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Blackmagic Design

Blackmagic Design
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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 film restoration software for the feature film, post production and television broadcast industries.

Blackmagic Design announces DaVinci Resolve 15

Blackmagic Design recently announced DaVinci Resolve 15, a massive update that fully integrates visual effects and motion graphics, making it the world’s first solution to combine professional offline and online editing, colour correction, audio post-production, multi-user collaboration and now visual effects together in one software tool. DaVinci Resolve 15 adds an entirely new Fusion page with over 250 tools for compositing, paint, particles, animated titles and more. In addition, DaVinci Resolve 15 includes a major update to Fairlight audio, along with over 100 new features and improvements that professional editors and colourists have asked for.

DaVinci Resolve 15 continues to revolutionise post-production by combining four extremely high-end applications as different pages in one single piece of software. The edit page has all of the tools professional editors need for both offline and online editing, the colour page features the world’s most advanced colour correction tools, the Fairlight audio page is designed specifically for audio post-production, and the new Fusion page gives visual effects and motion graphics artists everything they need to create feature film quality effects and animations. All it takes is a single click to instantly move between editing, colour, effects and audio.

This gives individual users unlimited creative flexibility because they can learn and explore different toolsets. It also enables collaboration so people with different talents can work together on the same project at the same time. The DaVinci Resolve 15 collaborative workflow dramatically speeds up post-production because customers no longer need to import, export or translate projects between different software applications, and work no longer needs to be conformed when changes are made. Everything is in the same software application.

The free version of DaVinci Resolve 15 can be used for professional work and has more features than virtually every other paid application for post-production. DaVinci Resolve 15 Studio, which adds multi-user collaboration, 3D, VR, dozens of additional filters and effects, unlimited network rendering and other advanced features such as temporal and spatial noise reduction, is available to own for US$299. There are no annual subscription fees or ongoing licensing costs. DaVinci Resolve 15 Studio costs less than all other cloud based software subscriptions and it does not require an internet connection once the software has been activated. That means customers don’t have to worry about losing work in the middle of a job if there is no internet connection.

“DaVinci Resolve 15 is a huge and exciting leap forward for post production because it’s the world’s first solution to combine editing, colour, audio and now visual effects into a single software application,” said Grant Petty, CEO, Blackmagic Design. “We’ve listened to the incredible feedback we get from customers and have worked really hard to innovate as quickly possible. DaVinci Resolve 15 gives customers unlimited creative power to do things they’ve never been able to do before. It’s finally possible to bring teams of editors, colourists, sound engineers and VFX artists together so they can collaborate on the same project at the same time, all in the same software application!”

Click here for a detailed overview of the DaVinci Resolve 15.

 

Blackmagic Design announces Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K

The other format war

The introduction of HDR displays (HDR) is as big an advance, for the filmmaking and television industry, as the switch from black and white to colour.

The human eye is an incredible organ – in normal circumstances it has the ability to capture 10 – 14 stops of latitude (from dark to light), but because we have two of them and the eye reacts so quickly, our dynamic range in a single panorama can be as high as 20 – 24 stops.

This wide dynamic range is the reason why nothing can match the visual splendour of an early morning sunrise or moody sunset. Cameras have, for a long time, been able to capture these kinds of dynamic range, the problem is that it hasn’t been possible to display the true captured results – until now that is, thanks to the implementation of HDR (high dynamic range) displays.

Three years ago, 4K resolution video was being touted as the next big advancement in picture quality. All the major TV set manufacturers released new lines of 4K sets and in the following months, Over-The-Top (OTT) services like Netflix began offering 4K titles, sports networks began capturing and producing events in 4K, and pioneering pay-TV service providers began offering 4K selections in their Video-On-Demand (VOD) catalogues.

But 4K resolution is just one piece of a larger, more complex, next generation video standard called Ultra High Definition (UHD). The UHD Alliance is an industry body comprised of software developers, hardware manufacturers, content producers and pay-TV providers, that have defined a set of parameters for UHD that include but ultimately go beyond 4K resolution. Those parameters include high frame rate, wider colour gamut, deeper colour depth, and high dynamic range (HDR). In fact, HDR is the new, next major advancement in picture quality. While the TV set makers jumped in on offering higher resolution sets, content creators are now embracing the benefits of HDR as delivering a truly next generation video experience that in the right conditions is mind blowing. The introduction of HDR displays (HDR) is as big an advance, for the filmmaking and television industry, as the switch from black and white to colour! For the technically minded, a modern camera can capture about 12 stops. On a standard monitor that many stops look flat or clipped. An HDR display at 1 000 nits (nit = a unit of visible-light) intensity has about 14 stops with good contrast and no clipping. A 4 000 nit monitor can show about 20 stops.

