Tag Archives: atomos Ninja

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I still love the look coming out of the BlackMagic Design Pocket Cinema Cameras, but I'll admit that i'm pretty lazy to take the cameras out as much as I could. The batteries have incredibly short run times, the large camera files eat through SDXC cards, the tiny low resolution screen makes it hard to set focus and practically disappears under bright lights.

For me to solve this, I use an external battery, Atomos Ninja HDMI Recorder, and a better EVF screen. This adds up to a lot of parts that I still need to find a way to mount as ergonomically as possible. Throwing a few pieces together, here's what I ended up with.

Blackmagic pocket cinema camera small rig tilta cage spectrahd evf

Even though the system was relatively small, it was still somewhat awkward. After shooting for a full day, I realized the style of shooting on one particular project did not require the camera operator to move around within a few feet. So I decided a better way would be to split up the equipment, which makes the camera setup smaller, and now offers the benefit of a remote Director's monitor. Here's a video look on my new setup.

blackmagic pocket cinema camera rig

For the camera i'm using a Tilta BMPCC Cage with a Top Handle, mounted on PVGear.com 8" 15mm Carbon Fiber Rails with some short handles.

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find-price-button PVGear.com 15mm Carbon Fiber Rails


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find-price-button Tilta BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Camera BMPCC Cage

For better focus and viewing, we're using the new F&V SpectraHD EVF Monitor mounted to an adjustable EVF Mounting Bracket.

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find-price-button SpectraHD 4 Monitor EVF

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find-price-button SmallRig EVF Holder

The shoulder pad is the flexible PNCGear.com Hybrid Pad which can be folded up to use against the chest, or folded down to use over the shoulder.

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find-price-button PNCGear Hybrid folding Shoulder Chest Pad 15mm Clamp

I'm using the HDMI output from the F&V SpectraHD EVF with a 6 foot HDMI cable over to the Atomos Ninja2 Recorder. This now serves both as a directors monitor and an external recorder which is both cheaper and larger than any SD Cards I can afford.

With the Atomos mounted in a CMR Monitor Yoke, I have room to add a 14V Sony BPU battery to power up the BMPCC for hours and hours.

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find-price-button Sony BP-U60 BP-U30 Battery Plate 14V for BlackMagic Cinema Camera

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find-price-button Sony BP-U30 / BPU60 Batteries

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find-price-button Atomos Ninja2 HDMI Recorder

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find-price-button Camera Motion Research Monitor Yoke

I find this setup to be perfect for the type of shooting I do with this camera, but still easy enough to disconnect if I want to run the BMPCC on it's internal battery and record to internal SDXC cards.

You can see in this BTS photo sometimes space is too limited for a tripod, and it's also nice to move the camera around instead of having it completely static. The photo shows the old rig, but I feel my reconfigured setup will now be easier for this type of workflow and shooting style.

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Here's a few first day tests using the BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Camera with @satostudios. The samples may not make sense, but I was sampling different MFT lenses, Canon FD Lenses, and ND Filters for sharpness. Also testing out different ProRes LT vs HQ settings to see how much exposure and color difference there was when I threw a slight color grade on it. There is also a Film Grain Scan thrown over the graded footage so it will purposely appear 'grainy'. I decided that we just have to suck up all the large data and shoot ProRes HQ all the way for the rest of the project.

So while a dual operator setup may not be ideal for live events where you are constantly on the move, this setup can be beneficial when you have time to plan your shots with a crew. It keeps the camera rig small so that it can easily go from handheld, to slider, to tripod, etc. It allows you to work in very confined spaces and fairly ergonomic to switch between low angles or off the shoulder. It may also be easier to pack up your gear into two separate cases without having to break anything down.

Hopefully this may inspire some of you guys to rethink your rigs as well. Remember that this is not limited to the BMPCC. The GH4 can output 4K 10bit from HDMI, Sony A7s requires an external HDMI Recorder for 4K, and even cameras like the Canon 5D Mark III can benefit using recorders that capture to ProRes HQ. Instead of throwing everything on one rig which can quickly get heavy, oversized, and awkward to work with, it may be easier to split up your HDMI recorders, power solutions, second display, and even Audio Recorders off camera.

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Here's a few tips some of you may want to prepare for so that you can begin shooting with your brand new BlackMagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera the day it arrives.

#1 - Get a damn fast SDHC or SDXC card. None of the cards that work flawlessly on my Canon DSLRs were even detected. The few speedy cards I was able to grab from local retailers just ended up with dropped frames. We're just talking ProRes here, imagine when RAW is unlocked. Tomorrow I should receive a couple of Sandisk Extreme Pro cards (recommended in the user manual) for my weekend project.

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find-price-button Sandisk Extreme Pro SD Media Card

#2 - Keep in mind you cannot format SD cards from the camera itself. If you show up at a shoot with a full SD Card, there's no way to delete the files. Keep a laptop with SD card reader handy to format to exFAT and delete any old projects. Don't think you can just pop it into your other camera to delete. The HFS+ or exFAT file system isn't recognized in most other cameras.

#3 - The LCD screen on this camera (not touch screen) may not be suffice for working outdoors. If you plan to use a monitor or EVF, you need a rare micro HDMI cable (d type). I already have plans to use my Cineroid Retina EVF

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find-price-button Cineroid Retina EVF LCD Viewfinder

#4 - The battery drains very quickly on this pocket camera. These batteries are the same for the Nikon J1, inexpensive, but you still need an optional charging station so you don't keep your camera tethered. The other option is an external 12V power source for very long projects where swapping batteries could be a problem.

