NAB 2014: Grant Petty on the new Blackmagic Design camera and more

Blackmagic Design have managed to be the talk of recent NAB events, and with the launch of their URSA camera, this year looks to be no exception. Here’s Grant Petty’s official rundown of the all the company’s new releases.  

We have some new cameras this year, and we are rolling out a whole new range of Ultra HD products such as converters, routers, DeckLink cards and more. We are introducing the first 12G-SDI Teranex Express and 12G-SDI is also in our new cameras. We even have a new Cintel film scanner!

Blackmagic URSA Camera

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.

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!

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.

DaVinci Resolve 11

DaVinci Resolve 11 is a major upgrade and we have added over 70 new editing features including dual monitor support and familiar professional tools like dynamic JKL trimming, audio crossfades and fully customizable keyboard shortcuts for faster editing.

DaVinci Resolve 11 now has a new spline curve keyframe editor integrated into the edit timeline that positions keyframes directly under each clip and in context with the clip. You can also add and animate open FX plug-ins directly in the timeline as well as use plug-ins for transitions.

There are new collaborative workflow tools in DaVinci Resolve 11 which allows an editor and multiple colorists to work on different workstations, sharing the same timeline and working in tandem as they complete shots. Another advantage of the enhanced editing features is the better round trip collaboration with Apple Final Cut Pro X™.

Color correction features have been upgraded in DaVinci Resolve 11, including new color grading controls that are designed for photographers who are moving into cinematography. There is also a new camera RAW palette featuring highlight and shadow recovery, mid tone detail, color boost, saturation, lift, gain and contrast.

For on set work, DaVinci Resolve 11 can now securely back up and save digital camera files. The new DaVinci Resolve clone tool copies media drives, memory cards and camera packs to multiple destinations simultaneously. All copies are checksum verified, so you get exact bit for bit digital copies of the source media.

DaVinci Resolve 11 also features an automatic color chart color balancing tool that automatically gives a primary base grade by analyzing shots containing standard color chip charts even if they were shot in different lighting conditions with different exposure and color temperatures. It’s really easy to use and you just lay an onscreen grid over the color chart and then auto grade!

This is an exciting update and it will be available June free of charge to all DaVinci Resolve users! Most of these new features will also be available in DaVinci Resolve Lite.

Blackmagic Studio Camera

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!

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.

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.

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.

There is more to the new Blackmagic Studio Camera than it just being a camera and it also has a full color corrector built in. I will explain this below!

ATEM Camera Control Update

This new ATEM update will allow full control of the new Blackmagic Studio Camera from any ATEM production switcher. This works by sending the camera control commands down the SDI program feed to the camera and lets you adjust focus, iris, gain, and much more. Almost every feature in the camera can be controlled from the switcher!

However we have also taken the primary color corrector from DaVinci Resolve and built it into the camera itself and you can control that color corrector remotely from the ATEM switcher. What this means is you don’t just get a simple CCU type of camera adjustment, but you can actually control a full DaVinci Resolve primary color corrector that’s built right into the camera. This lets you do more creative corrections than simple color balancing.

Normally having live studio cameras plugged into a production switcher with this level of control would cost millions, but we are going to offer this update free of charge for both the ATEM switcher range as well as the new Blackmagic Studio Camera.

It’s also fast and easy to use this new software as the ATEM Software Control now has a new Camera page with multiple CCU software panels to control each of the connected cameras. You can even use an ATEM Aux output for monitoring which will switch automatically to the camera you are adjusting. When you want to do more creative control the CCU interface can then expand to a full color wheel color correction interface so you can perform corrections using the same familiar user interface as DaVinci Resolve.

That’s great if you have experience using DaVinci Resolve as it’s the same color corrector. It’s YRGB based and so it works creatively the same way. If you are doing music videos or other really creative live shoots then the built in color corrector will allow new creative styles than were available in live production previously.

We will be showing this at NAB and it’s going to be available in June as a download for both the ATEM switchers and the Blackmagic Studio Camera.

