Open letter to BM: Please release an SDK for the BMCC

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Richard Wade

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Open letter to BM: Please release an SDK for the BMCC

PostSun Sep 30, 2012 11:27 am

Dear BlackMagic Design.

Seeing that BM has offered SDK's for other BM hardware, would you consider
opening up the BMCC by offering an SDK?

Making the BMCC an 'open' camera, will allow a plethora of modifications for the BMCC which your
company alone would not be able to address (no company could). Something as simple as placing
customized information readouts on a screen...this could be addressed via an SDK.

Some people like their timecode on the upper right...others on the lower left.
Some want it in a smaller font, others in an 'inverted' look to be easier to read.


The tweaks are endless, but completely possible (and easy too). The days of waiting
months/years for a firmware update which does not please everyone are over!

As a C++ programmer myself, I would love to contribute my time/energy for possible features
on the BMCC. First thing I would do: Get rid of the "Degree shutter" (180)
and go back to standard numerical shutter (1/48)


We have all seen what accessing the firmware of a camera can do for the benefit of all (Magic Lantern),
opening up the BMCC via making the SDK downloadable, will give us the tools to get the very best
out of these cameras.

It's time to open cameras up, seeing that BM is 'leading the way' with this revolutionary product:
The time is now.

Thank you.

- Richard Wade.
The only real BMCC green screen test to date: https://vimeo.com/49238555
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John Waldorff

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Re: Open letter to BM: Please release an SDK for the BMCC

PostSun Sep 30, 2012 7:12 pm

+1

But realize that Blackmagic would then revolutionize the market in 3 ways at once with just one product.
I don't know if 2012 is ready.. but the first company that will really support this type of open innovation, and not just let it happen through hacks will own the market.
We have seen this in Magic Latern and even more with the GH2 that is without the hack a little bugger.
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Richard Wade

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Re: Open letter to BM: Please release an SDK for the BMCC

PostSun Sep 30, 2012 9:24 pm

To help 'demistify' the SDK (Software Development Kit), I downloaded from Blackmagic the SDK for their Decklink product. The Decklink is an PCI card which can control D-Beta/HDCAM machines via RS-422 and handle video via SDI in/out.

Since the BMCC has SDI, it's not a large 'leap' to assume that an SDK for the BMCC could be similar to what the SDK for the Decklink contains.

To those who don't know lick about C++, don't worry: Here's some snippets of code, take a look...is it confusing? Of course not! It's quite logical/makes sense...and pretty much anyone (even myself) could tweak this code to modify the BMCC!

// translate a BMDDeckControlVTRControlState to a string
#define STATE_TO_STR(state) (state==bmdDeckControlNotInVTRControlMode) ? "N/A" :\
(state==bmdDeckControlVTRControlPlaying) ? "Play" :\
(state==bmdDeckControlVTRControlRecording) ? "Record" :\
(state==bmdDeckControlVTRControlStill) ? "Still" :\
(state==bmdDeckControlVTRControlShuttleForward) ? "Shuttle forward" :\
(state==bmdDeckControlVTRControlShuttleReverse) ? "Shuttle reverse" :\
(state==bmdDeckControlVTRControlJogForward) ? "Jog forward" :\
(state==bmdDeckControlVTRControlJogReverse) ? "Jog reverse" : "Stop"


Does the above make sense? Of course it does.

What about this?

// make a BCD timecode given hour, min, sec and frame values
#define MAKE_TC_BCD(h1,h2,m1,m2,s1,s2,f1,f2) ( \
(((uint8_t) h1)<<28) +\
(((uint8_t) h2)<<24) +\
(((uint8_t) m1)<<20) +\
(((uint8_t) m2)<<16) +\
(((uint8_t) s1)<<12) +\
(((uint8_t) s2)<<8) +\
(((uint8_t) f1)<<4) +\
((uint8_t) f2) )


It's simple math. In the API, BMDStreamingEncodingFrameRate enables one
to adjust the frame rate.

Translation: If you want to shoot at slower (or maybe even faster) frame rates...it's all a matter
of tweaking these numbers
, and seeing how the hardware could handle it! (There are people out
there who are more than willing to 'risk' their cameras by tweaking the firmware. Magic Lantern
did it, and we all gained from their hard work
)

It's all here for those curious about Blackmagic's SDK's. I use XCODE to peruse the files, but even
your basic 'preview' can gander to your hearts content. Check it out:

http://www.blackmagicdesign.com/support/sdks

What the folks at Magic Lantern had to do was Reverse Engineer, all this (A herculean task).

