know, man. I have a hard time with the 1.7x crop on my T3i as is is. The BMCC seems like an excellent B camera, but I can’t imagine actually shooting a film with this.

        • We’ve got plenty of articles talking about the crop factor and possible lenses to get around it. Check out the archives for the Cinema Camera by clicking on any of the tags right below the heading of the article.

          I think of all of the compromises, having a smaller sensor is much more preferred over a bad codec and soft video. This is going to be an A-camera for many. Fast wides will be hard, I’ve already talked about that many times, but there are lenses in existence that should be able to let you do pretty much everything you already do normally (with the exception of ultra wide angle – which is a specialty anyway).

          • I guess if you’re shooting with sets, it’s not that much of a problem. But shooting with practical locations seems troublesome.
            Or a dialogue scene in a car? You’d need a super super wide angle just to get the driver and passenger in the shot. A 35mm lens on a 5D is an 80mm lens on the BMCC. It just doesn’t seem like a good camera for real low budget stuff.

            • On a camera like the 5D, going wider than 24mm at shorter distances gives pretty ridiculous distortion. Faces don’t look like faces anymore closer than 3-5 feet or so. The wide issue is not a problem, it’s the wide + fast issue. I’ll give you that, and I keep saying that whenever I talk about the camera – wides are fine, fast wides are an issue. One of the better solutions we have is going to be the Tokina 11-16mm, which at f/2.8 isn’t going to be a speed demon, but if you’re shooting outside or you’re lighting I don’t see that being much of an issue. I shot a feature with a full frame field of view never using a lens indoors wider than 28mm and faster than f/2.8. I also shot in a car with a 24mm lens on a Canon 7D, and the camera was placed in the windshield, and there was still a bit of distortion that wasn’t flattering. So maybe it’s a personal preference thing, but I don’t see shooting in a car to be much of an issue.

              Most of them aren’t fast, but 8mm lenses exist if you’re really worried about not being able to get wide – and some of them actually aren’t that expensive. 18mm or so on full frame is insanely wide, so I also don’t really see a problem there, either.

              A Tokina 11-16mm, any 24mm 1.4, and a 35mm 1.4/50mm 1.4 have basically the exact same field of view on the Cinema Camera as the lenses I used on a no-budget feature (under $3,000). The only thing I would have liked is an extra stop at the wider end, but I chose a lens with less distortion over a faster lens (because distortion is much harder to fix than underexposed footage).

              There are lower-priced options for all of these focal lengths, but it really comes down how much you’re willing to sacrifice performance – I know that you can get most of the focal lengths and speed you need for only $1,000 or so.

        • john jeffreys on 07.24.12 @ 5:17PM

          1.6x is pretty easy to deal with. APS-C is essentially super 35 film, and there are tons of lenses to choose from.

          Maybe once many people get their hands on BMC’s there will be a flurry of low cost, faster wide angle lenses or lenses specifically designed with the 2.3x crop in mind.

          • It’s 2.3x? That’s not as big of a deal breaker as I thought it was. I mean, a bit tricky if you don’t wanna use the Tokina 11-16 or something along those lines but if you’re using expensive cine lenses anyway I’m sure you can find a prime in that range that’s just about as expensive as your other lenses anyway. Am I wrong? I haven’t used cine lenses before.

        • You’ve probably heard this already…

          The sensor’s larger than S16. Check out any S16 major motion picture in the last three years, none of which had any issue shooting a smaller plane as A camera.

          Most of the talk and fear of smaller sensors is speculation and/or inexperience. Not saying larger sensors don’t have advantages, but smaller doesn’t mean it’s a disadvantage, just a different aesthetic.

          • It’s not the sensor size alone that bothers me about this camera. It’s the combination of a 4/3rds ish sensor with a 35mm lens mount. It would have been fine if they decided to use a mount that was more in sync with the sensor choice. You wouldn’t want to shoot on a S16 camera that had a 35mm lens mount.

  • This is getting pretty exciting. So my question is who is going to get this camera first and make something with it besides John.

