The 1 – Shooting a short with the BMC Pocket and much coffee

2 Weeks ago Lukas Schuler of AB-GEDREHT asked me, if I would like to DP a short film for him, on his BM Pocket camera. He got his hands on one of the first devices, and want to do a test shot, but something different than flowers and dogs in the backyard. It was a bad timing, since I already was booked at this time.

But Lukas and the guys where able to shift their schedule for me, so I was able to jump on the bandwagon.  We saw plenty of great footage from Phillip Bloom,  John Brawley, Peter Moon and some others – mostly handheld, available light stuff – that’s what the Pocket was made for, right? But our goal was to see how it behaves in a typical narrative production environment. With lights and flags and a rig and all the bells and whistles.

I was really curious since I don’t have a BM-Pocket Camera, nor did I even touched one before. Also I saw all the panic going on on the forums, regarding black spots and white orbs.

Our camera wasn’t re-calibrated yet, but I was pretty confident, that I will be able to work around those gotchas.

Location scouting

After asking in about any gas station  around here, Lukas was finally able to get hold of one, we can shoot in for 2 nights.

We met there and had some coffee, while checking the location. Looked pretty good to me, not too new, a bit gritty, dirty light of all sorts, temperatures  and flavors – just how I like it.


Day one

12:20 – On location at the gas station – having coffee.

We had accessed from midnight till about 5 in the morning (needless to say, that I had a jet-lag after that).

After some more coffee, while the art department redressed the gas station and covered all logos (so I can track on a generic brand name on it in post), we sat up the camera for our first shot.


The classic wide establishing shot from a crane. Luckily it was raining cats and dogs, so we didn’t have to wet down the street, just the part of the gas station, that has a roof over the pumps.

We had a few more shots outside and two wide shots inside and everything went well, so we called it a day around 5 and had some more coffee.

I mainly used the Samyang 24,35 and 85mm and also a Nikon 50mm f1.4 AIS – all of them, with and without Metabones Speedbooster. For one shot (behind the cigarettes) we used a 14mm Lumix.

Lighting was two 5bank and 3 2bank FloLights, some flags and a 4×4 diffusion. For the outdoor shots we also had Cycloramas to light up the buildings and background a bit.

The BMCPocket was in a Tilta cage with a TVLogic monitor. I think we used 2 or 3 batteries per night. At the end of the second night we also hooked up V-mount, to power the camera, since one of the aftermarket batteries didn’t charge.

Day two

Arrived at the station and had some coffees.  At this night we had a ton of dialog. The problem was, in the gas station are about a dozen cooling shelves and fridges, every one makes a different hum and noise. Unfortunately we where not allowed to switch them off – bad news for the sound department.

Shooting went quite good, and we had a wrap just before the station opens.


On the next day I got up super late. First thing I did, was some fresh coffee, and a look at the material, while having even more coffee.  Even though it’s “only HD” and “only ProRes” (compared to the 2.5k uncompressed raw material, I usually get from my BMCs),  it looked much better than I thought.


A few days later, Lukas had done the editing and we did the color-grading together. While ProRes it’s not exactly as flexible as raw, it grades just fine and we where super happy with the look.

Than came the thing I was really scared of, audio with freezer hum and fan.

It was bad, and I mean like in really, really bad.

The audio we took outside was great- and yes we recorded all audio in the PocketCam, using a JuicedLink BMC366 preamp and a Rode NTG3 (Oktava hyper indoors) – . I don’t think the Pocket has an audio problem, as many say.

But the indoor takes where sheer horror because of the hum.  I’m not an a pro audio guy, so I was sending the material to a friend in a recording studio and asked him, if he could do something about it.

After listening to the tracks, he called me, and told me there is not much, that he can do withou really hurting the dialog. Damn! So I was back on square one.


I bit the bullet, made me some coffee and tried it myself. I did my best, but it is still far from a good audio track.

Maybe we can do an ADR session later, but I load it up anyway, so you guys can see at least the image quality, you can expect from the Pocket in a typical narrative situation, and that was the reason for the test anyway.

And yeah, if anybody has the appetite, to try to fix the audio, I gladly provide a download link. Would love to see it with a better track, I think the images definitely deserve that.


Lee from DuckSound was so nice and cleaned up the dialog track, so I can upload a new version soon.


Here are the new version with better audio track and some minor tweaks and – since I got a ton of requests, a Splitscreen version, before and after color grading and postproduction.



