From formats to flight plans, here's a round-up of this week's news for cinematographers.
Blackmagic Expands ProRes Support in BMCC, Pocket, and 4K Cameras
Blackmagic's latest firmware upgrade, v1.8.2, extends the company's support for Apple ProRes formats. Previously, users had the choice of recording CinemaDNG raw or compressed ProRes 422 HQ. The new firmware release adds a slate of lower-bandwidth codecs, including ProRes 422, ProRes 422 LT, and ProRes 422 Proxy. Your mileage may vary, but ProRes 422 LT is generally thought of as a pretty respectable codec for undemanding imagery. Many shooters will draw the line at 422 Proxy, which is generally considered an offline editing format and unsuitable for use in a final deliverable — but in a pinch, you can now fit nearly four hours of talking-head footage on a single 64 GB SD card if you're willing to go that low. (Just don't try to push the image in post.) Blackmagic users are discussing the new options at the company's Cinematography Forum. Read more: forum.blackmagicdesign.com
In other Blackmagic news, the company is running a half-price sale on its Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, bringing the price down to a ridiculous $495 through August 31. If you've been considering it, now's the time to pull the trigger, especially if you happen to be sitting on a collection of MFT glass.Think how much footage you can accumulate with the new, lower-bandwidth recording options — why leave home without a camera in your pocket?
DJI Introduces Competitor for the MoVI M5
Cinematography drone specialist DJI introduced the DJI Ronin, a three-axis stabilized handheld gimbal. The Ronin has a payload of up to 16 pounds, meaning it can hold cameras ranging in size up to the Red Epic. Like the MoVI, the Ronin has a single-operator mode called Smoothtrack that aims to translate the operator's movements into smooth motion, but the rig is likely at its best in dual-operator mode, where a second person remotely controls the precise camera angle via an included transmitter with pan, tilt and roll controls. The rig's settings can be changed on-the-fly via Bluetooth using an iPhone app. Hitting the market at a street price under $3,000, the Ronin is getting an aggressive push as a direct competitor to MoVI M5 from Freefly Systems. Read more: www.dji.com/product/ronin
Don't Ditch That Drone
Speaking of DJI and its drones, Eric Reagan at Photography Bay has a good post looking at the potential for DJI Phantom "flyaways" — basically, a sudden loss of control that could lead to loss, damage, or (in the worst case) human injury — and offering a few tips for helping to ensure a successful flight. Read more: How to Prevent Flyaways with DJI Phantom Quadcopters.
MoVI Gets Ready to Ship Optional MoVI Controller
The latest firmware upgrade for the MoVI family of stabilizers has been upgraded to support the forthcoming MoVI Controller, first shown at NAB 2014. It offers access to pan, tilt, and roll, displays real-time telemetry from the MoVI, and allows adjustments to key MoVI parameters. In the future, it's slated to include focus, iris and zoom control via a dedicated three-channel MoVI FIZ system. Paired with a single IDX battery, it can power an LCD monitor and wireless system. The MoVI Controller is expected to start shipping next week, and AbelCine has more details at its CineTechnica blog. Read more: Freefly Systems' Firmware v3.08 Adds Support for New MoVI Controller.
Cinemartin Launches FLEC Universal Base Plate
Cinemartin is bringing its first physical product to market — a 15mm universal baseplate. It's designed for use with small and medium cameras and sports a tool-less design that lets users adjust positions using nuts and screws rather than Allen wrenches. It's available as a €99 one-piece baseplate or in a €229 kit that includes an additional top-cover piece allowing more adjustability. Read more: www.cinemartin.com/universal-baseplate/
Bonus Video: Watch This Octopus Start to Dismantle an Underwater Camera Housing