2014 IAWTV Award Nominations

My digital series Continuum received 3 nominations today for the 2014 IAWTV Awards...

Best Score - Damon Criswell
Best Visual FX - Element X Creative (and Chad Briggs VFX Supervisor)
Best Art Direction - Eric Whitney

As a side note, Eric won last year in this category. That probably means he has no chance this year. :)

Here's a complete list of the nominees.  The show is January 7th in Las Vegas.

UPDATE:  We won two of the awards!!! BEST SCORE and BEST ART DIRECTION

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Digital Juice - Free Spirit Camera Stabilizer

Recently bought the Free Spirit Stabilizer from Digital Juice and decided to do an unboxing video since I couldn't find one on YouTube for it...



Digital Juice Free Spirit Camera Stabilizer - Unboxing from Blake Calhoun on Vimeo.

I've been testing the rig with my Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera and will post some results soon. The thing I'll say now is it's not exactly easy to use.

Stay tuned... :)

-Blake

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RAW is Here on the Blackmagic Pocket

I've been having a good time shooting with the new BMPCC and just learned today that the latest firmware update includes the elusive RAW recording setting...


This is good news, however, I gotta say that the ProRes HQ recording option looks REALLY GREAT and so I was actually not missing RAW like I might on the big brother camera to this one, the Blackmagic Cinema Camera, as the RAW there is for it's 2.5k shooting mode - which makes a big difference over 1080 HD, I find (you can't record ProRes in the 2.5k mode - although it would be nice if you could... Rumor has it you will be able to on the 4k camera they're releasing - one day).

So long story short, the Pocket shoots 1080 only in both ProRes or RAW and looks amazing. I don't say that lightly either. It really does look great. Hard to believe coming from a $1000 camera.... But, glass makes a big impact on this rig (and on most I guess), so using good lenses is imperative.

I've been using a Metabones adapter with vintage Nikon F mount glass that looks nice and creamy, but I seem to get a decent amount of smearing or motion blur - more than I'm used to, even back when I shot 16mm film and used lenses with no image stabilization.  So, I bought a Panasonic MFT zoom with IS and I must say, it looks NICE.  The images are smoother and surprisingly sharp.

I will post some footage from this camera soon. But in the meantime, if you'd like to see a book trailer I directed that was shot on the full BMCC, here it is...



PRINCE OF SHADOWS Book Trailer (Shot on BMCC 2.5k with Rokinon Cine Primes) from Blake Calhoun on Vimeo.

Oh, and here's a cool blurb on none other than io9 about the above trailer. Very cool. :)

Talk soon.
-Blake

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Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera (has arrived!)

A lot has been written about this camera, but just a few folks have actually gotten to shoot with it... I happen to be one of the lucky ones who have.



I pre-ordered my camera the day it was announced at NAB back in April.

I got the camera two weeks ago.

Funny thing is I didn't even have a lens that would work with it. It's a MFT (micro four-thirds) mount and I mainly own Canon EF mount lenses. So, when I got it I had to order a lens! That took a week... then when it arrived, it actually didn't fit correctly on the mount.  Bummer. I'm not sure if it was the camera or the lens, but I have read some folks are having trouble with a few select lenses mounting correctly. A flange/machining issue of some kind.  So I sent it back.

Then inspiration struck.

I remembered I had a set of prime Nikon F mount lenses. I bought them off eBay years ago for a Letus adapter (remember those?) to use on my Canon XH-A1. They are vintage manual lenses from the 1960s.

So instead of buying another MFT lens, I bought a Metabones MFT to Nikon F Mount adapter.  I just got it today and I must say, it is really nice. Very well built. Solid.  And it fits on the camera perfectly. And then the Nikon glass fits perfectly on it. I love it.

I've shot some test stuff, but nothing I'm ready to post on Vimeo. But I'll just say, this camera really reminds me of an ARRI SR2 or SR3. Not the handling of it. The image. It is very Super 16mm in look and texture.  Blackmagic calls it a "Super 16 Digital Film Camera" and I actually think that is correct.

I will post some footage once I get something I think looks good. And I'm going to do my best to not just post a string of random test shots cut to a funky music track. :)

-Blake


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Magic

Watch this (no CGI added later, all shot in camera with projection mapping and robotics)...


Box from Bot & Dolly on Vimeo.

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A New GenreTainment Interview

I recently did another interview with a cool genre-based podcast (blog radio show) called GenreTainment that talks with creators of web series, feature films, etc.

We chat about Continuum, Pink, Morganville-The Series and Phobia!

Here's a blurb from their intro...

For today’s episode of GenreTainment we welcome back filmmaker & web series creator Blake Calhoun. He has created award winning web series like Pink, TheWB.com’s Exposed, and Continuum.

He chats with us about those projects, plus tell us about his new vampire thriller feature length film Phobia and his upcoming web series MorganvilleMorganville is based on the best selling book series by the same name. It also has vampires and even a former Buffy the Vampire Slayer actress who will be starring it.


Calhoun also shares some tips on creating a web series and managing a Kickstarter campaign.
Check it out here.

Thanks,
Blake

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PHOBIA Now Available!

PHOBIA is now available!  Please look for it OnDemand at most US and Canadian cable and TV providers such as AT&T U-Verse and Time Warner.

ALSO, here's the iTunes link and the Amazon link to watch instantly.

This is an independent period drama produced in Dallas, Texas - not exactly an easy thing to pull off - but I think we did it with the help of our great cast and crew... specifically Deborah Gerard (costume designer) and Eric Whitney (production designer). Our locations scout/manager Mark Mahlo contributed big time as well.  If you're making a period drama and the wardrobe or the sets or the locations don't fit - the movie doesn't work.  These guys made it work.

Of course Jon Keeyes our director did an amazing job collaborating with these folks to put it all together.  And lastly, Anne Gibson our writer and Executive Producer created the world on the page and then helped bring it to life by bringing financing to the table. It definitely takes a group of people to make it all click.

Hope you'll check out the film!



Thanks,
Blake

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PHOBIA Release and Trailer

UPDATE: The movie is now available!  Please look for it OnDemand at most US and Canadian cable and TV providers such as AT&T U-Verse and Time Warner.

ALSO, here's the iTunes link and the Amazon link to watch instantly. Thanks!
--------------------------------------------------------------

The feature film PHOBIA that I produced and edited, and that Jon Keeyes directed will premiere on cable VOD and iTunes September 1st!

VOD outlets: AT&T U-Verse, Cox Cable, Charter On Demand, Verizon FiOS, Mediacom, Insight, RCN Cable, Optimum Cable, Dish Network, Armstrong Cable, Rogers On Demand (Canada), Shaw Cable (Canada), Cogeco Cable (Canada) and EastLinkTV (Canada)


iVOD outlets: iTunes, GooglePlay, Playstation Network, Vudu, Amazon Video and XBox.


Here's the trailer...



And here are some images that can be posted on Facebook pages as Cover Artwork to help us promote the release...




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SciFi Riot and Continuum

I've partnered with a new sci-fi YouTube Channel called SciFi Riot to release Season 2 of Continuum. They get a 14 day exclusive on YouTube, then I will also put the episodes on the main Continuum channel.

Here are the first two eps in Season 2... (embeds not available right now):

Ep 10
http://youtu.be/oxxCa6qPQyc

Ep 11
http://youtu.be/Aem7BxxGXsw

More coming soon...

-Blake

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Amber Benson Playing a Vampire!?!

So yes, you read that right... Amber Benson of 'Buffy' fame will be playing a vampire in our show instead of slaying vampires. :)



If you didn't know, Amber has officially attached herself to play Amelie (the founder of Morganville) in our adaptation of The Morganville Vampires book series into a web series called Morganville: The Series.

