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The Blackmagic Design URSA Broadcast Camera

It’s an URSA Mini Pro with what I believe to be a version of the Micro Studio Camera’s 4K sensor.

In their new camera announcement, Blackmagic Design dropped the “Mini” in the URSA Broadcast camera name. Read into it if you want. The URSA Broadcast, and the URSA Mini camera body design, are hardly Mini cameras. The features found in these cameras offer up big help to creatives and broadcasters who use them. Now, Blackmagic has squarely turned its attention to the specific needs of Broadcasters.

The new URSA Broadcast is a professional broadcast camera designed for both studio programming and live production. URSA Broadcast will work with existing B4 broadcast HD lenses, can be used for both HD and Ultra HD production, features a 4K sensor, extended video dynamic range, traditional external controls and buttons, built in optical ND filters, dual CFast and dual SD card recorders. The price for the Blackmagic URSA Broadcast is only US$3,495 for the camera body alone. Adding the EVF, Should mount, Mic mount, and recording media will likely push the overall cost close to $7,000

Blackmagic

Blackmagic is saying the URSA Broadcast is like two cameras in one, a field camera for ENG and programming work, as well as a professional studio camera. The big key will be the color and look of the video files because broadcasters usually don’t have time for any type of color correction. The URSA Broadcast camera will come with a new extended video mode to help capture accurate skin tones and vibrant colors. Now, the URSA Mini Pro and 4.6K also have great color and skin tones in their Rec709 files so I am interested to see this new extended video mode and how different it actually looks to the eye.

BroadcastBlackmagic is trying their best to work with Broadcasters who already have a bunch of equipment sitting around. This new camera will accept readily available B4 HD and Ultra HD lenses and records onto inexpensive SD cards, more expensive CFast 2.0 cards or even onto an SSD. The camera, as it should, records 1080i or 2160p video into standard .mov files, with .mxf to be added in future updates. “URSA Broadcast records using DNx145, DNx220X or ProRes, so video doesn’t need to be copied or transcoded” according to Blackmagic. This is a little bit of a problem for broadcasters who have already adopted Sony or Panasonic equipment and workflow because they typically work with a chosen codec that best works for their Sony or Panasonic equipment which their on-air server is set to read. This is especially true with newsrooms who use Avid for its airplay. While the Blackmagic URSA Broadcast can record news friendly codecs it is the edit systems and how they are set up which will likely require users to have to transcode the camera’s footage.

The lens mount features high performance optics with spherical aberration correction specifically designed to match the camera’s sensor. If this is a broadcast camera then why not make the B4 lens mount without light reducing glass optics? That’s because the sensor on the URSA Broadcast is actually slightly bigger than 2/3″ and requires B4 lenses image circle to be enlarged a touch. Because B4 lenses are par-focal and have an extremely wide depth of field, images stay in focus when zoomed in and out. A B4 lens does allow shooters to work faster because they don’t need to change lenses or refocus between close up, medium and wide shots. URSA Broadcast also supports full electronic B4 lens control so users can adjust focus, iris and zoom using the camera’s controls, or remotely from an ATEM switcher or ATEM Camera Control Panel. In addition, the standard B4 lens mount can be swapped with optional EF, F and PL mount so operators can use everything from inexpensive high-quality photographic lenses all the way up to massive cinema lenses.

BroadcastURSA Broadcast also features built-in neutral density (ND) filters with IR compensation for quickly reducing the amount of light that enters the camera. The ¼, 1/16th and 1/64th stop filters are specifically designed to match the colorimetry of the camera and provide additional latitude, even under harsh lighting conditions. The IR filters evenly compensate for both far red and infrared wavelengths to eliminate IR contamination. The ND filters are true optical filters with a precision mechanism that quickly moves them into place when the ND filter dial is turned.

The URSA Broadcast can record 10‑bit broadcast quality DNxHD 220X, DNxHD 145 or ProRes files with metadata. URSA Broadcast can even record lossless 12‑bit CinemaDNG RAW files for high-quality programming and post-production. With dual slots for each media type, URSA Broadcast gives customers non-stop recording. When the first card is full, recording automatically continues onto the next card so the full card can be swapped while recording continues on the other.