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find-price-button EN-EL20 Battery / Charger

#5 - Even my small Panasonic 12-35mm F/2.8 or 35-100mm F/2.8 Micro Four Thirds lenses fit too snugly on the camera if I have my 501PL plate mounted underneath. Lens adapters will be worse, so you'll need a platform, rig, cage, or something to raise the body up if you're planning to use popular Fluid Heads. I'm using the Fhugen GH3 cage right now since it's the smallest cage in my arsenal (no battery door access).

Rokinon Lens BlackMagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera
There's room to slide the plate back and forth, but other lens combinations may not be so forgiving

#6 - Expect no audio meters from the camera itself. I think at this point the easiest method is to just work an external recorder.

Finally just a quick note on using an HDMI recorder. I'm not sure if this will yield any difference in quality, but if there is no degradation, an HDMI recorder could be a cheaper solution for storage media, solves limitations on long projects, and is a fast way to hand off video files to your editor. The Atomos Ninja 2, one of the affordable HDMI recorders on the market, is capable of recording from the BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Camera. You can record the stream without actually recording from the BMPC, or you can just hit record on both units for dual recording (a good backup solution for critical projects).

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find-price-button Atomos Ninja 2 HDMI Recorder

I'll continue to add notes about the things i'm running into, and I'll be uploading sample ProRes files from the camera very soon. Make sure to follow me on Twitter, and stay tuned to the blog. Remember, if you're still looking to get on a short list to get this camera early, check in with DVEStore.com

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find-price-button BlackMagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera
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If you've been following some of the new camera announcements this month with the Sony A99, Nikon D600, and Canon EOS 6D, you've probably heard a few references to 'uncompressed video output via HDMI'. In the lineup, Canon was the only one who limited this feature. There's plenty of benefits when recording from the HDMI output of your camera such as capturing to a higher bitrate ProRes format (instead of compressed MTS, MP4, MOV, etc).

Capturing directly to ProRes also speeds up post processing for those who still need to batch convert. It's also the same format the new BlackMagic Camera will have as an option when you're not shooting RAW. The high bitrate in the ProRes file maintains more information needed to push around color and exposure in post and can help prevent ghosting and pixelation from fast moving subjects that the internal compressed codec can't handle. Some cameras will benefit by retaining more information in the shadows and keep from blowing out highlights.

The Atomos Ninja-2 is one of those affordable devices that should pair up nicely with the new Nikon Full Frame D600, the Sony SLT-A99, or even the new Sony VG900. The Ninja-2 brings a higher resolution screen to double as an external monitor with features like Focus Peaking, Zebras, and False color. You can also dismiss that 10-12 minute time limit, because the Ninja can record continuously - a great option for Wedding guys that need the 'set it and forget' camera angle. I'm hoping to see some significant benefits when pairing the Nikon D600 to the Atomos Ninja-2 which should both arrive any day now...

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find-price-button Nikon D600 Full Frame DSLR Video Camera

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find-price-button Atomos Ninja 2 HDMI Recorder - via B&H Photo Video

find-price-button Atomos Ninja 2 HDMI Recorder - via dveStore.com

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If anyone cares, the Atomos Ninja HDMI recorders are in stock. The little box will capture the uncompressed video out of the HDMI port of your professional camera and save it directly to FCP friendly format ready for editing. For some cameras, this means capturing a higher bitrate than the compressed file saved to the media card. It could be a great time saver for those who could use the format. (Canon and most other DSLRs need not apply). I was curious on it's initial release (which failed), and then finally gave up on waiting...

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find-price-button Atomos Ninja - Portable HDMI Recorder

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Well it's been one of the most interesting products available, but the delays could cause the hype to die down a bit. Is it finally going to be available tomorrow? According to one seller it's estimated to be. If you don't know what the Ninja is, you can read the earlier article here: http://cheesycam.com/atomos-ninja-any-day-now/


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find-price-button Atomos Ninja Portable HDMI Recorder

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If you've been following the long wait for the Atomos Ninja HDMI recorder, then you'll know it should start shipping this week (hopefully). It's a sexy little unit that acts like a low res monitor, but is really a portable recorder to capture uncompressed Video goodness. Many times this is done by connecting a Video camera to a computer of some sort and a capture card. Above is a nice little example from Vimeo member UrbanFox.TV or what the Ninja is all about. It's already been delayed for several days and i'm waiting to see some examples.

DSLR shooters probably aren't going nuts for something like this because it's pretty rare to get clean HDMI out for recording. Sure the 7D outputs in 1080, but there's something not quite all there.. Other non DSLR camera shooters who use higher end Canon's, the fancy Sony's, and Panasonic are literally drooling for a portable solution to capture uncompressed HD output signals. Sony camera like the EX1 will need SDI input on a recorder, so soon another version 'the Samurai' will meet those requirements. [Note: Though your camera may output uncompressed signals, the Ninja saves the incoming signal to Apple ProRes]. Rumor mill is that only 250 units will touch US ground on this first shipment and who knows when the next batch arrives. If you weren't on the pre-order list and didn't get confirmation to receive one soon, it looks like someone is making one available via eBay.


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find-price-button Atomos Ninja Portable HDMI Recorder

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