How Blackmagic Pocket Cameras Bring Horror to Life
The pocket series of cameras from Blackmagic Design gave creatives cinematic imagery at a bargain. Now I can't sleep without a nightlight.
Before filmmaking was democratized by affordable tools, it was a lot more difficult to get a short film off the ground, especially one that had the imagery to back up the story you had in your head. Sure, you could make shorts with DSLRs, but the high-end features filmmakers came to expect, were locked within pricey cameras.
Then came Blackmagic Design with its Pocket Cinema Cameras and the ability to record RAW for under $3K was now a possibility.
These tools paved the way for every neighborhood kid to film the short of their dreams. What better way to start than to make a horror film, where jump scares, tension, and high stakes make telling stories loads more fun?
Here are some horror shorts from last year that caught our attention and were shot on Blackmagic Pockets.
'Motherly' – Shot on The OG BMPCC
Directed by self-proclaimed hobby filmmaker Derryk Schieck, Motherly is the longest short on this list. So much so that it could be a half-hour pilot. What piqued my interest about this short (beyond the subtle yet compelling jump scares) is that it was shot on the original Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera.
This small little camera that literally fits in your pocket, could shoot Cinema DNG RAW files in HD, and cost around $1,000 at the time of its release.
It had a unique Super 16 sensor that captured a really pleasing image and produced a retro look thanks to its frame size. It's still a camera I shoot on today as it really lends itself to guerrilla-style filmmaking.
Schieck shot on the OG BMPCC using a Canon 24-105mm f/4 using a Metabones Speedbooster. Even so, his night sequences were really crisp, which really shows off what the little camera could do with a little lighting.
Mixing Life Action and Animation – Shot on BMPCC 6K Pro
Next, we go from the longest to the shortest short. Shot by cinematographer Reece Pottorff with animation by Griffin Blanco, their super short mixed footage from the Blackmagic Cinema Camera 6K Pro with some really cool animation that really brings to life the fear of night terrors.
The BMPCC 6K Pro is the workhorse of the pocket line and comes with internal NDs, a Super 35 HDR sensor, and dual native ISO.
The detailed Film Noir-esque lighting really brings the animation and live-action plates together and lets the BMPCC 6K Pro show what a modern Pocket camera can do, even if it can't fit in your pocket anymore.
'The Haunting' – Shot on BMPCC 6K
Created by the lads of Coyote Studios Production, The Haunting is a fun retro romp about two brothers trying to prove that ghosts are real that was shot on the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K with Meike glass.
Set to an '80s score, the film is super pretty, which goes to show how capable young filmmakers have become thanks to affordable tools. While the BMPCC 6K has been replaced by the G2 version, it's still under $3,000, making it one of the most budget-friendly tools on the market.
Much like the other films on this list, it's also heavy on night scenes. While lighting does play a pivotal role in creating good compositions, the BMPCC 6K shows it's more than capable of producing high-end imagery that would have cost an arm and a leg a decade ago.
'Lights Out' – BMCC (Honorable Mention)
Okay, we're cheating with this film a bit, as it's over a year old, not shot on a pocket camera, and directed by none other than David F. Sandberg. We decided to include it in our list because it's a showcase of what a good short can do for your career. Specifically, it can make your career.
Sandberg went on to shoot a feature-length version of this film and then go on to helm a DC franchise, all from a little short film he shot on a BMCC with a Tokina 11-16mm zoom lens.
But what really makes this film stand out, beyond its fear factor, is its simplicity. Sandberg created the film with his wife, Lotta Losten, a Zoom H4n handheld recorder, an Ikea paper lantern, a 375W photo bulb, and one other light.
The original Blackmagic Cinema Camera, of course. A camera that paved the way for the Pocket series and started the affordable RAW revolution.
Films in Your Pocket
Since the release of the original BMCC and Pocket, Blackmagic cameras have continued to evolve, and the market has finally caught up. While there are more and more affordable options for budget creatives, BMD cameras are still some of the most affordable tools on the market.
You can't get a better image for the price, especially after the BMCC got an update with the BMCC 6K.
Whatever your choice in tools, these cameras continue to be a goto staple for up and coming filmmakers who want to put all their money into making a good film, not buying an expensive camera.
So, will your horror short be on our list next year?