Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera Basic Tutorial

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Hello!
I recently purchased a Blackmagic Pocket Camera and I’d like to share my thoughts on it. I will also be talking about my own workflow.
For those who have never worked with this camera and would like to know the basics than I hope this tutorial will help you understand it a bit better.

Blackmagic update their firmware every so often adding new features to the cameras so I would suggest you keep checking their website.

If there’s anything you cannot find on this blog visit Blackmagic’s support page for BPCC here: https://www.blackmagicdesign.com/support/faq/43083

BMPCC features:
– Micro Four Thirds mount
– Super 16mm sensor (2.88x crop factor)
– 13 stops Dynamic Range
– Time lapse
– CinemaDNG Raw, ProRes 422 HQ, ProRes 422 Lt, ProRes Proxy
– ASA (ISO) range from 200 to 1600
– 6 White Balance Presets
– Film and Video mode
– In camera card formatting

My Kit
– Takumar 55mm f1.4, Super Takumar 28mm f3.5, Car Zeiss 50mm, Schneider Kreuznach Cinegon 10mm f1.8
– Hoya 58mm Pro Digital 64 filter
– Hoya 58mm IR filter
– Tripod
– M42 to M4/3 adapter
– 58mm to 42mm filter adapter
– Sandisk SD 32g class 10
– Extra batteries
– FCPX

Footage Preview

If you want to preview any footage on your camera, press the play button located next to the REC button. To view the previous or next clips press on the arrows next to it. To exit this function press the REC button.

Filter/Zebra (Exposure)
To get the perfect exposure (an example of this is when the sky has completely disappeared or the background is too bright) turn on the Zebras settings. You can choose the percentage, I leave mine on 100%. Enabling this function helps you to see the underexposed areas on your image and change the aperture accordingly.

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You will definitely need a filter when shooting outside. There are several filters you can choose from, some people swear by the Variable ND filters whilst others choose single ND filters. I have two Hoya ND filters: 2 stops, 4 stops, amazing value for money, doesn’t add any colour-casting or softness to your images. Not only helps to achieve good exposure it also means that you can work with big apertures to create a bokeh effect.
Another aspect to consider is IR pollution (infrared pollution). I have read in several blogs that you need an IR filter with this camera, although I have to say I haven’t experienced this yet, the image that’s coming out of my BPCC has been perfectly fine without it. If you are considering getting one, screw it on your lens and place the ND filter over it. IR pollution is more apparent when using a dark ND filter. It can be fixed in post production.

LCD viewfinder

Shooting outdoors can be a challenge at times specially in bright conditions. It becomes difficult to see the screen and almost impossible to determine wether or not the subject is in focus or properly exposed. You can attach an lcd viewfinder on the screen or even consider investing on a hd monitor. An lcd viewfinder makes it an excellent purchase for when you’re travelling light.

lcdviewfinder
Lenses
I love vintage lenses and I think they complement the film like image quality of the BMPCC perfectly. I had to purchase a lens adapter M42 to M4/3 adapter on ebay for about £5.00. The lenses are manual hence the reason why I went for such a cheap adapter. I use the Takumar 55mm, which becomes a 158mm due to the crop factor (2.88 crop factor) and the Takumar 28mm. For wide shots I have the Schneider Kreuznach Cinegon 10mm f/1.8.
There are several lists of compatible lenses for this camera on the web. A great starter lens is the Panasonic 14mm or the Panasonic 14-45mm with image stabilisation.
Another thing to consider is the Metabones Speedbooster. There are several mounts (canon, Nikon, m4/3) which limit the crop factor. I’ve heard there are cheaper alternatives to the Speedbooster, unfortunately, the results aren’t as good.

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Super Takumar (bokeh effect)

Riggs
Unfortunately you will need a tripod or a lens with image stabilisation (OIS) to get usable footage, otherwise you will end up with a lot of shaky footage. There are shoulder rigs for under £200 or you might simply opt for a tripod.

White Balance
There are several white balance settings you can choose from depending on the conditions you are shooting in. Choosing the right white balance means that your footage won’t come out yellow.
2500K, 2800K = Candlelight
3000K, 3200K, 3400K = Tungsten Bulb (household variety)
3400K, 3600K, 4000K = Sunrise/Sunset (clear sky)
4000K, 4500K, 4800K, 5000K = Fluorescent Lamps
5000K, 5200K, 5400K, 5600K, 6000K, 6500K = Daylight with Clear Sky (sun overhead)
6500K, 7000K, 7500K, 8000K = Moderately Overcast Sky

Timelapse

There are two ways of recording: Frames and seconds. 2 Frames mode will speed up your footage x2. If you choose 2 seconds you will get a slower video (see video below, recorded at 2 seconds). You can either record it Pro Res, which can be edited in any video editing straight from the card or raw, which will have to be converted first.

