Why the Blackmagic Cinema Camera May Not Be Right For You

Photo courtesy Blackmagic

Photo by Blackmagic

I love the Blackmagic Cinema Camera. It’s fantastic. Makes gorgeous pictures. But in doing tests for a possible new project, we found one issue: moire. See, the BMCC doesn’t have an optical low pass filter on it. That manifests itself in some nasty moire if you’re shooting, as we were, architectural shots of a city. You know, situations where there’s going to be a lot of tight, fine line details.

Luckily, there’s an add-on OLPF coming out from a third party that’ll alleviate this problem. That, plus the global shutter of the rumored 4K Blackmagic Production Camera, may actually prove itself to be quite viable for projects like the one we’re undertaking.

 

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On Camera Technology & Filmmaking

patrickErnest

This is how we got beautiful, cinema-quality 720p HD, 35mm-sized sensor imagery only a few years ago. This was state-of-the-art, a Panasonic HVX-200 with a 35mm lens adapter and external monitor. Unless you were shooting a project in the very-high-end, you had to deal with Frankenstein-like contraptions like this to get a beautiful, filmic look to your HD footage.

Our new Canon EOS C-100 gets a massively better image and can almost fit in the palm of your hand. Our RED MX is bigger, but gives an arguably even better image than the c-100 (I say arguably, because the RED gets its butt kicked in low-light and skin tones by the Canon C-Series).

The thing is, these days we all have an embarrassment of great camera choices. If you’re making a movie, a high-end corporate film, a tv commercial: the tools are there. Now it’s up to you to make your tools sing.

That’s why I don’t hang out on camera message boards so much, anymore. It doesn’t matter to me if we’re shooting RED, Arri Alexa, Canon… whatever. They’re all good, they all have their uses. And I think that’s a healthy attitude. In the end, when I make a film it’s not about worshipping camera specs. It’s about telling a story.

What Is A Video Agency?

Over the past several years we’ve rapidly left behind any new business that isn’t related to video production, and we’ve brought in substantial and ongoing investment in tools and techniques that have helped us create award-winning videos for our clients, successful web series and mobile-oriented video properties, and best-of-class multi-platform video campaigns. It’s the way of the world- professionals specialize. We’ve become solely focused on delivering great video to clients, and maximizing their video’s reach. We’ve become, in short, a video agency.

But what, exactly, is a video agency? And why should one hire such an entity?

Rob David from mega-advertising agency Ogilvy wrote:
“It is unreasonable to expect brands to have a fluid understanding of the advanced video marketplace. The changes come too fast and new opportunities open on the fly. A Video Agency of Record not only brings a brand the best of the current landscape, but positions them for the ever-changing but increasingly disciplined road ahead. ”

And that’s exactly what we’re all about. We are video specialists- we know the web, we know video, and we know how to make the most of a client’s video efforts from a strategic point of view as well as the creative and technical points of view. A great video agency helps you cut through the noise, enhances your brand, and helps drive traffic to your website.

Now, why not call ourselves a video production company, one may ask. Simple- because to us a video agency is more than a video production company. To us, the words “video production company”  conjure up visions of antiquated broadcast-only projects with limited vision. A video agency is the fast adapting, leading-edge mammal to the corporate video production dinosaur.

A video agency delivers far more bang for the buck. We give you the sizzle and the steak, and we make old-fashioned corporate video look, well, really old-fashioned. In addition to knowing how to create great video, we know how to position your video efforts for today’s landscape, and that ever-changing road ahead.

Does Your Company Video Evoke Strong Emotion?

If you’re hoping for your latest content to go viral, it has to do one thing: evoke strong emotion.
– Scott Stratton, Fast Company

Audiences expect quality these days. I’m not just talking about production quality, although in many cases that’s quite important. I’m also talking about the quality of your video’s story. Does your video even tell a story? If it does, is the story simple, honest, and direct? And does it appeal, on an emotional level, to your audience?

Video can be incredibly powerful, it’s the most effective way to intimately connect, to convey ideas and get your message across. But video has to be done right to be effective, and even more so if you wish the video (or better yet, the ideas you’ve presented in your video) to go viral.

These days, even corporate videos are expected to evoke emotion and tell a story. The old ways just don’t work anymore, audiences are more sophisticated and have higher expectations. And it doesn’t matter if your audience is the general public or your employees at a sales meeting. If you don’t work hard to tell your story in a way that grabs them, you’ve lost them.