The camera features multi-rate 12G‑SDI connections for video output and return program feed input. Both connections automatically switch speed so they work with all HD and Ultra HD formats up to 2160p60 over a single cable. In addition, URSA Broadcast features HD-SDI monitoring out, 2 LANC inputs, balanced XLR audio with phantom power, and timecode/reference input. A 12 pin Hirose connector provides analog and digital broadcast lens control for powering and controlling SD, HD and Ultra HD lenses. There’s also a 4 pin XLR 12V DC power output and HD-SDI monitor output that can be used with Blackmagic viewfinders or any third party viewfinders and monitors.

Broadcast

Blackmagic URSA Broadcast Key Features

  • 4K sensor, extended video dynamic range, traditional external controls and buttons, built in optical ND filters, dual CFast and dual SD card recorders,
  • Advanced HD and Ultra HD broadcast camera with ⅔” B4 mount.
  • New extended video mode with better dynamic range and color fidelity producing images with amazing texture and detail, accurate skin tones, vibrant color and high dynamic range.
  • Full electronic B4 lens control support for adjusting focus, iris and zoom using the camera’s controls, or remotely from an ATEM switcher or ATEM Camera Control Panel.
  • Built in dual SD/UHS-II and CFast card recorders allow unlimited duration recording in high quality.
  • Records 1080i or 2160p video into standard .mov files using DNx145, DNx220X or ProRes for compatibility with existing broadcast systems and workflows. Standard .mxf will be added in future updates.
  • Support for DNxHD 220X, DNxHD 145, Apple ProRes 4444 XQ QuickTime, ProRes 4444 QuickTime, ProRes 422 HQ QuickTime, ProRes 422 QuickTime, ProRes 422 LT QuickTime and ProRes 422 Proxy QuickTime, CinemaDNG RAW, CinemaDNG RAW 3:1, CinemaDNG RAW 4:1.
  • High quality clear, 1/4, 1/16th and 1/64th stop neutral density (ND) filters with IR compensation designed to specifically match the colorimetry and color science of URSA Broadcast.
  • Fully redundant controls including external broadcast controls which allow direct access to the most important camera settings such as external power switch, ND filter wheel, ISO, shutter, white balance, record button, audio gain controls, lens and transport control, high frame rate button and more.
  • Interchangeable lens mount with B4 mount included as standard. Optional EF, PL and F mount available separately.
  • Status display for quickly checking timecode, shutter and lens settings, battery, recording status, and audio levels.
  • Features all standard connections, including dual XLR mic/line audio inputs with phantom power, 12G‑SDI output for monitoring with camera status graphic overlay and separate XLR 4 pin power output for viewfinder power, headphone jack, LANC remote control and standard 4 pin 12V DC power connection.
  • Built in high quality stereo microphones for recording sound.
  • 4 inch foldout touchscreen for on-set monitoring and menu settings.
  • Blackmagic SDI Control Protocol for external control or iPad control via Bluetooth®, 2 x 2.5mm LANC for lens and record control.

Availability and Price

Blackmagic URSA Broadcast is available now from Blackmagic Design resellers worldwide for US$3,495.

Blackmagic URSA Broadcast Accessories

  • Blackmagic Camera Fiber Converter.
  • Blackmagic Studio Fiber Converter.
  • ATEM Camera Control Panel (available May/June 2018).
  • Blackmagic URSA Broadcast Shoulder Kit features built in rosettes, rail mounts, viewfinder mount, integrated tripod quick lock release and top handle.
  • Blackmagic URSA Viewfinder is a high resolution viewfinder that includes a full HD OLED display and true glass optics for perfect focus.
  • Blackmagic URSA Studio Viewfinder featuring 7” screen, variable tension mounting points, easy grip handles, external controls and more.
  • URSA VLock Battery Plate provides a VLock compatible plate for attaching third party batteries.
  • Interchangeable EF, F and PL lens mounts.

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Brian Hallett, is an award winning cameraman, editor, and producer. He has shot everything from Network broadcast news, promotional image campaigns, music videos, short films, and documentaries. Check out his reel at hallett-brian.com

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