I land in New York 4 hours late. Weather held up flights across the US and we were sitting on the tarmac for hours unsure whether we were going to be able to fly or not. The dreaded words that the flight may have to be cancelled had been mentioned. However, luck was with us, and even though I had planned to be in Manhattan by 7.30pm, the reality was it was closer to midnight by the time I hit the city.
I don’t care. I’m pumped with adrenalin and ready to film the roughness and toughness of New York between midnight and 3am.
James meets me at the hotel. He’s got the Blackmagic Cinema Camera MFT, I’ve got the Blackmagic Cinema Camera EF. I do an interview with him at the hotel, then head out onto the streets, both of us ready with camera and tripod, SSDs loaded, we’re heading out to see what images we can capture.
I’m making a film called New York City: Night and Day. It’s a short piece to test the image quality of the Blackmagic Cinema Camera, using the two models mentioned, recording both RAW and ProRes. Plus, very important, I want to test the audio capabilities of the camera, as up until now, I’ve only used the camera as an image capture device. This time I plan to record interviews and pieces to camera. I’ve brought additional equipment to make this possible.
I set up and record the interview in the hotel room. It’s a controlled environment and I want it to sound good. Plug in the Mix Pre by Sound Devices. This provides a high quality preamp which will phantom power microphones and provide a line output direct into the Blackmagic Cinema Camera. Using line-input provides the best quality from the Sound Devices unit. I should mention the Mix Pre is the old model; the new model, the Mix Pre D, and this provides more options and has been described as the “Rolls Royce” of pre-amps in the world of audio production.
It’s a simple as plugging a mic into the Mix Pre, switching on phantom power, and then taking an XLR to jack out of the Mix Pre and into the Blackmagic Cinema Camera. This I set to line input. The result is beautiful sound.
I’ve filmed in New York before. No tripods allowed. They see you with a tripod and they will stop you filming. You’re allowed to film hand-held or using another camera mount, such as a Cinesaddle, and then no questions will be asked.
We’re both filming off tripods in the heart of Times Square. There’s police within 40 feet and they don’t bother us. We fit right in with the lights and the glitter, the drunks, a man dressed up as batman, the horses and constant stream of yellow cabs, This is New York city and it’s 2am in the morning, No one bothers us.
I film James films. Shooting RAW. Always shoot RAW at night, the increased dynamic range is what I want.
The next day and we both shoot ProRes. We film down below the Brooklyn Bridge looking across the East River to the Manhattan skyline. Beautiful across the water, even on a cloudy day, the energy of New York is like no other place on earth.
We spend time in Greenwich Village which, amazingly still retains all the character from the past. This is a place where history unfolded...
Getting out of New York proves to be a problem. I’d planned to leave for JFK at 3pm though push it to 4pm as I just can’t stop filming. Just one more shot.
I’m loaded with luggage, and try, at least 50 times, to hail down a yellow cab. No-one will pick me up. Unknown to me, a shift changeover of taxi drivers takes place at 5pm.
To drive out to JFK is over an hour. If a yellow cabs picks me up they will miss their 5 o’clock deadline. And no-one wants to work later than 5pm, regardless. The drivers have to refuel for the next driver to take over. So I’m standing in the street with all my bags, no ride, and a plane to catch.
As if beamed in to rescue me, a black limousine pulls up offering me the ride to the airport. I negotiate $70 - this would have been $45 in a yellow cab... I don’t care I’ve got to get to the airport. I make in time, just, any later and I would have been in trouble.
Out of the New York and back to UK. New York City: Night and Day has been filmed. Every single frame shot on the Blackmagic Cinema Camera. As mentioned, I used the EF model, Jimmy the MFT model. All glass is Nikon glass. The night footage was filmed as RAW at 2.5K and the day footage filmed as ProRes 1920 x 1080. Both cameras were to 23.98fps.
Thanks to James Biberi for showing me his city and giving his impressions of shooting with the Blackmagic Cinema Camera.
Think of this as real world test footage and a look at the quality and textures of the Blackmagic Cinema Camera. That’s what this is - a film shot, end to end, using nothing but the Blackmagic Cinema Camera.
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