A couple of this year’s standouts came from Blackmagic Design, something that’s become sort of a common occurrence over the last few years. While we were expecting a new camera announcement by no means did we expect two. The first of these, the Blackmagic URSA (latin for bear for those interested), is our focus here and we try to go beyond just the specs and features to find out what you need to know about this exciting new camera like no one else can.
First off, Blackmagic’s Bob Caniglia introduced us to the URSA in all its capabilities, of which there are many. The URSA was designed to be a very all-in-one solution for shooting, and Blackmagic has piled on many features to this end. Perhaps most interesting is the URSA’s interchangeable lens mount, which allows you to swap out the the lens AND sensor of the camera. Blackmagic showed us an example of this, with the front lens/sensor removed and a Canon DSLR in its place attached to the rods in the front of the camera. While it’s a very unusual feature, to essentially make the camera sensorless, it allows you to pick your sensor from any camera on the market and still use the other features of the URSA.
These other features include three (that’s right, three) built in screens, each with waveforms, focus peaking, and other monitoring assists found in many other monitors on the market today. Caniglia points out that these three screens are perfect for having multiple people on camera during a large shoot. So focus pullers, camera assistants etc. can all functionally use the camera at the same time. The URSA also has an internal liquid cooling system, as shooting in higher frame rates causes the camera to become hotter. As Caniglia mentions above, the URSA had been running for hours by the time of our interview, and the camera was cool to the touch.
The idea for the URSA came directly from how shooters were using Blackmagic’s other handheld cameras. After seeing people build these intricate rigs to turn them into cinema cameras, Blackmagic decided to meet their customers directly in their demand with a fully realized production camera. Caniglia further explains that the URSA is also meant to be a sort of base to build off of, especially as new cameras, sensors, etc. are released, allowing the buyer to “preserve their investment” and focus only on the parts they need instead of buying an entirely new camera. Finally, the URSA records to CFast cards, for which it has two ports. CFast, as Caniglia points out, was made for shooting video, and is perfect for higher frame rates.
The URSA ships in several different packages/sensors:
- Blackmagic URSA EF: $5,995, Shipping July 2014
- Blackmagic URSA PL: $6,495, Shipping July 2014
- Blackmagic URSA Broadcast: TBA
- Blackmagic URSA HDMI: TBA
You can find out more about the Blackmagic URSA at www.blackmagicdesign.com
Here’s the press release from Blackmagic Design:
Blackmagic Design Announces Blackmagic URSA
Introducing the world’s first digital film camera designed to revolutionize on set workflow while featuring a user upgradable sensor and lens mount, large 10 inch fold out monitor and more!
NAB 2014, Las Vegas, USA – April 7, 2014 – Blackmagic Design today announced Blackmagic URSA, a new high end digital film camera designed to revolutionize workflow on set. Built to handle the ergonomics of large film crews as well as single person use, URSA has multiple accessories built in, including a massive 10 inch fold out on set monitor, large user upgradable Super 35 global shutter 4K image sensor and internal dual RAW and Apple ProRes recorders.
Because the sensor and lens mount assembly can be changed, customers can choose EF or PL lens mounts, or even a broadcast video sensor with B4 mount, then upgrade the camera in the future. The Blackmagic URSA EF model will retail for $5,995.
Blackmagic URSA will be demonstrated on the Blackmagic Design NAB 2014 booth at #SL219
Blackmagic URSA is designed to be used on high end feature films, commercials, episodic television production, documentaries, electronic news gathering, music videos and more. When used on jobs with a large crew, customers can easily dress the camera with high quality cinema lenses, rails, follow focus, matte boxes and more. With built in scopes for exposure, focus and audio levels, built in dual recorders and the large 10 inch fold out on set monitor, customers can dramatically reduce on set equipment because it’s all built into the camera.
