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How to Use the BMPCC: Complete Guide to Setup, Filming, and Post-Production

The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera series is a fantastic one for aspiring filmmakers; these affordable cameras made it possible to get high-quality results on a budget.

When deciding to buy any new camera, it’s wise to research and make sure you know everything you’ll need to get off to a strong start. For that reason, we’ve put together a number of articles and guides to help, with everything from essential accessories to how best to protect your camera. Here, we’ll put all of those together for you in one neat user-guide, so you can keep referring back to it no matter what stage of camera use you’re at.

This article and the ones we’re linking to reference the BMPCC 4K specifically, but there’s a lot of crossover. Just be sure to double-check that any accessories you may buy are suitable for your particular model.

Before You Buy – What You Need

One of the big problems with Blackmagic PCCs is that they come with very little included, there’s a lot of stuff you need to think about buying at the same time in order to hit the ground running when you get your camera.

If you already have a camera and need to know how to get set up, start with our quick-start introduction:

Behind the scenes, gear piled at a video production studioBehind the scenes, gear piled at a video production studioBehind the scenes, gear piled at a video production studio
You won't need all this, but you will need a few things to make the setup work.

Storage and Memory

The first thing to think about is storage: where are you going to keep all this stuff? The camera and it's kit needs a closet or drawer to sit in safely while you aren't using it. Bonus if a place to charge batteries is handy nearby.

Second, the BMPCC doesn’t have an internal hard drive or come with any storage as standard. You’ll need to think about what type of filming you’ll do and how long you’ll film for. If you want to film for long periods of time in 4K, for example, you’d need a lot more storage than if you were only ever filming for a short time in HD.

Power

Power is another issue, mostly for the same reasons as above, but you'll need to give extra thought to how you'll mount any external power (like battery grips) to the camera and whether that will get in the way of anything else you use, like a shoulder mount, for example. You may want to have a variety of ways to power your camera, powering it through a gimbal when mounted to that for example, and switching to a battery when not.

Protection

The BMPCCs can be... fragile. There have been complaints of it breaking easily when knocked or dropped, and additional problems like the inputs being pushed into the body of the camera. If you've paid a lot of money for something you'll want to make sure it lasts as long as possible, so that means thinking about some good and cost-effective ways to add extra protection.

You'll want to consider a cage to help protect from bumps and scrapes, plus it's a really useful thing to attach things to, as again the BMPCC isn't great for places to put... stuff! You can attach things like microphone mounts, quick release plates, handles and so on, to a cage. 

There are also various adapters you can buy to keep permanently plugged into your inputs so you're not pulling cables out of the main body all the time.

Cinematographer with camera in a desertCinematographer with camera in a desertCinematographer with camera in a desert

Microphones

The BMPCCs come with some decent built-in mics, but if you'd like to record professional audio then you're going to need something better. What you choose and how you set that up with your camera will depend on your specific needs, but a good rule of thumb when it comes to mics is don't go too cheap or you'll end up paying twice. Paying a little more for quality is well worth it if you can afford to. Remember to add a wind sock, or "dead cat," for outside recording, and think about how you'll attach and mount your mic — there are both 3.5mm Jack and Mini-XLR input options on the BMPCC 4K.

BMPCC Setup and Settings

Getting Started

If you're brand new to the BMPCC and maybe even to filmmaking then you'll need to know how to get started once you've got your camera. This means knowing which recording settings are best for you, taking into account video codecs and resolution and the various checks and balances that come with those choices.

You should also have a good working knowledge of LUTs (more about these below), and any useful tools the camera may have, like focus assist.

Audio

Audio knowledge is often lumped in with filmmaking generally but really good audio capture is a skill of its own. Which microphones you choose and how you set those up and position them can be the make-or-break of collecting high-quality, professional audio. How you power those is equally important, bearing in mind some won't need any power at all, some will come with their own power and some will need phantom power which comes through the camera. If you accidentally send phantom power to an already powered mic or one that doesn't need power, you can actually do some physical damage to your kit, so it's worth learning good sound techniques and practices so you'll have confidence that you're always getting the best audio in the most efficient way.

Video camera monitor / UnsplashVideo camera monitor / UnsplashVideo camera monitor / Unsplash
Video camera monitor / Unsplash

Cinema Tools and Useful Extras

Once you've got to grips with the basics, you'll want to customise your setup a little. Some of these extra pieces of kit will come out of a direct need, like getting a monitor because you can't see the screen well enough, for example. 

Some might come from the desire to get a different kind of functionality or shot, like a gimbal.

Then there are those little extras that aren't essential but that can make your life a little bit easier. Things like lens filters, hoods and matt boxes to help block out the sun, and a follow focus to help you focus more accurately and quickly and also to help you rack focus.

Look-Up Tables, or LUTs, are presets that let you have more accurate and more creative colour, in both your camera and post production. They can save a lot of time, too.

Video editor looking at camera smiling editing video projectVideo editor looking at camera smiling editing video projectVideo editor looking at camera smiling editing video project

Production and Post-Production

When it comes to production and post-production, it's another one of those things where what you need will be very specific to your project. To help you out though, here are some useful free articles you might want to check out.

Production

Post-Production

DaVinci Resolve

You'll have your choice of video editing suites of course, but as BMPCCs come with DaVinci Resolve as standard, you might find these Resolve-specific articles and video templates useful. 

More Useful Video Templates for DaVinci Resolve

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