Superproducer Ted Hope on...

November 12, 2013

First Video Comparison of the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera's ProRes & 12 Bit RAW

Just last night, Blackmagic Design released a firmware update for their Pocket Cinema Camera that we've all been waiting for since the day the camera was released several months ago, a firmware update that gave the minuscule camera the ability to shoot compressed RAW CinemaDNG files directly to the internal SD cards. With the recently released update, it was only a matter of time before we started seeing comparison videos of the BMPCC's ProRes shooting mode and the newly possible RAW mode. Here's the first of these videos:

This video comes to us courtesy of filmmaker D.L. Watson. Check it out:

Despite the fact that the rain in this video makes it difficult to analyze the results with a critical eye, the 12 bit RAW still looks a hell of lot better than the camera's native ProRes, especially in terms of fine detail and dynamic range. Without any post sharpening or denoising of any kind, the (lightly) compressed RAW from this tiny little camera looks just as good as its bigger brother, the original BMCC.

It appears that one of the major drawbacks to the RAW shooting option on this camera will be the moire. From the video it's pretty easy to tell that the sensor (combined with the fact that the camera doesn't have an optical low pass filter of any kind) is extremely sensitive to finely detailed portions of the image to the point of extreme moire. Just like we all learned to avoid certain shooting situations with our DSLR's so as to avoid aliasing and moire, we'll have to do the same with the BMPCC.

Of course, the RAW recording option on this camera is limited immensely by the relatively small and slow SD cards, so it certainly won't be ideal (or even practical) for most projects. However, the immediate jump in image quality that can be had from the RAW shooting mode is certainly substantial, and could very well be used to great effect given the right circumstances.

What do you guys think of the video? Let us know in the comments!

Link: D.L. Watson -- Vimeo

Your Comment

124 Comments

You write - "Of course, the RAW recording option on this camera is limited immensely by the relatively small and slow SD cards, so it certainly won’t be ideal (or even practical) for most projects."

Sandisk extreme PRO 95Mbps cards work just fine for RAW. 20 minutes on a 64gb card. Where's the problem.

November 12, 2013

0
Reply
Mic

I guess slow isn't really an issue, but size certainly is. If you want to shoot for a full day out in the field, you're going to need a whole lot of those cards, which certainly aren't cheap, at least compared to every other SD card on the market.

It's one of those things that you'll have to use sparingly, much like film stock.

November 12, 2013

0
Reply
avatar
Robert Hardy
Writer
Cinematographer / Editor

Wouldn't it be fairly easy to offload these cards with a USB3 card reader or directly to a laptop once they're full, format and reuse them? You mightn't need more than 3-4 to do the job. Just pass them to someone trustworthy, back them up as soon as they're copied over and you're good to go.

November 12, 2013

-1
Reply

Yes... I've been using 5 32gb Sandisk Extreme Pros shooting RAW on the pocket for a few weeks, never had an issue with offloading from the SD slot on my Macbook Retina to a USB3.0 hard drive.

It's fast enough despite the individual weight of the DNG files.

Would prefer 64gbs for narrative, sometimes you just need to do 3-5 minute takes, one 32gb card's 10 minutes of footage.

November 12, 2013

1
Reply
Kholi

If you've got a dedicated DIT, then constantly offloading cards isn't a problem. But this camera is priced for the kind of filmmakers who are either doing things themselves or with a very limited crew. In that case, having to constantly offload cards is likely more hassle than it's worth just to have RAW images.

November 13, 2013

0
Reply
avatar
Robert Hardy
Writer
Cinematographer / Editor

I've done many shoots one-man-band, just offloading cards really isn't an issue. You set it to offload, leave it, come back in between takes, duplicate, shoot more, repeat.

It's great to have someone there doing that and managing it.

There were filmmakers that shot Super16 one-man-band... why is this being labeled as difficult or expensive?

November 13, 2013

-1
Reply
Kholi

Kholi, you are asking "why are people saying that this is difficult or expensive" when comparing it to something that is difficult and expensive. Just sayin'.

