Thought it was time I posted about something that I have been mulling over for quite a while now and thought to share my experiment. It appears to have great potential.
For a long time I have been using my SGBlade and loved the look that it produced. It does something to add a sense of depth to footage and and also give it an organic feel. Love the fine grain and perceived tweaking of contrast. Loved the fact that it also allows me to use my Nikon lenses as intended and don't have to invest in more lenses with every camera purchase. For me, it has always about having richer colours in my footage and from the start when I was capturing via HDMI through a Blackmagic design intensity in a magma chassis I always loved colour over sharpness. Don't get me wrong, I love sharpness but we are in a time now where DPs are using filters to soften wrinkles, stockings to make things smoother and Vaseline to mist things up because the footage is TOO sharp and the talent needs tonnes of make-up to hide every skin blemish he he he he. Ironic isn't it? In fact, I have never been happy with the way modern clean digital cameras represent darker skin tones. But what I have seen out of the Blackmagic cameras has impressed me.
For the record as a hobbyist errrrr prosumer, I have owned a 5D MKII with ( magic lantern ) and a couple of hacked GH2s from the start of this large sensor obsession. But they never did it for me. They appear too clean in my humble opinion. They lack a certain mojo. A bit of dirt here and a little imperfection there gives the artform some much needed character I think.
I sat on the fence for a while about the BMPCC because it didn't fit my workflow. I have chosen in my workflow to ignore Da Vinci, even though it is high powered and free. I want to be able to edit on a system that gives me rich colour and doesn't require a nuclear powered computer or graphics card to run. I prefer Cineform so I can stay in Vegas and grade under the hood in realtime and make changes at any time without concern.
In the past people couldn't sell their DOF adaptors fast enough. They were viewed as a clumsy way to get that film look and were plagued with mechanical issues, a loss of perhaps half a stop of light, low level motor noise, grain appearing in the sky, blown out highlights looking unappealing etc. But few deny that they gave an interesting look.
But that was before larger sensors came along. In the past we were scuppered with small sensors and 'iffy' lenses on our camcorders. Now we have interchangeable lens mounts on tiny cameras with sensors that are not too large to force large cumbersome lenses and are small enough to create a compact rig. The larger sensors make low light a non issue and stopping down isn't an issue as well. Enter the Blackmagic design pocket cinema camera. the perfect match for any DOF adaptor for the film look. I waited a few months after cancelling my pre-order due to the infamous 'orb' issue. The original Scarlet that was 3k for 3k was my original ideal cam but the BMPCC ticks so many boxes for me. Cheap, no expensive rig needed on a DOF adaptor, RAW video, affordable and easy media handling ( SD Card ), simple to operate. The big problem for me was what to do with this DNG nonsense. How do I playback the video to simply view my stuff quickly? My BMPCC doesn't talk to my full HD consumer LCD. How do I import the stuff in Vegas with audio? Gulp!
But once this software came out ( http://raw4pro.com/ ) that allows for transcoding of the DNGs to Cineform RAW , complete and merged with audio I had to buy a BMPCC. Cineform RAW works out to about 20 something MB/sec which is in the same ballpark as Prores. I tested some sample DNGs floating around the forum and 'got' it. They looked great! RAW is where it's at baby!!!
I decided to marry my BMPCC with my SGBlade and anamorphics to get vistavision - in other words Still Full frame shooting. You can get a taking lens to frame for S35mm of course - just get a longer throw lens - like an 85 mm.( Oh - I suspected that I would want to use the blade in this way in the future and kept it.
The Rotorazor that I used is a DIY one where I roughed up the original RR2 with some 6 micrometer grit. Leads to a bit of flicker but I did this to deal with round streaks in the sky and also deal with too much light getting through. Makes for a sharper more contrasty footage IMHO. I have used a 1954 Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 50 2.8 lens and a Helios 58 mm to act as the relay lenses between the BMPCC and the SGBlade. A few step up rings were required to make the match. I have a Nikon mount so I have access to all myriad of lenses in the format. Heliopan 55 mm thread Variable ND filter used - note that the relay lens acts as a pseudo ND filter as well when using it's aperture ring.
Some slower lenses do have dark corners but that is expected. If it's annoying then use a more telephoto lens. To get the Bolex 8/19/1.5X anamorphic to work right I have had to look at Nikon 85mm and 55mm AI versions as the taking lenses.
Grading was done in Cineform's grading package and I have used my own LUT package that I made a few years ago in Speedgrade.
For the price of one SGblade and a BMPCC one can get an amazing film making tool for cheap and it responds closer to Vistavision film than much more expensive options out there. Mind you it will be low resolution version of the format but it is unique. I have tested this method with th GH2 and it also works albeit you will need a 58 mm or more to prevent vignetting. So if you already have a DOF adaptor and the GH4 comes along your way - this is another look available to you. The great thing is that a DOF adaptor is just like any other accessory. Use it when you need it and dump when you don't. Pair the BMPCC's raw output with Cineform and you have an amazing grading platform that is NLE agnostic. You can use whatever NLE you want and grade under the hood with Cineform firstlight or Gopro studio. To encode to RAW you will need one of the professional encoders available from Cineform. The free version I do not think offers the RAW encoding..
It's good to be in filmaking right now. We have never had it so good.
I will update with new experiments as we go along.