Superproducer Ted Hope on...

November 8, 2012

Where is the Blackmagic Cinema Camera? Another Shipping Update from the CEO

The camera was one of the biggest surprises at NAB this year -- a RAW shooting video camera for under $5,000 that used standard SSD drives for storage. The company planned on rolling them out by late July/early August, but one delay pushed that back until later in August, and another until September. A new camera model was even introduced with a Micro 4/3 mount. We were updated on the issues each time there was a serious delay, but now we're into November. It's been a frustrating few months for the team at Blackmagic, but the CEO, Grant Petty, has taken the time to give us a full and complete answer about the current status.

The major issue the team originally faced was explained back in September, and basically the glass covering bonded to the sensor was contaminated from packing materials. That company's testing software was not finding these issues and so the sensors were getting shipped to Blackmagic with the supplier thinking they were 100% free of defects, when in fact, the sensors were completely useless. Now it seems the issue was not resolved at that time, and is quite a bit more complicated than just an error in testing. Even after the supplier supposedly fixed the issue with their quality control, Blackmagic was still getting bad sensors, so they sent in their engineers to figure it out for themselves.

The full message from Grant Petty is available in the Blackmagic forum, but here is a slightly shorter version describing the current issue:

What we found when investigating their processes was quite surprising. Of course we had known the original problem with their quality control checks was their test software had not been modified for color sensors. In the past their sensors were used for scientific use and used in black and white. Also their glass was never used as other customers bonded the lens optics onto the sensor itself. In our case we use the sensor in a conventional way and the customers change lenses. We need the glass on the sensor like all other cameras do.

Also, they had never built a camera using the sensor they make for us. We are the only camera that’s used this sensor and glass combination. It's like designing and building cars but no one at the company has every driven one.

So it turns out their quality process is really only good at testing the semiconductor die. It's no good at testing the quality of the overall sensor product with the glass in front. This meant they could not even see the problems we were seeing, so that’s why we were getting bad parts. We sent them the information on how to build our test setup and yesterday they started testing using it. Now they are seeing the same quality problems we are seeing. This is good as it means we should not get any more bad sensors.

The problem left is that out of a test batch of 30 sensors, only 4 worked well enough so we can build cameras using them. This is bad. So while the good news is they can now see the same problems we see, the question is why is there still contamination on the glass.

The reason is the contaminated glass issue in many ways distracted them from the problems their manufacturer is having bonding the glass to the sensor itself. The sensor supplier now has two sources of glass, and both of them are showing the same problems. The parts without glass are ok, and the problems appear when the glass is bonded to the sensor. If the glass is clean then it's really the company bonding on the glass that are introducing contamination.

This is the current plan for fixing the issue and letting users know when they might be getting a camera:

The sensor supplier is getting some new sensors made at the original supplier, which we should get test data back on late this week. Once we see this we will know if the original supplier can make the parts without contamination and so we can start building cameras again. I don't know why they changed glass bonding companies.

So the current plan is to get some sensors from the original glass bonding company and based on their upgraded testing we should know more at the end of the week if we are going to get a good supply of sensors starting to ship using that new company.

I will let you all know later this week or early next when we get some of these sensors to build cameras with and will know if we can start production full speed again.

Lastly, please take it easy on our PR folks. They want more regular updates and it’s me personally that are stopping that, because I don't want to do fluff updates that don't say anything and I don't want to lie to people.

So the issue is complicated and more involved than it first seems, and just like any company building a camera for the first time (like RED), there are going to be serious issues with manufacturing. While that may not be comforting to people who pre-ordered a camera in April, there isn't much that can be done about the situation that the company isn't already working on. The advantage that a company like Sony or Canon has is that not only have they been doing this a long time, but they are deeply involved in the fabricating of the senors, so they can fix these problems relatively quickly. Since Blackmagic is buying these sensors, there wasn't a lot that they could do at the time when the original problems cropped up.

