The pandemic wreaked havoc on us all, and while it may seem silly to think about a TV production surviving during the lockdown, entertainment during moments of difficulty is important. 

But there’s also another side to it. A production also creates jobs. It keeps people working, which during the lockdown, was absolutely necessary for creatives.

This is where Blackmagic Design and director of photography, David Harp, came to save the day for Season 2 of All Rise

By relying on the Blackmagic Pocket 6K, the production ran full steam ahead without shutting down once. 

How did they do it? We spoke with Harp to get some answers straight from the source.

'All Rise' Season 2 Episode 2 Still'All Rise' Season 2 Episode 2 StillCredit: CBS Entertainment

Lockdown, Shmockdown

To keep the cast and crew safe during the filming of Season 2, the All Rise production team went above and beyond. Since pre-production started in the middle of lockdown, a system that went above and beyond the standard COVID-19 protocols was created. 

Only two camera assistants and one dolly grip were allowed on set with the cast. Everyone else was packed into video village.

Those who did interact with the cast had to wear surgical gowns and gloves in addition to masks and visors. 

“It was insane but the producers decided we would go one step above to protect everyone,” Harp said.

Almost every other show on the Warner Bros. lot got shut down. But not All Rise.

Director of Photography David Harp w/ BMPCC 6K on set of All RiseDP David Harp setting up BMPCC 6K on set of 'All Rise'Credit: David Harp & CBS Entertainment

The Camera Department

Beyond the strict levels of safety, the camera department relied heavily on the BMPCC 6K for all of its work. 

So much so that they bought 27 of them for the production, and no other camera was used. 

A self-professed film guy, Harp discovered the 6K when shooting a sizzle reel for a pilot. They worked so well, he knew they were the answer to keep Season 2 of All Rise on schedule. 

With help from his 2nd AC, Adam Tsang, Harp went on to create massive camera setups that covered nearly every actor on set. 

“You’ve got eight [or] nine people in a courtroom and there would be a line of cameras that went all the way across the courtroom, and you’d have eight cameras pointing one way and eight cameras pointing the other way,” Harp said. “You could do a huge courtroom scene in two setups.”

BMPCC 6K on set of All RiseOver 10 BMPCC 6Ks on set of 'All Rise'Credit: David Harp & CBS Entertainment

Imagine having that many ARRI Alexas on set? You could buy a house in LA with that kind of money.

But Harp instead put the Pocket 6K on grip stands all across the set to cover every possible angle he could. If an actor was sitting and then standing in one scene, they would get two cameras to cover each position. Even if there was a massive focus shift, each focus point would get its own camera. 

Harp’s record for most cameras for one scene was 17, while cinematographer Amanda Treyz used a whopping 18 Blackmagic Pocket 6Ks. 

Shooting a Scene

While setting up a scene was difficult, getting the shots you needed was a whole different story. After each and every angle was covered, the crew would clear the set, save for the three that were allowed. 

Then the set would go red, meaning the cast would come in. 

All of the 10+ cameras would roll, and Harp would shoot everything. After a rehearsal or two and multiple takes, they would call cut, and the actors would leave the set. With so many cameras on set, every angle was covered in a single take. 

16 BMPCC 6Ks on set of 'All Rise'16 BMPCC 6K feeds from set of 'All Rise'Credit: David Harp & CBS Entertainment

This created a massive amount of data. To keep things somewhat manageable, the production shot on ProRes instead of BRAW.

But how do you light such a behemoth undertaking?

This is where gaffer, Eric West, and key grip, Shane Brott came in. They lit entire scenes from above so no lights were visible and they could cross cover actors. 

Each lighting setup allowed for almost 360 degrees of coverage.

Sigma Cine Primes with BMPCC 6K on set of All RiseSIGMA lenses w/ BMPCC 6KsCredit: David Harp & CBS Entertainment

Finding the Right Lenses

The BMPCC 6K only went so far. After all, a camera needs lenses, and Harp’s team dug deep into the SIGMA cine lens line.

These lenses, partnered with the EF-mount Blackmagic cameras, offered extreme versatility. Harp even went as far as to use some Canon zooms from his own collection when the need arose. With so many BMPCC 6Ks on set, getting enough lenses could have been expensive. But with the SIGMA cine primes and the Pockets, camera packages were small and manageable.

'All Rise' Season 2 Episode 2 Still'All Rise' Season 2 Episode 2 StillCredit: CBS Entertainment

Blackmagic Cameras on Set

TV productions are all shot on expensive production workhorses. ARRI, RED, and Panavision are a staple of Hollywood. But we’re seeing more and more Blackmagic Design cameras being used. 

This is not only because they’re affordable but also because of their versatility and gorgeous image.

“What surprised me the most was how versatile they were,” Harp said. When a director asked for a time-lapse shot, Harp immediately thought back to the old-school way of doing things on film. He then turned to 2nd AC and asked what they could do.

Tsang replied, “Oh, it’s right in the menus!”

“It’s a solid image,” Harp said. “The blacks are really deep; it seasoned the highlights extremely well, color rendition is great. I was very impressed that so much quality came out of such a small and reasonably priced package. I don’t know how they do it, but it’s like a little box full of magic."

A box full of black magic, you could say. 

On the Topic of Equity

Production cinema cameras are notoriously out of reach for most filmmakers, especially those on a budget. While you can rent what you need, an ARRI package still costs over a thousand dollars a day. 

A BMPCC 6K costs only $1,995 to own.

While other cameras exist that give you solid images, Blackmagic has offered options that rival everyone else in the market. Including the big dogs. 

Now filmmakers can obtain amazing image quality at a very affordable price point. The entry point for amazing images is no longer unattainable.

Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 6K

Great Value!
  • Active Canon EF/EF-S Mount
  • Super 35-Sized HDR Sensor
  • Record 6K 6144 x 3456 up to 50 fps
  • Dual Native 400 & 3200 ISO to 25,600
  • 5" 1920 x 1080 Touchscreen Display
  • Record up to 120 fps Windowed HD
  • CFast 2.0 & SD/UHS-II Card Slots
  • External Recording via USB Type-C
  • 13-Stop Dynamic Range, 3D LUT Support
  • Includes DaVinci Resolve Studio License

Even Harp learned a thing or two. The composition and lighting lessons he and his team learned are now being implemented into Season 3 of All Rise. While the team has returned to shooting on three ARRI Alexas, Harp still uses six additional BMPCC 6Ks. 

A $2,000 camera right next to a $50,000 one. 

If that isn’t magic, we don’t know what is.


No Film School's complete coverage of NAB 2022 is brought to you by Blackmagic Design, Atomos, and Creative Solutions (makers of Teradek, Wooden Camera, and SmallHD).