November 13, 2013

-1
Reply
Kraig

I'm comparing it to something that's far more cumbersome, difficult, and expensive to shoot... I'd be surprised if anyone actually thought that it was as expensive or taxing to shoot and post RAW from this camera as it would be S16 Film.

... Shocked, even.

November 13, 2013

0
Reply
Kholi

I guess it warrants mentioning: I got myself a portable copier when I first bought my 7D way back in 2009 that I've been using as my DIT. I had just enough money to buy the kit, and couldn't afford larger capacities of the faster cards, which initially everyone said were a requirement if you didn't want dropped frames. So I bought this:

http://www.hypershop.com/HyperDrive/UDMA-2/

The first Hyperdrive UDMA was meant solely for photographers, so you could view images, even RAW files, but not videos. All the folders are named sequentially, and will automatically be checked for any copying errors. You can also script stuff to sort them, which isn't that hard to do. I'd take a picture to have a browse-able take library that I could go through after. You can also swap out the harddrive yourself, at home, for a bigger one if you want to upgrade. UDMA 2 will let you copy and play files wirelessly over wifi, even via iOS or Android. You can also get a USB OTG adapter, and just attach a harddrive to copy directly off the device, and verify things just as you would with the card. they're great investments I think, and take a lot of stress out of the shooting process. and it supports practically any and every memory card you could possibly be using for photography or otherwise.

November 13, 2013

0
Reply
Salik

Don't shoot Raw if you don't have the process to back it up, shoot pro res??? hiring a DIT to work for free is pretty normal on a zero budget shoot, on a shoot with a budget… hire a DIT??. A DIT should be in place on any shoot or at least a trust worthy crew member who backs up the shoot. When will Raw acquisition ever be easy to shoot on where a DIT process wouldn't be needed? the films safety is always going to be a concern no matter how technology advances. Backing up your footage is the norm, this is a non issue

November 14, 2013

0
Reply
Anthony Brown

Nothing wrong with the wording there - 'slow' refers to (at a guess) 99% of all SD cards currently available in the market. There are only a select few that are fast enough to be able to write raw and they are certainly not cheap. So yeah that IS a problem as it rules out its usefulness in so many situations, especially considering the barley noticeable gains you get by shooting in it. Dont get me wrong RAW is great and is so amazing to have the option, but I doubt many will end up using it nearly as much as they think they will.

November 12, 2013

0
Reply
Peter

Am I the only one who likes the ProRes more?

I cant say that the RAW is an epic win.

November 12, 2013

-1
Reply

Yes. RAW is sharper and has more in highlights.

November 12, 2013

0
Reply
Natt

Yes, I also see much better the prores. Raw has more moiré, and doesn`t have more dynamic range, it´s just an illusion made but the heavy tone maping applied by the "videographer". Prores looks so much better!!
This is the problem of raw, people don`t know how to develop and end up doing HDR. Just ugly.

November 15, 2013

0
Reply

okay usually moire is not that big of a deal to me, but the one in the video is crazy. Need to see more tests on this!

November 12, 2013

0
Reply
Migs

Very surprised at the difference between the two. I was expecting something much more subtle. However, the raw workflow is still less than ideal. Hopefully the Mac Pro will change that.

November 12, 2013

0
Reply
Mike

What?
The cards are the problem with the camera, if you have workflow issues in post, then that's "your problem" as they say.

November 13, 2013

0
Reply
Fresno Bob

Posted on the video as well, but… does Resolve add sharpening as part of its raw interpretation? Or Adobe's tools? If you sharpen the ProRes with a light unsharp mask, does it look a lot closer to the raw?

November 12, 2013

0
Reply

I think people need to remember that a 500' mag only ran for about 5mins of footage with 35mm. The BMPCC is a great advancement in camera tech.

