Thursday, July 17, 2014

New Blackmagic Firmware Update 1.8.2 - Record 230 min of 1080p ProRes on a 64GB SD or SSD!

Today, Blackmagic Design announced firmware update 1.8.2 for all of its cinema cameras - the $495 (on sale, as of this post) Pocket Cinema Camera, the $1995 Cinema Camera and the $2995 4K (UHD) Production Camera. This update adds three easy-to-edit Apple ProRes file formats to the menus for these cameras - ProRes 422, ProRes 422 Lite and ProRes 422 Proxy.

With the increased compression of these formats, shooters can now record more video on their existing cards and drives - or, buy less expensive SDs and SSDs.

Here are ProRes 1080p data rates at several frame rates of interest (from Apple):

23.98 fps; ProRes HQ is 176 Mbps, ProRes is 117 Mbps, ProRes LT is 82 Mbps and ProRes Proxy is 36 Mbps.

25 fps; ProRes HQ is 184 Mbps, ProRes is 122 Mbps, ProRes LT is 85 Mbps and ProRes Proxy is 38 Mbps.

29.97 fps; ProRes HQ is 220 Mbps, ProRes is 147 Mbps, ProRes LT is 102 Mbps and ProRes Proxy is 45 Mbps.

Here is the Blackmagic press release:
Fremont, CA - July 17, 2014 - Blackmagic Design today announced announced the immediate availability of Camera 1.8.2 software which adds three new Apple ProRes™ file formats for the Blackmagic Cinema Camera, Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera and Blackmagic Production Camera 4K. Camera 1.8.2 update is available now free of charge from the Blackmagic Design website.

Blackmagic Design camera customers have always been able to record in both CinemaDNG RAW or compressed ProRes 422 HQ formats, however now this new software update adds three additional Apple ProRes™ file formats, ProRes 422, ProRes 422 LT and ProRes 422 Proxy. This means customers using Blackmagic Design cameras will be able to get significantly smaller video file sizes allowing much longer recording durations on the same media card, all while preserving full frame 10-bit 4:2:2 quality.

Because this update is available to our camera customers free of charge, they simply need to download it, and install the update from their Mac or Windows machine using a simple USB cable connection to the camera. Once the update is complete, customers will see these new formats available in the camera menus.

Because this update reduces the data rate of recording, it means customers can now choose lower cost SSD or SD cards while still recording high quality video in SD, HD and Ultra HD resolutions. Using ProRes 422 Proxy it is possible to record 230 minutes of 1080HD video on a single 64GB SD drive. Selecting the type of ProRes format for recording can be set via the on screen menus and all ProRes types can be played back instantly.

The Apple ProRes 422 formats are designed specifically for multi-stream non linear editing, minimal generation loss and fast export, making them very popular video file formats for post production and broadcast. All ProRes files recorded with Blackmagic Cinema Cameras and Blackmagic Production Camera 4K can be opened directly in DaVinci Resolve 11 and Apple Final Cut Pro X™ for immediate color correction, editing and finishing.

“We are extremely excited to release this next update for our camera customers ,” said Grant Petty, CEO of Blackmagic Design. “With the addition of the 3 new ProRes formats, cinematographers can now record for longer on low cost SSD’s and SD cards without sacrificing image quality, as they are still recording in full 10 bit 4:2:2 quality. Because our cameras feature a software centric design, we are very excited to be able to update our cameras with more and more features over time and make the cameras better and better! And there is more to come!”

Availability and Price Camera 1.8.2 is available now for download from the Blackmagic Design web site free of charge for all Blackmagic Cinema Camera, Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera and Blackmagic Production Camera 4K customers.
With this recent spate of software upgrades and price cuts, Blackmagic Design is making a credible attempt to reclaim the spotlight - by fixing some of the longstanding challenges with its cameras and improving its price position in the marketplace. Let's hope the next software release adds some of the other features that shooters have been clamoring for - such as a solution to the BMCC's black spot challenge, in-camera clip deletion and in-camera card/drive formatting.

One thing's for sure, my BMPCC just became a whole lot more usable - for free. Hat tip to Blackmagic for providing four flavors of 10-bit 4:2:2 video in a $495 camera - while Canon is still charging $5000 for 8-bit 4:2:0.

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