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Blackmagic Unveils Tiny Cameras and Big Sensor Upgrades

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CreativeCOW presents Blackmagic Unveils Tiny Cameras and Big Sensor Upgrades -- NAB Show Editorial


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Blackmagic Design President Dan May
Blackmagic Design President Dan May
Blackmagic Design CEO Grant Petty
Blackmagic Design CEO Grant Petty
At the NAB Show in Las Vegas, Blackmagic announced so many products that I couldn't list them all for you here. But among the offerings that include new switchers, converters, cameras and software, the highlights for many will include small form factor cameras driven by customer feedback, a new NLE-worthy version of Resolve and a 4.6K sensor upgrade for the URSA.

Now in their third year of being a camera manufacturer, Blackmagic has continued to learn and evolve their camera offerings based on customer comments. Blackmagic President Dan May told me that the company "saw a middle ground between high end cinema cameras and DSLR cameras. Everyone needs a video camera. Everyone needs to point something at something for video." Jumping into cameras has been an adventure for the company. CEO Grant Petty added that they're continually surprised at how customers are using the cameras, and those new uses are a big part of what drive development further – including the new cameras announced at NAB 2015.

MICRO CINEMA CAMERA

The most adorable of these new camera offerings is the Micro Cinema Camera, the development of which was driven by customers putting Pocket Cinema Cameras in strange places. The Micro Cinema Camera is a miniaturized Super 16mm digital film camera with ports that allow customers to use PMW and S.Bus model airplane remote controls to operate the camera wirelessly. Petty added that they used the most "boring" low cost connectors so that "anyone with a $10 soldering iron could take advantage of it", because the connectors are so commonly used on consumer hobby products.

The Micro Cinema Camera
The Micro Cinema Camera


Customers can control features like the iris and focus, or stop and start recording remotely once the connectors are mapped to the camera – which is great because the camera is designed to be mounted in cars or flown in a drone. The button configuration and LEDs make it easy to turn on and verify it's actually on.


The Micro Cinema Camera can be flown in a drone
The Micro Cinema Camera can be flown in a drone.


The body of the camera itself isn't much larger than the micro four thirds lens mount, which is basically as small as it can be while still allowing for a professional lens. It records 12 bit log CinemaDNG or ProRes, which means it's great for all kinds of uses that can still integrate easily into broadcast material. It'll also be available in July at an equally adorable price of $995.

MICRO STUDIO CAMERA 4K

A super tiny UHD and HD studio camera, the Micro Studio Camera 4K was designed to shoot broadcast grade footage while being mobile enough to fit in the palm of your hand. It's ideal for live productions where shooters need to be mobile, and traditional ENG cameras are too big and not powerful enough to keep up in the increasingly 4K world.


Micro Studio Camera 4K
Micro Studio Camera 4K


The camera features a built in color corrector, talkback, PTZ control output and MFT lens mount. When using it for regular Hd, the extra sensor resolution eliminates color loss from the sensor's bayer pattern, which means customers can get full bandwidth RGB color and sub pixel anti-aliasing. This puts the quality ahead of many of the expensive, bigger studio cameras today.

The camera also features 6G-SDI output and program return input which allows it to be controlled remotely from a switcher using Blackmagic's SDI control protocol, which allows the camera to be controlled with an ATEM switcher. And it'll be available in July for $1,295.


URSA Mini

Blackmagic's new URSA Mini is a smaller, more compact version of the regular URSA camera, which has been lamented for being a little on the heavy side for many productions. A Super 35 digital film camera, it's designed for handheld use but contains a 4.6K sensor, switchable global or rolling shutter, up to 15 stops of dynamic range, and a 5 inch fold out viewfinder. A PL or EF mount, and 4K OR 4.6K sensor is available as a choice for customers. Petty added that the 15 stops of dynamic range in the camera is "almost more dynamic range than the eye can see, and far more than most traditional film."


Blackmagic URSA Mini
Blackmagic URSA Mini


The camera contains built in histograms, focus assist, audio level meters, dual RAW and ProRes recording, and shoots up to 60 frames per second with rolling shutter. Images are saved using a 12 bit lossless CinemaDNG RAW or ProRes format. The design is built for tight locations and all day use, with a magnesium alloy body and multiple mounting points for equipment. The URSA Mini will be available in July, starting from $2,995 for the 4K EF model.

