The Golden & Guilded Age combined…

I’ve been watching my hard-drives fill up over the last few months. Not just from my current project, “Father Soldier“, but from the material I’ve collected making my  five previous films. I currently have over 2 terabytes of data accumulated over the last 2.5 years. Nothing fills up hard drives faster than video, and the rate of data is soaring as new higher quality video formats are coming into widespread use.

To give you some idea, I have two cameras I film with, One is the Panasonic Lumix G6, which is primarily a stills camera that just happens to shoot amazing quality video. I bought mine for $600.00, which considering the picture quality is absolutely astonishing. g6

The G6 shoots in what is called AVCHD, which is a highly compressed, but still high quality recording format. It uses data at the rate of 2.8 megabytes per second or 10.8 gigabytes per hour. That’s a lot, but it’s manageable. It runs cool, and batteries last at least an hour – and they’re cheap to buy.



It’s  nothing compared to my new baby, the Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera, (above), which is an infant in physical size only.

It’s a monster in the amount of data it eats up: At full High Definition resolution, which is 1920×1080 pixels,  it chews up 17.9 megabytes per second or 79 gigabytes per hour. It get’s hot in your hand  when you’re shooting. I use it as a hand-warmer in cold weather:) . It eats a battery in twenty minutes.

What sets this camera apart from my G6, (the one that shoots AVCHD), is that the Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera, or BMPCC for short, shoots in a very high quality format called Pro Res 422 HQ, (it shoots in other formats too, but I use this one ). Being able to record in this format  makes it a true cinema camera – think of it as digital film.

What does this buy the Director of Photography, or Cinematographer?

The camera shoots a “flat” image. It’s dull and washed out. It actually looks bad! But,  the images contain the raw material for gorgeous images. Because there’s a tremendous amount of information in this crappy looking image which can  be  unleashed in the post-production process called color-grading.

On the other hand,  when you shoot AVCHD, you get a decent image right from the camera. That’s if you expose properly, and get the color of the light you’re shooting accurately recorded. But if you’re off a little, particularly in exposure, and the lighting conditions you filming in have a high dynamic range, meaning high contrast- harsh sunlight with lots of bright areas in part of the image and shadow areas that are very dark in comparison – then you’re in trouble.

Your eye can handle extreme dynamic ranges but cameras shooting in AVCHD struggle.  Exposure mistakes  can’t be fixed in post production to any great degree.  In comparison, the  BMPCC’s, and it’s Pro Res format,   has the amazing  ability to provide information and detail within nearly every part of an image. It doesn’t  record an  image that is any sharper than the G6, but it’s image is far more filmic. Because there’s more information in the image that can be brought out in post-production – and which can be manipulated not just to fix mistakes, but to give the film a “look”.  Just like the way Hollywood does for its features. For an independent  filmmaker, this is  wonderful. We love gorgeous images, even if the majority of our audiences don’t place a high degree of importance in upgrading from Standard DVD, which has a resolution of 720×480 pixels, to Blue Ray which is 1920×1080 pixels.

But I’m a convert to theses new formats and it looks like I’ll be buying more hard drives…in fact,  I’ll be doing it gladly. I’ll still use the G6 for interviews that are lengthy, it’s quality is still darn good. And if I expose properly and adjust the camera to the color of the light in the scene, it will look very, very good. And it will edit together OK with the BMPCC. Not perfect but only other film maker pixel peepers like myself will notice or care.

The BMPCC is soooo nice. It’s my  go-to camera when I want maximum quality.  Or when I want to “push” the color of an image around to create different looks and moods.

I bought mine new a month ago when the camera went on sale…for 500.00! About the cost of an IPhone … which puts out a pretty amazing picture too come to think of it.

It’s a golden age for people creating digital media, no question about it. I will use these new tools to guild my films in luscious beauty.

There, I sort of wrapped up the title of this post thingy.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *