Lighting for / exposing the BM(P)CC?

The place for questions about shooting with Blackmagic Cameras.
  • Author
  • Message
Offline
User avatar

Anton Outkine

  • Posts: 39
  • Joined: Mon Oct 28, 2013 3:06 am
  • Location: Moscow, Russia

Lighting for / exposing the BM(P)CC?

PostMon Nov 18, 2013 8:55 pm

Read this post at Wolfcrow, which left me very curious and at the same time unsettled me:
http://wolfcrow.com/blog/the-blackmagic ... workflows/

I'm an amateur director/DOP coming from a dSLR background, and the minute I started shooting with BMPCC (under a month now) I realised that this camera needs an entirely different approach — I never exposed for film before (save for some old Soviet photo cameras way back in the day) and I never exposed for digital film cameras, and yes BMPCC feels like an entirely different breed: zebras, ETTR, metering, what have you.

So what's your take on the article? How do YOU expose / light for BMPCC (and BMCC too, as I get it that the colour science is pretty much the same)? How does it fit in your workflow? Any suggestions on what to read / watch on the topic?

I have an old Minolta colour meter which I used to set WB on a dSLR (no other way around it if you're not sure about your light temperature) and a photographic incident light meter (but I'm not sure if it's of any serious use here) — should I kit out more? I shoot a lot of mixed material — day scenes, night scenes, incidental low-light, proper lighting etc.

Oh, and Sareesh from Wolfcrow sounds like he doesn't really care for RAW on BMPCC as ProRes is (at least according to him) is enough, but my own eyes (and the apparent gradeability of the resultant footage in DaVinci) is soooo way different that I'm not so sure he's 100% right.

So, guys. Ideas? Thoughts? Examples of your workflows? Useful links?
Offline

Chris Whitten

  • Posts: 506
  • Joined: Mon Jul 22, 2013 10:10 pm

Re: Lighting for / exposing the BM(P)CC?

PostMon Nov 18, 2013 9:03 pm

I'm amazed to see quite a few people passing judgement on raw so quickly, about a week into it.
For me raw is a whole new ballgame on the pocket camera, albeit a hassle with the larger files.
With pro-res I toiled, trying to produce the right image in Resolve. With raw the world is my oyster. Very creative.
Chris Whitten
Offline
User avatar

Anton Outkine

  • Posts: 39
  • Joined: Mon Oct 28, 2013 3:06 am
  • Location: Moscow, Russia

Re: Lighting for / exposing the BM(P)CC?

PostMon Nov 18, 2013 9:13 pm

chrisso wrote:I'm amazed to see quite a few people passing judgement on raw so quickly, about a week into it.
For me raw is a whole new ballgame on the pocket camera, albeit a hassle with the larger files.
With pro-res I toiled, trying to produce the right image in Resolve. With raw the world is my oyster. Very creative.


Well, I spent some time as a trainee (more like an observer) at several bigger-budget professional productions, where I got to ask a very well know DOP what and how and why he does in a particular scene (whenever said DOP had a spare moment). What I grasped from my observations is that if you do everything by the old book (light deliberately, meter carefully, test-shoot, monitor on a big screen at the video village), you could get by with a very shallow image depth (literally shooting a serious production on a Canon dSLR, although I mostly saw Alexas and REDs) — just because you carefully control everything.

Now, run-and-gun scenarios are completely different (and very interesting if you're on a tight budget or you just don't want to spend days and days on end shooting something very slowly and carefully), and RAW might help a lot with that, but it's not a silver bullet — at the end of the day (or, better said, before the day) you ask yourself how do you expose your camera to shoot RAW so it would edit together smoothly and grade easily and beautifully, and after reading Wolfcrow's article I'm more confused than enlightened. So my question stands — how do you do it if you're not a major production with a crew of dozens of people and a hefty budget to blow?
Offline

Jules Bushell

  • Posts: 1026
  • Joined: Wed Sep 05, 2012 3:06 am
  • Location: London, England

Re: Lighting for / exposing the BM(P)CC?

PostMon Nov 18, 2013 9:27 pm

Hi,

When there's not much time, I would say exposing to 100% zebras gets you most of the way there. Personally I would never shoot without an EVF. Get an EVF with false colour. You can then know what level the skin tones are at and get that right. False colour also good to check dark areas to help decide how much details in the shadows you want to see.

Note, I'm not an expert on this. Others probably can provide much more seasoned advice.

Jules
Jules Bushell
url: www.nonmultiplexcinema.com
url: www.filmmeansbusiness.com
url: www.blurtheline.co.uk
Offline

Chris Whitten

  • Posts: 506
  • Joined: Mon Jul 22, 2013 10:10 pm

Re: Lighting for / exposing the BM(P)CC?

