Using low budget high resolution cameras in video production

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carlmart

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Using low budget high resolution cameras in video production

PostThu May 06, 2021 12:43 pm

My complete question is why a discussion on why using low budget, high resolution cameras, like the new BMPCC 6K Pro cameras in big dollar productions is not happening, considering the smaller screens presently being used to view even films like those that were usually released in film theaters?

This is the new reality, world over, of how things are. Film theaters are closed, apparently everywhere, except on those places that defy government orders or that people irresponsibly got, endangering their lives and those of others.

Can anyone disagree with that?

The sizes of the screen people are viewing films on are an average of 65", with some using projectors (still not that many) but also on not too large screen. Can we agree on that too?

This situation will not change in the next 5 to 10 years, or maybe never, according to the opinions of those that seem to know this matter.

So why still use only cameras like the Arri Alexa, Red, Sony Alta and Panasonic industrial cameras?

Let's start with answer to these questions before we go any further.
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Sander Vreuls

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Re: Using low budget high resolution cameras in video produc

PostThu May 06, 2021 12:47 pm

Because the price of the camera is almost insignificant compared to the other things involved in the big productions... And those productions want absolute reliability, which quite a few Blackmagic products don't offer..

I bet they are used though, especially for special uses where the camera might be destroyed in crashes or similar..
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carlmart

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Re: Using low budget high resolution cameras in video produc

PostThu May 06, 2021 1:12 pm

Which cameras are considered unreliable? Brands, models, etc.

Or is it just a question that traditional production rent the equipment they use, and in case of a problem get a new camera or lens or whatever?

Do you think multi-million dollar productions, that were shot o be seen in large screen, will continue to do good business with the money they may get from home viewers?

Of course what I'm pointing at is the raise of new independent filmmaking, and a new way to produce films, actually not producing as they did but betting as on a roulette, putting your many on several numbers.

The numbers of course would be smaller independent companies, that will not need to or have to money to rent everything as it is done now. Only very specific equipment for one or two days for some special reason.

This is the world I foresee for the next ten years, and why yes or why not. Am I failing to see something or something like it, slightly different, is what you foresee.
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John Paines

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Re: Using low budget high resolution cameras in video produc

PostThu May 06, 2021 1:42 pm

You missed the heyday of "new independent filmmaking" by about 30 years, and as already explained, the price of equipment rentals is insignificant compared to other production costs.

If cheap or free cameras made small independent production companies profitable, they wouldn't have all disappeared over the last 20-25 years. You're also ignoring the costs of promotion and distribution, which are enormous. Making the movie is just the beginning.

No-name movies do not make money on streaming platforms. That market is already glutted. In a word, you haven't discovered a potential goldmine. People have been bankrupting themselves with the "new independent filmmaking revolution" for years.
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Ric Murray

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Re: Using low budget high resolution cameras in video produc

PostThu May 06, 2021 2:48 pm

I love my 2 Black Magic cameras, (P4K and Ursa Mini Pro 4.6). They produce beautiful images at a very reasonable price. Both, however, have serious issues with mechanical aspects of their design that are part of what makes them inexpensive. Physical switches and buttons are the most obvious examples. The power on/off switches on both these cameras are flimsy and not 100% reliable. Most times they work, but sometimes they don't. On a low budget indie or a sit-down interview with a crew of 3 or 4, I just fiddle around until I get the camera to power up or down, and remove and replace the battery as a last resort. If I had a crew of 20 standing around, with expensive talent in front of the camera, I really don't want to be making excuses for the camera not coming on when the lights are on, the talent set, and the director yells "action". The BM cameras offer a low budget crew an opportunity to get high quality images, but at the cost of cutting some corners on peripherals like buttons, lens mounts, viewfinders etc. They are, in general, not robust enough physically to be used on an everyday basis as they would from a rental house. Very few rental houses stock them for this reason.
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Ellory Yu

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Re: Using low budget high resolution cameras in video produc

PostThu May 06, 2021 3:32 pm

carlmart wrote:My complete question is why a discussion on why using low budget, high resolution cameras, like the new BMPCC 6K Pro cameras in big dollar productions is not happening, considering the smaller screens presently being used to view even films like those that were usually released in film theaters?

