By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)
With cameras becoming more lighter and more mobile, filmmakers are wanting to control them remotely. That kind of flexibility in a cinema cameras OS is driving manufacturers like Blackmagic to create mobile apps that give shooters that option. Blackmagic has announced a new camera firmware update that will enable users to control the URSA Mini Pro from an iPad at up to 30 feet away.
“The new Blackmagic Camera Control app and open API means that the possibilities are truly endless. Customers are going to have the tools they need to build completely custom remote control solutions of their own design using the new Bluetooth support!” – Grant Petty, Blackmagic Design CEO
The benefit of adding Bluetooth is that cameras mounted to hard to reach places such as cranes, drones, in underwater housings, etc. can be controlled remotely without having to bring the camera down to make adjustments, and therefore experiencing expensive production delays during the reset.
The URSA Mini Pro was designed with Bluetooth for that very purpose, but up to now, the feature hadn’t been enabled. With the Camera 4.4 update, the lines of communication between the URSA Mini Pro and an iPad are opened, thanks to the new Blackmagic Camera Control App and Blackmagic’s open protocol. BMD hopes that buy going open source with the spec, it will encourage camera makers to craft their own custom apps for specific camera control needs.
Other features of Camera 4.4: The addition of new preset timecode options, compatibility with Canon 18-80mm T4.4 for iris, focus and record trigger, as well as improved EF, PL and B4 support, improved digital slate functionality and improved zebra stripe overlays on URSA Mini 4K cameras.
Once downloaded from the Blackmagic website and installed on your URSA Mini Pro, you can then connect via Bluetooth using your iPad and the Blackmagic Camera control app. The camera needs to be paired with the iPad, but then customers can remotely power URSA Mini Pro on or off, change all major settings, adjust and add metadata using a digital slate and trigger recording. Later this summer, Blackmagic will release the Camera Control API, along with sample code, for filmmakers to build their own camera control apps.
Like all BMD updates, the Camera 4.4 firmware is available free of charge from Blackmagic’s website [link], and the free Camera Control app available from the iOS App Store [link]. But be advised that it is only available for iPad at this stage.
Remote control and camera mobility are going to make locking down the camera a thing of the past, and will free up the camera operator to be more of a technical director, adjusting settings on the fly and according to the minute to minute needs of the shot. You won’t have to waste a lot of time resetting your camera to shoot the scene. And that’s a good thing.