The image is quite beautiful and filmic.
— Filmmaker Magazine
Black Betty is much more than a camera.. [it’s] the first single unit camera in existence capable of shooting, editing, and posting footage online, without the need for any other hardware.
— NoFilmSchool


The Morning of Everything was shot with a prototype camera built hours before the first day of production. Cinematographer Adam Van Voorhis and filmmaker Mike Szegedi had set to build a dream, and prove that two dudes with very little free time or financial resources could build a better camera design then their massive camera manufacturer counterparts.

The goal was to construct a rugged Digital Super 16mm camera that would keep up with the demands of a fast paced, unpredictable, handheld documentary style narrative. The camera, “Black Betty” was the culmination of over a year of careful thought, design, pizza, and error.

Black Betty was built around the Silicon Imaging SI2K-Mini Camera Head, and drew inspiration from the filmmakers of Bellflower and their own SI2K creation. The SI2K is a filmmaker's camera, and has been embraced by such recent films as David Ayer's End of Watch.

Adam & Mike wanted a self contained, light SI2K shoulder camera, a design reminiscent of Arri, Aaton, and Cinema Products 16mm film cameras. Instead of a magazine loaded with film, there is a Mac Mini writing to solid state drives onboard.



Black Betty is practical, while other digital 16mm cameras have physical designs difficult to use in run and gun production and/or very intensive data handling.

The Morning of Everything warranted an organic look, with a subtle softness and character that could only otherwise be achieved on 16mm film. Shooting almost solely with a compact Cooke 9-50 Zoom helped create a classic optical rendition of Manny's world. A zoom was also a must for working with a constantly roving and unpredictable on screen subject.

Shooting with Black Betty allowed the production the freedom needed to make The Morning of Everything possible, and held up in the worst of beach, hot sun, and guerilla shooting with no failures. Many people said, “Why try so hard to build a camera when there are so many digital cinema cameras to choose from already?” Well because without “Betty”, we could never get the images we dreamed of for The Morning of Everything.




Read more about Black Betty:


Filmmaker Magazine post


No Film School post