One of the more interesting features found on Blackmagic's 4K Production Camera is the 6G-SDI out. This means a single BNC cable can send out 4K video. It may not seem like a great big deal to you, but the next time you have to run cable for a 4K live production you will be glad you are using a camera with a 6G-SDI output.
I love to work with only the necessary gear on my shoots. To me, there is no need for a huge truck filled with c-stands and cables if that gear is not going to make it off the truck. It's a waste. So when a performance music video shoot for the song “Walkin” came up for Nashville singer/song-writer Bonner Black our production wheels started turning. My crew and I knew we wanted to shoot on Blackmagic's 4K Production Camera, and we knew we wanted to record a line cut or direct it from a switcher. In step 6G-SDI.
We used two 4K Blackmagic Production Cameras, an ATEM Switcher and a MacBook Pro. The best part… we only needed two cables, one for each 4K camera… and each camera sent out a 4K video signal to the ATEM Switcher. Unheard of with other cameras. No mess. No fuss. No cable wranglers needed to keep four separate cables out from under the feet of the cameramen. Instead, we had a small foot print Note, the second MacBook Pro was used for playback.
Bear with me… I am not a live television engineering wizard, but I can deliver a broad stroke here. Other cameras typically have a 3G-SDI BNC output connection, which is perfectly fine for most HD video work. The problem arises when a production company wants to push 4K through their existing BNC connections. In order to have the bandwidth necessary to push all that data out, a camera might need to have 3 to 4 BNC cables attached to it. Meaning the camera has to have 3 or 4 3G-SDI BNC connections built into it. That increases the cost and weight of the camera, plus all that cable can get messy. 6G-SDI can handle the 4K out of the Production Camera with a single BNC connection. Best part… you can send that 4K straight to an ATEM Switcher so you can direct and monitor all the incoming sources.
WHY IT MADE SENSE
We had a small crew and a young performer. I wanted to be able to see all the cameras at once, match the shots to my visual journal, and direct from a place where I could see everything. As DP/Director this made everything I needed available right in front of me. It was great. We also had a limited amount of time in our location. A quick set-up put us ahead of schedule right away, and meant we got more footage than we needed. It also meant our artist, Bonner Black, could watch playback to see how her performance looked. Allowing us to have quick discussions on what was needed out of her on camera. We also wanted to see how the two cameras would cut together so we had the option of recording a 4K live cut. We then can take those live cuts and use them to help an editor find those special moments. The editor could also get a better idea of what my intentions were when we shot.
Is 4K the future of acquisition? It appears likely. That means documentaries, interviews, and other multi-cam shooting situations are going to become more common place. If you're like me than you don't want a truck full of cable just to hook up BNCs to all the cameras. You want one cable. For small productions, like myself, the ATEM Switcher and the 4K Production Camera made that possible.
IT WAS EASY
The set-up. The shoot. All of it… was so easy, and that is the most important part. One thing is for sure, Blackmagic made these products work well together. The ATEM 4K Switcher and the Production Camera may end up on my gear check list more often. Quite possibly for some of my documentary interview work. It's so easy to set up and use, that it becomes a no-brainer. We work in a technical industry and the technical may drive the creative, but it should not get in the way of the creative.
Thanks to Matt Barker at Blackhawkcinema for the technical help. You can find him here: @blackhawkcinema
Thanks to Bonner Black and her band. You can find her here: http://www.bonnerblack.com/
Thanks for Sky Arnold, Jeffrey Stanfill, Jason Wilson, and Matt Pfingston for the production help.