September 7th, 2012 by Glendyn
A couple of posts ago I mentioned the Apocalypse Now mash-up featured one of my all time favorite quotes about filmmaking. Francis Ford Coppola dreaming of the day when the professional (out of reach) world of filmmaking would fall away and technology would allow “a little fat girl from Ohio” to make a beautiful film with her fathers camera.
There is no doubt the democratisation of filmmaking which Francis prophesied is well and truly with us. Some truly great cinema has been made with minimal ‘off the shelf’ equipment. I still get excited by a back-pack full of gear (camera, microphone, laptop) being all you really need to shoot and edit a film. With more recent cameras like the 5D greater aesthetic and quality control has been firmly placed in our hands and I’m in still in awe at whats possible with a DSLR’s these days.
But today I was sent a box which I believe contains the next giant leap forward in breaking down the technology wall. The Blackmagic Cinema Camera is a very new and very exciting camera. It provides stunning, jaw dropping image quality (Pro-res or 2K uncompressed RAW) that is so far above and beyond what any DSLR can provide. It’s built like a brick and everything that plugs in and out of it has professional connectors that are strong and reliable. No more mini-jacks and fiddly HDMI. It records onto removable SSD and this version comes with an EF (Canon) lens mount.
The Blackmagic doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles. Infact it’s really basic in it’s design and feature set. Personally I find this refreshing. Anything it doesn’t do, and it does have limitations, in my mind is instantly erased by how much it costs, a mere $3000(!). I’ve seen this camera up against the Alexa in the grading suite and it’s comparative in look and feel. It’s different of course, but not $70 000 different. And way, way different to say a 5Dmk3 which cost the same.
I’m planning on testing the camera from a directors perspective as apposed to a cinematographers. I’m not overly technical though. I’m sure there will be a ton of sites out there providing all the specs and pixel peeping tests that will do a way better job of the geek speak than me. I just want to know it’s a reliable easy to use camera that provides good colour depth and gives me gradable detail in the highlights and in the shadows. I kind of already know the Blackmagic does this in spades. DOP John Brawley help test and develop the camera with Blackmagic Design and we used it a little on Puberty Blues. (John has a bunch of info and tests on his blog). But the camera we used then was a beta model and the one I’m holding below is the production one. It will soon to be flying off the shelves and into the hands and hearts of filmmakers around the world.