PostMon Nov 18, 2013 9:29 pm

A lot of tv is not about image quality. A lot of tv is about tight budgets and even tighter timelines.
The most successful tv (financially) is reality tv - which generally looks terrible.
Working in television I can understand why you would not shoot raw. I also understand that for professionals, telling the story and capturing a performance is paramount, and pure image quality is lower down the priority list.
Sorry for the derail anyway.
Chris Whitten
Offline
User avatar

Anton Outkine

  • Posts: 39
  • Joined: Mon Oct 28, 2013 3:06 am
  • Location: Moscow, Russia

Re: Lighting for / exposing the BM(P)CC?

PostMon Nov 18, 2013 9:30 pm

Jules Bushell wrote:When there's not much time, I would say exposing to 100% zebras gets you most of the way there. Personally I would never shoot without an EVF. Get an EVF with false colour. You can then know what level the skin tones are at and get that right. False colour also good to check dark areas to help decide how much details in the shadows you want to see.


Jules, I used SmallHD DP6 exactly for that, but the look on the RAW is way different from Log, to which I got used over the course of a few years, so yeah, thanks for the suggestion, I guess I'll just have to learn and learn quite a lot.
Offline
User avatar

Anton Outkine

  • Posts: 39
  • Joined: Mon Oct 28, 2013 3:06 am
  • Location: Moscow, Russia

Re: Lighting for / exposing the BM(P)CC?

PostMon Nov 18, 2013 9:36 pm

chrisso wrote:A lot of tv is not about image quality. A lot of tv is about tight budgets and even tighter timelines.


Chris, I forgot to mention that I'm trying to shoot feature-grade stuff, promotional video and such, so no, it's neither a TV picture or a documentary stuff that I'm looking for. I just have a general feeling that RAW-on-a-budget (BMPCC) might be a game-changer for very small and very fast teams, thus the question.

Of course, when it comes to TV, I can understand that the picture quality is not of the utmost importance.
Offline

Chris Whitten

  • Posts: 506
  • Joined: Mon Jul 22, 2013 10:10 pm

Re: Lighting for / exposing the BM(P)CC?

PostMon Nov 18, 2013 11:26 pm

Raw is not as fast as pro-res, and the storage (both SD cards and drives) is expensive.
One minute of pocket raw is about 1.65gb on my system. So you need disc space to work and at least the same amount again to archive, unless you are happy to risk losing original files.
Chris Whitten
Offline

Michael Tiemann

  • Posts: 623
  • Joined: Fri Jul 05, 2013 11:22 am

Re: Lighting for / exposing the BM(P)CC?

PostTue Dec 24, 2013 3:40 pm

I spent a good number of days last month lighting and evaluating a set, then re-lighting and re-evaluating until I'd tried pretty much all the options I could think of. In the course of that exercise, I found that the 13 stops of DR that the BMCC captures are not all created equal. In the darker areas, noise seems to grow exponentially. Many have rationalized this by saying that the noise looks "organic" or "like film grain", but I don't quite buy that. To me, it's enough to be distracting. Darker areas of the scene should not sparkle with noise.

Using Resolve 10, I discovered Temporal noise reduction, and 2-frame NR with 25% chroma and luma goes a long way toward toning down the noise, but I prefer to eliminate problems at their source, rather than after the fact. As I investigated this, I discovered threads where people talked about "Exposing To The Right (ETTR)". Here's the tip that's been most helpful to me:

Do all your exposure balancing with the camera rated at ISO 800. When shooting RAW, ISO 800 is just a suggestion, but pick shutter angle and aperture as if shooting ISO 800. Then, open up a stop and shoot at ISO 400. This will let 2x more light into the camera, effectively exposing to the right. In my experience, the BMCC loses nothing in the highlights, but it makes a *huge* difference relative to the noise (which, again, seems to increase exponentially as one goes down from middle gray). One can then further improve the noise situation by doing some gentle crushing of the blacks (before or after some temporal NR).

I'm still trying to figure out whether, when shooting ProRes, it is better to bake in the "properly exposed" ISO 400 or the ETTR value of ISO 800. But for RAW, opening up one f-stop really helps the darker parts of my image without wrecking the brighter parts.
MacOS Catalina Version 10.15.3
iMac Pro (2017)
3 GHz Intel Xeon W
64GB 2666 MHz DDR4
Radeon Pro Vega 64 16 GB
RED Rocket-X
Decklink 8K Pro card feeding FSI XM310K Monitor
Offline

Jules Bushell

  • Posts: 1026
  • Joined: Wed Sep 05, 2012 3:06 am
  • Location: London, England

Re: Lighting for / exposing the BM(P)CC?

PostTue Dec 24, 2013 4:12 pm

Michael Tiemann wrote:I spent a good number of days last month lighting and evaluating a set, then re-lighting and re-evaluating until I'd tried pretty much all the options I could think of. In the course of that exercise, I found that the 13 stops of DR that the BMCC captures are not all created equal. In the darker areas, noise seems to grow exponentially. Many have rationalized this by saying that the noise looks "organic" or "like film grain", but I don't quite buy that. To me, it's enough to be distracting. Darker areas of the scene should not sparkle with noise.