Standards

As usual in the broadcast industry, there is a bit of a tussle going on about HDR production standard adoption. The Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers (SMPTE) published their Perceptual Quantizer (PQ or SMPTE ST2084) standard in 2016. Prior to that the Consumer Technology Association issued the open standard HDR10 Media Profile which was very quickly adopted by a wide variety of companies, which include monitor and TV manufacturers such as Dell, LG, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, as well as Microsoft and Sony Interactive Entertainment, which support HDR10 on their PlayStation 4 and Xbox One S video game console platforms. HDR10 is also being supported by the UHD Alliance for UHD Premium, which apart from the TV and monitor manufacturers, is made up of partners such as DIRECTV, Netflix, Panasonic Corporation, Walt Disney Studios, 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros. Entertainment Premium and is currently leading the race as being the most widely accepted way of mastering, distributing and viewing HDR content.

Earlier this year Samsung and Amazon Video announced the release of HDR10 Plus, an open and royalty free standard that Amazon Video have adopted, offering more accurate frame by frame dynamic range adjustments. BBC and NHK jointly developed Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) which was very quickly adopted by YouTube and Freeview Play and is 100 per cent compatible with Standard Dynamic Range (SDR – normal HD and 4k). Technicolor and Philips jointly developed SL-HDR1, a clever algorithm set that allows for HDR rendering on HDR devices, and SDR rendering on SDR devices using a single layer video stream and finally, Dolby Laboratories developed an HDR format called Dolby Vision. Out of the many HDR systems currently available, Dolby Vision is probably the most well-known and perhaps more future proof, but it may not be the HDR standard with the most content. Like all the HDR formats Dolby Vision is a proprietary format and it requires you to have a HDR set that has a built-in Dolby Vision decoder. Dolby Vision supports a 12-bit colour depth (68 billion colours) and its compatible HDR TVs are four times brighter than most other current HDR sets and, is heading up the Ultra HD Blu-ray disc market and many streaming video services.

HDR Production

Creating HDR content relies heavily in the way scenes are lit, with increased contrast, broad range of colour and more importantly the ability to have both details in the depths of the shadows and specular spectral highlights. Capturing the full range of these means you need a camera that has the ability to shoot in a Log format, and record UHD. Many of the top brand camera manufactures have HDR cameras well nested in the market – including Arri’s Alexa and Amira family, the range of Sony CineAlta’s (F5, F55 and F65) as well as their FS range like the FS5, 7 and FS700. Of course, RED’s Epic and Dragon are well into it as is Blackmagic Design with their URSA and Cinema cameras. The sensors in these cameras all claim up to 15 stops of dynamic range which is getting closer to the dynamic range the eye can see.

Dedicated HDR post-production tools have emerged with the likes of Adobe Premier Pro and Avid Media Composer leading the field in consumer post-production.  The latest version of Adobe’s Premiere Pro CC has greater support for HDR video, as well as the Rec. 2020 colour space. There are extra Lumetri Color control panels for handling HDR footage and the application offers a HDR specular colour wheel. Adobe has said that with a supported external HD monitoring system, RAW camera formats alongside the Dolby Vision codec, can be edited and graded with much greater dynamic range than conventional video, by using the HDR controls.

SGO’s Mistika colour grading and post-production system, deployed on films like The Hobbit trilogy, also supports Dolby Vision. DaVinci Resolve from URSA manufacturer Blackmagic Design is another option. Due to its wide native camera file support, users can edit and grade directly from the wide dynamic range camera originals. FilmLight’s range of solutions all deliver HDR content. These include the FLIP image processor for on set checking of HDR camera capture, the Daylight system for dailies and transcoding, the Baselight colour grading system and Baselight Editions, which bring the Baselight toolset directly into the Avid Media Composer, Avid Symphony and Nuke pipelines.

