Workflow guide to the Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera

Workflow guide to the Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera

Using the Blackmagic Cinema Camera... in Post

There are currently two main workflow options for users of the Cinema Camera (at the time of writing – September 2012).

  1. Capture to Apple ProRes or Avid DnxHD, recording in 1920x1080 10-bit YUV with choice of Film or Video Dynamic Range

This has a number of advantages:

  • Greatly reduced file sizes to store
  • Lower processor overhead required for faster editing
  • Fast workflow: out-of-the-box compatibility with numerous editing tools
  • High quality 10-bit 4:2:2 HD images with either the 'video dynamic range' (REC 709 for TV-like output) or 'film dynamic range' for muted output, ready for grading.

This workflow is industry-standard and will be comfortable for anyone who is familiar with file-based editing. However, this may not be the route that all Cinema Camera owners will take...

  1. Capture 12-bit RAW files in the Cinema DNG format. Advantages include:
  • Full 2.5K resolution
  • 13 stop dynamic range
  • 12-bit colour depth
  • Superior chromakey performance
  • Superior exposure adjustment in post
  • Faster shooting, with fewer camera settings necessary

While this approach can deliver the best possible results and the greatest level of user-control, currently it entails a more involved, and slower workflow.

Firstly, NLE systems do not currently support 12-bit RAW Cinema DNG files; they simply lack the ability to handle so much data per frame at RGB level, and are solely designed to work with video formats that have 'baked-in' colour data - for example the 10-bit 4:2:2 HQX, ProRes and DNxHD. The same is true for Alexa users, where, for example a plug-in in required for Adobe Premiere Pro to manage colour space, exposure, and white balance with ARRI RAW footage. Similarly, Red users have to transcode Redcode RAW files to Apple ProRes using Redcine-X Pro.

The Blackmagic workflow also involves additional pre-editing processing:

  1. Shoot with Blackmagic Cinema Camera and record to CinemaDNG RAW files.
  2. Import the media into Resolve 9.
  3. Apply a basic grade in Resolve 9 and render out to your preferred 10-bit format.
  4. Edit.
  5. Render your completed project OR...
  6. Export an XML or AAF file and import the file into Resolve 9
  7. Conform with the original CinemaDNG images for maximum creative control.
  8. Grade the edited timeline in Resolve 9 to complete the project.

Additional Notes

  1. DaVinci Resolve is bundled with the Cinema Camera. It runs on Windows or Mac systems; we recommend high-spec workstations, such as a Mac Pro or an HP z820 or z620 with a minimum of 8GB RAM, a fast processor, professional graphics card and a RAID storage array, such as Sonnet's DX800.
  2. While Adobe's DNG Importer can read Cinema DNG RAW files, it only supports 8-bit video with a smaller colour space and less subtle gradations.
  3. Monitoring on a broadcast display is essential for a true reflection of colours and hues. While 2K grade 1 monitors are ideal, these screens are very expensive. More cost-effective solutions include Panasonic's 42” professional plasmas and its 25" or 21.5” LCD monitors.
  4. Very high resolution output from computer to external monitor can be achieved with use of Blackmagic's new UltraStudio 4K or its DeckLink 4K Extreme. Both enable real-time 10-bit monitoring.

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