Finally I’m having some success. As I pointed out in Part 6, as a last desperate measure I’d ordered an inexpensive powered Saramonic SR-M3 directional microphone (shotgun mic) to see if that would alleviate my need for the Olympus LS-14 audio recorder. It arrived and I have to say that I was apprehensive given that there was so little information available with regards to this microphone when it came to use with the BMPCC4K. Actually, I couldn’t find anything informative. Every review was about it’s use with a DSLR or mirrorless camera for vlogging purposes, something that wasn’t going to be its intended use. I wanted to use it as a field microphone for general use on my rig, which may not have been ideal, but that’s what I needed. As an aside, for once a product was available locally at considerably cheaper price than anything available overseas. I never cease to wonder at these price variations. There are plenty of general reviews of the Saramonic, so I’m not going to do a general review but will go straight into testing
No sooner had I thought that Part 5 was the finale, I made a few more adjustments and modifications that I thought would be beneficial to describe and record. It’s possible that this could go on for some time as things change and as I get used to using the camera rig and finding better ways to do things. I guess that’s the benefit of a camera rig that can be modified to suit one’s needs, but it’s also a double edged sward as you get tempted to modify things perhaps too much at times. Though I must admit, the changes that I’ve made have been for the better, especially as far as handling goes, and that’s the important thing over anything else. Mind you, I haven’t made that many changes to the overall structure of the rig, so it’s not like I’m moving the furniture around hoping for a better arrangement to arise. Continue reading
I wasn’t going to post a part five to this series after Part 4, but as I’ve remedied a few issues such as the poor audio levels of the BMPCC4K as well as some tripod woes, I thought I’d do a more in-depth coverage of how I’ve addressed the things. My problem with the audio arose because I use a Rode VideoMicro microphone that requires power to operate and the BMPCC4K doesn’t provide power through the 3.5mm audio input socket which is odd, as even my Olympus E-M1 MkII provides such power (with an option to turn on/off) and the VideoMicro works very well. The other issue is low audio levels when a microphone is plugged into the camera, so a powered microphone wouldn’t fix that problem. The second issue was my fluid head, which was beginning to show signs of fatigue and imminent failure.
I thought I’d do a further chapter to this story following Part 3, now that I’ve managed to put the BMPCC4K to use in somewhat arduous conditions such as we experienced on our last Cruise. The Cruise subjected the BMPCC4K and the rig to heaps of dust, heat as well as significant and constant vibration and jolting over five days while on our journey. I was somewhat worried about how the whole system would stand up, but I needn’t have been concerned as everything held up very well. The camera performed perfectly and the only issues I had was me trying to make sure that I’d thought of everything before pressing the record button. That was the biggest issue apart from trying to get into a cinematographer’s mindset and not stay in a photographer’s mindset.
Following on from Part 2, which focused more on accessories for gimbal use, I want to turn to another accessory or system tool. Now I believe that there are three main support systems for video cameras, a tripod/monopod, a gimbal (whether motorise or static) and a camera rig. All three serve a purpose that is often unique and one support system can’t be replicated, or not as well, by the other two. So I realised that I needed a camera rig to make the BMPCC 4K fully functional and useful when not using a gimbal or tripod/monopod and, while the gimbal is a great tool, it’s not a panacea or even desirable for every situation. To be quite honest, I didn’t want every scene to start reflecting the fact that I was using a gimbal. It’s like that old adage, ‘When all that you have is a hammer, everything starts looking like a nail’. That’s the fear that I had that if I just tried to do all, or most, of my ‘movie making’ using a gimbal, I’d lose perspective on other techniques that are just as pertinent and equally important.
In Part 1 I discussed the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K (BMPCC 4K) and lenses that I intended to use with the camera and in this part I’ll cover some of the accessories that I’ve cobbled together to enhance the usability of the BMPCC 4K. I’ve spoken previously in Part 7 and Part 8 about some of the accessories that I’ve gathered to allow different techniques, but in this part I’ll talk about smaller accessories that complement the camera and indeed are essential to get the best out of the camera. I’m not in a position to buy top shelf accessories, so I’m always looking out for a good balance between price and performance, so I do a lot of research before I decide to buy anything. I also keep an eye out for specials, such as eBay has on a regular basis, to get the best deals possible. Now while many photographers have a number of accessories that can be adapted to video, especially tripods and/or monopods, there are a number of items that are not necessary or as necessary for photography, but are essential for video. As I progressed in my ‘Making Movies’ journey, I kept coming across the need for another accessory and then another one after that.
At the National Association of Broadcasters Show 2018, known generally as the NAB Show, Blackmagic Design from Australia dropped a minor bombshell on the attendees, revealing the newest iteration of the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera (BMPCC). The NAB Show is primarily dedicated to the display of all things related to video, those involved in broadcasting, as well as pretty much anything to do with video production including cinematography. If you’re interested in video production, the NAB Show is certainly the place to be which, unfortunately, was not a place that I could attend. However, I have been monitoring what happened there though various video dedicated websites and YouTube videos. In my case, I was very interested in learning more about the BMPCC 4k as it’s called. Continue reading
In Part 7 I covered two types of gimbal that you can use with video cameras, static and motorised. In this part I’m going to focus solely on the FeiyuTech a2000 gimbal, some accessories I have for it, and how it can be used in somewhat innovative ways using accessories that any photographer or videographer most likely owns. I’m assuming that every videographer will own at least a tripod and some will also own a slider and If not, this story may provide an incentive to do so. Some of these techniques obviously can apply to all gimbals, but some techniques may not be as easy to emulate, if the gimbal doesn’t have the features that are available on the FeiyuTech a2000 gimbal’s handle (but more on that later). I haven’t noted any blogger/reviewer comment on what I’m about to discuss, so I’m assuming that no one has given any similar thought to how you can make use of gimbals and accessories in different ways than normally envisaged.
As if this has never been done before! Anyway, in Part 6 of Making Movies I wrote about the slider that I’d bought and noted that I was considering turning it into a motorised slider so that I could get more controlled and smoother motion. What I was achieving wasn’t too bad, but I could never quite get consistent motion across the full length of the slider and that started to become very frustrating. That convinced me even more that I needed to add a motor to the slider. But what really prompted me was when I decided to dismantle one of my old printers, salvaging any useful parts that I could remove, I came across a number of bits and pieces like motors, belts, brackets, as well as hundreds of small screws. That spurred me to start looking at converting my slider to a motorised one, given the parts that started to pile up.
In Part 6 I discussed a range of accessories that can make movie production easier and professional looking. Hand- held gimbals are becoming a major part of this, but the cost of motorised ones had me avoiding getting one. However, after numerous failed attempts at getting the static gimbal to work with my main cameras, I was facing a very frustrating brick wall that I couldn’t penetrate. While the static gimbal is supposed to be able to handle the weight of my cameras (much like a Glidecam), I was beginning to suspect that wasn’t the case. No matter what I did and no matter how many videos I watched on how to balance this gimbal, I could not get it to work. The shoulder rig on the other hand is great but is more a substitute for a tripod in awkward situations but, when moving about, the shoulder rig shows lots of jitter and movement. The more I pondered the subject matter that I would be recording, moving about was going to be a major part of anything that I did and what I had wasn’t going to cut it.