blackmagic cameras nab 2014

The first day of NAB 2014 was a day of camera announcements and Blackmagic Design wasn't going to be left out. A cool looking 4K camera and a rather odd looking studio camera were announced today.

We did joke that by plotting the resolutions of the new cameras over the years, we were expecting an 8K model from Blackmagic today! Nothing at that resolution, but we weren't disappointed.

Announced first was they new URSA, a 4K sensor upgradable camera that takes a different form factor to the previous models.

We will let Grant Petty explain the thinking behind the URSA.

grant petty URSA NAB 2014

 

Over the last few years it’s been really amazing to watch some of the work being done on our cinema camera and some of the rigs that have been built around it. But when we designed it we never really thought it would be used on such large jobs. It was really designed to be a small intimate camera used for creative work where you need to get in close and personal.

So we have been watching these larger rigs and thinking about how people are working when they do large shoots. Our thinking is that we needed to design a professional full sized camera that had all the extra on set equipment built into it, so there was no need to rig it up as much. We also wanted a camera with enough size to fit a very powerful cooling system so we could run high frame rates without fan noise.

 

The result is URSA, our new camera for professional shoots. It features a stealthy machined aluminum design that’s incredibly strong and has been designed for large film crews. We designed the camera to be divided into separate DOP, camera assistant and audio engineer workstation areas so multiple crew can work around it at the same time.

Blackmagic-URSA-Camera

 

The DOP station features a massive 10 inch fold out on set monitor and separate 5 inch screen for settings, camera status and scopes. The camera assist station features a separate LCD screen for camera settings, status and scopes and the audio station features audio meters, controls and audio connections.

URSA also includes an upgradable Super 35 4K image sensor with global shutter, 12G-SDI connections, XLR audio inputs with phantom power and dual CFast based RAW and ProRes recorders. There is a total of 3 LCD’s built into this camera!

One of the reasons we have been able to put in such high quality displays and features is because the camera is user upgradable. What this means is the whole sensor and lens mount simply unbolts from the front using 4 bolts and then it can be removed and replaced. So in the future when new sensors are available you can upgrade simply by swapping the sensor and lens mount assembly. This makes the camera virtually future proof!

Blackmagic-URSA-Camera 3

 

URSA is available initially in 3 models. One includes EF lens mount and one has a PL lens mount. An example of how you can upgrade the camera would be if you ordered the EF one, you could later purchase the PL lens mount and install it yourself.

One of the weirdest ideas we had was to make URSA available without a lens and sensor and the URSA HDMI features a ‘cheese plate” with threaded holes and a HDMI input where the sensor and lens mount would normally be. This means you can use any camera on the URSA body and get all the benefits of big screen, scopes, professional audio inputs, CFast recorders and more!

The camera runs at 60 fps, however the body has the high speed processing and high capacity cooling to run beyond 100 fps, so when faster sensors are available you could upgrade and then get higher frame rates.

There are a lot more features in the camera than I have space to describe here. The Blackmagic URSA EF will be available in July for $5,995 and the Blackmagic URSA PL will be available for $6,495 from July.

 

The second camera to be announced is the Blackmagic Studio Camera. It might not be the prettiest thing to look at, but a 4K studio camera for under $3,000 or 1080 for under $2,000 it will send shockwaves through the studio camera market. 

Again, Grant will take up the story:

Blackmagic-Studio-Camera-Use

One of the problems with live production is that most cameras have not really been designed for live production, so they don’t have the features that we need such as a large bright viewfinder, talkback, tally, optical fiber plus almost all cameras are made from plastic.

We have been thinking deeply about what features a camera designed specifically for live production should have and we think we have solved these problems with the new Blackmagic Studio Camera!

Blackmagic-Studio-Camera-Tripod

This new camera features a very large and bright 10” viewfinder, built in 4 hour battery, talkback, tally indicators, balanced XLR phantom powered microphone connections and built in optical fiber and SDI connections that let you connect to a live production switcher with a single cable! The viewfinder’s LCD is extremely bright and has a very wide viewing angle so it is perfect for use even in direct sunlight.

Blackmagic-Studio-Camera-Rear

The Blackmagic Studio Camera features an active Micro Four Thirds lens mount that is compatible with an incredibly wide range of lenses and adapters. This means you can use high quality photo lenses for smaller setups or high end broadcast ENG lenses for large live broadcasts using an MFT to B4 lens mount adapter.

The built in fiber optic connection is bi-directional and depending on the model carries HD or Ultra HD video with embedded audio, talkback, tally and even camera remote control all down the single cable. Talkback uses general aviation headsets so they are really tough and low cost.

Blackmagic-StudioCamera-ENG-Lens

The design is cast from magnesium that’s super tough and include a nice large sun shield for use outdoors. It’s an amazing design and having such a large viewfinder makes it amazing to use. It’s so different to any other camera I have used before. It’s so nice doing live production with full talkback to the director and knowing when you’re on air with the tally light.

There are two models of this camera and the Blackmagic Studio Camera is a HD model that operates up to 1080p60 and is available now for $1,995 while the Blackmagic Studio Camera 4K updates up to Ultra HD 2160p60 with 12G-SDI and will be available in July for $2,995.

 

More news on the other new Blackmagic products very soon!