Thursday, December 24, 2015

Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve 12.2 Studio for Mac marked down 50% to $499.99

Blackmagic Resolve for Mac - now $499.99 - 


Blackmagic Design's DaVinci Resolve, arguably the best combination color grading/editing software suite on the market, has been available in two versions for the past several years - Resolve Studio ($1000) and Resolve Lite (free).

For most users, the free version of DaVinci Resolve 12 does everything they need - but for pro users or serious amateurs who need support for multiple GPUs, 4K output, motion blur effects, temporal and spatial noise reduction, 3D stereoscopic tools, remote rendering, and/or collaboration tools allowing multiple users work on the same project at the same time - Resolve Studio is the way to go.

Sadly, until today, pro users either had to buy a Blackmagic Camera that retailed for over $1000 (and came bundled with a free copy of Resolve Studio) - or pay $1000 to get the full, professional version of Resolve.

Today, with a pre-Christmas press release, Blackmagic Design has changed all that - at least for Mac users.

Now, you can download DaVinci Resolve Studio Version 12.2 from the Mac App Store for $499.99!

From the press release:
"Now available on the Mac App Store for only USD$499, customers have more flexibility than ever before because the software downloaded from the App Store features built in security and does not require a hardware dongle to run. That means customers that purchase DaVinci Resolve 12 Studio from the Mac App Store can run it on multiple personal Macs, like their laptop and desktop computers, simply by using their Apple ID.

This Mac only version of DaVinci Resolve 12 Studio greatly simplifies the purchasing and installation of the software because customers only pay once and do not have to suffer from the problems and high costs of monthly licensing for other cloud based software. In addition, the DaVinci Resolve 12 Studio license will not expire so customers never have worry about unexpected software expiration in the middle of a project or when on location without a network.

Customers that need to switch between Mac and Windows, or that are using DaVinci Resolve in a facility that does not use Apple ID, can still purchase DaVinci Resolve 12 Studio with a hardware dongle from Blackmagic Design resellers."
This is clearly a shot aimed at Premiere Pro and Adobe's "Creative Cloud" subscription model, which is $49.99 per month for a bundle of Adobe products.

Now, instead of paying $600 a year for Creative Cloud, Mac users can pay for a one-time, $500 license and run a dongle-free version of Resolve Studio 12.2.

That is still $200 more than Final Cut Pro, but may be worth it for direct access to Resolve's industry leading coloring tools in an all-in-one editing suite.

Sadly, Windows users are still stuck with the dongle (and the $1000 price tag), but let's hope that changes soon.

At least Windows (and Linux) are getting a free upgrade from Resolve 12 to Resolve 12.2 with support for h.265.

If anything here has helped you to make a buying decision, please click on the links above or the display ads below or in the margins.  It won't cost you anything extra, and it will help to keep these posts coming.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. This costs you nothing extra. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Saturday, December 12, 2015

URSA Mini first aerial footage vs. Alexa Mini





So far, Alexa Mini has had the Super 35 4K/global shutter aerial market pretty much to itself. That is about to change.

Courtesy of Grit Visual in Salt Lake, here is the first aerial footage shot with the $2,995 URSA Mini 4K:


The gimbal for the ground shots was a $2,279 DJI Ronin - and the multicopter used for the aerials was an $11,995 Freefly Alta with a 4.8 kg/15 lb maximum payload.

Here's the behind-the-scenes - interestingly, they had to come up with a custom battery solution to get it airborne:



Dynamic range, highlight rolloff, color (after a light grade) and the absence of rolling shutter are all impressive here.

To my eye, this compares pretty well with a similarly-themed commercial shot with the $45,000 Alexa Mini and an $11,330 Freefly MoVI M15:


Now that we've seen actual footage from the URSA Mini, some people are comparing it to other cameras in the sub-$10,000 price range in interesting categories such as "cost of media" measured in  "dollars per gigabyte".

There are far important metrics that should take priority when comparing these cameras.

To most DPs, avoiding CMOS skew from a fast-moving drone or maximizing the palette of colors for flexibility in post matter more than how much a storage card costs - but other than URSA Mini, the old Production Camera 4K (and the hard-to-find Kinefinity Kinemini), no Super 35 camera below $10K has both a global shutter and the ability to record to RAW internally.

