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Blackmagic Production Camera 4K and Pocket Cinema Camera Used to Shoot Action/Thriller 'Checkmate'

Fremont, CA - July 28, 2014 - Blackmagic Design today announced that two Blackmagic Production Camera 4Ks and a Pocket Cinema Camera were used to shoot the upcoming action/thriller “Checkmate.” Produced by LA’s Status Media & Entertainment, the film chronicles how the actions of individuals affect us all, as six people are thrown together during an elaborate bank heist where any move can alter the outcome.

Director Timothy Woodward Jr. led a stellar ensemble cast, including Danny Glover, Sean Astin, Vinnie Jones, Mischa Barton, Michael Pare, Johnny Messner, Katrina Law, Willa Ford, Antwon Tanner and David Chisum, as they constructed six different story lines, each depicting the heist from a different point of view. As the entire film was shot over three weeks, with almost half of the footage made up of action sequences and almost 50 speaking roles, Timothy chose the Blackmagic Production Camera 4Ks for the affordable access to 4K and to save time on technical setups, allowing him to focus on creativity and performance.

“Because of the affordability of the cameras, we were able to use multiple cameras while staying in budget, which allowed for more coverage and faster shooting,” said Timothy. “This film contains a lot of action and having the ability to shoot in 4K was a must. The camera provided a very rich look with more dynamic range, and it allowed us to punch in and manipulate the frame after the fact without losing any quality. During one scene, our second unit director, Josh Tessier, orchestrated the explosion of a van. The explosion was over 30 feet high and was incredibly wide. With several stunt actors surrounding the van, we only had one take to get it perfect.”

“Our output goal was 1080HD, so shooting 4K on action sequences gave us the opportunity to crop in and find moments that might not have been predictable, which is important when you only have one take. I've seen it happen again and again, the ability to punch in on a scene has become the saving grace for a lot of takes. The information is there in the Blackmagic cameras, and it's affordable. Utilize it,” said Director of Photography Jonathan Mariande.

He continued: “When it came time to shoot a big scene between Danny Glover and Vinny Jones, having two of the 4K cameras allowed us to use an unconventional approach. We shot both sides at the same time and then flipped cameras, which not only cut down on time, but allowed the actors to act together and give a much stronger performance. Had we only had one camera, the actors would have been acting opposite stand ins, which is less than desirable for them and the project as a whole.”

With the majority of the film shot in 4K, one Blackmagic Production Camera 4K was used as the A camera hooked up to a Blackmagic Design SmartView HD monitor. A second Production Camera 4K was used as a B camera, with a Pocket Cinema Camera used as a C camera for POV and insert shots. Jonathan noted that the Blackmagic cameras’ flexibility let them go from complicated dolly setups to handheld in a matter of moments, another asset when shooting against the clock, while Timothy commented that the cameras’ built in on screen labeling system allowed them to skip several steps in post production, including transcoding of media, making the process more efficient.

“It’s even the little things that make a big difference. For example, each story was a little different. With Danny Glover’s scenes, we were going for a look that was cool in temperature with contrasting skin tones to make the audience feel more comfortable, as opposed to Vinnie Jones’ scenes where we wanted to the audience to feel more uncomfortable, so we went opposite with a warm look,” noted Timothy. “The cameras’ onscreen menu allowed us to quickly change color temperature and the shutter angle, which helped dramatically with lighting. More creative control meant less time needed for setups.”

“I think the color and the way the Blackmagic cameras shoot highlights and the dark shadows are high quality,” said Jonathan. “As a DP, I like to shoot in as soft a light as possible, and the cameras’ color and curves are just beautiful. And for the price point it's hard to beat for that cinematic look. I'm thankful we were able to use Blackmagic for this film.”

“I highly recommend the cameras to anyone in the entertainment industry looking to get a blockbuster look on an indie budget,” concluded Timothy.
Currently in post production, Josh Tessier of Rocket Panda Post will use Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve to grade the film. “Checkmate” is slated for release in 2015.

Press Photography
Product photos of Blackmagic Production Camera 4K, Pocket Cinema Camera and DaVinci Resolve are available are available here and here is a link to story photos. 

About Blackmagic Design
Blackmagic Design creates the world’s highest quality video editing products, digital film cameras, color correctors, video converters, video monitoring, routers, live production switchers, disk recorders, waveform monitors and real time film scanners for the feature film, post production and television broadcast industries. Blackmagic Design’s DeckLink capture cards launched a revolution in quality and affordability in post production, while the company’s Emmy™ award winning DaVinci color correction products have dominated the television and film industry since 1984. Blackmagic Design continues ground breaking innovations including 6G-SDI and 12G-SDI products and stereoscopic 3D and Ultra HD workflows. Founded by world leading post production editors and engineers, Blackmagic Design has offices in the USA, UK, Japan, Singapore and Australia. For more information, please go to  

About New Magic Australia Pty Ltd (Australian and New Zealand Blackmagic Design master distributor)
New Magic Australia Pty Ltd is a recognised leader in the distribution and marketing of multimedia hardware and software, representing a carefully selected range of innovative, leading manufacturers and catering for both the professional and consumer markets. New Magic Australia established in 1993 is the Australian distributor of Blackmagic Design, Convergent Design, Hauppauge Computer Works Inc, Cubix, Matrox Video and Sony Creative Software products.