Official Making Of The One


57 thoughts on “The 1 – Shooting a short with the BMC Pocket and much coffee

  1. Hi Frank, thats a nice short film and the image quality from the bmpcc looks amazing. I´ve been wondering on getting the bmcc. I want to ask you, is there a really big difference, about the image quality, between the bmcc and the bmpcc? Does the bmcc worth the extra thousands over the bmpcc? Thanks in advance.

    Kind regards.

    • where do you deliver to that uses the full resolution? Right now the extra resolution is truly more beneficial to the post process more than the viewing process, so with that. The pocket is fine for ANY kind of shooting, you just have to keep in mind 1080 is all you have to play with. This camera ISN”T for everyone, just as the BMCC isn’t for everyone. And I know you said “personally” but I’m just curious if you Do actually deliver all your project to 2.5, uploading to web and otherwise.

  2. Frank I kind of underestimated your talent. This is truely the best stuff I’ve seen on the BMPCC and probably will do for some time. Jimmykorea (the one and only)

  3. Pingback: The1 | BMCC.TV

  4. Pingback: BMPCC: What about the pocket cam? [Updated] | Here For The Weather

  5. Thanks, Frank! Also, thank you for teaching me a new word. I did not know what “boops” were until I read your “MPAA” warning and realized you were referring to 2:56 of the film :)

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  7. Looks awesome Frank! Congrats. And new version sounds much better.
    Quick question: would you choose the BMPCC over any DSLR for narrative filmmaking?

  8. V E R R Y F I N E C I N E M A T I C G O U R M E T !!!!!

    Absolute nice, would be glad if the story gets a big film,…..

    Question:: The body oft the cam is tiny, dif you have any HEAT PROBLEMS?

    Thanks Frank

  9. Frank, thanks so much for this piece of cinema. Really enjoyed it. I wish I could learn such grading skills.

    May I respectfully ask you what you think about color correcting of actors’ eyeballs with this grading. In this green-orange color grading scheme they sometimes look green, like at 3:01. Do you think this is acceptable within the general palette of the movie, or would you be correcting the color further?


  10. Frank thanks for everything what you do for all of us .
    Black magic pocket looks so organic , very similar to fs100 . Am I right ? Do you think, it is easy to match picture fs100 and pocket all together ?????

  11. Looks very good! Can you tell more about how you graded? Did you have encoding problems due to fine grain? Any chance of a download link for the ProRes version?

  12. Really? Amazing? Awesome?
    How about actually getting someone who has an ear for dialogue. The story is non-existent. The video is flat as hell. Looks like a soap opera.
    The pocket camera did a better job than the people involved. Why go thru all this effort if you have nothing to say?

  13. Just started my journey into film making. A long way to go, it’s dog videos & ski trips with a go pro at the moment. But this really give me something to aspire too. Perhaps you could edit it down to under 2mins 30sec and enter the Virgin Media Shorts 2014 competition ? They seem to love this kind of story.

    • I’ve barely begun making videos myself, but have gradually developed some notion of what to expect from good cinematographers from movie classes at the local art museum. I have a weakness for surfing videos, including some technically crummy amateur ones. Put cameras in people’s hands and, sometimes, interesting things can happen.

      I’m best off to get started making videos on my Olympus micro four-thirds camera, but it’s intriguing to know that its lenses can be shared with the little Blackmagic pocket camera. Even better, it’s been a revelation to see what professionals can do with such a tiny camera, especially in a tight situation like the gas station’s interior. This project may be a test shot for a new piece of equipment, but it’s also a fine short film.

  14. Hi Frank,

    Can you tell me what lens is that on the big Pocket close-up?

    I’m puzzled on what it is, because it has teeth wheels for focus and stop. My guess is it’s the Samyang 85mm, but it must be a cine type or something.

  15. As I didn’t know the Samyang/Rokinon cine types, I googled and found this interesting discussion:

    Then I also found a whole list of Rokinon cine lenses sold by B&H:

    As I just bought my Pocket and should be arriving soon, I’m beginning to see what to get for it. The coming lenses are just two zooms and the Speedbooster: Sigma 17-50 f/2.8 and Lumix 14-45. The latter to be able to use the Pocket OIS, which wouldn’t be available on the Sigma.

    The idea is to get some primes later on, particularly second hand Nikon primes I may find in Brazil or Argentina, where I live.