As a result, in my view, other sub-$10,000 Super 35 cameras are not really competitive with the gold standard of digital cinema - the camera that 80% of last year's cinematography Oscar nominees was shot on - the Arri Alexa.

Yes, RED Raven records to REDCODE RAW, but it lacks a global shutter.  While Sony cameras in this price class have neither internal RAW recording nor a global shutter.

URSA Mini, on the other hand, is competitive with Alexa in both of these key areas.

For what it does, the price point on URSA Mini is amazing and will change the economics of filmmaking when it starts to ship in large numbers.

Pretty impressive for a camera that costs less than the $4,500 deposit on the Alexa Mini.

If anything here has helped you to make a buying decision, please click on the links above or the display ads below or in the margins.  It won't cost you anything extra, and it will help to keep these posts coming.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. This costs you nothing extra. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thursday, November 26, 2015

New URSA Mini 4.6K narrative film footage



URSA Mini 4.6K test footage seems to be coming fast and furious now. Some nice narrative rushes from Blackmagic tester and DP Kholi Hicks' short film Spooks:


Recorded to ProRes HQ, lightly graded and shot mostly in natural light, this is the best looking footage from the 4.6K sensor to date. Again, the roll-off from the highlights and the color seem very "Arri-like" - for 1/10th the price.

Really looking forward to seeing footage recorded to CinemaDNG RAW with this sensor.

If anything here has helped you to make a buying decision, please click on the links above or the display ads below or in the margins.  It won't cost you anything extra, and it will help to keep these posts coming.

And please follow HCR here, on G+, on YouTube on Vimeo and on Twitter (button below) for the latest news on micro-budget video and cinema.







Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. This costs you nothing extra. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

First ever URSA Mini 4.6K footage posted to Vimeo!



Finally - Blackmagic beta tester and cinematographer Tom Majerski posts two examples of footage from the URSA Mini 4.6K to Vimeo! Without further ado, here they are:




As Tom said in a tweet earlier day, "It's better than I expected...worth the wait."

I agree- the dynamic range and the richness and depth of the colors seem much more (dare I say it) "Alexa-like" than the 4K camera to my eye.

Now that we have started to see footage from both the 4K and 4.6K versions of this camera, I'm going to go out on a limb.  I think Blackmagic has a price/performance winner here - and we're about to see a wave of creative destruction in camera prices.

With a ready-to-shoot LCD-only URSA Mini 4K coming in at a little under $3500 (with media, battery plate, a battery solution and shoulder kit) the 8-bit JVC LS300 has a real problem at $3495.

In addition, I think Canon Cinema EOS and Sony FS prices are going to have to come down across their product lines.  I really cannot see buying a C300 Mark II for $15,999 rather than a $7,000 viewfinder-equipped Mini 4.6K.

As for me, my Panasonic GH cameras are for sale.

If anything here has helped you to make a buying decision, please click on the links above or the display ads below or in the margins.  It won't cost you anything extra, and it will help to keep these posts coming.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. This costs you nothing extra. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, November 23, 2015

Wooden Camera rolls out custom accessories for the URSA Mini

Pictured: URSA Mini with Wooden Camera NATO Handle Kit, Top Plate, Quick Base & 2x 15mm Rods

If you want to rig your new URSA Mini and you need more mounting points or flexibility than Blackmagic's URSA Mini Shoulder Kit can provide, the folks at Wooden Camera are ready with a solution for just about every need.  Wooden Camera President Ryan Schorman explains:




With the Wooden Camera NATO Handle Kit, Top Plate, Quick Base (or Fixed Base),  2x 15mm Rods and the Universal View Finder (UVF) Mount, you can use any EVF with your Mini, add a follow focus or matte box and mount the camera pretty much anywhere.

Wooden Camera products cost a little more than other brands - but I have used them personally and they are a great value for the money.

Kudos to Wooden Camera for being ready with a full set of accessories for the camera as the first units arrive in the hands of customers.

For more micro budget video and filmmaking news, please follow HCR here, on G+, on YouTube on Vimeo and on Twitter (button below).






Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. This costs you nothing extra. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

3 axis gimbal prices plummet - Kovacam Sabre Digi for A7/GH4/G7/A6000 just $398!

New Kovacam Sabre Digi 3 axis gimbal just $398

Kovacam has been building counterbalanced stabilizers and selling them in the US market for a while - such as this well-reviewed combination stabilizer monopod and the interesting Xcam Sabre mini tripod stabilizer.

Now, they have decided to step into the 3 axis gimbal market in a big way - with the new Kovacam Sabre Digi SD-01 - priced at an amazing $398.

At this price, Sabre Digi undercuts the nearest competition, the $499.90 Beholder MS-1, by almost $100 - and makes the $998 CAME-TV Single look seriously overpriced.

Here are a couple of Kovacam promo videos showing the SD-01 flying the Panasonic G7 and GH4:





At $398, it starts to make a lot of sense for mirrorless shooters to replace their old counterbalanced stabilizers with an easy to use gimbal.

It also means the higher-end gimbal manufacturers will  have to lower their prices if they want to stay competitive.

A real win-win for videographers and filmmakers on a budget.

Please follow HCR here, on G+, on YouTube on Vimeo and on Twitter (button below) for more of the latest news in micro-budget video and cinema.






Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. This costs you nothing extra. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Today only - 20.3MP 4K Panasonic GX8 marked down $300 to $899.99!

With its 20.3 megapixel sensor, the new Panasonic GX8 is the highest resolution (and probably the best) micro 4/3 still camera on the market today - and it records some pretty darned good looking 3840x2160p Ultra High Definition "4K" video as well.


This deal expires at midnight, US Pacific Time - so if you want more than 20MP of still resolution and would like to step up to a 4K video camera -  and your budget is less than $1000 - you should jump on this deal today by clicking on the picture above - or the display below.





Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. This costs you nothing extra. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, November 2, 2015

Blackmagic URSA Mini 4K vs. Sony A7s II - side by side test


UK-based DP Daniel Peters has provided a tremendous service to the community by shooting two short pieces on the same day, in the same setting, with the $2999.99 Sony A7s II and the $2995 Blackmagic URSA Mini 4K (no viewfinder).

Both are shot handheld, comparing the Mini's global shutter to the Sony's internal stabilization.  Daniel has made both videos downloadable, so you can look at them in detail - without Vimeo compression.

Here is the footage.  First the Sony:


Daniel says that the Sony "rocks" and that slow motion holds up well - but that its 8-bit codec fell apart a bit in the grade (banding in the sky) and that the rolling shutter is "quite bad" despite the internal stabilization.

Here's the URSA Mini 4K footage:



It's hard to tell from two short samples shot in overcast conditions, but I have to say that I liked the Blackmagic footage a little better.  I like the deeper depth of field from the Super 35 sensor and the smooth UHD/60p frame rate.  And it looks like Daniel was able to get more detail out of the shadows from the URSA's 10-bit ProRes.

There are no low light tests here, but the Mini 4K is not a low light camera (as someone who owns both cameras, Daniel says that it "doesn't stand a chance" against the Sony).

For me, the Mini's global shutter, superior codec, built-in XLRs, UHD/60p frame rate, shoulder mounted ergonomics (without a complicated rig) and dual card slots make it a better choice for video than the A7s II - but its poor low light performance is a real problem.  I hope the 4.6K is better in low light.

That said, download Daniel's footage and see for yourself -  and comment below with your thoughts.

And if anything here has helped you to make a buying decision, please click on the links above or the display ads below or in the margins.  It won't cost you anything extra, and it will help to keep these posts coming.

And please follow HCR here, on G+, on YouTube on Vimeo and on Twitter (button below) for the latest news on micro-budget video and cinema.





Tuesday, October 27, 2015

$900 price drop on 2011's king of low light - Sony FS100 now just $1599!




Sony's NEX-FS100 was revolutionary when it was released back in 2011.  Remember these videos?







At $5999, the FS100 was the first Super 35mm digital camcorder below $10,000, and its low light performance blew Panasonic's AF100, with its micro 4/3 sensor, out of the water.

