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BMCC: ProRes HQ video and audio tips

February 19, 2013

I shot this video using a Blackmagic Cinema Camera generously loaned to me for a few days by

From the Vimeo page you can download the “original MOV” to see a higher-quality (less compressed) 1920 x 1080 version of the video.

Video: Recorded using the BMCC’s “ProRes 422 HQ” 220 megabit/sec. mode set to “Video” (Rec.709) gamma. The BMCC was set at 800 ASA, with the white balance set to 3200K, 29.97 fps. The camera’s zebras were set at 100%. Exposure & lighting was adjusted so that a white card positioned in directly front of the talent’s face was just below clipping (e.g.: no zebras).

When shooting ProRes or DNxHD, the BMCC records its best balance of high dynamic range & low noise @ ISO 800 (its native ISO), and using the BMCC “Film” DR setting. However for this video I wanted to see what the BMCC’s “Video” mode looked like.

I didn’t use any ND filters for this shoot, but just an FYI: When using ND >9, adding an IR cut filter is advised. “Infrared pollution” affects most modern video cams to a varying degree, and can cause black objects and video in general to look tinged with brown/red/magenta. The choice of which IR cut filter is best to use tends to be sensor-specific. There’s information on cost-effective IR cut and ND filters specifically recommended for use with Blackmagic cameras in a detailed thread on the BMCuser forum. (Based on the info in the thread on BMCuser, and because I already own ND filters, I’ve since bought a “Hoya UV IR cut filter 77mm” for use with my BMPC-4K.)

Interview lighting: Key light is a 2K Arri tungsten fresnel bashing through a white cotton bed sheet; the back/hair light is a 250w Mole tungsten fresnel through diffusion. A 48″ white bounce reflector is located just off-screen on the talent’s left (camera right).

Audio[Note: These audio settings were used with BMCC firmware v.1.2. Later firmware versions may require different settings. Always record your own tests to verify settings appropriate for your production & workflow.] Recorded in-camera using a Sennheiser ME64 mic through a SoundDevices MixPre preamp. The line level output of the mixer was recorded by the BMCC set to “Line level”, with input levels set at 85%, and the BMCC’s internal mic set to 0% (off). Using these settings, the MixPre’s test tone plays @ -18db in FCP7.

UPDATE 12/22/13: “WhiteRabbit” has posted a helpful summary of the current state of BMCC audio performance as of firmware v.1.3.

Lenses: 45 year old Nikkor “F” SLR primes from KEH. The interview wide shot uses a 35mm f2, the close-up a 85mm f1.8, both at f4.

Cutaways were shot using a jib from EZFX, and a slider I built from Igus parts.

Edited in FCP7.

Visit the Cuda Brothers website.

bmcc grayscale chart

My list of related links, short films, and resources for Blackmagic Design cameras.

For my words, videos & photos only: ©2013 Peter J. DeCrescenzo. All rights reserved.

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