If you've pre-ordered a camera, the news is frustrating, and depending on the backorder number, it might be a while before you get a camera. Even though some users are getting cameras, it's because they are actually able to build a few that pass their quality control, but the vast majority of the sensors have been useless. I won't venture a guess about when you might be able to get a camera at the moment, but as Grant says, if the situation has been corrected, we should know relatively soon when these cameras can start shipping in volume.

Link: Camera Shipping Update: 11/7 -- Blackmagic Forum

Your Comment

104 Comments

I appreciate BMD's open communication about this, though it has felt more like buyers are backing an expensive Kickstarter project than pre-ordering from an established company.

November 8, 2012

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David S.

if you kickstarted a camera..*cough* i mean preordered a camera.

November 8, 2012

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CLS

No one should have had to pay any money for a pre-order, and if you did, that money is going to the reseller, not to the manufacturer.

November 8, 2012

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

true, i didnt pre-order... anyway, moving on. im sure the guys at red are having a field day.

November 8, 2012

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CLS

Great attempt guys but the execution was poor. Shouldn't have set a release date until you had the camera's all ready to go in your hands. I cancelled my BMCC pre-order the other day and gave it to RED.

November 8, 2012

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I'm pretty sure a lot of other people have either already done the same or will in the near future... well as long as those Red Ones stay in stock of course... which would be till early next week or something. Especially after this news.

November 8, 2012

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Andreas Kopriva

Well its better than shipping them and then they go back....

November 8, 2012

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marklondon

I imagine every company that manufactures camera's at this level and higher all have to go through the same kinda of things. The only difference is that with say Sony for instance, you will never hear about it as they do all of the manufacturing in house and sort all the issues out before they announce a new camera like the F5/F55.

I feel for BMD and it will get sorted, but at no point should a camera delay stop a project. If the camera you want isn't available get the one that is. Or rent. A camera isn't going to make your script any better and the audience isn't going to know what you didn't get because you missed out on some extra resolution or latitude. Stop making excuses and just go make your shit, because guess what, there will be a newer better cheaper camera out next year...

November 8, 2012

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Allan

You're right - it shouldn't delay a project... however there's that small issue of there not really being another camera with those specs at that price point :) (Battle-tested Red Ones sold in limited availability notwithstanding)

November 8, 2012

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Andreas Kopriva

BT R1's would still end up costing you double the BMCC once rigged to shoot.
The used R1's aren't 4k for $4K they are 4K for $4K +$4K in accessories.

November 8, 2012

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AdRath

Sigh.

November 8, 2012

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I feel that.

November 8, 2012

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Dave Kendricken
Writer
Freelancer

I know that feel bro

November 8, 2012

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Austin Mace

What are you sighing about Luke? You're already shooting on RED!

November 8, 2012

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I'm surprised there aren't the same level of complaints about this camera and "Vaporware" claims like there were with RED...though I suppose Blackmagic is somewhat more established than RED was when they started...

November 8, 2012

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I think the camera will come out as it is or better at the end of the day (say sometimes around May or June 2013). The only issue here is there could be other camera coming out already by then which could have taken BMCC place and no one will be interested or paying anymore money for the BMCC. They will miss the "boat".

Imagine Scarlet has dropped its price to USD 6k about the time BMCC is really shipping out? Do you think anyone will still be interested? Unless BMCC is USD 2K at that time.

November 8, 2012

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No point in this camera when you can get a red mx for 4,000...

November 8, 2012

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john jeffreys

ZING!!

November 8, 2012

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Austin Mace

I can think of plenty points to go BMCC. Also can also think of good reasons to get the RED.

November 8, 2012

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Clayton Arnall

but my problem is, you cannot get a RED for $4k. Lens mount, monitor & power alone is another $3k unless I can find used 3rd party. And then the warranty issues as well come into play.

But help me out, I will jump ship if the numbers work out.

Oh, and I only have Canon glass. That is hurting me too...

November 8, 2012

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RED ONE accessories are dirt cheap and all over ebay/internet because the camera has been out shooting daily for almost, what, 5 years I think.