We're very excited to have her involved.  But of course, the Kickstarter campaign has to fund first. Today we crossed the $25k mark towards our goal of $75k... so we're 1/3rd of the way!

Here is some nice coverage of Amber's involvement in the campaign and hopefully the series.

And here is the link to our actual Kicstarter campaign page.

We've got some really interesting rewards too. For only $40 you can get a digital copy of the script, exclusive postcard artwork and an HD download of Season 1.  Or for those with deeper pockets, the $500 level you get all of the above plus a complete set of all 15 Morganville books autographed by Rachel Caine the author, along with a DVD, a poster and I forget what else. It's a lot.

So please help if you can!  A tweet or FB post is almost as good as becoming a financial backer. Almost. :)

Thanks!
Blake

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Morganville: The Series | Kickstarter Campaign

You've probably heard of Kickstarter because of the Veronica Mars or Zach Braff movies that raised millions of dollars recently to fund their projects. Well, I'm involved in one now too. But we're not Hollywood millionaires looking for handouts. We're indie filmmakers looking for handouts.

In all seriousness, Kickstarter is a great way to crowd-fund all kinds of projects.

I am fortunate to be working with the international best-selling author Rachel Caine in bringing her book series THE MORGANVILLE VAMPIRES to life as an online TV series.... and we could use your help.

Here's the link to our Kickstarter campaign:

We're attempting to raise $75,000 to fund the essential expenses of shooting one season (six episodes, approx. 45-60 mins of content).  That primarily being cast/crew, equipment rental, post-production, visual FX, music and of course the rewards (incentives) for contributing.  Speaking of these, there are some really unique ones that involve sock puppets and ponies (not really, but maybe).  

Here's the campaign video (also on the Kickstarter page):


Morganville: The Series | Kickstarter Campaign Video from Blake Calhoun on Vimeo.

So please check this project out and help if you can. Even a Facebook share or tweet is a big help. Although money helps a lot more.

This is the first of 50 or so post you'll see from me on this. I'm kidding. :)

More links:
www.morganvilletheseries.com

UPDATE 6/11/13 (evening):  So far so good... almost 10% of the way towards our goal!

Here's the press release that went out today too:

MORGANVILLE VAMPIRES TAKE A BITE OUT OF WEB TV

June 11, 2013

Rachel Caine, author of the New York Times, USA Today and #1 internationally bestsellingMorganville Vampires novels, announced today that the series is being adapted for a web TV series in partnership with Streamy award winning producer/director Blake Calhoun and Loud Pictures (PinkContinuum, and TheWB.com’s Exposed).

Both are based in the Dallas/Fort Worth area of Texas.

“We want to make this show for the fans worldwide,” said Caine. “They’ve been incredibly dedicated, and the numbers of petitions and emails make it clear that they would love to see these characters on screen. We think a quality web TV series is a fun and groundbreaking way to make that happen.”
The fifteen-book saga has global popularity, with translations in 20 languages. The first novel, Glass Houses, was voted the most popular book among UK school children in 2013, ahead of smash media-fueled hits like Twilight and Harry Potter. “These books will make great television,” said Loud Pictures’ Calhoun. “They’ve got involving, dynamic characters, action, adventure, friendship and some very real high stakes. I’m looking forward to working with Rachel on bringing this to life.”

In order to raise the necessary funds to do a web TV show with high quality production values, the partners have turned to Kickstarter (http://www.kickstarter.com) to raise the $75,000 needed to cover the essential first season costs of actors, crew, equipment, effects, and music, among other expenses. The $75,000 is estimated to cover six 8 to 10 minute episodes, for a total of approximately 60 minutes of content.

“If we reach that goal, we can turn out a very solid TV-quality viewing experience for the fans,” said Caine. “If we go over, we can add more episodes, more effects, better locations, and make the drama even more compelling.”

Caine is penning the scripts for the first season’s episodes, which will begin filming in September 2013 if the Kickstarter goals are reached. The team plans to release the preview trailer of the new series in December 2013, to follow the launch of the fifteenth and last novel of the Morganville Vampires, Daylighters.

