Western Fire Chiefs Association Uses Blackmagic Cameras

Turning to the URSA Mini Pro and Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K

Like I’ve said before, the URSA Mini Pro and the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K are a great one-two punch for documentary situations. I feel like the ability to have a dedicated interview camera on sticks or hand-held with a Pocket Cinema Camera 4K on a gimbal is one intelligent plan to capture doc work quickly. The Western Fire Chiefs Association used the Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro and Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K to document the experiences of 35 fire chiefs on a recent research trip to the city of Paradise, California. 

The Western Fire Chiefs Association (WFCA) is a non-profit organization that serves 11 Western states. The mission of WFCA is to support, lead, educate and protect fire chiefs in the west, and represent their interests to the International Fire Chiefs Association. While the tools to fight a modern fire are still fairly traditional, a focus of the organization is to use emerging technologies to help understand why major fire events happen, and how to prevent them in the future.


Kelsey Jones, Creative Development Specialist for the WFCA, was tasked with documenting the trip. “WFCA is committed to offering timely and educational information to our members,” said Jones, “and while we can’t fit all of our members on a bus to take them on a tour, we can keep this conversation going through visual media.”

Blackmagic Jones could see the value of using more modern technology even in her department’s videography. “Digital storytelling is a crucial element that WFCA is beginning to harness in an effort to reach our members more effectively.”

The tour, led by Paradise Fire Department Chief David Hawks, began at the fire station as the Chief outlined the timing of the recent Camp Fire, and the efforts to evacuate citizens quickly. From there, the group toured various areas to understand and discuss procedures and outcomes of various mitigation efforts.

David VanBallegooijen, General Manager of the WFCA, said: “Catastrophic wildfires are becoming increasingly more prevalent in the West, and the Camp Fire is an example of such. By visiting the town itself first-hand, Chiefs are able to see for themselves the incredible mitigation efforts put in place by the Paradise FD. Opportunities to get Chiefs and community stakeholders in a room together allow for greater discussion and problem-solving.”


The documentary crew was given full access to the area and Jones immediately found the Blackmagic cameras valuable. “Utilizing Blackmagic gear made my job so much easier,” said Jones. “The large screen on the Pocket Cinema Camera 4K was great for reviewing footage, a much larger screen than the DSLR I usually use. It was very intuitive to use and it only took me a few minutes to navigate my way around the settings.”

While Jones was able to capture B-roll with the Pocket Cinema Camera 4K, the URSA Mini Pro was responsible for on the spot interviews of the Chiefs, gathering their insights on what they had learned. “It was comforting to know that my footage from the Pocket Cinema Camera 4K and the URSA Mini Pro we’re going to match so well,” said Jones. “The combination of professional tools and ease of use was amazing. It is important for us to deliver high-quality content to our members, and Blackmagic helped us achieve that.”

About Blackmagic Design

Blackmagic Design creates the world’s highest quality video editing products, digital film cameras, color correctors, video converters, video monitoring, routers, live production switchers, disk recorders, waveform monitors and real time film scanners for the feature film, post production, and television broadcast industries. Blackmagic Design’s DeckLink capture cards launched a revolution in quality and affordability in post production, while the company’s Emmy™ award winning DaVinci color correction products have dominated the television and film industry since 1984. Blackmagic Design continues ground breaking innovations including 6G-SDI and 12G-SDI products and stereoscopic 3D and Ultra HD workflows. Founded by world leading post production editors and engineers, Blackmagic Design has offices in the USA, UK, Japan, Singapore, and Australia. For more information, please go to

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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

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Craig Seeman
Craig Seeman

Articles like this drive me crazy. It’s great they’re using Blackmagic cameras but I wonder exactly how they’re using the Pocket given the lack of image stabilization. It would be useful to know if they’re using a rig and exactly what that consists of.