By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)
“We’re deeply sorry that it has taken much longer than expected to ship the Blackmagic URSA Mini 4.6K and Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera, and extremely disappointed that we are unable to deliver a feature that we had previously announced. As an engineer, I have always felt that my job is to build a stage for customers to perform on, but until we ship a product we never know what kind of stage it is.” – Grant Petty, CEO of Blackmagic Design
According to Blackmagic, the root cause of the delay has been a finicky problem with the announced global shutter feature that ironically caused different problems in the Blackmagic URSA Mini and the Micro Cinema Camera. “Both cameras have problems with their global shutter but the problems are different between the URSA Mini 4.6K and the Micro Cinema Camera,” stated the press release explaining the delay.
Blackmagic Design understands and accepts that some customers who have back ordered an URSA Mini 4.6K may like to change their order as a result of this feature change.
If it was a simple development issue of the design that plagued both platforms, it would be one thing, but affecting each camera differently has baffled engineers for the last six months. Unfortunately, the time came for Grant Petty to make the call, and Blackmagic has decided to ship the cameras without the global shutter feature in order to fulfill the pre order backlog.
In addition, they have made provisions to allow those who ordered the 4.6K version with Global shutter to change their order, should they be dissatisfied with design change. The Global Shutter issues do not affect the 4K version of the URSA Mini, which continues to ship with the added feature.
This camera is truly amazing and images are just so filmic. The beta test cameras have been received so well that they have already been used on national campaigns and feature films. The images they have shot so far are way beyond anything we could have imagined when we first started making cameras, and I can’t wait to see all the incredible footage that will be shot on the new URSA Mini 4.6K camera.
It’s disappointing, to be sure, but that’s not to say that the URSA Mini 4.6K is a lesser camera as a result. In fact, quite the contrary, according to representatives from Blackmagic. Sending out cadre of professional shooters to test out the new rig, Blackmagic received feedback that the global shutter just wasn’t all that important to getting the results they desired.
“Their feedback is that the cameras should not be delayed for this feature as the main benefits of the cameras are the wide dynamic range, and that this dynamic range is only available when running without global shutter,” a representative said.
Check out their sample footage here. Don’t miss the Mötley Crüe video. It’s pretty slick, and it really shows off the dynamic range of the URSA Mini in 4.6K with some gorgeous blacks and fine detail in the shadows.
The result may be a permanent design change in the 4.6K version, which was always meant for higher end Cinema work, rather than ENG applications anyway. Now shooters of action photography who want the high frame rate and the global shutter to capture footage at up to 60 fps, while higher end Cinema applications can take advantage of the 15 stops of dynamic range that the 4.6K version affords.
“The claim of 15 stops dynamic range is a reality, and my RAW footage of extremely high-contrast images graded in DaVinci Resolve 12 is clear testimony to that,” said said Jody Eldred, Emmy award winning DP. “Very clean blacks too. I’m pleasantly surprised, as was my colorist. I really think Blackmagic Design has captured some lighting in a bottle with the URSA Mini 4.6K camera.”
Here’s a reminder of the specs:
- Four models with the choice of two sensors, 4.6K or 4K sensor in EF or PL mount.
- Built in dual CFast 2.0 card recorders allow unlimited duration recording in high quality.
- Open file formats compatible with all popular editing software, such as DaVinci Resolve, Final Cut Pro, Avid Media Composer and Premiere Pro.
- Support for CinemaDNG 4.6K RAW, ProRes 4444 XQ, ProRes 4444, ProRes 422 HQ, ProRes 422, ProRes 422 LT and ProRes 422 Proxy recording at 4K, Ultra HD and HD resolutions.
- Features all standard connections, including dual XLR mic/line audio inputs with phantom power, 12G-SDI output for monitoring with camera status graphic overlay and separate XLR 4 pin power output for viewfinder power, headphone jack, LANC remote control and standard 4 pin
- 12V DC power connection.
- Built in high quality stereo microphone for recording sound.
- 5 inch foldout 1080 HD touchscreen for on-set monitoring and menu settings.
- Optional URSA Mini Shoulder Kit, allowing both tripod and shoulder use interchangeably.
- Includes full copy of DaVinci Resolve software color grading and editing software.
- Available from Blackmagic Design resellers worldwide for US$4,995 for the EF model and US$5,495 for the PL model.
Eliminating the global shutter has also been decided for the Micro Cinema Camera, which is also shipping now. Its specs include:
- Super 16mm-Sized Image Sensor
- Active Micro Four Thirds Lens Mount
- 13 Stops of Dynamic Range
- Records Full HD 1920×1080 CinemaDNG RAW
- Apple ProRes 422 (HQ) at 220 Mbps
- Ultra-Compact Design
- Expansion Port with Radio Control Ports
- SDHC/SDXC Memory Card Slot
- HDMI & Composite Output, 3.5mm Audio In
- Shipping now for $995
The good news is that the Micro Cinema Camera has been getting some unforeseen applications when it was announced last year at NAB. Turns out the MCC become quite a capable virtual reality and 360° video device. The camera has been used on MiniEYE VR rigs at the Oscars for live 360 video with stitching on the fly.
“For the Oscars, our main priority was to provide a live 360 video feed, which meant live stitching the output of the cameras into a VR-capable stream,” explained Alx Klive, founder of 360 Designs. “We used a compact three-camera rig, designed primarily for live VR use, with the Micro Cinema Cameras. (Its) wide dynamic range was particularly helpful in the Oscars press gantry, as there were many press lights in view, which couldn’t be hidden from view with a 360 camera. This is unprecedented in a 360 rig, and we’re very excited about what it means for DPs and anyone shooting professional 360 video.”
While no designer wants to walk away from a feature that they’ve wanted to include in the design of their next great product, it sounds like the right thing to do for Blackmagic and their customers, and by looking at the footage, I really don’t think it will be missed all that much on either camera. Kudos to them for the effort, and making the difficult call to move forward.