So I had the chance to play with the new Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera today at my much referenced favourite Vancouver indie rental shop.
My mother told me if you don’t have anything nice to not say anything at all.
So I won’t talk about the camera.
What I will talk about however is the operating system and menus.
As video production gear has become more “digital”, we have seen increased amounts of computer-type operating systems in our gear. We can now update firmware via executable files on SD card or via USB connectivity. The detriment to this appears to be that programmers are now designing the menu systems that are becoming more and more ubiquitous.
Take for example the operation of the Pocket Cinema Camera:
The first menu item is metadata – the name of the camera.
Followed by the date.
Then the time.
Followed by stuff you may actually use on a daily, hourly or SHOT BY SHOT basis like ISO (sensitivity), White Balance (since the camera currently shoots ProRes – CinemaDNG RAW is not yet enabled – white balance isn’t a “Fix It In Post” option, it is “baked in”) and then Shutter Angle.
Please Blackmagic, I beg of you, find people who actually use this stuff and consult with them.
Hide the metadata in another tab.
Make it easier to get at stuff users need to adjust constantly.
We counted the number of clicks it takes to get to the ISO setting in the menu – I believe it was 8.
Since the Super16 size sensor is kind of a throwback to an earlier time, I’ll continue in the nostalgic vein by reminding you folks of this tasty little morsel of advertising brilliance that could easily by modified to suit my above complaint:
One more thing – why can’t I format an SD card to prepare it for shooting in this camera???
Common wisdom has always dictated that a media card should be formatted in the device it is going to be used in to ensure that the file system will be fully compatible. This lack of foresight means that cards need to be formatted ahead of time in your home or laptop computer prior to use. The file systems that the BMPCC supports are ExFAT or HFS+.
I had originally stated that “To the best of my knowledge, no SD cards on store shelves today come pre-formatted in either file system so if you run out of media in the field, you better have a laptop with you to format whatever cards your production assistant brings back from London Drugs/Future Shop/Best Buy.”
A local Vancouver video producer wrote to point out that SDXC cards are formatted as ExFAT.
I’ll concede that point while also acknowledging that a current check of London Drugs and Future Shop websites indicate very low population of SDXC cards as of yet. Future Shop has one brand that ships in 32, 64 and 128 GB and London Drugs carries two brands.
My error in no way diminishes the argument that all devices should be able to format their own record media.
(Thanks to Shawn Lam for pointing out my error)
I know I’m developing a bit of a reputation for panning Blackmagic Design lately – I seriously considered taking this camera with me on an upcoming documentary shoot to Mexico but based on what I saw today, I’d swear at the thing constantly.
One last thing – both the landing page for the Pocket Cinema Camera and the Tech Specs page lists Lossless CinemaDNG RAW as a shooting option. The RAW option has yet to be activated by firmware update, which isn’t indicated anywhere.
If someone isn’t familiar with this camera, it certainly could appear that CinemaDNG RAW is currently available… oh boy… I’d hate to be the one doing damage control on that…
Thanks for reading!