September 7, 2016 at 6:26AM
How to Build a Pimp’d Out BlackMagic Cinema Camera Rig on the CHEAP!
When I began my filmmaking journey with my first feature film, This is Meg, I had no idea what camera I’d be shooting with. I had access to both RED Cinema and Arri Alexa Cameras for free if I wanted them but I choose against using them on this film for the following reasons:
The infrastructure need to make those camera work was complicated and expensive (even if you are getting the camera bodies for free)
I wouldn’t have the freedom to shoot whenever I had the cast available. (we shot over 6 weeks)
The “footprint” of those cameras do not lend themselves to run and gun guerrilla filmmaking.
The Post Production workflow would be costly and high end RAID drives are expensive.
Production Insurance would be needed and that’s expensive.
So I looked around and choose the remarkable BlackMagic Cinema Camera.
“But Alex you are nutz! You could’ve shot on a RED or ALEXA and you choose a BlackMagic Cinema Camera?”
Yes I did. For a few reasons:
I could own the camera, play with it, test and experiment.
No production insurance.
Small footprint for those “guerrilla filmmaking” moment out in the streets.
Amazing post production workflow (I edited and finished This is Meg on the DaVinci Resolve, more on that in the podcast)
I could affordably pimp out the rig and customize it for my shooting needs.
This is Meg is a small character driven indie film, shooting with RED or ALEXA would’ve been overkill.
Now I’ve been a colorist for over 10 years and the image quality of RED or ALEXA are superior to the BlackMagic Cinema Camera but you need to choose the right tool for the project.
The BMCC gave me the freedom that the others couldn’t and the BlackMagic Cinema Camera is BY FAR the best bang for your buck. Speaking as a colorist and the director of photography of the film, the image quality is stellar. You just need to understand the camera’s strengths and weakness.
Here are some tips when shooting with the BlackMagic Cinema Camera 2.5k.
The camera need a ton of light.
Make sure you shoot at 400 ISO unless you are shooting nights. Try to always shot 400 ISO.
Record with a minimum 240gig Card (about 46 min of RAW).
SHOOT RAW, not ProRes 422 HQ!
I also decided to shoot with the BlackMagic Cinema Camera because of the amazing RAW Cinema DNG file it produces. I shot with the BlackMagic Cinema Camera 2.5K not the 4k version. The 4k would’ve been nice but the cost in media and hard drives out weighted the extra pixel. I also knew I’d be mastering in 1080p and blowing up to 2k for the DCP deliverable.
You can shoot ProRes 422 HQ but I’d suggest shooting RAW because if you don’t light the scene perfectly having that RAW Cinema DNG file can really get you out of a pickle…trust me!
I go into great detail on how I put this rig together in this weeks podcast. I share tips, tricks and real world stories of what worked and what didn’t. I also talk about the post production workflow I went through editing in DaVinci Resolve.