If BM were to simply release their SDK for the BMCC...within 2-3 days you could see some
amazing firmware updates coming from people out there who want to help Blackmagic make
the best camera possible.

...and yes, before anyone posts cries of "Malware/Brickware", there of course is the standard
disclaimer in all of BM's SDK's

** THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS", WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR
** IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY,
** FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, TITLE AND NON-INFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT
** SHALL THE COPYRIGHT HOLDERS OR ANYONE DISTRIBUTING THE SOFTWARE BE LIABLE
** FOR ANY DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE,
** ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER
** DEALINGS IN THE SOFTWARE.
** -LICENSE-END-


In closing: This isn't anything 'new' I'm suggesting...all what I am saying is: Allow us
access to the BMCC's SDK and we'll take this camera places you never thought possible!
The only real BMCC green screen test to date: https://vimeo.com/49238555
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Vince Gaffney

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Re: Open letter to BM: Please release an SDK for the BMCC

PostSun Sep 30, 2012 10:40 pm

Richard Wade wrote:First thing I would do: Get rid of the "Degree shutter" (180)
and go back to standard numerical shutter (1/48)


That is a still photography convention. Not a cinema standard.
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Peter J. DeCrescenzo

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Re: Open letter to BM: Please release an SDK for the BMCC

PostMon Oct 01, 2012 12:55 am

As much as I'm not in the habit of agreeing with Mr. Wade, I also think it would be great if BMD would at some point release an SDK for the BMCC.

I'm not a programmer, but as a consumer of technology, and as someone who has worked at several high-tech companies, I know what a huge deal this would be for the video camera industry and its customers.

I also suspect BMD's BMCC "dept." has a full plate just at the moment (grin), but if it isn't already on their to-do list, I'd love to see it happen some day.

Meanwhile, job #1 is getting BMCCs that work as described on the BMD website "out the door" ASAP.

Cheers!
http://www.peterdv.com
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Nick Bedford

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Re: Open letter to BM: Please release an SDK for the BMCC

PostMon Oct 01, 2012 3:24 am

Vince Gaffney wrote:
Richard Wade wrote:First thing I would do: Get rid of the "Degree shutter" (180)
and go back to standard numerical shutter (1/48)


That is a still photography convention. Not a cinema standard.


Agreed.
Nick Bedford, Photographer
http://www.nickbedford.com/
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Richard Wade

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Re: Open letter to BM: Please release an SDK for the BMCC

PostMon Oct 01, 2012 8:27 am

Vince Gaffney wrote:
Richard Wade wrote:First thing I would do: Get rid of the "Degree shutter" (180)
and go back to standard numerical shutter (1/48)


That is a still photography convention. Not a cinema standard.


If/When BM decides to sell cameras with a rotating disc shutter installed in them...I'll be delighted
to dust off my 1993 copy of the "American Cinematographer Manual" and go down that nostalgia
path.

Same for audio...I mean...16-bit? 24-bit?

We all know any sound recordist worth their salt should be recording sound at the following speed:

7 1/2 ips
15 ips
30 ips

btw, here's a new product BM will be shipping with their BMCC's, it prevents light from leaking into the camera when we the user changes the uhm...mag.

Image

:roll:

Fact is: Nobody cares about these archaic terms anymore. How many here have actually worked with motion picture film? Cut on a steenbeck? I have...and I'm sure maybe a few others, but we are in the minority.

The DSLR/Video Cameras (for good or bad) brought in speeds. So it's 1/48 or 1/50 for the stickler.
For the BMCC this is what? A few lines of code in the firmware tops?

This could be done with an SDK in a matter of hours.

What I'm advocating is choice.
Last edited by Richard Wade on Mon Oct 01, 2012 9:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
The only real BMCC green screen test to date: https://vimeo.com/49238555
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Richard Wade

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Re: Open letter to BM: Please release an SDK for the BMCC

PostMon Oct 01, 2012 8:43 am

I've been perusing the SDK code for the Decklink PCI card, I am convinced
that probably the same code (almost line for line) is in the SDK for the BMCC.

The below snippet is what adjusts the aspect ratio/size of an image upon capture
via SDI.