ATEM 2 M/E Production Studio 4K

Over the last year we have been introducing new models of ATEM switchers that feature a more refined design and attractive front panels. These models also have more inputs, more audio connections, full control of aux outputs from the front panel and of course the latest 6G-SDI connections for operating in SD, HD and Ultra HD.

However for large jobs we needed a very big switcher that has lots of inputs and more processing features. The result is the new ATEM 2 M/E Production Studio 4K.

It includes so many features it’s hard to describe them here, however some of the most exciting new features unique to this model are a massive 20 inputs with each input featuring a frame re-synchronizer, 6 aux outputs, 2 independent mix effects rows and the SuperSource multi layering engine with its 4 independent DVE’s and keyers.

This switcher will replace our older ATEM 2 M/E Production Switcher and at only 2 rack units, it takes up less space in an equipment rack than the older model. This new model includes other exciting new features such as independent program and monitoring audio outputs, dual redundant built in power supplies, HiFi and balanced audio inputs, a large 5 inch LCD monitoring screen in the front panel and an elegant machined metal design. It’s really amazing!

The best news is this new model is $1,000 lower in price than the previous model it replaces and is available now for $3,995. This means you can get an incredibly powerful 20 input 2 M/E switcher for only $1,500 more than the 10 input 1 M/E model. It’s very exciting!

Smart Videohub 12 x 12 and Smart Videohub 20 x 20

We have some exciting new routers based on 6G-SDI technology this year, and not only does this mean we can now handle SD, HD and Ultra HD SDI connections simultaneously on the one router at the same time, but these new models have some other exciting new features too.

These new models replace our older Micro Videohub and Smart Videohub models but include better technology, better design and are much nicer to use! These new models feature a machined metal front panel so they look really nice, but they also include a full control panel with small LCD screen so you can see what you are routing.

The control panel includes buttons to direct select a crosspoint, a spin knob for scrolling router cross points as well as a “take” button. The LCD screen can display nice large labels and the new routers include over 10,000 separate unicode characters so we can handle non roman labels such as Japanese, Chinese and more.

The LCD screen can also display video from the video inputs or even outputs. We call this new feature “visual routing” and it allows you to scroll through the router destinations or sources and see the connections as video on the LCD screen as the labels updates. It’s really fun to use!

There are two models of Smart Videohub. The Smart Video 12 x 12 features 12 inputs and 12 outputs and retails for $1,395, while the larger Smart Videohub 20 x 20 features 20 inputs and 20 outputs for $1,995. They are available now.

New Mini Converters with 6G-SDI and Ultra HD

We have been upgrading our Mini Converter range over the past year and we are now introducing even more models of Mini Converter with 6G-SDI for use in SD, HD and Ultra HD video systems.

The new models are Mini Converter SDI to HDMI 4K, Mini Converter HDMI to SDI 4K, Mini Converter SDI to Analog 4K and Mini Converter SDI Distribution 4K. This means almost all our Mini Converters now support Ultra HD.

What’s exciting about these new converters is they include down converters. So if you’re using the SDI to Analog model and connect an Ultra HD source via 6G-SDI, then it will automatically down convert to 1080 HD, because there is no analog for Ultra HD.

You could even be connecting to old composite CRT televisions in a location you are working at and the new converters would down convert an Ultra HD source down to composite so you would still get a picture. We really wanted these converters to just take care of situations like this and keep working to provide an image out

These new models replace the old models and are all available now for $295.

Teranex Express with 12G-SDI

We have an exciting new model of Teranex converter and this new Teranex Express is an up and down converter that includes the first 12G-SDI connections so you can up and down convert between SD, HD and Ultra HD video standards.

With most of our product lines now supporting Ultra HD, we needed a way to convert to and from the Ultra HD world. We think this new Teranex Express is the perfect solution. It features the same amazing Teranex de-interlacer, but it also includes a whole new scaling engine so the up and down conversions are even better than before. Good quality image scaling is important when scaling to Ultra HD frame sizes.

