As soon as we got our 4K Blackmagic Cameras in house we knew they would be perfect for shooting music videos. When long-time client Eric Goodwin approached our very own Sean Emer to shoot “Gangsta Waitress”, he knew this would be a great opportunity to test out the new camera. The video was shot on SAF gear and produced by another SAF employee, Allison Scott. Please watch “Gangsta Waitress” and read Sean’s thoughts on shooting with the 4K Blackmagic below.
“We used the 4K Blackmagic Production Camera for several reasons. First off, it shoots at 4K with a S35 sensor, so we didn’t need to worry about crop factor the way we did with the original 2.5K camera. This was especially important because we decided to crop the image to 2.40 to give everything a more cinematic feel, which was important for the ‘glammy’ style we were going for. The reason we chose the Blackmagic camera over another S35 4K option is more ergonomic than anything else. The camera is small and lightweight, which makes it very easy to move around set with. On top of that we were able to shoot full 12 hour days on only 3 V-Lock batteries. Less battery switches made for more time spent getting extra angles, doing extra takes, etc. It sounds like a little detail but it makes a big difference when you have a small crew and you spend a lot of your time chasing daylight.
The camera performed well despite its ergonomic drawbacks. There are some definite negative sides to shooting on the BMPC 4K, but if you anticipate them then you won’t have too much trouble. The first bummer was that Blackmagic didn’t have 4K RAW functionality ready with the cameras on release. Some of our shots were daytime exterior, and being able to shoot RAW would have saved some clouds and white shirts. The other downsides are similar to those with the original BMCC; the camera doesn’t have a signal generator or audio level meter, you can’t format cards in the camera, and there’s no timecode input. Luckily I use a light meter, this was an MOS shoot, we had a DIT on hand, and we used the internal microphone to record the playback for syncing. As long as you are aware of the potential difficulties you can mitigate them with forethought and appropriate planning.
As for the image itself, I was impressed! I have shot some pretty stuff with the 2.5K, but the 4K really popped for me. The colors were spot on, the highlights rolled off as reasonably as one could expect on ProRes, and the sharpness in the image was frankly surprising. I had always thought of the CP2 lenses as less sharp than its bigger brothers, but I was pleasantly surprised on this shoot. The camera definitely lands up there with the RED and Alexa crowd. An Alexa would have been sharper and cleaner, but for the price difference between the two systems it is shocking how close they are in quality. One annoyance with the image came in overexposed superhighlights. The sensor has the same CMOS black sun effect you see on other cameras. When lights were pointed directly into the lens we’d often get black holes in the highlight portion. We managed to paint them out in the video, but it was still annoying to have to deal with them. I had thought Blackmagic had fixed this issue with a firmware update in 2013, but the BMPC 4K was showing these artifacts out of the box.
Overall it was a great shooting experience! I’m pleased with the images and the camera was easy to work with, so what more could we want? Well, maybe some SMPTE bars…”
We hope you enjoyed watching “Gangsta Waitress” and reading Sean’s review of the 4K Blackmagic.
We have packages in stock if you’d like to rent the 4K Blackmagic Camera.
You can also purchase the 4K Blackmagic Camera from B&H.