But time marches on.  Today, there are at least half a dozen Super 35 camcorders with higher resolution, less compression, more bit depth and higher frame rates between the prices of the $2995 URSA Mini 4K and the $5599 Sony FS5.

So, Sony has dropped the FS100's body-only price - and it is now a much more reasonable $1599 at Amazon and Adorama.

But there were only 13 left as of this post - if you want one, you should pull the trigger now.

If anything here has helped you to make a buying decision, please click on the links above or the display ads below or in the margins.  It won't cost you anything extra, and it will help to keep these posts coming.

And please follow HCR here, on G+, on YouTube on Vimeo and on Twitter (button below) for the latest news on micro-budget video and cinema.



Saturday, October 24, 2015

[11/25 UPDATE] More URSA Mini 4.6K on Vimeo!



Is the wait finally coming to an end for the URSA Mini 4.6K and 4K cameras? Six months after their introduction at NAB, there seems to be movement on both the 4.6K and 4K fronts. Please keep checking back for the latest news and footage!

[11/25 Update]

Vimeo version of Roman's Mini 4.6K video from yesterday. A lot better than the YouTube version:



[NEW 11/24 Update]

Finally!  Cinematographer and Blackmagic beta tester Roman Alaivi has posted an URSA Mini 4.6K 1080p ProRes test on YouTube. This isn't the typical "first footage" of flowers on the back yard. Roman challenges the camera with different skin tones, action, moving vehicles and low light. In my view, the camera does a pretty good job, but it will be nice to see footage that is not compressed for YouTube:



Roman also posted a pretty nice writeup over at bmcuser. He says:
"...The image is amazing. The video here doesn't even begin to show or do the camera justice, like I'm sure other footage will soon do. The color, weight, richness... just general mojo is f**king awesome. I'm really overly satisfied with the what's coming out of the Mini 4.6K."
If you're interested in this camera, it would be worth your time to head over to Roman's post and read it in its entirety.

[11/24 Update]

Looks like we're about to get a look at footage from the URSA Mini 4.6K! Tom Majerski has tweeted a couple of frame captures from the camera as he grades his shots:


Tom says of this picture, "You really feel the 15 stops of Dynamic Range on the URSA Mini 4.6K. Zero clipping in this frame."


Here he says, "Just a couple of nodes give me rich deep colour on the URSA Mini 4.6K...grading is so easy with it."

Really looking forward to seeing what this camera can do.

[11/23 Update]

More URSA Mini 4K tests as we await footage from the 4.6K camera.

Interesting comparison of URSA 4K and Mini 4K images from Chanho Shin in South Korea .  Not a side-by-side, but useful, nevertheless:


And some very nice 1080/120p slow motion snowfall from Ronald Huijskens, cinematographer at a production house called Lionatwork in the Netherlands:


Even with YouTube compression, the Mini 4K continues to impress.

[11/21 Update]

As more shooters get their cameras, the trickle of URSA Mini 4K test footage is turning into a flood.  Three new clips were uploaded overnight.  In one of them, we'll see how the Mini fares on a conventional counterbalanced stabilizer.

 Daniel Peters continues to produce great work with his new URSA Mini.  In #mydubai, he takes some time off from a Blackmagic Design resellers' event to shoot some beautiful city and desert footage:



Also, Blackbird Productions in New Zealand took their new Mini 4K out on a $549 Glidecam HD-4000 and got some very smooth results.  Looks like you won't need thousands of dollars and a fancy 3 axis brushless gimbal to fly the Mini:




And long time Blackmagic shooter Tyler Edwards took the Mini 4K, a tripod, and a couple of lenses out and came back with a nice little test video shot in RAW, ProRes and 1080/120p windowed mode:


The 4K continues to impress.  Even with YouTube (and Vimeo) compression, the camera does a good job and looks like a winner.

These tests are giving us a pretty good idea of what the 4K version of this camera can do - but (and I hate to sound like a broken record here), it has been 7 months since these cameras were introduced and potential buyers really need to see sample footage and reviews from the 4.6K before they decide which camera to invest in.