November 12, 2013

-1
Reply
Erik

I've never come across a 500' 35mm mag

November 13, 2013

0
Reply

I don't think either looks all that sharp, compared to even a downsampled 4K footage. A certain well known blogger said today, referring to the NAB'14 and the various 4K news and rumors, that he thinks "1080p has less than six months to live". By then, a 1080p pro tier camera will be an anachronism.

November 12, 2013

1
Reply
DLD

I'm tired of hearing this whole, 1080p is dead argument, it's not and it won't be in six monthd regardless of what anyone persons opinion is. It looks sharp enough for me. Resolution isn't the only thing important to an image. Plus any lack of sharpness can be attributed to a lot of things other than resolution, maybe it's the lens. Red have everybody convinced you must shoot on 4K, otherwise it's not good enough. Well maybe Indie film makers like to feel better having 4K, but there are plenty of Hollywood Movies still being shot in 1080p. Skyfall was shot on 1080p, if it's good enough for James Bond, it's good enough for me. I'm not anti 4K but people need to stop spreading rubbish. Never have I watched a movie shot at 1080p that was done professionally and thought it wasn't good enough.

November 12, 2013

1
Reply
Shaun Fontaine

Skyfall was Arri RAW, Arri RAW is around 3K.

November 12, 2013

-1
Reply
Kholi

Skyfall was 2.8k, finished in 2k

November 13, 2013

0
Reply
Fresno Bob

"Around" means somewhere in the range of 3K.

Sometimes I just don't know....

November 13, 2013

0
Reply
Kholi

No it wasn't, like Deakins previous film "In Time" (which was shot at 1080p) it was mastered at 4K.

November 14, 2013

0
Reply
Grant

I agree. Small correction, Skyfall was 2.5K. (2432 x 1366). Still 1080 raw is quite powerful. Most main stream films are scanned to 2.5K. If your target audience is not IMAX viewers, forget 4K for now. Most theaters only project in 2.5K. This is as good as it gets for what you pay, at least now. Having the power of 12 bit raw is phenomenal. Of course with BMPC, you'll have limitations like moire, rolling shutter, battery life etc. But you get creative within the limitations. Well crafted 1080 shots will comfortably upscale to 2.5K. Consider this. '28 days later' used upscaled DV shots and it still looks great. So did 'Open Water' and 'Dancer in the dark'.

12 bit raw + MFT lenses. It screams one message: affordability. What more can an indie filmmaker ask? It opens up so many possibilities.

Before 4K, I'd like higher frame rates.

November 12, 2013

0
Reply

I'm not arguing against it, just saying that it wasn't 1080.

I've been shooting with the Pocket RAW update for a month now, anyone doubting 1080 RAW at this price point should pick up a camera and test it out.

Uprez it to 2.5K if that's what you want, and while you're at it, uprez the 2.5K to 4K.

You start to realize why BMD did not put OLPFs in the camera, despite the moire backlash.

November 12, 2013

-1
Reply
Kholi

Actually I was responding to Shaun. :-) Slow typer.

November 12, 2013

0
Reply

Slight correction... standard Cinema DCP's are 2K.... no real 2.5K exists for deliverables. The projectors in 2K cinemas have a native maximum resolution of 2048x1080. 1.85:1 (aka FLAT) movies are mastered to 1998x1080 and 2.39:1 movies are mastered to 2048x858.

So, unless you are going to a cinema using a 4K projection system showing a 4K DCP... you are essentially viewing what is just slightly higher than 1920x1080p HDTV-resolution (1.77:1 native resolution).

Now, that being said. While movies like Baraka and Lord of the Rings look stunning in 2K and 1080p formats. Most people (by that I mean most consumers) have only seen a properly calibrated 1080p image on cinema. They buy FULL HD TV's. Set it to "dynamic contrast", add some frame-blending tech to make it 500Hz. And some cranked up noise-reduction and ambilight for good measure. Then they feed it horribly compressed 1080p video from their iPhones and blame the resulting smeary mess all on the resolution.