The cheapest config would be body, 48GB redmag (or CF if you have the cf module and red cards), 200 dollar lcd monitor, v mount battery and plate (and charger), and a dovetail/mounting thing. Rent the tripod, lenses, and follow focus units. Slap a nikon mount on there (i see them used for 1-250 all the time) and you are good to go with some nikkors. I'd say like 6 grand to get it going, and thats 4.5k res, 120fps 2k, raw codec

November 8, 2012

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john jeffreys

Actually if a guy is up for it you could still lower the cost by getting second hand RED Drives.
Probably what I'm gonna do.

November 8, 2012

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Raphael Wood

John is right. You do have to spend, but people are overstating how much you "HAVE" to spend.

November 9, 2012

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Lliam

Exactly. A BMCC is gonna take a lot too. That screen is too dim to use, so you still need an external monitor, you still need v-mounts...you still need media (that is cheaper, true, but it's version of RAW is uncompressed, so it isn't even saving you much money.

November 18, 2012

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Daniel Mimura

Because for 4000 you can get this camera and it will shoot. Add another 10k to get the RED up and running.

November 8, 2012

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pat

Between the 5inch monitor and the 48gb Red Mag. You can get a red setup for 6,325. Twice the camera for twice the cost.

November 8, 2012

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Um ... are you powering it on magic fairy dust for free? And with your guns arm cannons are you shooting hand held.

Im no popeye, so that will be at 1,000 for a 30lbs max load tripod.

And you can get a ac adapter for $125. I hope you're only shooting in your living room.

FOR THE LAST TIME IS 4K FOR AT LEAST $8K

November 8, 2012

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ian

LOL, thanks for bringing us back to the ground. Truth is if you can afford a Red, waste no time, go for it. For the rest of us, we have no alternative but to wait until this baby is born.

November 8, 2012

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Bobcat

Bobcat, very well put!! 8K is still a great price for a $25k camera. Unfortunately my budget is $5k, so hurry up baby Alexa!

November 8, 2012

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ian

Same argument goes for the BMCC, kids. You need a ton of rigging, adapters, lenses, SSD's, lots of things to get that thing running comfortably. And when thats all said and done, you'll have to deal with kiddie 2.5k res and 3493848549548x crop factor

November 8, 2012

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john jeffreys

You do not need a ton of rigging, adapters, lenses, ssds for the BMCC to start shooting with it. Just slap on an ef lens and your good to go. Theres IS, and you can use any cheap monopod or teipod or stabilizer for stabilization. "Requiring" a rig for the BMCC is the biggest bullshit ever.

November 8, 2012

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Quobetah

i love how you call people "kids". i saw you on REDuser saying you were hoping your parents would give you half of the money for a MX. HAHAHA. your the "kid", man. Hold old are?

http://www.reduser.net/forum/showthread.php?88300-4K-for-4K&p=1091268#po...

November 8, 2012

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David

Let's move on. Seriously.

November 8, 2012

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

Learn to read, he clearly wrote "2,5 kiddy resolution", not calling names.

November 8, 2012

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Natt

"Same argument goes for the BMCC, kids."

Just correcting you, not that I care about Jeffreys. All he does is troll.

November 8, 2012

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Raphael Wood

Nah. You only need a battery and an SSD. We seen it used handheld already. Lenses? it uses what most of us already have. SSDs? Very cheap compared to RED.

So I don't agree. The RED ONE MX is a great deal but it is not $4k.

November 8, 2012

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Though the transparency is pretty awesome of them, and not a lot of companies express their issues quite so openly, it's still quite lacklustre of them. It's a shame because they will probably lose a lot of potential buyers due to this.
Teething issues are to be expected but announcing, showing off, pricing, and allowing pre-orders for a camera for which the main component is produced by a company which apparently has no experience in creating those components is quite inexcusable in this day and age.
In other words, if you have never driven a car, don't try to build and sell one :)

November 8, 2012

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Andreas Kopriva

I think BMD is trying to do something, heretofore, unheard of in this field of industry.
Attempting to deliver to users an extraordinary imaging instrument for a fraction of the cost of the competition.
They should be applauded and this type of openness is truly commendable.
Be happy we have them and keep your poor-mouthing to a minimum, please.