[11/20 Update]

Note Suwanchote takes the URSA Mini 4K EF down to the beach and flies it on a Letus Helix 3 gimbal.  The results left me wanting more.  It is almost unbelievable what a single operator can do with a $3000 Super 35 camcorder and a gimbal these days:




In his second review (and comparison with the original 2.5K BMCC), Note says, "the body of the Ursa Mini 4K is simply better in every way when compared to the BMCC except in weight."

He still likes the BMCC's dynamic range and gradability better, but also says, "I won't lie, the Mini 4K sensor has grown on me..."

Please head over to LightFormFilm for the rest of the story.

[11/18 Update]

Great new URSA Mini 4K EF review with test footage from Note Suwanchote at LightFormFilm.  Note is using the Mini 4K to balance his gimbal and plans to sell it soon and buy the Mini 4.6K  - but he took the time to go out, shoot some test footage and write down his thoughts on the camera for the community. 

Here's the test footage:


In the pictures accompanying Note's writeup, the $1499 SmallHD EVF-502 SDI Sidefinder looks like a good fit for the Mini - so if you already have the SDI version of the Sidefinder, you won't have to buy a new EVF.

Sadly, those with the HDMI version of the Sidefinder (or other HDMI EVFs) will have to buy something like a $295 Atomos battery powered SDI to HDMI converter in order to use their viewfinders with the Mini.


Note says he was "pleasantly surprised at how well the sensor performs." Please head on over to LightForm for the full review.

[11/17 Update]

Emm at Cheesycam got a loaner URSA Mini 4K from the DVE Store (I'm jealous!) and, in his own inimitable style, rigged it up with gear he had on the shelf.  I'll share Emm's pic - but for the rest of the story, you'll have to go over to Cheesycam.


For me, the most interesting part of this setup is the validation of the Mini's compatibility with the $949 Cineroid EV4RVW and its iPhone-like Retina display.

At $546 less than the $1495 Blackmagic URSA Viewfinder, this looks like a reasonably priced, high quality EVF alternative.

Looking forward to footage from Emm - and please subscribe to and support his blog  - he does great work for this community.

[11/16 Update]

Cinematographer/editor Norbert Bielan just posted a nice beach slow motion piece, shot with his new URSA Mini 4K and a Sigma 50mm f1.4 ART lens.

He recorded in ProRes HQ in UHD at 24 and 60 fps.  The slow motion shots were in 1080p crop mode at 120 fps:


Norbert has been shooting with the big URSA for a while, and was one of the first shooters to post 80 fps slow motion URSA footage almost a year ago:


He says URSA Mini still has some Fixed Pattern Noise (FPN) challenges, but is still, for the money, "the best camera in the world."

[11/14 Update]

Music video director Jake Stark just received his new URSA Mini 4K  - and has posted a quick review of the camera. Jake does a great job of answering some basic questions about the Mini in less than 4 minutes - and shows some 120 fps slow motion test footage.  Does the camera have a black hole sun problem like earlier Blackmagic products?  How do you set it up for slow motion?  Does it fit on a Ronin?  Watch the video to find out:


Once again, this camera really shines in good light and at 1080/120p.  Kudos and thanks to Jake - this quick look at the Mini is a real service to the community.

[11/13 Update]

Aussie filmmaker Mateusz Sliwinski took his new URSA Mini 4K EF out for a spin at the local coffee house with the Sigma 18-35 f/1.8 - here are the results:


Mat did a nice blog post on his impressions of the camera here.  Bottom line: nicely gradable footage - the LCD is good for indoor work, but the camera needs an EVF outdoors - and FPN is still an issue.

We knew this camera would inherit the FPN problem from the Production Camera 4K, so this isn't really a surprise - but it does beg the question - is Blackmagic working on a firmware solution?  Or is it something BMPC 4K, URSA 4K and URSA Mini 4K owners will just have to live with?

I hope not.  Sony's quick confirmation of and commitment to fix the A7s II PAL "black hole" problem might be a good example for Blackmagic to follow.

[11/8 Update]

It's been a few days, but we've finally seen another 4K test.  This time from Ryan Levenson on Vimeo - shooting ProRes at 2160/30p and 1080/120p at the University of Oregon:



Hopefully, we'll see 4.6K tests from John Brawley and Tom Majerski soon.