Bestselling YA author and actor Amber Benson (Buffy, Ghosts of Albion, Chance) is attached to play the part of Amelie, the vampire founder of Morganville. Casting for additional parts is scheduled to begin after the successful conclusion of the Kickstarter fundraiser.

Producers:
Rachel Caine/Pen Ultimate Productions: http://www.rachelcaine.com
Blake Calhoun/Loud Pictures: http://www.loudpictures.com

Publishers:
Penguin Books/NAL:http://www.us.penguingroup.com/nf/Search/QuickSearchProc/1,,Author_1000060251,00.html
Allison & Busby (UK): http://allisonandbusby.com/series/the-morganville-vampires-series/

Thanks!
Blake

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Upstream Color


I didn't get to attend Sundance this year, although I really wanted to.  Several folks from the studio I work out of went to support several Texas-made films that were premiering in competition. 

Those films were David Lowery's Ain't Them Bodies Saints and Shane Carruth's Upstream Color.  

In an interesting coincidence, both of these films actually used our studio (Ideaman Studios in Dallas, Texas) during various stages of their production and/or post.

Lowery's film will be released in August by IFC Films and so I have not seen it, but Shane is distributing Upstream Color himself and last night in Dallas he held a preview screening before the film opens officially on Friday at the Angelika Theater.  And I was there.

Upstream Color has been reviewed a lot since it's Sundance premiere and so I'm not going to really do that here, plus I'm not a film critic... I'm a filmmaker who on occasion gets to watch films (I have two small children so I mainly watch Disney Channel).  I also don't consider myself a "cinephile". My taste vary wildly and I probably tend to prefer more commercial fare. 

Not Michael Bay commercial mind you... more like Steven Spielberg or Martin Scorsese commercial.

As a frame of reference, some of my favorites films are...

Goodfellas
Shindler's List
Trainspotting
Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid
Pulp Fiction
Alien
Minority Report
Raging Bull
Narc
Star Wars
Shawshank Redemption
Raising Arizona

I could go on, but you get the idea. 


I'm not a film historian and really don't know much about French New Wave or the French for that matter.  I just like good movies.  

What's my definition of a good movie? Typically speaking, it's one that I will watch more than once.  And that doesn't happen very often.  And it's all very subjective of course.

So I guess what I'm saying here is this Upstream Color "review" is coming from someone who doesn't really watch many "art films".  

I actually had a debate on Facebook recently about that phrase... art films.  I posed the question, aren't all films art?  I think they are.  But with the caveat that not all art is created equal. As a Facebook friend of mine Lance Von Trachtenberg says, "A print that you can buy in the clearance bin at Ross is in fact art, but really doesn't carry with it the resonance of an oil by Monet".  

So, art then is delivered in degrees of complexity... And that brings us to Upstream Color (finally, right?)... :)

I actually didn't know what to expect seeing the film.  

I've followed it's progress pretty closely though since it was produced in Dallas - and actually I know Shane, Casey Gooden (the producer) and Tom Walker (the production designer).  And many of the cast members I've worked with and are friends with. But Shane kept the film pretty quiet.  Pretty secret.  

Until the Sundance premiere.

That's when the Twitterverse lit up after the premiere screening.  I was taken aback some reading the initial WTF responses.  Especially considering the film played to what is undeniably a friendly "art house" crowd. 



That's not to say the reaction was bad per se, it was just more of confusion.  But that was kind of expected, wasn't it? After all, if you saw Primer (Shane's first film that won Sundance in 2004) you were already primed (pun intended) for a puzzle of a story.

The tweets settled down though later in the Sundance week and slowly turned to high praise from many top critics.  But, as often happens, film critics are much more in tune with art house films than general movie goers.  So, I still wasn't really sure what to expect.