    • Well Dave, I have a script I’m working on for a music video about our nation healing. I’d like it to be done for 9/11 – but I may not have my BMCC in time :( 5dmkII it is unless Blackmagic comes through…

  • These definitely excite me, that’s it. I’m just on the pre-order bandwagon. I wish I lived in the States!

  • Compression and colour look extremely impressive. I’m concerned about noise and aliasing/moire though; look at the drapes at the top left of that wide shot for aliasing, or her hair in the CU for a bit of rainbow interference.

    • The image will be far, far better than any Canon DSLR can deliver at the moment. Even the 5D III has issues with softness and compression that ruins gradability.

      I really actually can’t wait to retire my 60D *back* to stills and shoot with this, except for slow-motion obviously.

    • John Brawley on 07.28.12 @ 3:19AM

      There is noise with the camera. It’s very HONEST in that regard. You get to see everything because they don’t do any processing of the signal, even in ProRes.

      A lot of DSLR’s are doing all sorts of NR reduction under the hood which you have no control over. This way, you can simply so the NR yourself, using either the included RESOLVE (which has a very good NR) or even other excellent apps like Neat Video.


  • Now the DOF mystery is solved..that looks awesome even at f2.8!

  • These are exciting times. I’m looking forward to seeing some of the products that will appear when this camera is released. Although it is a compromise in several ways, I think BMD have ticked all the right boxes for the price!

  • Seriously, this constant 5D fullframe with super fast primes comparison is for wedding filmers who want to single out a ring, a tie or a smile.
    Who shoots movies with a 5D at 1.4?

  • This Footage has me antsy to get my hands on it. make sure you all check out for all of your black magic Cinema camera accessories.

  • I’m getting a little bit too excited about this camera.

  • Full disclosure, I also have a BMCC on pre-order, so take that in mind when you read the following, however, I am not going to become some BMCC fanboy in the vain of RED fanboys and believe that all cameras are simply tools that have strengths and weaknesses.

    If you follow the link to Brawley’s blog, you will get a better description with more photo comparisons. One thing that should be noted is that these frame grabs are NOT from raw footage but ProRes in film mode. Not only that, Brawley explains that the camera he was using was still a work in progress and that Blackmagic was still tweaking things at the time this short was shot. Whoever wrote this blog maybe should have clarified that.

    Now, the interesting thing is that next to Brawley’s blog post is a couple of links with the name of a short called “Sharks”, of which these frame grabs come from. Brawley never says what camera he uses, but the shots look suspiciously similar to the farm grabs. Is this actual footage from the BMCC? There are two color interpretations of the same piece.

    • I wonder who wrote this post…

      There is an entirely new post about this footage that explains all of those things. The other point, is that Blackmagic wanted to hold off releasing more footage until they were happy with where the camera was in terms of hardware/software. They may still have been tweaking after this was shot, but I’m under the impression that the camera was very close to release form by the time this was shot.

    • John Brawley on 07.28.12 @ 9:09PM

      Not sure what you’re asking here fella.

      The frame grabs and the two current (more to come) graded versions of the footage were all form the same material. ProRes in “film” mode, which is BMD’s version of LOG.


  • how long does grading take?

    is this where u crush blacks to avoid noise? what other NR techniques in RESOLVE or whatever u use?

  • so 5d3 high ISO video may look cleaner at first, but u prefer control of NR?

    is NR good in RESOLVE? as good as NEAT VIDEO?

  • Cons
    1. Maximum frame rate is 30/25fps!
    2. Ergonomics for Jungle style shooting (That will be solved later by third party manufacturers)
    3. No ND filter

    1. BMD did their home work to balance sensor, color and record formats
    2. Cost
    3. Seamless workflow capability

  • Dpes FLASHBANDING (horizontal bands when camera flashes go off in front of lens) appear on BMCC (as with other CMOS cameras)?

  • is NR fast in Resolve?
    can Resolve only handle RAW files or will it work with Prores?

    does grading take long? hours or minutes?
    can noise on the lady’s leg & chair be removed?

    if more low light detail can be recovered in post is BM better than 5d3?