Batteries
You’ll find that the battery will not last more than an hour, you’ll need at least three or four if you’re going to be filming all day. It takes an EN-EL20 battery. Nikon also makes these batteries and they do last longer. Get it on amazon for about £30. Just make sure you switch the camera off when not in use to save energy.

Card formatting

There are two options for in camera formatting:

  • ExFAT – Windows and Mac
  • HFS+ – native Mac OS, better performance

List of recommended SD cards (taken out of the Blackmagic website)

The following SD cards are recommended for Apple ProRes 422 HQ recording:

Delkin Devices 16GB Elite SDHC UHS-I
Delkin Devices 32GB Elite SDHC UHS-I
Sandisk 8GB 45 MB/sec Extreme SDHC UHS-I
Sandisk 16GB 45 MB/sec Extreme SDHC UHS-I
Sandisk 32GB 45 MB/sec Extreme SDHC UHS-I
Sandisk 64GB 45 MB/sec Extreme SDXC UHS-I
Sandisk 128GB 45 MB/sec Extreme SDXC UHS-I
Sandisk 8GB Extreme Plus 80 MB/sec SDHC UHS-I
Sandisk 16GB Extreme Plus 80 MB/sec SDHC UHS-I
Sandisk 32GB Extreme Plus 80 MB/sec SDHC UHS-I
Sandisk 64GB Extreme Plus 80 MB/sec SDXC UHS-I
Sandisk 128GB Extreme Plus 80 MB/sec SDXC UHS-I
Sandisk 32GB Extreme Pro 95 MB/sec SDHC UHS-I
Sandisk 64GB Extreme Pro 95 MB/sec SDXC UHS-I
Sandisk 128GB Extreme Pro 95 MB/sec SDXC UHS-I
Sandisk 256GB Extreme Pro 95 MB/sec SDXC UHS-I
Sandisk 512GB Extreme Pro 95 MB/sec SDXC UHS-I

The following SD cards are recommended for CinemaDNG RAW recording:

Sandisk 32GB Extreme Pro 95 MB/sec SDHC UHS-I
Sandisk 64GB Extreme Pro 95 MB/sec SDXC UHS-I
Sandisk 128GB Extreme Pro 95 MB/sec SDXC UHS-I
Sandisk 256GB Extreme Pro 95 MB/sec SDXC UHS-I
Sandisk 512GB Extreme Pro 95 MB/sec SDXC UHS-I

Sandisk 32gb Extreme Pro class 10 U SDHC

This card will give you approximately 20 minutes recording time in Pro Res. Raw will be considerably less, about 6 minutes.

Rolling Shutter
This camera does suffer from rolling shutter (jelly effect when moving camera too fast) which can be easily fixed in post production.

Post Production
I use mainly FCPX as I like the interface better than Premiere. When recording ProRes you can simply transfer the files directly onto your editing software and start colour correcting/grading. I would start by changing the saturation and highlights/shadows as the camera produces a flat image. I also like to add some sharpness which comes under “Blur” effect on the effects section.
When shooting Raw you will have to convert the footage first. There are several ways of doing this: DaVinci Resolve Lite (free Blackmagic colour correcting software), Adobe Lightroom or Adobe Raw.

Editing Raw in Lightroom

Raw footage- individual DNG files.

  • Import DNG into Library
  • Edit individual image in Develop section and apply any changes you’ve made to the rest of the DNG files
  • Export to a specific file
  • Import the file to your chosen video editor and change time duration.

Stills from DNG Raw file

Quick Test

Here’s some footage I took when I first got this camera but never got the time to edit it. It’s only about 30 seconds and it was shot using both my Takumar lenses. Handheld, colour corrected on FCPX, ungraded.

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2 thoughts on “Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera Basic Tutorial

  1. Great Review. I really like this little camera. It soon replaces our trusted 5D MK3 as our B-Camera. The only problem is the battery. Especially on interviews, you have to have some power supply.

    • Thanks. Yes I agree, I’m loving the footage that’s coming out of this camera, there are quite a few things which could be improved but you learn how to work around them.

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