I finally had the oppurtunity to witness a UHD-screen on a electronic-sales floor. And yes. It looked better than the mess they showed on the "standard" fullHD-screens along-side it. But so would my properly calibrated 720p rear-projection-system with slight blue hues burnt into the lower corners. And still it didn't look as good as the Barco 2K projector fed with a properly mastered 1080p BluRay source....

An analogy would be to compare it to a regular driver complaining about the performance of a mclaren F1 car and wishing it was the new super-car from another competitor only because the only people he has seen drive the mclaren is shitty drivers...

or in short... handled properly, a 1080p sourced screening will look far better than a poorly handled UHD or 4K screening...

November 13, 2013

0
Reply

Great explaination, analogies, and execution of words.

Plenty of films have been shot 1080 and some of them handled in post correctily look better than some of the indie crap shot on RED cameras. Blue ray is not far off from 1080p aswell.

Also all this talk about RAW is not that big of a deal blah blah, but people forget that with RAW you are also getting 12bit color space, this is amazing, there is a vast and big difference between 10 bit and 12bit.

The RAW update was meant for medium or small productions who transfer files over to prrofessional color graders for features and tv productions, not home youtube videos.

November 13, 2013

1
Reply
JAYE

Bad example cuz McLaren F1 sux this year! Not a single podium. Poor Jenson.

But, I joke. I get your point.

November 20, 2013

0
Reply
Daniel Mimura

But some of Skyfall was shot in 4K.

I'm pretty sure it's true that 4K is the future of movie making. Higher resolution is too pretty to think it isn't. But 6 months is way to soon. I think DLD was just quoting that blogger and doesn't really think that himself.

But hey, if 1080p is dead it will make the price of the AG/AF100 drop like a rock, and I have some friends across America that will love to own a few.

November 12, 2013

0
Reply
Gene

Oh, BTW, I don't like 4K because Red has fooled me or something. I like 4K because it is awesome. There is nothing in the 1080p world of video that is its equal. And I'll say this preemptively so to head off some replies---i don't think 1080p looks bad. I think it looks great. But 4K, and even more so 6K, trump it.

November 13, 2013

0
Reply
Gene

Again with the 4K psychosis on a post about a 1080p camera.. lol.. Amazing. Why stop at 4K, or 6K? Why not go on and on how 10K will blow 1080p out of orbit?? Wow.

November 13, 2013

-1
Reply
Erin

4K was brought up by someone else. I was responding to it. Play attention to the ball.

By the way 16K is feasible. Can't wait to see it.

720p is still available. It's ok to go there and stay if you like. No one is forcing you to like higher resolution. I don't see any complaints about people leaving 720p to go to 1080p. Why do you like 1080p anyway? Why haven't you found outlandish fault with those that have left 720p for the higher resolution of 1080p?? How is it 1080p has found safe sailing in your sea of disapproval over progress? When 4K is brought up some feel the need to to start using the worst kind of images to describe those who like it. Psychotic, really? Psychotic? Sheesh dude.

Sorry to go on but you guys are unbelievable.

November 13, 2013

-1
Reply
Gene

I think 2.5K is the perfect resolution for the moment (until it goes up to 4K and then 8K) and I think, as I have posted in this thread, major manufacturers should have it available (with a decent output rate too, though not necessarily Pro-Res HQ 180 Mbps) at under $1,500. IMO, that allows for a perfect combination of resolution and workflow. Hopefully, a decent dynamic range and higher FPS will follow the resolution down the price points.
.
As a side story, I stumbled onto a D-4 vs. OMD EM-1 "shootout" on YouTube today but, as I was watching a considerable bit of nonsense between the hosts of the clip, I was nonetheless very impressed by the quality of footage that they shot in and around Portland. At the end of the video, as the credits rolled, it was revealed that the entire episode was recorded on GH3. Which is why it remains my favorite "budget" camera.
.
PS. Alexa's horizontal is 2880 x whatever aspect one is interested in. It does get processed down to ~ 2.5K but, as been mentioned many times before, Arri uses their own custom designed sensor and processing software to get the final image. In other words, not all 2.5K sensors are created equally.