This is the new reality, world over, of how things are. Film theaters are closed, apparently everywhere, except on those places that defy government orders or that people irresponsibly got, endangering their lives and those of others.

Can anyone disagree with that?

Yes, I can disagree with that. What you are stating in regards to the new reality is that there is no new reality. Theaters will be open soon and big screen will not be replaced by home theaters with 65" or even 120" home projection system. I don't know where you are but in the United States, we are expecting to return to a high degree of normalcy in the next 8 months. That's not defying gov't orders. Cities and States are opening up. So if you want to see normalcy in the world, get vaccinated so the world can get on a herd immunity and beat Covid. This is NOT a political statement!

carlmart wrote:
The sizes of the screen people are viewing films on are an average of 65", with some using projectors (still not that many) but also on not too large screen. Can we agree on that too?

Although I agree that big screen home viewing is predominant, it does not have the experience of going to the movies. That's not going to happen unless you build your own theatrical room. That will cost serious money and not everyone can afford having one. I know, I own one. ;) Yet, I'm going to the cinema when they come back again.

carlmart wrote:
This situation will not change in the next 5 to 10 years, or maybe never, according to the opinions of those that seem to know this matter.

This is utterly an incorrect statement. There is an expectation of public places like restaurants, movie theaters, ballparks, and the likes to be fully open with 80% capacity by July of this year. We will get there and summer blockbusters will be showing again.
carlmart wrote:
So why still use only cameras like the Arri Alexa, Red, Sony Alta and Panasonic industrial cameras?

Let's start with answer to these questions before we go any further.

Because they have industry reputation to be reliable and battle tested. I like my blackmagic cameras. I have the UMP G2 and the Pocket 6K. But with their reputation in quality control and stability, no big budget production company will want to stake their reputation and schedule on it. For low budget indie films, well the answer is the "low budget" in front of "indie films" makes all the sense to go for a Blackmagic solution. And I think that is Blackmagic's cash cow so they should support the small indie filmmakers with affordable cine cams. It does not mean their image quality is poor. On the contrary, it has been proven to have great IQ and better color science.

And BTW, my projects are independent films with budget. I used rented RED and Alexa on a number of them. The others, well BMD URSA 4K, URSA Mini 4K, UMP G2, BMD Pockets, Canon C200 and C300, and Sony FX9 and A7s. Some I own, others provided by the production entity.
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Rakesh Malik

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Re: Using low budget high resolution cameras in video produc

PostThu May 13, 2021 4:48 pm

carlmart wrote:My complete question is why a discussion on why using low budget, high resolution cameras, like the new BMPCC 6K Pro cameras in big dollar productions is not happening, considering the smaller screens presently being used to view even films like those that were usually released in film theaters?


As Ellory pointed out, the main reason is that they don't need to. It's irrelevant to larger productions, and probably always will be. And it's double irrelevant for Black Magic, because BMD isn't attempting to pursue those productions; it's emphasizing affordability.

Another way to look at it is that BMD is striving (with great success) to enable small budget productions to have access to the same sort of features, functionality, image quality, and workflow that the big productions do, by paying attention to what they're doing, listening to their feedback, and incorporating it into BMD's own products.

BMD isn't trying to convince the big productions to use Black Magic cameras. Not that it's stopping them, and some bigger productions DO use them. But BMD's target market is independent filmmakers.

This is the new reality, world over, of how things are. Film theaters are closed, apparently everywhere, except on those places that defy government orders or that people irresponsibly got, endangering their lives and those of others.

Can anyone disagree with that?


Add me to the disagree list. It's simply not true in most of the world. Theaters are opening up, and will continue to do so, and most of the world will go back to theaters sooner or later.

