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#NAB2014 Blackmagic Lowers Cost Of Entry To Cinema And Broadcast Production

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April 7, 2014 5:39:26 PM PDT April 7, 2014 5:39:26 PM PDTth, April 7, 2014 5:39:26 PM PDT
Once again, Blackmagic came to conquer Las Vegas and beat the house. New cameras, 4K mini converters and live production gear usher in an era of cheap 4K production, before it's even become mainstream. So, why did they make a film scanner and will it pay off? A new camera from Blackmagic wasn't unexpected, but no-one could have anticipated the number and range of new models announced this year. Always a friend of the budget conscious independent filmmaker, Blackmagic have now entered the cinema and broadcast production spheres with the intent of lowering the cost of entry to all areas of content creation.  
6 New Cameras! Capitalising on Cintel's intellectual property or Grant Petty's love of bears, the URSA camera range consists of 4 cameras billed as "The worlds first user upgradable 4K digital film camera". All models are capable of recording CinemaDNG RAW or Apple ProRes 422 (HQ) at 3840x2160 and 1920x1080 resolutions to CFast 2.0 Cards. Due to ship July 2014, the first two models announced will have a Super35mm sensor in your choise of PL or EF mount, priced at $7839 and $7235 inc GST respectively. The lens mount can be upgraded at a later date - buy the EF now, get the PL later. However, the lens mount and sensor come together as a bonded unit, so to replace the lens mount means changing the sensor too. That's not to take away from some of the impressive features of the URSA cameras. Just when innovation of the form factor seemed stagnant, Blackmagic have managed to evolve the basic box design. In addition to the interchangeable lens/sensor combo, a basic LCD viewfinder has been eschewed in favour of a flip out 10" HD resolution monitor. Behind the flip out and built into the camera body is a 5" touch screen. This should mean that the 10" viewfinder can be kept clear of clutter with menus, scopes and status accessible from the 5" touch screen. To enhance the camera's credibility in the feature film world, there is another 5" touch screen on the assistant's side of the camera. Standard sized mounting holes and rosettes will allow attachment of typical accessories such as handgrips, cinetapes and video transmitters. The other two models announced include a B4 mount version featuring a new 4K sensor about Super16 in size, and a sensor-less model that can connect to any camera you wish via HDMI. The press images show a 5D mounted to it for reference. Click Here For Info
  2 Studio Cameras Revealed It was only a matter of time before Blackmagic made a studio camera. They already had the fibre converter and ATEM camera control in place and these new studio cameras leverage a great deal of Blackmagic's intellectual property to create a full camera chain, albeit not in the way we've come to know one. There will be two models: a HD and a 4K variant priced at $2415 and $3625 inc GST respectively. Both will come standard with an active MFT mount. According to the Blackmagic website the mount can be adapted to PL or B4 mount using 3rd party adapters, although we're not sure how B4 lenses are powered. Utilising bi-directonal fibre for video, audio, talkback and tally both models have a built-in socket for comms headsets and a 10" monitor which has dedicated buttons for focus, iris, PGM and LUT control. Two XLR inputs allow easy integration of audio and there are spigots for SDI In/Out and reference. Power can be provided by 4 pin XLR, or from the built-in large capacity battery rated for 4 hours. The cameras can be controlled remotely from an ATEM production switcher, presumably using their own protocol. It's claimed that colour, full lens control, camera settings and more can all be controlled from the production switcher via the SDI program feed back to the camera. While the cameras may not be as integrated as a professional camera chain, they are clearly aimed at budget conscious enterprises such as schools, government departments and Churches looking for a better multicam A/V solution. Click Here For Info
4K Switching The ATEM 1M/E and 2M/E switchers have been overhauled to include two new 4K models priced at $3075 and $4835 inc GST respectively. The new 4K capable 2M/E replaces the orginal 2M/E while also costing less. Compatible with the existing broadcast panels, the switchers reply on 6G-SDI connections to receive 4K material in the 3840x2160 resolution at 24 or 25P, or HD resolutions up to 50P. Probably the biggest news is the update to the ATEM Camera Control software, which allows painting of the new studio cameras from the switcher via the program SDI return. The paint control uses the YRGB corrector and interface from Davinci Resolve. Its a neat solution to what could have been a complex and expensive implementation.Click Here For Info
Resolve 11 Improvements It only feels like yesterday that Resolve 10 was released, yet Blackmagic have made over 70 changes to the software including much needed dual monitor support. Editing tools have been enhanced for better trimming of picture and audio within the conform tab. Additional support for OpenFX plug-ins make one wonder how long it will be before you throw away your NLE and do it all in Resolve. Blackmagic have recognised that Resolve is being used for on-set dailies work. Resolve 11 includes a new clone tool that automatically copies drives, cards and media to multiple destinations and performs check-sum operations to verify data integrity. An interesting feature we're keen to try is the automatic colour chart balancing tool. If it works, hopefully this will see a return to shooting chip charts, a procedure that seems to have disappeared from digital production along with bars and tone (That could just be us). In practice, it should speed up multi-cam matching and overnight grading of dailies material, while helping DPs keep their intended look all the way through post. The upgrade will be free of charge to existing Resolve licencees around June. Most of the new features will be implemented in Resolve-Lite, but it was not stated which ones. Click Here For Info
Film Scanner There's still a lot of film out there so Blackmagic have redesigned the film scanner to be more compact, agile and cheaper. Convertible between 16mm and 35mm gates and accommodating reels up to 2000 feet, this new real-time scanner opens up the possibility of boutique shops doing cheap conversions. While there may be a number of telecines sitting idle out there, none of them offer thunderbolt 2 or HDMI compatibility or come with a free copy of Resolve for quick ingest and grading on your own system. Featuring an LED light source and built-in cleaning rollers, there should be less thermal and physical stress on film, although Blackmagic do not call it an archival quality scanner. Billed as a real-time scanner, there is an optional registration pin for super stable non-realtime scanning if needed, most likely for optical effects and compositing work.Click Here For Info
  New Mini Converters and Teranex Express Blackmagic over-hauled the mini-converter range to be more future-proof and useful than ever. The new models ending with a 4K designation are SDI to HDMI, HDMI to SDI, SDI to Analog and SDI distribution. The new converters also have built-in down converters and will replace the old models at a slightly cheaper price of $359 inc GST. There was also an expansion of the Teranex range to include the Ultra HD capable Teranex Express for $1705 inc GST. Able to up or down convert SD, HD and Ultra HD, the Express features a new scaling engine to cope with resizing SD and HD to 4K resolution. Built for future standards, the Express has multi-rate 12G-SDI connectors, rated for 12 Gb/s which can support 4K frame rates up to 60P. 4K may not be a part of your workflow, but the tools are here and they are already more affordable than ever. Click Here For Info

by Michael Curwood