Lots of folks compared the work to Malick or Kubrick, which is setting the bar pretty high - although I am not a huge fan of Malick's recent efforts such as Tree of Life. That film tries way too hard and says very little (I know many disagree with me).  And actually, Malick's name gets tossed around a lot these days if a film has a "lyrical" quality to it. So I personally think his name is overused in describing work today.  But I digress...

Upstream Color does have elements of Kubrick (in many of the shot compositions) and a lyrical style reminiscent of Malick (yeah, I did just say that), but in the end it's all Shane Carruth.  And I liked it.

There, I finally said something about the film!

Now, let me say I'm not exactly sure why I liked it, but I did.  I really didn't connect with any of the characters.  I really didn't get consumed by the story (and yes, there is a story and a narrative albeit in the background).

And speaking of the story, it was actually pretty simple.  And pretty straightforward.  

The way it was told was fairly complex and enigmatic.  

It was also ambiguous. And ambiguity is great in my mind, but not confusion.  That is a fine line, but there is a difference.

After the screening at the Q&A Shane said something that I really thought was interesting... He said as a filmmaker he's not there to provide answers, he's there to ask questions.  I really like that.

So I think for me the attraction to the film was more about tone. It was also about sound design. And it was about music. 

These three main elements really made it work.  

Again, this is a lyrical film. You're not watching this to be engrossed in an action thriller storyline.  It's more of a sensorial experience.

I'll also say the performance of actress Amy Seimetz was really good, and the cinematography was very  intriguing in a shallow depth-of-field, out of focus kind of vibe.  It absolutely added to the experience in a very good way.  


One minor cinematography (and/or editing choice) caveat here for me was the use of the "hand shot" - it got a bit old.  It's a very cool shot - a close-up of a person's hand gliding along a leg, or a bed or grass - whatever.  It's been  done a lot and I really remember it in Ridley Scott's Gladiator, but also in other (yep) Malick work.  That's not to say others can't use it, you can, but it felt over done here - a lot like those damn sun flare shots in any (yep) Malick film. Those are beautiful the first 10 times you see them, but man, in almost every shot? Gets old.

So will fans of Primer like this film?  That's hard to say.

It's not really a puzzle of a story. It's also not sci-fi or really a genre film. It does have genre elements in it - especially at the beginning with the worms and then pigs. That has a horror vibe going, but only for a while. The pacing is good throughout, although it does meander a tad in the second act. But the third act is beautiful and virtually dialogue-free.  In the end the film is really a love story and actually has (all things considered) a rather sweet ending, too. All of course told in a very unique way.  

So yeah, Primer fans will for the most part like it I think, as long as they know what they're in for. But it is a different kind of film, and a much more mature film.

I really hope (art) film fans will go out and support this. Shane and co. are distributing this themselves and so every ticket sold really matters.  The film opens this Friday locally in Dallas and Plano at the Angelika, and across the country as well. So go see it! 

It will also be released on VOD and Blu-ray, etc. in early May in the U.S. and that will likely be where most of its business comes from... 

I know I'll be watching it again.

-Blake

P.S. I really loved the score. And you can buy it right now digitally or on vinyl (which is really cool), and as a matter of fact you can preview a track right here...


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Continuum Season 2 Premiere Announced


Season 2 of my sci-fi series Continuum will premiere exclusively on JTS.tv NEXT TUESDAY 4/16/13. What is JTS.tv? It’s an indie TV network that’s available online via their main site and on Roku boxes via your television.


If you followed our Season 1 release, we rolled it out on JTS first, then offered the entire season on VOD and finally ad-supported on YouTube. That will be our same path with Season 2. More details to follow soon!

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GoPro-ing

Recently I've really gotten into shooting with my GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition... I think the image (in good lighting conditions) is extremely usable now - even for broadcast projects.  Set the camera to record 2.7k in the ProTune mode and it looks remarkably good. It's very sharp and the codec holds up well to basic grading.

Here's a short test I shot before Christmas (with a baked in look though)...