Delivering UHD Premium HDR content to the home is still quite far away. Beyond the infrastructure upgrades needed in filming, mastering, and delivering a UHD HDR video, there’s the problem of legacy HD and UHD TV sets that don’t support HDR. But it is refreshing to find that HDR is one of those technologies and innovations that won’t need any heavy marketing for it to be accepted by the end user. Once you glance at a HDR TV screen you won’t need any convincing that images look much better, fresh and exciting. 3D was an amazing technological but short-lived fad, 4K and 8K definitely make things look crisper with more detail, but HDR images with higher latitude, larger colour gamut and higher contrast create more lifelike images, or put simply, makes things look WOW! The only question is, how long will it take before UHD Premium HDR becomes the norm?

Blackmagic Design announces new Audio and KeyKode Reader for Cintel Film Scanners

Blackmagic Design has announced the new Cintel Audio and KeyKode Reader accessory for its Cintel Film Scanner, which lets customers scan audio and KeyKode information along with images from the scanner, all in realtime. The new audio and KeyKode reader accessory is available for $3,495 from Blackmagic Design resellers worldwide.

The new Cintel Audio and KeyKode reader lets customers capture high quality audio along with KeyKode information directly from their film as they are scanning it. The reader features a magnetic audio head or deep red LED illumination supporting 16/35mm cyan, high magenta dye, silver optical or 16mm magnetic audio tracks, with advanced optics, electro formed slits, and precision mechanical adjustments for azimuth to deliver the best possible audio capture with incredible high frequency response, perfectly synchronised with the video. The precision capstan encoder automatically corrects wow and flutter, allowing customers to accurately capture audio, even when the scanner speed changes.

The new reader also gives customers the ability to scan KeyKode from their film. KeyKode numbers provide a way to identify each unique film frame, making it easier to correlate the film frames with their corresponding video frames after scanning is complete. This greatly simplifies post production workflows, especially when cutting or re-cutting previously edited material that comes from different rolls of film.

“Cintel Film Scanners are the most popular film scanners in the world,’ said Grant Petty, Blackmagic Design CEO. “The new Cintel Audio and KeyKode Reader is exciting because it allows both audio and picture to be scanned at the same time, and in perfect synchronisation. Plus, customers also get KeyKode information that helps to dramatically speed up post production workflows!’

Blackmagic Design’s URSA Mini Pro 4.6K digital film camera on show at Mediatech 2017

The URSA Mini Pro combines the best digital film technology with the most advanced broadcast features and ergonomics available, making it perfect for use in high end feature films, television shows, commercials, and indie films as well as broadcast news, studio and even live multi-camera production.

The camera features a massive number of tactile control buttons, switches and dials that make it faster to use, built in optical ND filters, a new interchangeable lens mount, dual CFAST 2.0 and dual SD/UHS-II card recorders, and much more.

URSA Mini Pro has a revolutionary new interchangeable lens mount that makes it compatible with virtually all professional lenses so customers can choose exactly the right lens for the job. Included as standard is an EF mount for working with high quality photographic lenses, but when in use on high-end film shoots or in a broadcast environment, PL or B4 mounts can be quickly and easily interchanged.

The camera can record lossless 12-bit CinemaDNG RAW files for the highest possible quality, or 10-bit ProRes files for easy post-production workflows with minimum storage requirements. The URSA Mini Pro also includes the full DaVinci Resolve Studio software, giving customers a complete post-production solution.

Visit Blackmagic Design on the Africa Broadcast stand (J13) or Stage Audio Works stand (F55).

Camera illusion

Choosing a camera for production these days is bound to leave many scratching heads for answers to the age-old question, “What is the best camera available?”.

Realistically there is no objectively right or wrong answer here. There is only what’s “right” or “wrong” for you and what you plan to achieve with your camera – all of which have their pros and cons; therefore, there is no such thing as “the best camera.” The most expensive cameras don’t necessarily offer the best images so it’s probably best to look at a camera and a host of accessories that will give you the best look for your application rather than getting lost in the spec sheets.

CAMERAS

ARRI and RED continue to lead the digital revolution in high end videography. Whilst ARRI’s Alexa line-up remains out of reach for many filmmakers, RED lowered the bar to entry with its introduction of a sub-$10K camera, the Red Raven; a 4K camera with a wide dynamic range and impressive frame rates of up to 120fps. With the ability to record in REDCODE RAW (R3D) and Apple ProRes or Avid DNxHD, simultaneously, RED RAVEN supports a wide range of trusted workflow options and has become a favourite with film maker’s world over. As one of the smallest and most lightweight RED cameras yet, RED RAVEN is uniquely suited for hand-held shooting, as well as gimbal and drone applications.