Tweaking these numbers (theorhetically) if we had an SDK for the BMCC could:

- Squeeze an image, thus enabling anamorphic (If you started using anamorphic lenses)
- Possibly freeing up more pixels to get the 'full-frame' everyone has been talking about.
- Introducing customized aspect ratios 2.35:1/2.20:1 (That "Blade Runner" look), sure
it's a form of 'cropping'...but "Cortés scuttled his ships" right?


// Prepare IDeckLinkInput to capture video:
// - Get frame width, height, duration, ...
// - Setup callback object and video mode and
// - Start streams
bool CaptureHelper::setupDeckLinkInput()
{
bool result = false;
IDeckLinkDisplayModeIterator* displayModeIterator = NULL;
IDeckLinkDisplayMode* deckLinkDisplayMode = NULL;

m_width = -1;

// get frame scale and duration for the video mode
if (m_deckLinkInput->GetDisplayModeIterator(&displayModeIterator) != S_OK)
goto bail;

while (displayModeIterator->Next(&deckLinkDisplayMode) == S_OK)
{
if (deckLinkDisplayMode->GetDisplayMode() == BMD_DISPLAYMODE)
{
m_width = deckLinkDisplayMode->GetWidth();
m_height = deckLinkDisplayMode->GetHeight();

deckLinkDisplayMode->GetFrameRate(&m_frameDuration, &m_timeScale);
deckLinkDisplayMode->Release();

break;
}

deckLinkDisplayMode->Release();
}
The only real BMCC green screen test to date: https://vimeo.com/49238555
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Martin Scanlan

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Re: Open letter to BM: Please release an SDK for the BMCC

PostMon Oct 01, 2012 11:38 am

I prefer shutter angle but understand those that don't.

And I'm capable of expressing that in a concise and adult manner.

2 points.
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Noel Sterrett

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Re: Open letter to BM: Please release an SDK for the BMCC

PostMon Oct 01, 2012 11:55 am

Richard Wade wrote:To those who don't know lick about C++, don't worry:

I've programmed in many languages, including C++, over many decades and still consider myself a novice. C++, in particular, is both extremely powerful and exceedingly tricky.

As a programmer, I want to work with the SDK, but as a cinematographer, I need to have reliability and consistency.

Once the BMCC proves to be a well known and reliable camera, carefully releasing parts of the SDK would be a bold and welcome move. Releasing it now would be foolhardy. The camera would end up being judged by the competence of those who "don't know a lick".

In any event, I would strongly advise that if you "don't know a lick about C++" you should not touch the SDK until you do.

Cheers.
Admit One Pictures
Ubuntu 20.04 | Asus Z10 Xeon*2 32G | GTX 1080 8G | Resolve Studio 16 | Desktop Video 11
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Vince Gaffney

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Re: Open letter to BM: Please release an SDK for the BMCC

PostMon Oct 01, 2012 12:11 pm

Richard Wade wrote:

Fact is: Nobody cares about these archaic terms anymore. How many here have actually worked with motion picture film? Cut on a steenbeck? I have...and I'm sure maybe a few others, but we are in the minority.



That must be why I have shutter angles on my F3. As an homage to an archaic art form.
Last edited by Vince Gaffney on Mon Oct 01, 2012 6:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Richard Wade

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Re: Open letter to BM: Please release an SDK for the BMCC

PostMon Oct 01, 2012 12:12 pm

Noel Sterrett wrote:In any event, I would strongly advise that if you "don't know a lick about C++" you should not touch the SDK until you do.

Cheers.


You're twisting what my point was: I never implied that BMCC owners should all en masse write their own firmwares. I've repeatedly stated that skillful coders like the people at Magic Lantern would be able to do some amazing things with a BMCC SDK.

I simply wanted to illustrate how understandable the code is.
Thus for the laymen to understand that updating a firmware isn't rocket science.

Savvy?

Noel Sterrett wrote:As a programmer, I want to work with the SDK, but as a cinematographer, I need to have reliability and consistency.


I strongly disagree! I believe we all must grab unreliable beta firmwares
and dump it in our gear on the first day of a crucial, big $$$ shoot.

:roll:

If an SDK was released. People like the ones at Magic Lantern would get ahold of it...find a few willing to beta-test the firmwares and the releases would follow suit. It happened with the 5D Mark II, and it
could happen with the BMCC.

Any coder will say the exact same thing: An SDK completely trumps reverse engineering a firmware!