GoPro Hero3 Black Edition 2.7k Footage from Blake Calhoun on Vimeo.

And then the time-lapse stuff looks great too when shot in the full 12 Megapixel mode. It's close to, if not, a 5k image - so you can easily pull a 16x9 2k video file (or larger) from it.  I'll post some samples I did in the near future.

On a job we just finished in Vegas we shot some synchronized swimming at Caesar's Palace by sticking the camera in the side of the pool (on a short Joby tripod) and the client loved the look. A really quick and easy way to add production value to a shoot with the underwater footage.

I'm really finding a lot of uses for this very portable and affordable rig.  What about you?

-Blake

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Testing the Blackmagic Cinema Camera

I've recently had the opportunity to shoot with the elusive Blackmagic Cinema Camera.  I had read all the early reviews and seen all the early footage - but nothing is quite the same as using the camera yourself.

My first test was really simple and really quick and shot on a really gloomy day...



Blackmagic Cinema Camera Test Footage from Blake Calhoun on Vimeo.

In this test I shot ProRes HQ in camera and used the Film mode, which is very similar to Log mode on say an Alexa or a Canon C300.  I shot with a Canon 24-105mm L series lens. The resulting color graded footage looked remarkable good I thought, even with it being so overcast.

My next test was a bit on the brave side, and I say this because it was for a paying gig. I work in the commercial business (as well as the film and TV business), and one of my agency clients needed some Subaru footage... so, I decided to use the BMCC on the job.  In the end I'm glad I did it as it was a very good "real world" test - and it showed some glaring issues with the camera that I'll list at the end of this post.

For this job we shot Avid DNxHD in camera using the Video mode, which has a baked in Rec 709 look. Btw, it's VERY nice that you can shoot ProRes or DNxHD IN CAMERA with the BMCC.  I don't think any other camera on the market does this (besides Alexa?). A huge advantage for quick turnaround post regardless of your NLE of choice. And these files playback on pretty much any computer.


We shot again with the Canon 24-105mm L series lens (pictured above) along with a Rokinon 16mm prime for our wider stuff.  We also used a small 4 ft. jib (also pictured) that really worked well for this size camera adding just enough production value to the footage.  Lastly, we (luckily) had a top of the line Flanders Scientific 17" monitor, this is key too, as the BMCC LCD is okay - but the colors are not true AND it's a mirror outside (especially in the sun) - and if you don't have a large crew and the ability to get a courtesy flag over the monitor it's pretty much unusable.

The other thing I did a bit differently on this was shoot 29.97fps at a 144 degree shutter. I normally would shoot (as I did in the first test) at 23.98fps at a 180 degree shutter.  But, this was for broadcast (and we didn't want to add pulldown to the 24p footage) and more importantly it was going into a preexisting edit with other 29.97 footage.

The final test I did was probably my favorite though, even if it wasn't "real world", because I shot in the camera's highest resolution (and best quality) at 2.5k Raw.  This was shot at 23.98fps in Film mode (the only mode btw you can shoot in raw) and I used the same Canon L series lens for part of it and a Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 for the other part (really most of it).

I was hesitant to use the Tamron at first though... it's a pretty good lens, but not as sharp as L glass (although as a side note it's the main lens we used to shoot the entire two seasons of my web series Continuum on a Canon 7D). But in the end I was pleasantly surprised at the results. Would L glass or a prime be sharper?  Yes, almost certainly, but this looks pretty darn good...



Blackmagic Cinema Camera 2.5k Raw Test from Blake Calhoun on Vimeo.

It's worth noting on this test that I shot all of it either hand-held or on a monopod, so the footage needed some stabilizing, which I did in Davinci Resolve and FCP7.  I also did the color grading in Davinci and I did use Magic Bullet Looks on two shots (can you guess which ones?).

Overall I'm VERY impressed with this camera, as are most people who have reviewed it.  It does however have LOTS of issues that make it hard to use... some of these can/will be fixed with firmware updates and others can't be.