    But those Rokinons look interesting if they are any good. Now let’s look for feedback from people that may have used them.

    There’s a comment on the discussion that got my attention, which is Zeiss lenses being a rip-off (which I think they are) and Korean lenses being more interesting (metal particularly) than Japanese. Even if the guy might be Korean, it does sound like a valid argument. Rokinon are Korean, aren’t they?

  16. Groovy that comparison!

    I wonder if there were any other chances you could play with the Pocket, and using which lenses.

  17. Hello Franck,
    Can you tell me if this camera has a special Log you have used before grading?

  18. Your results were one of the reasons why I went ahead and got me a BMPCC, though in my case not with prime lenses yet. My initial lenses are a Lumix 14-45 and a Sigma 17-50 with Speedbooster (old type) .

    Last month I had the chance to shoot several scenes for a documentary feature I’m working on, and also had the chance to make several tests with it on different locations. The idea was to know how far could I go shooting with minimal or none additional lighting, particularly artificial. So I played with the ISO settings and took advantage of the focusing green tool you get when not using auto-focus lenses, like on the Sigma/Metabones combo.

    The latter is indeed the way to go. Using an Indian matte-box I had bought in 2008 for my Z1, with an IR filter on the lens and a 4 x 4 pola-screen on the MB, you have a tremendous range to go by. With the pola on you can shoot in bright sunlight, setting ISO to the lowest, and without the pola you can shoot at night, in the street, as long as there are street lights around, and get a very natural look. Practically what the eye can see. Now that is a tremendous achievement!

    What I am now planning to do is get some film friends together, select stories that deserve being shot and shoot them. This is better than a Super 16 camera, because you check your stuff right away. Forget about shooting RAW, shoot in Pro-Res 422, recording internally or externally.

    You will need some minimal external equipment, of course. A good 5″ to 7″ monitor (mine is a Lilliput that works great); a mixer/preamp to record audio in the camera itself (no need for external recorder); an external battery, as the internal ones have a very short life; a matte-box that is not too heavy (start with a Camtree MB-11 and MB-20 are affordable and good place to start); a cage, if possible with cable clamps; a focusing wheel (not got mine yet, but will; a zoom lens and some primes (start with my combo); a good tripod and fluid head; a monopod with a simple head; some steadicam combo, if possible with vest, but just to use eventually. Some LED heads with light tripods, for enhancing some situations; a foldable sun-reflector.

    You get that and you can shoot almost anything. And I mean with theatrical quality.

    Of course it’s essential that you get to know your camera and check the results you are getting on a good monitor screen every day, after shooting. Using a 1080p projector might be great too.

    I will be investing on primes soon, probably some Nikons and Rokinons, but I’m pleased by what I’m already getting.

  19. Reblogged this on filmsandall and commented:
    Nice little piece about the BMCC, just a test for it so the overall film idea is not amazingly brilliant, but to put the camera to the test it is a nice little piece with both indoor and outdoor shoots at night. It is different to the average trials on Youtube and Vimeo as it is being placed in a real setting.

  20. I know people say that you have to use a cardioid or hyper indoors but that isn’t universally true. A hyper will pick up way more ambient noise than a shotgun or long shotgun will depending on where the noise comes from. The problem with shotguns is only the off angle rejection, specifically when that rejection is picking up significant amounts of reverb or off axis sounds. But really, who cares if the fridge sound is colored? Unless it’s colored differently between takes. I do not own the octava so grain of salt here but it is fabled to have a pretty high noise floor. Point is folks, try your shotgun indoors. Not only will the dialogue eq and levels be easier to match using the same mic throughout but you may find it has a more pleasing sound.

    • I suppose you mean a cardioid vs a hyper cardioid or ultra-hyper, right? The last two correspond to shotgun and long shotgun respectively. Or you mean short capsules that are also hyper-cardioid?

      I have been a sound recordist for many years and I do know the difference between them all. If what you mean is that long tube mic, short or very long, would reject side noise better, that’s true, but that also brings a price to pay. Which are differences in frequency response, which dictate why some recordists prefer to use shorter mics, cardioids o hyper-cardioid.

      You can usually use the same mic, which you choose as better sounding, throughout all your shooting, as long as you blimp it well. Ourdoor filtering does pose a problem, and some mics are designed to be heavily blimped. But do not sound so well if you use them indoors without the heavy blimp.

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