I DO however believe that VOD is now a first tier distribution option, and the numbers show that it's working for the studios also. The recently announced theatrical release agreements reflect that future; the major studios have now, due to experimentation and the success of channels that haven't really been bothering with theatrical releases, accepted the fact that streaming is now a big part of their future. The biggest change isn't the loss of theaters, even though some like the ArcLight might be permanently shuttered, it's the loss of physical media; I do believe that market will wither and atrophy in favor of VOD.

So why still use only cameras like the Arri Alexa, Red, Sony Alta and Panasonic industrial cameras?

Let's start with answer to these questions before we go any further.


The Big Boys (tm) will stick to what they know, and what they know isn't just a camera, it's an ecosystem and network.

That said, some DO use Black Magic cameras; there are Netflix productions using approved models even as A cameras. Of course, that's related to Netflix productions being MUCH lower budget productions than studio productions tend to be, but we're still looking at production budgets in the millions.

And finally, the real question:
Why do you care? What does a Black Magic UMP have that an Epic, Varicam, CineAlta, or Alexa do have?

Let's see... timecode, check. Image quality, check. Lens options, check. Metadata support, check. Raw recording, check. Show LUT support, check. Workflow, check.

That's not an exhaustive list obviously, but the question still remains: what's missing?

I'd assert that there are only three things:
Hollywood doesn't use them much (irrelevant for indies)
Price tag (a bonus for indies)
Network of rental houses (also irrelevant for indies)

So there you go.

The reason that big budget productions don't use Black Magic cameras is that they don't need to, they don't care, and neither should you unless you're working on one of those.
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robert Hart

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Re: Using low budget high resolution cameras in video produc

PostThu May 13, 2021 7:17 pm

QUOTE Ric Murray: "Physical switches and buttons are the most obvious examples. The power on/off switches on both these cameras are flimsy and not 100% reliable. Most times they work, but sometimes they don't. On a low budget indie or a sit-down interview with a crew of 3 or 4, I just fiddle around until I get the camera to power up or down, and remove and replace the battery as a last resort."

I can't speak for the the BMPCC4K or 6K as to their switches but for the Mini Pro family, perhaps a deeper read of manuals may explain things. The cameras are soft-switched. The toggle switches on the left upper side of the bodies which switch on and switch off the camera are not controlling the camera exclusively as hard switches. They only seem to be. They are a tactile comfort to the operator.

The cameras can be powered on and off using two buttons pressed and held simultaneously in the event that the upper toggle switch is imprisoned by a cage. Stabbing at soft switches rather than pressing and holding for a second will yield no-starts. My own practice is to press and count one-thousand-two-thousand then release. I do not seem to have trouble with no-starts.

The electronics in any modern camera with a central processor are hardworking. There will be times when despite best efforts at programming, sometimes there will be an occasional glitch. Apparently a random cosmic ray particle will nudge something and send it slightly loopy. This is talked about in technical journals along with how much a chip design will tolerate such events.

Disconnecting a battery is like a hard reset on the computer. My personal preference would be for a genuine hard switching of the power but then you might fall victim to more transients than the less frequent hard disconnects of batteries introduces. Hard switches would also be handling stronger currents and may wear/burn out sooner, introducing less reliability. Who knows?

When powering up the BM cameras, be patient, gentle but decisive and pause between tapping in distinct commands on dreadful glass screens that geriatrics with dry fingertips loath so much. Likewise with the buttons as well. Stabbing risks double-buttoning. That may send confusing messages to the brains of the outfit. That applies to the other camera types also. Give them time to think.

I also do not transport a camera with a battery fitted. That is an invitation to trouble, invitation accepted.

The heavy mass of a battery being shook up is a strong mechanical load on the structure of cameras. It will also wear connecting pins unnecessarily if there is slight movement permitted.

Vibration may cause intermittent connection, especially with some third party AB Goldmounts and Sony V-Mounts. To the camera's brains, when a rapid series of disconnects and resistant connects occurs, what does it see, a genuine power disconnect or a strange signal that cannot be interpreted?

Then again, I might also be just talking out of my egotistical armpit. I try to help but I am no technician so read my comments with a jaundiced eye and test them against the knowledge of others more competent than I.

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