The Blackmagic Cinema Camera Rocks Sesame Street

The Blackmagic Cinema Camera was used to shoot Sesame Workshop’s, the nonprofit organization behind Sesame Street. They recently had a YouTube campaign to achieve one billion views “Sesame Street: Can You Tell-y Me How to Get to a Billion?” and the secret video that was unlocked when one billion views were reached “Counting the “You”s in YouTube.”

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Secret Video

Here's the “secret” video that was unlocked when one billion views were reached “Counting the “You”s in YouTube.”

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BMCC notes from the shoot

Some notes from the Blackmagic press release:

  • “We weren’t able to scout any locations ahead of time, so we showed up with a small lighting package and the Blackmagic Cinema Camera. The camera is small, light and doesn’t need a lot of accessories, and we were able to leave it rigged so it could be powered up and shooting in seconds,” said Josh Diamond, Director. “Having 13 stops of dynamic range gave us the flexibility to say ‘there’s a lot of nice natural light, so let’s throw up one Kino for fill and shoot.' Also shooting in Log allowed us to protect our highlights much easier.”
  • “I was able to hand hold the Blackmagic Cinema Camera for almost six hours without a break, which enabled us to stay on schedule, get extra takes and move between the numerous locations with minimal crew. The camera was critical to the speed we required,” said Timur Civan, DP. “The Blackmagic Cinema Camera gave us the most image quality per pound of any camera out there, and we were able to deliver image quality on par with cameras costing three times as much, but at half the size weight and complexity. It has a great run and gun form factor with a big cinematic look.”
  • Shot in ProResHQ, the footage was edited by Sesame Workshop and then sent to Juan Salvo for color grading. Since the footage was shot in Log, Juan ensured the contrast, exposure and saturation were appropriate for each distinct setting, and Resolve's Log grading tools allowed him to dial in exposure and contrast as desired.

What about you?

If Sesame Street can trust the BMCC for helping their One Billion Views Campaign, I definitely feel comfortable using it on my projects!

What about you? Sound off in the planet5D forums!

Some BTS from the Blackmagic Cinema Camera Sesame Street shoot

BMCC Sesame Street

BMCC Sesame Street

BMCC Sesame Street

BMCC Sesame Street

BMCC Sesame Street

BMCC Sesame Street

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(cover photo credit: snap from the video)

Blackmagic Cinema Camera is your answer to 'filmic'

Let me spare you soft mushy detail, muddy color, compression artifacts and aliasing/moire that our beloved DSLR manufacturers still push our way. Watch this beautiful piece done by Jon Carr who works with Vincent Laforet.

A Week With The Blackmagic Cinema Camera (1080P)

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If you fail to notice the sharpness, detail, smooth highlight roll off, immaculate color and proper motion – I suppose there is not much I can do for you. But I'm guessing you will see why the Blackmagic Cinema Camera is simply killer at image quality, color rendition and detail. Not to mention the nice wide angles that can be achieved from an 18mm Zeiss Distagon f3.5 ZE.

More of Jon's workflow with Adobe After Effects and Davinci Resolve can be found on his write up review. If you want to shoot RAW (you want to!) and edit in an NLE, you will need to conform your footage. This is simple with Davinci Resolve: just export proxies with a light grade and ingest into your NLE. Then link the EDL back to Resolve when you are finished editing and conform to your RAW files within Resolve.


Then export from Resolve to your desired medium.

Now, read if you dare, but I need to get a little technical on you here. You will need some CUDA empowered GPU's for proper performance. On my Hackintosh, a Nvidia GTX 285 is my workhorse but I recently purchased a GTX 480 for cheap ($199 currently). Using both of these cards with my OC'd 6 core (24GB OC'd RAM) will smoke any current Mac Pro without decent CUDA GPU's. If you want a fairly cheap Nvidia card in current production, I also recommend the GTX 570. It is *almost* as fast as a GTX 480 but uses less power. I like that the GTX 480 has more RAM.

The GTX 580 is the top dog for CUDA processing and you may as well buy the 3GB version (linked), but this card has increased in price due to demand. As you can see, you can buy TWO GTX 480's for the price of one GTX 580 3GB model.

The Nvidia 6XX series are wonderfully powerful at playing the latest games, but even with TWICE the CUDA cores, they still are not faster than a GTX 580 at processing computations (which Davinci Resolve needs as well as Adobe Premiere and After Effects).

Now, those links I linked to are great if you have a PC that can handle those power hungry cards or a Hackintosh. If you have a Mac Pro however, you will need to flash those cards or buy from ebay Mac Video Cards – this guy is great and writes a lot on Davinci forums, video forums and knows what you need to grade properly. For me, I have been more than happy I made the scary but good choice to build my own Hackintosh in 2011.

There is no reason that RAW 2.5k from your Blackmagic should be a hog – with some cheap solutions from Nvidia and fast hard drives, you will be good to go!

Another news worthy piece of info is that shortly after Philip Bloom's review of the Blackmagic Cinema Camera, Blackmagic took heed and officially is releasing a Micro Four Thirds Mount (MFT) version that should be shipping in December. This is passive (no electronic control) but is perfectly fine with manual lenses. You can have PL, M, Nikon, Canon and C mount options now. This opens the door to some amazing lens choices such as the Voigtlanders!

What really impresses me however, is that Blackmagic is listening. They are eager to work on this exciting product, hear our reviews and revise as needed. As Philip points out in his video review below, there are some needed areas of improvement with the firmware. But I am confident that Blackmagic is on it! They have proven that image quality and bringing professional RAW workflow to the indie market is possible today. No other offerings are around doing this.

This is an exciting time to be a filmmaker.

Now please note with Mr. Bloom – he points out a lot of issues that need to be addressed, but they are firmware issues. Remember how the 5dmkII didn't even allow us to shoot video in manual mode? The ability to see audio levels, f stops, erase/format the SSD are going to be addressed – especially since Blackmagic already addressed the mount issue.

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(cover photo credit: snap from the video)