Here's my list of pros and cons (not in any order):

CONS:
  1. Ergonomics are really quirky for hand-held (definitely need 3rd party support gear to really do it right)
  2. The LCD screen doesn't articulate and is a mirror outside
  3. The double tap function on the LCD to zoom in and check focus works fine, but over half the time a menu pops up instead of the focus zoom (the menu comes on with a single tap)
  4. The Iris control is very basic, you hit the button and it "auto" finds the exposure. That's it.  You can't adjust it up or down by a stop or partial stops (UNLESS you're using a manual lens)
  5. The version of the firmware I used did NOT display the aperture - this has since been added I'm told
  6. There is no time remaining indicator for the SSD. It just stops recording and several times I didn't realize this - NOT good!
  7. There are no VU meters for audio - so if you're recording it I guess a mixer is needed?  I'd suggest doing double system sound. I'm not sure if it has an auto function enabled either?
  8. The internal battery doesn't last very long - an external battery is a must have. Oh, and the internal battery can't be replaced - it's built in.
  9. The menu is VERY basic. It's really too basic for professional shooters.  It needs more functionality. For example, color bars would be great. Although that's pretty basic too, isn't it? :)
  10. I found that the LCD is not very color accurate, it's okay, but not great (this doesn't matter as much if you're shooting raw or in Film mode - but ProRes or DNxHD in Video mode it concerns me some)
  11. Quirky thing, but I found you can't playback ProRes or DNxHD off the SSD in camera IF you've recorded Raw on the same SSD.  
  12. BIG ISSUE HERE... You can NOT format the SSD in camera. And you cannot delete clips in camera.  You have to connect it to your computer to delete the clips!!!!!!  Really needs to be fixed.

PROS:
  1. The image quality is unmatched in this class of camera - although LOTS of competition is on the horizon from the Digital Bolex to the KineRAW Mini (all in the $3000 range).
  2. Did I mention the image quality?  It really does look like a "Baby Alexa" as some folks have called it... It's very cinematic right out of the camera!
  3. The cost - the camera is under $3000 - although to really make it work in a pro setting I'd recommend buying a cage, rails and mattebox system, along with an external monitor, and you'll also need an external battery (like a V-mount, etc.).... so you're looking at another $2k-$5k depending on what you get - but that's STILL AMAZING. Anyone remember the $90k DigitBetacams???
  4. SSDs are great, affordable and hold lots of footage... and you'll need the space if shooting raw. The drives we had were only 120GB and they held about 90 mins of ProRes or DNxHD and only 15 minutes of Cinema DNG Raw files!  But the drives are so nice - and not proprietary like RED's.
  5. HD-SDI output is really nice and unseen at a price point like this!  You can connect a variety of very high-end monitors and/or external recorders (for ProRes or DNxHD, not Raw).  Some might find this a Con as they have HDMI monitors, but they would be wrong. :)
  6. Built in microphone - very basic and simple, but great for doing double system sound. The RED cameras do not have this and it makes it more challenging hooking up an external mic.  Understand, I'm talking about using this mic for reference only to sync sound recorded on another device (using Pluraleyes or similar).
  7. Simplicity - it's very easy to use. I grabbed it and shot something literally 2 minutes later without reading a manual. They have definitely taken the Apple approach to minimalistic design. This could also be a Con though (see #9 above), but overall it does make it great for novices and even pros to jump in and start shooting.
  8. Editing workflow is great - super easy and obvious if you're using ProRes or DNxHD, but even with Cinema DNG files it's really easy IF you use Davinci Resolve.  A LOT of folks are going the Lightroom to After Effects route and it's taking hours and hours to do this. The results do look great, but man, what a lot of work. In Davinci they have Blackmagic Camera LUTs already in the program!  And the Raw files come right in instantly even with the audio, this is a big deal.  Now, you do need a really powerful machine to play the files in realtime (not sure if this is completely possible or not?), but my iMac (just over a year old) plays them back at about 12fps and scrubs through them great, so it's really not a huge issue.  Grading is relatively easy (coming from Apple Color for me) and the exporting to a useable codec like ProRes HQ or ProRes4444 is a breeze.
  9. EF mount - there's lots of people who'll disagree with this, but for me it's great. I already own lots of Canon glass and it's also very cheap to rent.  Zeiss even makes the CP.2 primes that fit EF. Oh, btw, I did NOT have any issue with the crop factor, none whatsoever!  I just used wider lenses and it all worked out fine. This was a big "fear" when the camera specs were announced and has really become a non-issue.
  10. It doesn't look like a pro video camera - this is in the same vein as with HDSLRs... it's great to be more incognito when shooting, especially in public. People think you're just shooting stills. A lot of my test footage was shot at the Dallas Arboretum and no one blinked an eye as to what I was doing.
  11. Btw, did I mention the image quality? :)