November 8, 2012

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dixter

Ultimate fail.....we won't see this camera till next year IMO.....that 5D MKIII lower price looks good now.....smh....good luck with this dream

November 8, 2012

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Ced

Actually, Canon just raised the MAP on the Mk III.

It's a shame they didn't just release that 4:2:2 output firmware update now, instead of in 6 months. With the BMCC so far away from being available, the Mk III with 4:2:2 out wouldn't be a bad substitute.

November 8, 2012

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Hummer

Growing pains for a small company at the consumers expense... all of his statements should have been addressed in R&D and QC BEFORE they went to market with the camera. I was looking forward to getting one of these but guess I'll be eyeing something else. Man, for the current owners that experience any warranty issues - good luck with BM's turnaround time as they are struggling to get these manufactured.

November 8, 2012

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Cinepixtor

Well that's really the issue, it was impossible for them to have figured this out in R&D because the company that made the sensor changed who they used for the glass. They didn't experience these issues before when they were developing the camera since the other company was doing a good job. You can't really plan for volume issues if your small batches are working fine, and this was the case right up until shipping.

November 8, 2012

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

Regardless of the circumstances, from a consumer standpoint - this whole experience is a great disappointment. To echo what others have said, it's playing out like a big kickstarter project -

November 9, 2012

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Cinepixtor

Read the entire post front Grant and unfortunately, what came to my mid is that the sensor company just is not used to, ready and set up for building & shipping en mass, sensors for a cinema camera. Their testing equipment was for BW images, their QC is lacking.

I'm just concerned they are the right fit. It is so frustrating since the sensor IS amazing. Blackmagic is an honest and good company with a great vision and heart - they will get this situated. For me, I'm a bit worried that even if my camera comes, it could have underlying issues since this is SO NEW for everyone involved.

I'm seriously thinking about the RED One, I just know accessories and lens mount is gonna be thousands more on top of the $4k. :(

*Maybe for our troubles BLackmagic will offer 60p??* jk...

November 8, 2012

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As others have mentioned, Red One accessories aren't that costly at this point - you'll probably be able to find them pretty cheap on ebay or on their forums (http://www.reduser.net/forum/forumdisplay.php?69-RED-stuff-for-sale).
A friend just bought one (btw, general FYI - for Europe the price drops to 2800 GBP and €3500) and we were doing some calculations -
For Canon glass your only option at this point is the birger Red One mount which is quite costly so it would probably be better to invest in either Zeiss ZF.2 glass or cheap Nikon primes in combination with the Red Nikon Mount ($500).
You'd need a monitor solution, but from what I gather any HDMI or SDI monitor will do, and a battery solution - check out www.globalmediapro.com - go for the 160wh/R (compatible with Red cameras) which will give you around 2 hours of running time (the Red One draws around 80wh).
So as Gordon said - you're looking for something along the lines of 6500 total. But you're getting a mature product which at this point is tried and tested and is good enough for hollywood productions.
Furthermore, if you're Premiere Pro based, post production is a breeze at this point.

November 8, 2012

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Andreas Kopriva

actually in europe its £3318. the $4000 is before tax and the charge you import on top of it. so its $5304 and another $3,000 at the bare minimum(nikkon mount,unless you wanna spend 20k plus for pl set. 3rd party, second hand eveything else) to get it up and running and i dont know if you could even turn up on set for that amount money spent on a package

November 8, 2012

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andy

Sounds like sabotage...

November 8, 2012

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Eric

I canceled my pre-order back in July: I came to my senses and figured it would be better to wait for an "unbiased" review. I'm still excited about that little cam, hoping the next gen be more ergonomic and while keeping that unbelievable low price.

November 8, 2012

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FabDex

Look - we can all still thank the BMC for one thing: waking everyone else up - RED included - to the increasing competitiveness of the market. No doubt in my mind that we now have a RED ONE for $4k because of the fervor this little camera set off earlier this year.

November 8, 2012

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Hummer

I totally agree with you on this. I just hope that they will make it no matter how late because after that many will follow their suite.

November 8, 2012

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