Having tested the BMC since quite a while now, I’m musing about the different options of post workflow. There are different ways to skin the cat in the moment, and – as usual – all of them have their pros and cons. Speed, convenience, storage space, quality and the balance of those are only some of the decisions you have to make. So here are my thoughts so far:
BMCC with a lovely Angenieux Optimo zoom in a Bebob cage system
1. COMPRESSED QUALITY
If you can live with ProRes or DnxHD – those are the easiest workflows you can choose. In most decent NLEs, you just can throw the files on the timeline and start working, without any need for proxies, re-compression, re-wrapping or any other voodoo.
You have two choices here. Ether the “Film” option, which gives a rather flat image, that is a bit similar to a LOG recording, or the “Video” option. The latter applies a LUT in camera, that is burned in – so not meta data, that can easily changed in post. On the pro side is, that there is no need for any color correction in post.
You can edit right out of the box or hand the material over to an editor. On the other hand, you are a bit limited regarding dynamic range and how much you can alter the picture.
The “Film” option, gives you much more room to play with, but looks rather milky and washed out (like all LOG material). But since it is 10 bit, you have quite some lee way to get your final look, before it brakes apart.
- Storage space: DnxHD and ProRes need much less space than DNG
- Speed: Fastest workflow available
- Transcoding: No transcoding necessary
- Quality: The lowest quality of the BMC - but still better than most other compressed formats
- Dumping time: Fastest downloading from the SSD to your drives.
- Roundtripping: No roundtrip necessary.
ProRes “Film” option undgreaded
2. UNCOMPRESSED QUALITY
I was always a sucker and evangelist for an uncompressed workflow till delivery. I did that (whenever possible) since over 12 years now, starting back in the SD days, on the advent of the first Decklink cards. Having said that, uncompressed recording was prohibitive cumbersome for most projects (though I did it on some higher end stuff) and usually I had to start with some compressed camera format, that I converted to uncompressed before I worked with it.
Now the BMCC makes recording of, not only uncompressed material possible, but recording of uncompressed raw, which is even better, cause it gives you the most freedom and flexibility. The camera ships with a full version of Davici Resolve 9. It reads, grades and plays the DNGs in realtime (given you have a decent machine) and also can create proxies for round-tripping. So the Resolve work flow Blackmagic recommends is like this:
- You copy your files from the SSD to your drives
- Open the files in Resolve (maybe add an LUT to them) and render a set of lower rez proxies in a format that your NLE can handle
- You do your editing with those files and export a EDL/XML from your NLE and import that into Resolve
- Do you color thing and ether render out as a master, for delivery or for further modification like titles andwhatnot in a NLE friendly format.
This is called round-tripping for obvious reasons.
- Storage space: You need storage space for the DNGs plus some additional space for the proxies.
- Speed: Takes quite a while
- Transcoding:Transcoding to proxies necessary
- Quality: Great quality
- Dumping time: Takes longer than compressed files
- Roundtripping: Big time round-tripping
DNG, debayered and graded in Resolve
3. Alternative Workflows
Though both – compressed and uncompressed workflow – are fine and somewhat a industry standard, there are other ways.
This is somewhat between uncompressed DNG and compressed. Technically it’s visually lossless, compressed raw, similar to REDraw.
So you have smaller file sizes, but keep most of the benefits of raw. Instead of just dumping the files to your computer, you convert them on the fly, right from the SSD to CineformRAW. So the original files never leave the SSD and after conversion you can just delete them. You have a new set of visually lossless compressed CineformRAW files sitting on your computer now and go from there. You can use those files, like they where ProRes or DnxHD material and throw em right on your timeline. You can grade with your favorite plug-in, or tool or send the timeline after picture lock to Resolve or Speedgrade or whatever you use. Also you can do a metadata based first light correction before, while or after editing in Cineform Studio.
It’s all very versatile and flexible. Because it’s all metadata, you can always go back to the original pristine file. Nothing is burned in. Cineform Studio has a wide range of demosaicing and color space options to choose from. I have to confess, that I get better results – right of the bat – with Cineform than after a lot of tweaking with Resolve.
But maybe I just suck at Resolve, I’m working only since a few months with it and still have to learn a lot.
Debayered and graded in Cineform Studio
The ADOBE Camera RAW importer – as used in Lightroom, Photoshop and Aftereffects – is the best one out there – hands down.
Whatever I do, with Camera RAW I can harvest more dynamic range and more information out of a DNG, than in any of the other programs I tried.
But you have to pay a huge penalty for the quality.
It’s super slow, super cumbersome, super inflexible and irreversible, that means, everything is burned in. No way to go back and tweak things once you have “developed” the material (unless you start from scratch).
- Storage space: You need more than double the storage space. 1. for the DNGs plus some additional space for the NLE friendly debayered material.
- Speed: Very slow
- Transcoding:Transcoding to NLE friendly files
- Quality: Best possible quality
- Dumping time: Dumping the DNGs takes a while
- Roundtripping: Roundtrip from AE to your NLE and maybe an grading program.
DNG, graded and debayered in Aftereffects
As I said, there are many ways to skin the cat. It depends on your need, time, budget and how you can get all that into your normal workflow.
The great thing is, that we now have all that options at our hands, so we can choose the best one for a given project.
DISCLAIMER: After uploading the pics, the blog software did – sort of err… a own “interpretation” – so don’t pixel peep to much into them, and take em just as illustration.