So as you can see, there are lots of pros and cons... I could have gone on with more on both.

Luckily a lot of the Cons can be fixed with firmware updates.  Some can't though like the LCD screen and the audio jacks (I didn't mention these, but they are 1/4" which is a bit odd, but useable).

And a lot of the Pros are subjective and probably actually Cons to some people...

So should you buy one?  I'd simply say, YES. (if you can find one that is!)

Not only do you get a remarkable image from this quirky camera, but it comes with Davinci Resolve and UltraScope (which is a really interesting way to tether your camera to a computer and get a Live View, along with Waveform and Vectorscopes and a VU meter for your audio monitoring).

But, I wouldn't make this my only camera.  Especially if you're a filmmaker like me who works in a variety of genres.

I own a 7D too and never made that my sole camera.  I also have a traditional Sony NXCAM rig for corporate and some commercial work... I own two GoPros... I still have a Canon XH-A1... And I often rent other cameras depending on the gig (lots of RED Scarlet or Epic recently), etc.

You need to use the right camera for each job. And while the BMCC will work in a lot of situations, it wouldn't be ideal in others. I personally feel it's a great fit for medium to low budget commercial work and narrative indie films.  It'll also probably get a lot of work as a B Camera to Alexas on bigger shoots. Documentary or run and gun stuff? Not ideal.

In the end, this is a truly amazing camera for an unheard of price. And just think, this is a Version 1 model... where will this be in just a few short years?  And some people will wait for that, and that's fine (maybe it will have a Super 35mm chip next round?). But I want to make films today.

So right now, even with all of its quirks, you can't get a better bang for your buck.

-Blake

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Two IAWTV Trophies

Just over a week ago we (the production team on Continuum) won two IAWTV tropies during CES in Las Vegas... Best Editing and Best Art Design.

See the entire list of winners here.

I took the editing award and Eric Whitney won the Art Design trophy. Next up are the Streamy Awards where I'm nominated in the Best Editing category. That event is in Los Angeles at the Hollywood Paladium. I've never been to the Paladium, so I'm excited to attend.

Here's a goofy picture of me holding a trophy (not THE trophy though, there was a mix up and they're having to mail it to me - along with Eric's).  :)
























-Blake

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Who Am I?

I'm a filmmaker who's produced & directed five feature films including the comedy SPILT MILK (available on iTunes), the new horror/thriller PHOBIA (on iTunes) and the action/thiller KILLING DOWN (which you can buy or rent at pretty much all the usual places).

I also created the Streamy and Webby award-winning web series PINK, which to date has been viewed online around 10 MILLION times at places like YouTube, Hulu, Koldcast and TheWB.com. And speaking of TheWB.com, I also produced and directed an online thriller for them called EXPOSED. It was released summer 2010. And most recently I created a new online sci-fi series called CONTINUUM, which is part of the online indie TV network JTS.tv - Just The Story and NOW available via VOD through indie platform Distrify.

Oh, and I don't shoot weddings. Thanks for asking though.

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