The front panel looks identical to other Teranex models so it’s easy to use. It includes dual link 6G-SDI in and out, but channel A is 12G-SDI. This means it can also convert between dual link 6G-SDI connections and single link 12G-SDI connections. It also has an optical fiber socket so you can add optical fiber SDI connections by adding an optical module if required.

The new Teranex Express will be shown on the NAB booth and will be available in June for $1,395.

DeckLink SDI 4K and DeckLink Studio 4K

With our roll out of Ultra HD products and the new DaVinci Resolve 11 we wanted to upgrade our DeckLink family of capture cards. These are perfect for older MacPro systems as well as Windows and Linux machines.

These new models add 6G-SDI connections for SD, HD and Ultra HD work. These new models are also based on our new Desktop Video 10 design so they include RGB frame buffers, low latency and of course can capture and playback at the same time with software that supports this feature. They are fantastic OEM cards as they include a full SDK as well but developers can even write pixels directly into the frame buffers.

These new models replace the older DeckLink SDI and DeckLink Studio models. DeckLink SDI 4K features 6G-SDI in and out, reference input and RS-422 deck control and is available now for $295.

The more powerful DeckLink Studio 4K features 6G-SDI and HDMI 4K in and out for SD, HD and Ultra HD support, as well as analog component, composite, s-video and 4 channels of balanced analog audio in and out, and 2 channels of AES/EBU audio in and out, plus RS422 serial control and reference input. This new model is $100 lower in price than the previous model and is available now for $595.

Cintel Film Scanner

Over a year ago we acquired the legendary film scanning company Cintel. Of course at the time people wondered why we would purchase a film scanner company if film was a dying technology. There was a reason for buying this company and at the time we were hard at work on Ultra HD products and focused on an Ultra HD future.

When you look at Ultra HD, there are 3 ways to generate content. First there is shooting and editing content to create new Ultra HD programming. The second way to generate Ultra HD content is live production and that’s perfect for sports, concerts etc. We have developed whole workflow solutions for these two methods.

However there are already millions of hours of Ultra HD content sitting in vaults on 35mm film. For decades the film and television industry has been generating Ultra HD content without even thinking about it. That’s because everything shot on film is essentially 4K so it’s Ultra HD now. It’s just sitting there ready to be re-scanned as amazing new Ultra HD programming!

However traditionally film has been a more mechanical technology and the electronics were crappy. Even Cintel had very average quality electronics when I used to work on Cintel telecine’s is post production back in the 1990’s.

So we have been hard at work developing a whole new type of film scanner that supports real time scanning of both 35mm and 16mm negative and positive film and it includes the patented Cintel diffuse light source to reduce dust pickup.

But the most exciting feature of this new Cintel film scanner is it’s so super thin it can be wall mounted! It also features a wonderfully gentle fully digital servo system that detects when you are lacing the film and then gently tensions the film slowly. It detects when the film is about to run out and slows down.

The whole design is designed to be zero maintenance so you don’t need engineers to install it and make it run. It features Thunderbolt 2 so all you need to do is plug it in and run the control software on a Mac. If it’s wall mounted you can use those new long 30 meter Thunderbolt cables and connect it direct to your DaVinci grading system!

The new Cintel film scanner will be on show at NAB and we don’t have a firm ship date, as we want to really show it off and get some good feedback on what people think. It’s a radical redesign so I think its best for us to get your advice on anything else it needs before we start shipping it.

We plan to retail the new Cintel film scanner for $29,995 and that includes film spools, 35mm film gate, cleaning rollers, scanning software and a copy of DaVinci Resolve software. We will have one scanner on the booth desktop mounted and another wall mounted so you can see what a dramatic design the scanner is.

That’s about it for this NAB and I hope this update has been useful! I apologize for its length, however each new product we are launching this NAB is quite feature rich and different to other products we have done in the past, so there is a lot to talk about!

If you’re heading to the NAB show this year, I hope you get the chance to see these new products in action and to have a chat with us!

Want to know more about the latest from NAB? Get in touch with our team on 03332 409 306 or email For all the latest NAB 2014 news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook

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