How To Prepare Yourself For RAW with the Blackmagic Cinema Camera

The Blackmagic Cinema Camera is starting to get the kinks ironed out and rolling out in mass. But are you ready to shoot with this new format? Ryan E. Walters goes through some of the gotchas with the Blackmagic Cinema Camera workflow.

Preparation Prior To Being On Set:

Before you even take a step on set, the first thing to figure out with this, or any other camera for that matter, is how you are going to outfit it. If you thought working with a DSLR was awkward, this oddly shaped camera will be even more awkward to work with. It is bigger and heavier than a DSLR, and it doesn’t have the built in handgrip style body that is fairly standard on DSLR’s. So I recommend spending some time making sure that you have all of the parts that you need to make this system work for your own personal style of shooting. I personally like working from a tripod, slider, dolly, or a jib for the vast majority of what I do. And to fit my style of working, I have pieced together a rig that you can find detailed part by part at the bottom of this post.

The next piece of the puzzle to figure out is how audio will be recorded. Will it be a dual system? (Sound recorder, and internal recording). Will it be sync sound only, and use the onboard mic as a sync track? (This is my personal favorite, as I hate having extra cables on the camera). Or will you be recording straight to the camera? (This is highly preferred by a lot of productions). If you will be recording straight into the camera, this is where the first hidden “gotcha” will crop up. The Blackmagic records a wonderfully high quality 48kHz 24 bit audio file, and then proceeds to beat that file to death by its internal signal processing. If you raise the levels above the 20-30% mark on the camera you will get digital clipping even though the audio going in isn’t really being clipped. The only way that I know of to avoid this is by using an external pre-amp, like the one offered by JuicedLink. This is the only way to know for sure that the full 48 kHz, 24 bits are being used to their fullest. JuicedLink has gone above and beyond by providing an online user manual with notes about the Blackmagic as well as this excellent overview of what is happening internally with the audio, and how to solve the problem:

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