NAB 2013 has been over for almost a month now and by my take, one thing is clear: RAW video is going to make a serious impact on the entire industry over the course of this year. With Blackmagic Design leading the way, we are now getting access to previously Hollywood-only technology at a price point that is not only competitive with DSLRs, but actually is more affordable than the industry workhorses like the Canon 5D Mark III.
Of course, new technology brings with it a learning curve as people figure out how to integrate the "latest and greatest" into their preexisting workflows. When we got our hands on the Blackmagic Cinema Camera, we had to do some not-insignificant brainstorming to come up with a good way to handle the camera's enormous 12-bit Cinema DNG files. And we realized that we were not at all alone in that process - thousands and thousands of people will no doubt have similar conversations in the near future about how to make something like the RAW-capable Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera work for them.
In light of that, we thought we'd share our current working solutions to tackling post-production with the Blackmagic Cinema Camera. Our process is nowhere near perfect, but considering the limitations that we're working around (like no support for Cinema DNG in Adobe Premiere CS6) it works pretty well for us.
In this video we take you through a quick workflow overview that starts from "the beginning of post." We use Davinci Resolve 9 Lite (available for free via the Blackmagic website) to render proxies, and then head into After Effects to export final, graded versions of our clips. In our next video we'll take a closer look at how we actually approach color grading in Adobe Bridge and Adobe Camera RAW, and also highlight some things to watch out for.
In this video we get a more in-depth look at how we actually go about color grading our Blackmagic Cinema Camera footage in Adobe Camera Raw.
*Special note about luminance adjustments: Surprisingly enough, I had a difficult time trying replicate the initial noise problems I experienced when I was first working on our BMCC footage. So between that and video web compression, you may not get the full effect of what I experienced. The bottom line is just to be wary of getting too aggressive with those particular adjustments. My working theory (based on nothing more than a guess) is that by "congealing" micro-level noise, the luminance adjustment can actually create macro-level noise that didn't previously exist and is really only apparent when the clip is played in realtime (which means you won't notice when grading just a single frame). If you have a better guess - especially if you've experienced this issue yourself - let us know in the comments.
Another cautionary note that I forgot to mention in the video - don't use Auto White Balance in ACR! It works just like auto WB would work in camera and it will change your white balance in the middle of the clip if the lighting temperature changes enough to warrant doing so. That definitely falls into the "stupid little mistake" category and it will cost you a re-render. Or, if you're like me, it will cost you several re-renders as you maddeningly try to figure out why the color is changing in the middle of a graded clip.
All of that aside, hopefully this video gives you a good idea as to how simple it can be to extract all of the potential that is available from the Blackmagic's 12-bit Cinema DNGs by using Adobe Camera Raw. Grades can be pushed incredibly far and the dynamic range (note the workbench shot in particular) is truly game changing if you're like us and coming from DSLR-based production. The implications for what this now-affordable technology will allow small production companies and indie filmmakers to achieve are staggering. And I think the clarity and flexibility of 2.5K RAW (and soon, 4K RAW) will tempt many more photographers like myself to venture into video production and bring with them new (and maybe unconventional) perspectives on how to light, shoot, edit, and color.
If you'd like to see us cover something in another video, let us know in the comments below and we'll see what we can do!