The Blackmagic URSA features a larger professional size that has the space for powerful cooling that allows higher frame rates while keeping the chassis cool and the fan quiet. The sleek futuristic machined aluminum design is incredibly strong and has been designed for large film crews while being able to be field upgraded to new sensors by the user. Each area of the camera has been divided into separate DOP, camera assistant and audio engineer work stations. The DOP station features a large 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 screen for camera settings, status and scopes and an audio station features audio meters, controls and audio connections.
Blackmagic URSA is a true professional digital film camera with a 4K sensor, global shutter and a wide 12 stops of dynamic range. The wide dynamic range is superior to regular video cameras or even high end broadcast cameras and results in dramatically better images that look like true digital film. The large Super 35 size sensor allows for creative shallow depth of field shooting and high resolution Ultra HD, 12 bit lossless compressed Cinema DNG RAW and ProRe allow for easy post production workflow with minimum storage requirements.
The Blackmagic URSA features a modular camera turret that can be simply replaced by removing 4 simple bolts! The camera turret includes the sensor, lens mount and lens control connections and can be upgraded in the future when new types of sensors are developed. There are currently 4 models to choose from, URSA PL supports PL mount lenses and URSA EF supports EF mount lenses from Canon, Zeiss and more. Both of these models include the large Super 35 sized global shutter digital film sensor. The URSA Broadcast B4 model, available late 2014, features a broadcast video Ultra HD sensor and B4 lens mount used in broadcast. The URSA HDMI model has no sensor and its lens mount is replaced by a “cheese plate” of mounting points and a HDMI input, allowing any third party camera to get the benefit of the URSA camera body features.
“Our goal when developing the URSA was to build a camera that had all the cooling capacity for higher frame rates, and a large on set monitor as well as built in scopes so you had everything you need built into the camera itself. The problem with spending so much money building in such incredible accessories is that they become outdated as sensor technology moves on. So we designed the ability to upgrade the sensor so customers can simply bolt on a new sensor and turret assembly in the future!”, said Grant Petty, CEO, Blackmagic Design, “We think this is a revolution and this upgradable design means we have been able to put a lot more effort into the design of the camera body itself and the quality of the screens, recorders, cooling system and processing power than would normally be offered. The result is one of the most amazing television products I have ever seen!”
Blackmagic URSA PL and URSA EF Key Features
- Large high resolution 4K Super 35 mm sized sensor with superior handing of image detail.
- Professional global shutter for smooth pans and image motion.
- Wide 12 stops of dynamic range allows capture of increased details for feature film look.
- Compatible with extremely high quality PL or EF mount lenses.
- User upgradable design allows customers to upgrade and change the sensor and lens mount.
- Built in dual CFast 2.0 card recorders allow unlimited duration recording in high quality.
- Open file formats compatible with popular NLE software, such as Apple ProRes and compressed CinemaDNG 12 bit RAW. No custom file formats.
- Support for ProRes HQ, ProRes 422, ProRes LT, ProRes Proxy recording at resolutions up to Ultra HD.
- Features all standard connections, including dual XLR mic/line audio inputs with phantom power, 6G- SDI output for monitoring with camera status graphic overlay and separate XLR 4 pin power output for viewfinder power, 6G-SDI monitoring input, headphone jack, LANC remote control and standard 4 pin 12V DC power connection.
- Built in stereo microphones for recording sound.
- 3 separate built in LCD monitors for camera settings and metadata entry. Large 10 inch screen folds out for full resolution HD monitoring with wide viewing angle and high brightness.
- Supports Ultra HD and 1080 HD resolution capture in 23.98, 24, 25, 29.97, 30 up to 60 fps.
- Features liquid cooling system allowing higher frame rates when future sensors support this feature.
- Supports quick release tripod mounts and adding V-Mount and Anton/Bauer mount battery plates.
- Includes full copy of DaVinci Resolve software color grading and editing software.
Availability and Price
Blackmagic URSA will be available in June/July from US$5,995 from Blackmagic Design resellers worldwide.