[11/3 Update]

Nicely graded UHD footage of Nanstein Castle in Landstuhl, near USAFE HQ at Ramstein Air Base in Germany - from Jsfilmz on YouTube:



[10/31 Update]

A quick review of the Mini 4K (and size comparison with the full size URSA) from Daniel Peters in the UK:


[10/30 Update]

John Brawley posted these BTS stills from his 4.6K shoot on October 30th:









4.6K News



Australian DP and long time Blackmagic tester John Brawley tweeted this picture of the Blackmagic URSA Mini 4.6K on October 23rd.

If the pattern of previous Blackmagic releases holds, John gets one of the first production units and will post one or two videos a few weeks before the camera actually ships.

I'm really looking forward to seeing what the camera can do in the hands of an experienced cinematographer and to comparing URSA Mini 4.6K footage with tests he's shot over the past few years with the Alexa - like this one, shot in ProRes:


And this one, internally recorded to ProRes 4444 and externally recorded to Arri RAW:


Hopefully, he'll write about the test and tell us now the camera measures up to his experience with Arri and RED.



On October 27, UK DP Tom Majerski tweeted this picture of his test URSA Mini 4K. He says he is "having fun" and "very impressed."  He also says "people will be very happy".

I'm sure they will be - when they finally get their cameras.

4K News

On the 4K front, we're starting to see test footage, first impressions and unboxings from shooters who have received their URSA Mini 4Ks.

Test Footage
On October 21st, with his second post of URSA Mini 4K footage, amateur shooter "J" at Jsfilmz has scored another first. As far as I can tell, he is the first end-user to post Ultra HD/60p slow motion footage from this camera.

Here's a graded short shot at 3840x2160p resolution and recorded to 10-bit ProRes with the Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 lens:


J says he was rushed and didn't have a lot of time, but it's a nice grade and a useful demonstration of what UHD/60p looks like (taking YouTube compression into account).

First Impressions
Blogger Rich Lackey at Digital Cinema Demystified has received his camera and written a "First Impressions" post.  Click over to Rich's blog to read the whole post, but his bottom lines:
  • "I want to say how impressed I am with Blackmagic's industrial design team on this one. They have created a beautiful looking camera."
  • "I believe if Blackmagic Design follow the path they've started with URSA Mini in future products, they have a very strong future in front of them with far fewer design and ergonomic criticisms"
  • "...the URSA viewfinder is a work of art. It’s full HD, designed and built just as well as the camera and beats any third party EVF’s I’ve used. There’s no plastic in sight and it just feels like quality construction. I would consider the URSA viewfinder to be a must-have accessory for URSA Mini and I think it will take care of the situations where the 5″ monitor is not bright enough."
  • [On the 4K sensor] "...in most situations with enough light, using fast lenses it performs well...in low natural light situations the 4K sensor's performance falls off...This is why the new 4.6K sensor is such a potential game changer."
Unboxing Video
I'm not a big fan of unboxing videos, but as an indicator that URSA Mini 4Ks are starting to ship, here's an unboxing posted by Mediacast Systems in Dubai on October 21st - so cameras are starting to arrive at dealers (in the Middle East, at least).



URSA Mini 4K Shoots First FCPeXchange Event
The first FCPeXchange Workshop was held at Abel Cine in LA on October 24th - and a freshly delivered URSA Mini 4K was used to record the event.  Here it is with a 50mm Canon Cine Prime:


The Mini looks like it will be a nice little handheld camera - even without the EVF. I will post footage as soon as it becomes available.

And please check back over the next few weeks  - I will keep this post updated as we start to see more URSA Mini 4K footage, hands on reviews and news.

If anything here has helped you to make a buying decision, please click on the links above or the display ads below or in the margins.  It won't cost you anything extra, and it will help to keep these posts coming.

And please follow HCR here, on G+, on YouTube on Vimeo and on Twitter (button below) for the latest news on micro-budget video and cinema.




Friday, October 23, 2015

Remember when 3-axis gimbals were $2000? Now, they're less than $500!



As recently as last year's NAB, the least expensive 3-axis gimbal you could buy for A7/GH4/BMPCC class cameras was a bulky, two-handed device that took a computer science degree to calibrate and cost a couple of thousand dollars.