Using Resolve 10, I discovered Temporal noise reduction, and 2-frame NR with 25% chroma and luma goes a long way toward toning down the noise, but I prefer to eliminate problems at their source, rather than after the fact. As I investigated this, I discovered threads where people talked about "Exposing To The Right (ETTR)". Here's the tip that's been most helpful to me:

Do all your exposure balancing with the camera rated at ISO 800. When shooting RAW, ISO 800 is just a suggestion, but pick shutter angle and aperture as if shooting ISO 800. Then, open up a stop and shoot at ISO 400. This will let 2x more light into the camera, effectively exposing to the right. In my experience, the BMCC loses nothing in the highlights, but it makes a *huge* difference relative to the noise (which, again, seems to increase exponentially as one goes down from middle gray). One can then further improve the noise situation by doing some gentle crushing of the blacks (before or after some temporal NR).

I'm still trying to figure out whether, when shooting ProRes, it is better to bake in the "properly exposed" ISO 400 or the ETTR value of ISO 800. But for RAW, opening up one f-stop really helps the darker parts of my image without wrecking the brighter parts.

There's a great video by Tom Majeski. I never thanked him for it so would like to take the opportunity
now. There's also in the comments there explaining how with ProRes you can get less noise if you drop from ISO 800 to ISO 400 just before hitting record.



Cheers,
Jules
Jules Bushell
url: www.nonmultiplexcinema.com
url: www.filmmeansbusiness.com
url: www.blurtheline.co.uk
Offline

Michael Tiemann

  • Posts: 623
  • Joined: Fri Jul 05, 2013 11:22 am

Re: Lighting for / exposing the BM(P)CC?

PostTue Dec 24, 2013 9:43 pm

Jules Bushell wrote:There's a great video by Tom Majeski. I never thanked him for it so would like to take the opportunity
now. There's also in the comments there explaining how with ProRes you can get less noise if you drop from ISO 800 to ISO 400 just before hitting record.



Cheers,
Jules


Yes, that's the reference I meant to include. I'm very happy with how it helped me go from "but the light meter says X" to "but the images need Y".
MacOS Catalina Version 10.15.3
iMac Pro (2017)
3 GHz Intel Xeon W
64GB 2666 MHz DDR4
Radeon Pro Vega 64 16 GB
RED Rocket-X
Decklink 8K Pro card feeding FSI XM310K Monitor
Offline
User avatar

Anton Outkine

  • Posts: 39
  • Joined: Mon Oct 28, 2013 3:06 am
  • Location: Moscow, Russia

Re: Lighting for / exposing the BM(P)CC?

PostThu Dec 26, 2013 12:22 am

Michael Tiemann wrote:I spent a good number of days last month lighting and evaluating a set, then re-lighting and re-evaluating until I'd tried pretty much all the options I could think of. In the course of that exercise, I found that the 13 stops of DR that the BMCC captures are not all created equal.


Michael, thanks a bunch, quite a lot of observations!

I love natural light and I live in a place where half of the year is very dark, so I shoot wide open (esp. considering that my old LOMO cine glass is between 2.0 and 3.0 — i.e. not too fast). Paid Resolve version is a bit out of my league, at least at the moment, but yes, other noise reducing solutions take some edge off those dark noisy areas.

I don't quite see the point to shoot ProRes anymore (unless it's a documentary, or something simple straight-to-TV with very basic and predictable light), so yes, I also found that overexposing BMPCC works really great — my old dSLR reflexes kick in whenever I see zebra in highlights, but they are usually wrong — the picture is very very fine.

What I found is that when shooting very low-light, BMPCC's sensor gets starved and works akin to human night vision — i.e. it loses quite a lot of colour. As an example:
https://www.monosnap.com/image/wqe9CBWF ... RstwNc.png

It's interesting to note that if a light source appears (which may or may not light your subject), the picture rapidly gains colour. Same situation, same event, but with a light source:
https://www.monosnap.com/image/RsieXbOO ... U6kp2d.png

Now I'm looking for a very portable and very diffused LED source to add some “ambient” light to run-and-gun situations — something like the Kick light, but very diffused. Makes a lot of difference.

The other question is how do you expose this camera for snow. I came up with stuff like this but I guess I can do a lot better:
https://www.monosnap.com/image/uFf6x3d7 ... OTzPJS.png
Offline

Denny Smith

  • Posts: 12805
  • Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 4:19 pm
  • Location: USA, Northern Calif.

Re: Lighting for / exposing the BM(P)CC?

PostThu Dec 26, 2013 1:31 am

Anton,
That is a very nice shot! Would make a nice portrait in its own right. Snow is a little "blown" but it still works. Happy Holidays.
Denny Smith
SHA Productions
Offline
User avatar

Will Tejeda

  • Posts: 481
  • Joined: Fri Jul 19, 2013 10:40 pm
  • Location: Orlando, FL

Re: Lighting for / exposing the BM(P)CC?

PostThu Jan 02, 2014 12:01 am

bump

Let's keep these threads alive and kicking .. good stuff guys !
Will Tejeda
DP/Cinematographer

Return to Cinematography

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Joshua_G, Nick Lavigne and 29 guests