I’m just passing on a rather astonishing announcement from Blackmagic Design. I’ll try to get a look at this puppy later today, but now, I simply bring you the words of BMD’s Grant Petty, received in an email…
Blackmagic Cinema Camera
We have been thinking hard about cameras and some of the limitations in quality that video cameras run into. Working with DaVinci color grading has only made these limitations more noticeable.
Some of the reasons why video cameras look like “video” is because they have limited contrast range, are limited to HD resolutions, use heavy compression for file recording, have poor quality lenses and of course they don’t integrate into NLE software with metadata management.
We decided to address these problems by developing a camera that provides feature film quality in an extremely compact portable design.
The Blackmagic Cinema Camera includes a super wide 13 stops of dynamic range, large 2.5K sensor, integrated SSD recorder that has the bandwidth to capture CinemaDNG RAW, ProRes and DNxHD files, integrated capacitive touchscreen LCD for direct metadata entry, standard jack audio connectors, refrigerated sensor and it’s fully compatible with EF and ZF mount lenses.
The Blackmagic Cinema Camera also includes SDI and Thunderbolt connectors and it comes with a full copy of DaVinci Resolve and UltraScope software. Imagine plugging in your laptop for on set grading and scopes!
The 13 stops of dynamic range is one of the most important reasons why this camera looks like film. Often people focus on more pixels, but that is just a larger video image. The real way to get film quality is to capture a wide contrast range to retain more detail in the black and white levels of the image. Then once you color grade the images, it looks amazing! Combined with amazing EF and ZF lenses, the result is a true film look!
Of course the quality is killed if you compress the images when recording them, so we built in an SSD recorder. That means you get the recording speed you need to record the full 2.5K RAW sensor data into completely uncompressed CinemaDNG files. This means you get all the detail and quality of the sensor.
No files on this camera are custom in any way and this is the first camera that’s designed to make the whole post production process simple. It records into CinemaDNG format for RAW files, and DNxHD or ProRes for HD resolution files compatible with Avid Media Composer and Apple Final Cut Pro.
You can play back all recorded files on the LCD, and there is a built-in microphone and speaker for reviewing audio. Of course you will want to plug in high quality audio into the standard jack connectors and the audio is always recorded uncompressed for highest quality.
The integrated LCD has a touchscreen and when tapped, a window called the “slate” appears where you can type in shot information just like typing on a smartphone. This is then recorded into the file as metadata in the Final Cut Pro X and DaVinci Resolve format. Common data like shot number can auto increment to save time.
You can also change camera settings on this touch LCD, such as frame rate, shutter angle, color temperature, dynamic range, focus assist settings and more. The SDI output also has overlays showing you all the camera data when monitoring on set, and even the same data when playing back recorded files!
The design is machined from a solid block of aluminum and looks amazing. It’s strong, very compact and designed to be easily hand held. I am still amazed we have fitted all this into such a small design, when normally features like RAW recorders and monitoring can be optional extras on cinema cameras.
A cinematographer friend of ours, John Brawley, has been working with the camera for the last few weeks. He’s shot some test clips in the process of working out what the camera’s capabilities are and we have posted them online for your to see. Even though some of them are just hand held test shots near John’s house, they are still great to see as examples of what’s creatively possible. Remember to select HD when viewing them!
We expect to start shipping in volume in July for $2,995.