November 13, 2013

0
Reply
DLD

"But some of Skyfall was shot in 4K."

I thought only the overhead crane shots of the train were shot on Red?

I watched 'Skyfall' on Blu-Ray and thought it looked incredibly sharp, although too colourful maybe.

November 13, 2013

1
Reply
Daniel

I like more color myself. It's a movie, story telling. I like that the story is colorful. Makes it a little more worth my dollars and time to see the beauty.

November 13, 2013

0
Reply
Gene

The aerial shots in skyfall were the only shots done with the red epic because of weight restrictions. Roger said that he would have rather used an Alexa for those shots.

he talks about the alexa and resolution more in depth here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBvA1ChExAI

November 13, 2013

1
Reply
Luke Lasley

Majority of skyfall was shot on alexa at 2.5k

Most movie productions projections are 2k, unless you are sitting really close to the screen, the pixels will not make that much of a difference,

The most used digital CAMERA today technically is not an ALEXA, its the sony f35/panavision genesis which is used on many tv productions, has been used on plenty of motion pictures and recently in the past few years have been replaced with alexas.

4 pocket cameras and you got yourself a true professional production company with additon to lens, media, and lighting of course, but 12bit color space for under a grand

THANK YOU BLACK MAGIC camera

November 13, 2013

0
Reply
JAYE

Most movies aren't super sharp. I don't see why people demand that so much when movies you watch have soft edges. Much more pleasing to the eye

November 13, 2013

-1
Reply
Hussain Al-Khalil

Yeah not really sold on 1080p being dead in 6 months - Obviously it depends on what you are shooting, but 'Proper' 1080p or 2.5k with good glass is wicked sharp! Most people I know who shoot on RED or F65 etc use softening filters anyway! - some things I think make a camera great, is the usability, global shutter, colour science, DR, price, colour depth, low light ability, frame rate - not necessarily resolution.

Yes we will get there, 4K will become the norm, then 8K will be the next buzz word - But first lets fine tune and get the most out of 1080p/2k.

November 13, 2013

0
Reply
Lloyd

"But first lets fine tune and get the most out of 1080p/2k".

Agreed. I don't see 12-bit, 1080P being a limitation for a long awhile. It will be just one of a wide array of capture options that will coexist with higher and even a of the few of the lower codecs with legs.

November 13, 2013

1
Reply
Marc B

If it's good enough for Sam Mendes, it's good enough for me :-)

November 13, 2013

0
Reply
tony

lol, I hear back in 2008 that dv will live long, and it's almost gone by 2010, even in russian tv segment. true 1080 became a reality in late 2011, before that it's only marketing sheet. so as 4k hysteria.

November 13, 2013

0
Reply
Oleg

Privet. What's the tech like in the current Russian TV? I have seen a few recent TV films produced by the main channels and, often, the video quality - including lighting - is just terrible. I like"Gagarin's" look but it seems to have been shot on a much higher budget.

November 14, 2013

-1
Reply
DLD

Why is there Moire in the radiator grille when it's supposed to be RAW? Have I just grown too accustomed to Red material.

November 12, 2013

1
Reply
Jesper

That's due partly to the lack of an OLPF, but I suspect it's also due to Adobe's terrible debayering...I'd love to see this processed with Resolve using the same film gamma the ProRes was shot in.

November 13, 2013

0
Reply
Gabe

"I understand that having an uncompressed file gives you more leeway to do color correction."

The PC does not record uncompressed video. The video is compressed, but not so much as to visually degrade it.

Does anyone know what the PC's compression ratio is?

"I suspect it’s also due to Adobe’s terrible debayering…"

At the Adobe site they specifically state they only support UNCOMPRESSED CinemaDNG. So it would seem that Adobe deBayering could not account for the Moire.

November 13, 2013

0
Reply
Steve Mullen

Pages