 

 

All Push and No Play Makes You a Dull Person

Google expects their people to spend 20% of their time working on pet projects. That’s a whole day a week. It’s a really great idea, and not just because it often results in new products and services for Google to offer the world. It also makes for better performance at one’s “day job”. Google’s not the only big company pushing the idea of encouraging their people to spend time working on projects not directly related to their “real jobs”, either. 3M’s been doing it since forever. And they brought us post-its, so you know they’re onto something.

That insistence on working on pet projects and playtime gets me thinking about our business, the business of video & film production. Often there’s not enough playfulness involved- I know a ton of talented guys who spend all their time going from video production gig to video production gig. Never resting. Never tinkering with pet projects. I’ve watched a lot of them get burned out, and most of them fall into a rut, where their videos get stuck at a certain quality level and never progress to the next level.

I really believe that all push and no play makes one a dull person. That’s why we’re always working on a couple side projects while we do our paid projects. It makes our paid work better, and it makes us more well-rounded people. Sometimes, it even opens our minds to new ways of doing things.

 

It’s a Great Time to be a Filmmaker

Whatever kind of films or videos you make, this is a great time to be a filmmaker. There’s amazing cinema-quality cameras out there that are affordable (Blackmagic Cinema Camera, 2K Raw footage), super high-end stuff that’s becoming affordable for professionals to own, not rent (RED Scarlet-X), and now, finally, ultraportable “crash cams” like the new GoPro Black Edition (2.7K footage).

The big drawback of the GoPro is its codec: it only records in H264 mode, which isn’t as robust as what professionals like. But it does have a HDMI out, so it’s likely possible that you’ll be able to hook up something like an Atomos Ninja to it someday, for better quality footage. Here’s a link to the GoPro announcement.

They’re hoping to start shipping in November. Which may mean you won’t be able to actually get it until Spring, who knows. But I do think this is a camera that every professional video production company will have in their filmmaking kit. Again, not as a main camera, but as a specialty one.

I’m excited. These are the kinds of tools that even a wealthy person, or a high-end production company could not afford even a few years ago. It’s a great time to be a filmmaker, and I can’t wait to continue using these tools to tell amazing stories, both for myself and for our corporate video clients.

 

Why We Don’t Accept Every Potential Client

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I got a nasty email from a former lead today, haranguing us for not working with them. She said we’re arrogant for not accepting every client who comes through our virtual door. She accused me of only being in it for the money. She said a lot of other things, too, but this is a polite forum.

We’re a lot of things. But arrogant? Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, we’re choosy about accepting new clients. And that’s a good thing for both us and our clients. First of all, I like having enough resources to truly serve the clients we bring on. Time is finite, after all, since we’re a boutique agency- we’re not some huge pump and dump shop.

Secondly, I’ve learned that working with a client (and if you’re on the other side, working with an agency) really requires a meeting of the minds, if it is to succeed. The kind of work we do- website design & development, glossy cool videos and tv commercials- is collaborative, and requires mutual trust. They’re unique, longer term commitments. And it’s really important that we all get along with each other on the journey, and that we spur each other on to do great work.

Arrogant? No. Choosy? Yes. And the quality of our work reflects that- for the past two years, every major project we’ve done has won awards. I love that!

And we’re ‘only in it for the money’? Ha! No way! I’ve taken projects for a lot less money than we should have gotten. Sure, it’s pretty much always a special situation when that happens. But it does happen. I like working with great organizations that help make the world a better place, and it’s sometimes worth being flexible.

I’ve also turned down work that was ridiculously overpaid, when the potential client was clearly a moron or ethically bankrupt.

We’re not arrogant, and we’re not only in it for the money.  We are choosy, and we only take on clients who are a good fit for us. And when I think about the kind of client I love to work with, I think of my current roster of clients: organizations that respect what we bring to the table, who are passionate about what they do, and yes- who have the money to allow us to respectably complete their project in a way that makes us all look good and advance their causes.

Oh yeah, and I don’t work with angry people who write nasty emails haranguing us for not working with them. Life’s too short.

Scary dude photo by Luis Beltran

About PatrickOrtman, Inc.

PatrickOrtman, Inc. is one of the top-rated video production companies in Los Angeles and New York City. We make high-end corporate videos, and commercials for TV and digital for clients that include 11 Fortune 500s.