The firmwares at first would be simple basic stuff (like menu adjustments),
and then progress on from there (example: Intervalometer/HDR)

The majority (over 99%) of BMCC owners would simply 'wait and see' for enough field reports
to come out as to the reliability of the firmware.

...and then someday we'll finally get some green screen tests with movement.
The only real BMCC green screen test to date: https://vimeo.com/49238555
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Richard Wade

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Re: Open letter to BM: Please release an SDK for the BMCC

PostMon Oct 01, 2012 12:27 pm

Vince Gaffney wrote:That must be why I have shutter angles on my F3. As an homage to an archaic art form. Get a clue.


It is a nice homage, my fave part of the F3: on page 50 of the F3 manual:

CAMERA SET > SHUTTER > SHUTTER SPEED / SHUTTER ANGLE

Savvy?
The only real BMCC green screen test to date: https://vimeo.com/49238555
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Nick Bedford

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Re: Open letter to BM: Please release an SDK for the BMCC

PostMon Oct 01, 2012 9:15 pm

Maybe I just like having consistent motion.

Shutter speed makes less sense in getting your motion right than does shutter speed. I always use shutter speeds that correspond to shutter angles on my DSLR, only because I don't have shutter angle to set.

Sure, having an option to change how it's set is fine, but shutter angle is the main jam in filming and it has nothing to do with whether any of us has shot on a film camera.
Nick Bedford, Photographer
http://www.nickbedford.com/
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Richard Wade

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One week later.

PostTue Oct 02, 2012 1:09 pm

Well...

It's now officially a week since Mr. Petty's last update.

- No update on the glass correction
- No update on batches/shipments
- No update on firmware (was mentioned to ship 'in a few days' last week)


If an SDK were released...that would lessen concerns over BM software
delays: Since it would also be incumbent upon us to contribute to the firmwares.

That's the beauty of an SDK: If there's something we don't like about the camera's
software...firmware contributors like the folks at Magic Lantern can change it!

P.S.

Still no revised test as to whether the BMCC can offer proper green screen keyes.
The only real BMCC green screen test to date: https://vimeo.com/49238555
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rawCAM35

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Re: One week later.

PostTue Oct 02, 2012 4:33 pm

Richard Wade wrote:Well...

It's now officially a week since Mr. Petty's last update.

- No update on the glass correction
- No update on batches/shipments
- No update on firmware (was mentioned to ship 'in a few days' last week)

Still no revised test as to whether the BMCC can offer proper green screen keyes.


So you want all the above to be accomplished in one week ??
That is:
1- getting new glass and delivered to the sensor factory
2- Glue the glass on the sensor, very delicate procedure
3- Testing the sensor and 48 hours burn-in test
4- deliver the sensor to BMD, shipping and customs
5- Mounting the sensor, position and optical alignments, done manually
6- Assembling the camera, putting all all the parts together
7- Loading firmware, testing all functions and 48 hours burn-in test
8- Packaging, customs clearing and shipping from Australia
9- Receiving the shipment, customs clearing, delivering to dealers
10- Dealer ships the camera to Mr. Wade
????????????
Did you check this green screen test, at 08:53
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Peter J. DeCrescenzo

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Re: One week later.

PostTue Oct 02, 2012 4:54 pm

rawCAM35 wrote:... So you want all the above to be accomplished in one week ??
...
Did you check this green screen test, at 08:53


Hi "rawCAM35" (BTW, ironic screen name, given we're discussing the BMCC): But anyway, yes the chromakey in Marco's fabulous BMCC test/demo (one of my favorite BMCC demos, after Jon Carr's wonderful L.A. video*) is pretty nice, but I wish Marco had moved the robot & hair gradually faster & faster, just so we could see what happens.

I look forward to performing similar tests myself, if the happy day arrives when my very own BMCC arrives (pre-ordered mid-April).

Cheers.

*Anyone who hasn't seen it should download it!
http://www.peterdv.com
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rawCAM35

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Re: One week later.

PostTue Oct 02, 2012 5:26 pm

Peter J. DeCrescenzo wrote: but I wish Marco had moved the robot & hair gradually faster & faster, just so we could see what happens.


Hi Peter, I agree with you, I wished that Marco used the lovely lady ( in the blue dress ) in his previous test doing fast moves in front of the green screen, will be interesting to see how her hair and the blue dress turns out, or stage a fight just to see how good it is in fast motion.

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