Recent Blackmagic Design Updates Provide Good News For Filmmakers

Blackmagic Design Updates by Michael Head

Consumers sometimes claim that manufacturers ignore their customers and leave out key features that could be implemented. On one hand, this has led to great programs like the Magic Lantern group for Canon DSLRs – On the other hand, some manufacturers seem to ignore consumer requests and produce cameras each year with only minimal software and hardware updates. However, this cannot be said about Blackmagic Design.

Blackmagic Design has shocked the filmmaking world with a series of low-cost, high quality cameras ranging from the cellphone sized Blackmagic Pocket Camera, through the Cinema Camera, the 4K Production Camera, and the recently released 4K URSA and Studio cameras. So what can Blackmagic Design add now?

Listen to consumers and add in features that make already good products even better.

Blackmagic Design Updates

Blackmagic Design Updates

Blackmagic Design has been rolling out firmware updates rapidly over the last couple of months, and the additions they have offered fall on the spectrum from good to exactly what consumers asked for.

Beginning in late June, Blackmagic Design not only rolled out 4K raw recording for the 4k Production camera, but also improved their already great color science with better debeyering and autofocus on the Cinema camera and more lens support for the Pocket camera.

Only a few weeks later, Blackmagic Design added audio gain control to their family of cameras. While this does not improve the, frankly, poor recording circuits in the cameras, it does give filmmakers options while recording.

Two updates in a few weeks?

That might sound like a lot for some companies. But Blackmagic Design wasn’t finished pulling rabbits out of their hat: instead of only including Prores HQ for non-raw recording, Blackmagic added multiple “flavors” of Prores from 422 Proxy to LT to regular 422 – all of which mean that a filmmaker can choose to save some recording space.

But this still didn’t address two of the seemingly most commonly requested features – displaying remainging recording time and audio meters. But surely after three updates, they were done, right?

Wrong! Blackmagic Design just rolled out firmware update 1.9 for the 4K Production camera.

Not only did this update improve image calibration and add a histogram (an invaluable tool for a DP), but users now can see how much recording time they have left on their cards and see audio meters for monitoring audio coming into the camera. Wow!

But owners of the Cinema camera and Pocket camera looking on longingly at the announcement, until they realized that included in the announcement that their cameras would soon see their own audio meters and remaining recording time.

No one can claim that Blackmagic Design has been gathering moss, and they are definitely still making waves in the filmmaking community.

The production company Status Media & Entertainment is shooting their feature film “Checkmate” on two 4k Production cameras and a Pocket camera. Citing affordability and image quality, director Timothy Woodward Jr said, “we were able to use multiple cameras while staying in budget, which allowed for more coverage and faster shooting.”

Blackmagic Design has been gaining momentum and now it seems Hollywood is taking notice.

Blackmagic Camera and NAB Recap

NAB 2012 Recap
By, filmmaker Joseph Ort

Here is a breakdown of some of the key stories from NAB 2012 for indie filmmakers.

GoPro Hero firmware update to 24fps & 35Mbit (previously 15Mbit)

This is great news because now you can match your Canon DSLR footage seamlessly with your GoPro footage. They are also going to release a Cinestyle with the GoPro, so you will have more color correction latitude in post. Find more info on the GoPro HERE

Canon released their DSLR 4K camera

The EOS 1D C. Initially we thought this was going to be a great new camera for indie filmmakers. But then the price was released. The camera is going to run you around $15K, so that canceled hopes for indie filmmakers.

Keep in mind that this kind of footage is going to use up a lot of hard drive space. Even though the Cannon 4K is impressive – you need to remember that hard drives (while getting cheaper) are not that cheap. And you are going to need a few hard drives to handle the data.

Here is a quick breakdown of 4K storage:

  • 4K RAW (4096 x 2160), 24fps, 10-bit: 253.125 Megabytes per second15.2 Gigabytes per minute – 911.3 Gigabytes per hour
  • 4K RAW (4096 x 2160), 24fps, 12-bit: 303.75 Megabytes per second – 18.2 Gigabytes per minute – 1.093 Terabytes per hour
  • 4K RAW (4096 x 2160), 24fps, 16-bit: 405 Megabytes per second- 24.3 Gigabytes per minute – 1.46 Terabytes per hour

You will want to store this footage twice, just in case drives fail. An average 3TB drive is around 200 bucks.

Introducing The BlackMagic Camera

Then out of nowhere, the company Blackmagic released their 2.5K camera for 3,000. This camera was the best kept secret at NAB and when released, the news became all the buzz. If you are eager to get your hands on this camera, the release date is sometime in July.

With the Blackmagic camera, the breakdown is:

2.5K RAW – (2432 x 1366)  12-bit, at 24fps: 144 Megabytes per second.  6.8 Gigabytes per minute – 410 Gigabytes per hour

So that’s not too bad, but just remember your post workflow when dealing with these new line up of cameras. More info on the Blackmagic Camera HERE

Hope you enjoyed this filmmaking article. Please tweet or tell your friends about Filmmaking Stuff!