Recently, I was asked to do a quick, no-budget shoot for a client. It was a pilot piece, so he didn’t want to spend any money, but see if we could deliver a good, quality product. I love a good challenge.
We needed to shoot a multi-camera setup for a band playing a song in a darkened setting. And, I only had access to my three cameras — my new Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera, my Canon 5D Mark iii and my high-end Canon C300.
The challenge was how to match these three, very different cameras. I knew the two Canon’s could be matched relatively closely, but the BMPCC was a bit different. It didn’t have a Canon EOD picture style. Yes, it has a raw option, but even then, that would require a substantial amount of post work to match it to the Canon styles.
One of my DPs was telling me about a new plug in called FilmConvert. He was telling me about how it takes digital video and makes it look like film. While I thought that was interesting, I knew there were tons of plug ins and post production tools that could do that. So what.
But, I downloaded the plug in and thought I would try it out. Here’s what he didn’t tell me. This powerful plug-in was actually designed to work with specific cameras and their visual settings to setup a baseline for the film conversion. In other words, before it converts the digital image to film, it takes the camera and its setting, and starts from a common look. That was very interesting!
In theory, that means I could shoot with any camera and make sure I used a setting supported by FilmConvert, and then I could match all the looks even across different cameras.
The Camera Test
Time to test it. I had about 20 minutes that Saturday morning before the shoot to see if I could match three different cameras. So, I started by setting up each camera based on what was supported in FilmConvert. I first set the white balance to match each of the three cameras. Then, I set the ISO to 200 for each one as well since I was shooting outside. Then, using the BMPCC EF Metabones Speed Booster adaptor, I was able to shoot all three cameras with a Canon EF 50mm f1.4 lens.
The one thing I had to do was make sure each of the cameras were setup to capture the image in a way that FilmConvert could use as a baseline. For the BMPCC, I shot ProRez in Film mode. For the Canon C300, I shot using the Canon Log mode. The Canon 5D was a bit more challenging, since it didn’t have a film setting. So, I downloaded a couple “filmic” picture styles, and ended up using the Marvels DSLR film picture style, which was supported in FilmConvert.
Below is the short video test I shot with the three cameras, and using FilmConvert to try and match the cameras.
- CAM A is the Canon 5D
- CAM B is the BMPCC
- CAM C is the C300
You’ll notice that the BMPCC is slightly over exposed. That’s because the speed booster really boosted the light, and I didn’t adjust accordingly. But, overall, I was completely amazed at how closely I was able to match these three cameras. Very impressed with FilmConvert.