No Rig? No Problem. Handheld Footage with the Blackmagic Cinema Camera
We’ve discussed the ergonomics of the Blackmagic Cinema Camera on numerous occasions, and there are plenty of people who refuse to believe the camera in its current form is capable of any sort of decent handheld without a serious rig. I’m of the persuasion that pretty much any camera has a specific way that it can be held to maximize stability and get great footage without a rig, though there are certain shooting instances where a rig will make your life easier. But what if you can’t afford one, or you need to shoot in a very confined space or without calling attention to yourself — is the Cinema Camera up to the task? John Brawley thinks so, and he shot quite a bit of handheld behind-the-scenes footage on a recent TV show he DP’ed called Puberty Blues. Click through for his thoughts and some of the footage.
This is some of what John said about the footage:
Several shots in this are actual shots as used in the series. Mostly shot with the 15-85 EF-S canon EF and the Leica 35mm F2 and 50mm R mount lenses. The shot’s of the girl on the bed, Ashleigh Cummings, and the couple nearly kissing are both directly taken from scenes where I shot with the camera on set. There is still the occasional pink highlight which is now addressed with V1.1 firmware. This was all shot ProRes Film and had a simple single node grade done in Resolve. This is a good example of what to expect when shooting handheld with a BMCC. The camera had no rig at all and I was just handholding a straight body. I spent a single day shooting this and a day editing it together.
I try to avoid rigs in my own shooting if I can help it when I’m trying to go light and simple, and at NAB this year I was using a 7D without a rig at all, even though I shot a decent amount of footage over the course of the show. It certainly depends on what the situation is, too, because if you need a follow focus, there’s not much you can do about avoiding a rig. Can you see a little bit of rolling shutter in the footage above? Yes, absolutely, but I think if you’re smart about the way you’re shooting, and you have as many points of contact to the camera as possible, you will end up with much smoother footage. It’s also interesting that this was an early pre-production version of the camera, and it did not yet have image stabilization, which would have made these clips even better.
On another note, there is a reason I chose the still image above, and that’s because it shows how beautifully this camera renders skin tones. I feel like I’ve said this a thousand times now, but there isn’t a camera in this price range that has such naturalistic color rendition right out of the camera with minimal tweaking. There are always tradeoffs when it comes to a lower price, however, and the camera does have a bit of rolling shutter and moire — but as John has shown, if you’re careful about what you’re doing, you can avoid both of them.
What do you guys think? For those of you getting the BMCC, are you planning on getting a rig, or will you attempt to handhold without one?