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.
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.
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.
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