Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Blackmagic Design 4K Production Camera price shock

I went along to BVE 2014 at the Excel in London today and made a B-line (bee-line?) for the Blackmagic Design Stand to explain why I was a trifle miffed (British mid-level anger) about the non-arrival of my 4K Super 35 Production Cinema Camera, ten months after I ordered it.

And there it was. Not my camera of course, but a living, breathing, full production version sitting on a Manfrotto tripod aimed at a miniature fairground. I took in the scene and then my eye caught the most amazing figure in front of the camera; no, not a gorgeous model but the price of the camera.

Hang on. This was over £3,000 including the government's 20% cut just a week ago, and it's now £19 cheaper than a brand new Canon 5D MKIII body! So what has happened, or to my suspicious mind, what is missing? 

Well the first thing that's missing is compressed RAW recording which is promised to arrive later (as it did in the 2.5K) and Avid DNxHD which won't because Avid still don't have a codec that works with 4K. And... well nothing else. DaVinci Resolve colour grading software is still included, the sensor hasn't been changed, there is still a 6G-SDI output and the picture looks great. In fact the industrious James Miller has already compared the quality of the BMPCC with the Canon EOS 1D C here and it really cuts the mustard as we say in Blighty.

I have felt that this camera was going to miss out on the impact it made at NAB and with the Digital Bolex (kind of) available and the Panasonic GH4 launching that may have been the case before Grant Petty dipped into the BM Design piggy bank and made Christmas come late for all of us, by making this camera the bargain of the decade.

I ordered mine on 26th April 2013 about 2 nano-seconds after it was announced and I am still 30th on the list of orders at CVP, but I am hopeful that I might get it before the UK sinks again or the US freezes over. I might even be able to film Great Britain in the sun. Now how to spend that £1000...

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

What decade are we in anyway?

There are some decades that just lend themselves to a catchy name - the Roaring Twenties, the Swingin' Sixties, and the err... Noughties! Since the Twenties (should it have a capital?) every decade has been easily described by the leading number in the decade and adding "ies" at the end.

We struggled a bit to come up with something for the last decade mainly because the word nought is not used by speakers of American English it is always zero. But eventually it took hold and pretty much everyone describes the decade as the Noughties if only for the reason that we all love a good play on words.

So the next decade, "The New Twenties", is covered (whether it is roaring or whimpering we don't know) but we are stuck without suitable nomenclature for the current one. Options put forward so far are "Oneders", "Onesies", "Deccies", "Tennies", "Tensies", "Tenies", "Tenties", "Teenies", "Tenners", "Teens" and "Tweens". Each have their attractions and also confusions.

Onesies, the all-in-one slouch outfit, coincidently make a big impact on the "fashion" world in this decade so I suggest this could be the favourite although we are really in the tens not the ones.

All the "ten" prefix options are pretty good, are numerically correct and it comes down to the comfort of pronouncing them. It might be that another word needs to be established in front of it to describe the decade, but the lead contender here is probably "austerity" which alliteratively is pretty hopeless with everything.

The Deccies could be a good outside bet here, since it won't be confused with anything else, satisfies scientists and mathematicians and is easily pronounced. There could be an argument on how many c's are included, but I believe two is minimum. I think Bill Bryson should be the judge of this one.

There are always time sections of a decade so early-Deccies, mid- and late-Deccies are all satisfactory. And if Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber and all can keep going for another 6 years I can definitely see this become "The Decadent Deccies". But for now we can keep calling it "this decade". Boring.


Blackmagic Design 4K Production Camera to break all records - for delays?


Back in May 2013 I wrote a blog about the mythical Blackmagic Design 4K Production camera and how I was expecting a long delay for its delivery. At the time of writing the Blackmagic Design website was showing this:

So let's allow a month or maybe two and then at least I should get my hands on a demo model. Nope. The "expected" date on my supplier's website keeps adding a month.

Blackmagic announce a plethora of new equipment throughout 2013 and on August 2nd Grant Petty posted:

The Blackmagic Production Camera 4K is not yet shipping as we need some more time. Our first batch of sensors was delivered only this week, so we have not been able to complete the software for the camera. We expect to start shipping in about 3 to 4 weeks once the final software work and testing is completed.

Followed by this on September 4th:

It's taking a bit longer than we expected to do this and we think its going to take about 3 to 4 weeks more to get those changes done and to get the QA process completed before we can start shipping.

Then on December 18th the boss posted some personally hand shot material and said:

As I have mentioned previously we have been working hard on redesigning part of the camera due to differences in the production sensors to what we experienced in the early camera builds, however that work is completed now and we are in final testing. 

The Blackmagic forum announcement for the camera has now had almost 26,000 views and 219 replies, which are becoming increasingly frustrated. But at least in January some DoPs managed to get their hand on beta versions for testing.

So you would expect me to be fuming about putting down a deposit on a camera and waiting more than 8 months to receive it. Well, I am several levels below fuming because it is about expectation management, and I expected this.

I have experience of trying to get a new product to market and despite best planning rarely does anything go to plan, particularly when dealing with micro-technology. The lessons learnt from the original cinema camera really didn't apply to the 4K, it was a clean sheet of paper with lots of new ideas written on it, which then got smudged.

There still is, 10 months on from its announcement, nothing on the market that matches the camera's specs and price and I am pretty certain that not many will have asked for their deposits back and lost their place in the queue. I am still excited by the prospect of the camera and can't wait to get my hands on one. 

The biggest worry is that the guy who updates the BM website knows something we don't as it shows that the camera will ship in Q4.

Let's hope he is just as clueless as the rest of us and hasn't updated it recently.