It's happening! It's finally happening! The Digital Bolex team, after their years-long journey from conception to finalized product, has at last released their D16 digital cinema camera into the world. We've already seen the first major review from our very own Joe Marine. However, Joe (Rubinstein) and Elle have been making their way around the country debuting the camera and putting it into the hands of eagerly awaiting filmmakers. Some of the first filmmakers to put the D16 into their workflow are the extremely funny folks over at 5SecondFilms, a Los Angeles-based comedic filmmaking troupe. In a guest post on the Digital Bolex blog, 5Second filmmaker, Tim Ciancio talks about his first practical experience with the D16.
First and foremost, for those of you who are unfamiliar with 5SecondFilms, the premise is exactly what it sounds like: a joke or a complete story is told entirely in 120 frames. That's one hell of a task just in itself, but to add to the mayhem, the 5SecondFilms team has been making one film per weekday for the past 5 or so years.
Here are a few of the better 5SecondFilms compilation videos. Some of these are definitely NSFW:
Now that you've got an idea of what the 5SecondFilms team does with their time, it should be clear that they are constantly in a never-ending cycle of production and post in order to produce a new video every weekday. Needless to say, simplicity of use and an easy post workflow are critical pieces of their operation. Here's what Tim says about how the D16 fits into the 5SecondFilms production environment:
We mounted a SmallHD HDMI monitor to the top shoe mount and fired it up with c-mount lenses that Joe had supplied. I set the custom jog wheels on the side of the camera to control ISO and shutter speed. As a regular Canon 5D shooter, I needed these settings available on the fly. I plugged in the mounted shotgun mic directly into the XLR inputs on the side of the camera body with a sigh of relief. Finally a standardized feature on a camera that I’ve missed dearly over the past years by being accustomed to having to use an external recorder with DSLR production. Each input has it’s own independent input volume control on the side for quick adjustments, and supplies phantom power.
As much as we've talked about the Digital Bolex in the past, most of those posts have been focused squarely on either the image quality or the ergonomics of the camera, and not the astounding audio features that are built directly into the D16. The Digital Bolex features 2 balanced XLR inputs that deliver 24 bit 96kHz audio, which is actually superior to some of the cheaper audio recorders on the market. As such, depending on the scale of the audio in your production, the D16 can alleviate the need for an external recorder in your production workflow, which also makes post production a bit more streamlined.
Speaking of post production, here's what Tim had to say about the post workflow and the D16's Cinema DNG files:
We move fast as a production team and I was worried about the post workflow taking up valuable time out of our day. We dumped the footage to an external drive using a USB 3.0 connection and using the Digital Bolex software on a MacBook Pro and got our first looks at the takes. The program was surprisingly simple to use with an intuitive layout with all the color tools available on one surface. After a simple color grade adjustment of the mid-tones for skin, and adjusting the sharpen to bring out the detail I output the clips using ProRes 444 in 2k 16:9 (2048×1152) for editing in FCP 7.
It seems safe to say at this point that Pomfort's ClipHouse software is the perfect tool to accompany the Digital Bolex in that it mirrors the simplicity and functionality of the camera itself. It's also interesting to see the D16 being used in a run-and-gun style production and post environment where speed and ease of use are absolutely key. It seems rather counterintuitive that a s16 RAW camera could fit into a workflow like that, but the Digital Bolex is proving to be a fantastically useful tool in a good many shooting situations.
With that, here's the 5SecondFilm that was recently shot on the D16:
And here are Tim's final thoughts on the Digital Bolex:
Overall the camera had all the welcomed functionality of a run and gun camera body with the flexibility of shooting in a RAW format for post. The workflow was surprisingly quick and easy in comparison to our usual DSLR, and RED camera sync and transcode workflows.
What do you guys think? Is the D16 going to prove a valuable tool for filmmakers on the run? Will the audio features of the camera help small productions rid themselves of dual-system workflows? Let us know in the comments!