RESOLVE 12

Surprising no one (only in part because of the massive window hanging on the Las Vegas Convention Center's South Hall), Blackmagic announced Resolve 12 – and they're ready to call it an NLE. The new update includes interface changes, multi-cam editing, media management tools and a new audio engine on top of shot matching, a 3D keyer and new 3D perspective tracker.


Blackmagic Resolve 12
Blackmagic Resolve 12 edit screenshot


The multi-camera editing is the biggest change to Resolve. Editors can cut programs from multiple sources in real time with syncing based on timecode, audio waveform, or in and out points – pretty much all you need. The source monitor displays all the angles in a grid and plays them back in real time while you make editorial decisions.

Other editorial tools have been refined and enhanced too. Editors can select multiple points for dynamic or asymmetrical trims (even on the same track), and timelines can be bested and expanded or collapsed. New media management tools can be used to move, transcode, relink or consolidate projects. The new audio engine allows for higher sampling rates and improved audio playback and includes support for VST and AU audio plugins. Audio parameter adjustments can be recorded and used on individual clips or tracks. And you can finally send to ProTools with AAF export. Support for interacting with other software has also been improved, like importing XMLs from FCPX.

I got curious about Resolve Lite, so I asked May if he had any idea what the install base was. "Immeasurably huge", he said, in large part because the company hands out copies of Lite with all their products. He also told me that people are using Resolve Lite in ways they never expected, like multiple installs on a set where each workstation is focused on one specific task.

FUSION ON MAC OS X AND LINUX

In an announcement ahead of NAB, Blackmagic revealed that their recently acquired Fusion software would now be available on OS X and Linux. May mentioned that bringing Fusion to these operating systems before NAB was a huge priority. He also said that the integration of the Fusion team with Blackmagic has been smooth, and a huge benefit for all the talent within the small company that would otherwise struggle to grow beyond a certain point. With Blackmagic's resources, Fusion can continue to evolve as it becomes available for all visual effects and motion artists across popular operating systems for a much lower price of $995.


Fusion software will now be available on OS X and Linux
Fusion software will now be available on OS X and Linux. Fusion interface.


4.6K SENSOR AND VIEWFINDER FOR URSA

Bringing some new features and updates for URSA owners and soon-to-be-owners, Blackmagic added a viewfinder and 4.6k sensor upgrade to their NAB announcements. It features a 1920x1080 color OLED display with precision glass optics and adjustable diopter, and a built in focus chart. Like many other products released by the company, this viewfinder is a direct response to URSA customer feedback. "Professional cinematographers love the quality of our URSA digital film cameras with their large built in screens, but they've been asking for an EVF that they can use in a wider range of shooting situations," Petty said. "We think they're going to love the URSA viewfinder because its incredible optics and super high resolution screen set it apart from other, often more expensive, third party viewfinders." The viewfinder will be available in July for $1,495.


The URSA viewfinder
The URSA viewfinder


The 4.6K sensor upgrade for the URSA brings a Super 35, 4608x2592, 120fps option to the camaera, including 15 stops of dynamic range for images that rival those shot on traditional film. The sensor is going to be available for the two new models, and existing customers can upgrade for $1,995 for the EF mount or $2,495 for the PL mount. May told me that he expects the company to prioritize delivery to existing customers, although it's possible that enough sensors will be available that new customers will see them at the same time.


Blackmagic URSA Broadcast
Blackmagic URSA Broadcast


Blackmagic also announced a whole mess of other stuff that comes from their usual (or previously usual) area of business – converters and switches. The DeckLink 4K Pro, UltraStudio 4K Extreme, ATEM Talkback Converter 4K, Smart Videohub CleanSwitch, 12G, HyperDeck Studio 12G, ATEM 2 M/E Broadcast Studio 4K, Teranex Mini, and Video Assist were all announced as well, with 12G and 4K being the biggest topics of discussion for future proofing all kinds of workflows and facilities with high levels of data needs.

And what about that Cintel Film Scanner I loved from last year? It's not shipping quite yet. May told me that they're still working on it because they weren't entirely happy with every aspect of the product. Such a niche product only gets one chance when it hits the market, so they're taking their time and letting other projects take priority so they can do the film scanner just the way they want.


Cintel Film Scanner
Cintel Film Scanner


With so many products that cover so much ground, Blackmagic continues to be one of the most interesting parts of the NAB Show announcements. So many low cost or free options open the opportunity for all levels of filmmakers and content creators to get their hands on Blackmagic products and make something. May told me that the company "wants to bring more people to the table – and there's a great opportunity with web video. We want to bring the same film quality and functionality to the internet market. There's a huge market, especially for young people."








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