What a difference 18 months makes.  Today, shooters with cameras in the "large mirrorless" weight category can buy the Team Rebel Design Beholder MS-1 a smooth, 3-axis pistol-grip style gimbal for $499.90.

This thing really works.  Here it is, turning the notoriously shaky Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera into an action camera (courtesy of OwlDolly):



Walking on the beach with the BMPCC - one of the toughest scenarios for stabilizers:



With the GH4 (courtesy of NOA Film):



And with the A7II (courtesy of Mathieu Stern):



At the $499.90 price point, the TRD Beholder MS-1 starts to compete with traditional counterbalanced stabilizers such as the $479 Glidecam HD-2000 or the $399 (marked down from $599) Steadicam Merlin 2.

Of course, counterbalanced stabilizers in this price class can handle payloads up to 5 or 6 lbs. - while the MS-1 is limited to less than 2 - but for mirrorless shooters, the tradeoff can be worth it.

These compact, 3-axis brushless gimbals can take the place of a lot of expensive, bulky gear.  When combined with 4K LOG or 1080p RAW image capture, low cost gimbals such as the MS-1 can produce high quality, gradeable images that compare very favorably to images produced with thousands of dollars worth of rigs, dollies and sliders.

And at the MS-1's price point, the interchangeable lens version of the Osmo starts to look a little silly and overpriced - contrary to what I said a few days ago.

With a $747.99 4K Panasonic G7 (kit lens included) and the $499.90 MS-1, you can be up and running with a 3-axis stabilized ultra high definition, interchageable lens camera for less than $1250.

That's about $450 less than the $1699 cost of a DJI X5 camera alone (no lens, no gimbal).

You wouldn't be able to remove the G7 from the MS-1 and put it right on your multicopter, but the $450 extra in your pocket might make up for that minor inconvenience.

Overall, it looks like the folks at Team Rebel Design have a winner on their hands here.

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Thursday, October 15, 2015

"Junun" - new Paul Thomas Anderson film shot on the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera goes to the movies

In the spring of this year, filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will be BloodBoogie Nights) travelled to Rasjathan, India with his friend Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead and producer Nigel Godrich to record an album called Junun (available for pre-order from Amazon and iTunes).

Anderson intended to record the journey and release it as a documentary - but, as he says in this interview at the New York Film Festival, his "newfangled, sexy camera gear" was held up at customs, so he had to resort to Plan B - which turned out to be the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Cameras he had in his bag (plus Paul Godrich's drone).


Paul Thomas Anderson shooting handheld with the BMPCC (via MUBI on Twitter)
The film, which shares the album's title, was shot verité style in the recording studio and on the streets of Rasjathan and captures the amazing process by which the music was created.

You can stream Junun now at mubi.com - and pre-order the album at Amazon and iTunes.





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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

First feature shot with $4495 Blackmagic URSA PL - stars Dolph Lundgren, Danny Trejo, Vivica Fox and Danny Trejo

URSA goes to the movies
A few days ago, Blackmagic issued a press release announcing that filmmaker Timothy Woodward, Jr. and DP Pablo Diez had chosen the $4495 URSA PL camera to shoot straight-to-DVD/VOD actioner 4GOT10 (trailer below).




The film was shot in ProRes 4444 with Schneider Cine-Xenar glass and graded in DaVinci Resolve.  Diez says the camera's global shutter was important for capturing the flashes, explosions and sudden camera movements that were a key part of the film.
I'm not a big fan of this genre, but it's good to see URSA and other under $10,000 cameras being used as A cams on indie sets.  Money not spent on renting $40,000 cameras can go into salaries for "name" actors and real practical effects (instead of CGI).


Big Dolph Lundgren on the big URSA monitor (from Flickr)

Other filmmakers are using URSA cameras as well. In a recent interview with A Place to Hang Your Cape, for example, filmmaker Alex Shipman and DP Izzie Jones say they're shooting a crowdfunded female superhero short called The Stuff of Legend on the Blackmagic URSA Mini.

The great thing about the era we live in is you can click on the graphic below on the right and stream the movie in the comfort of your home or office - or even on mobile - and, if you like the way it looks, you can click on the graphic on the left and buy the camera it was shot on.  I love this century.

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