Not content to let RED have all the drone and gimbal fun, ARRI introduced the ALEXA Mini recently, which takes the image quality of the original ALEXA and shoves it all into a much smaller Carbon Fibre package. The camera is capable of up to 200fps 2K ProRes and 30fps 2.8K ArriRAW recording to internal CFast 2.0 cards (60fps at 4:3 and 120fps at 16:9 if you go to a Codex recorder). It can record 4K by upscaling but the quality of the sensor is such that ARRI can get away with it. The coolest thing about the Mini is that nearly everything is controllable from WiFi, including the ND filters, so you can operate the entire device remotely.

Canon and Panasonic have put out a few good offerings, particularly this year, but have generally been outpaced by Sony’s and Blackmagic Design’s rapid rate of innovation.

Released back in 2015 but with a major firmware upgrade boosting it to new heights, the new SONY PXW-FS5 is a great small package that packs a lot of punch. Its Super 35 Exmor CMOS image sensor (the same size as the PXW-FS7) delivers 14 stops of dynamic range and can shoot up to 960 fps in burst mode. It also offers 240 and 480 fps and gives you the ability for 40x slowmo – it’s a really impressive beast.

With a new 4.6K sensor, CinemaDNG raw recording capability, and optional PL mount, it’s hard to imagine a better-value camcorder with more professional features than Blackmagic Design’s Ursa Mini Pro 4.6K. To produce cinematic images, the URSA Mini can record uncompressed raw sensor data in the CinemaDNG format onto CFast 2.0 memory cards. The URSA Mini also records UHD (3840 x 2160) and 1080p video using ready-to-edit ProRes files in many different flavours depending on your workflow and is my pick as camera of the year.

Canon’s EOS C100 Mark II Cinema EOS Camera is so popular in the USA that it’s been sold out of stock twice in the past year. The EOS C100 Mark II uses the same Super 35mm Canon CMOS sensor as its big brother, the C300. With an EF lens mount, the camera is compatible with the full range of Canon EF, EF-S, and EF Cinema lenses. This is particularly useful for DSLR shooters who have already invested in Canon lenses.

Demonstrating why it is a leader in the industry, Sony has released its latest full-frame Alpha a9 Mirrorless Digital Camera. The new sensor and processor system provide an ISO range of 100 – 51200 (expandable to 50 – 204800), ensuring optimal image quality with minimal noise in low light, and at fast speeds. The new camera also supports uncompressed 14-bit RAW. 4K (3840x2160p) video recording across the full width of the full-frame image sensor is supported and, when shooting in this format, the camera uses full pixel readout without pixel binning to produce high-quality 4K footage with exceptional detail and depth.

Incidentally, most DSLRs have a 30-minute video recording limit which is actually the result of an EU spec that defines a video camera as opposed to a still camera. There are higher tariffs in the EU for video cameras so the still camera manufacturers have implemented this time limit in their firmware to hold down costs to the consumer.

LENSES

Lens manufacturers Tokina have added new 18mm and 25mm cine prime additions to their exciting Vista prime lens line-up as well as a new revamped Cinema 16-28mm T3.0 Mark II wide angle zoom. The new Tokina 16-28mm has been re-engineered to use the optical formula of the award winning still lenses and is also is par focal. The new Tokina 16-28mm T3 II is available in PL, Canon EF, MFT, Sony E, Nikon F mounts.

Professional video creators and filmmakers have been eagerly anticipating the release of a wide-angle G Master lens. The Sony 16-35mm F/2.8 GM promises sharpness across the zoom range and throughout apertures, with Sony promoting the extreme aspherical (XA) element to achieve the greatest resolution and lowest image distortion. Weighing in at only 680g, the lens is lighter than the Canon equivalent, but a little more expensive.

New from Canon is the COMPACT-SERVO 70-200mm Telephoto Zoom Lens, a cinema-style lens that includes a servo drive unit as a standard feature. Additionally, the lens incorporates Image Stabilization, Autofocus, and Auto Iris functionality – three extremely useful features not commonly found in cinema lenses, but popular in EF lenses. The lens also provides high image quality that supports 4K image productions and was designed to be utilised in a variety of shooting styles including, hand-held, shoulder mounted, and tripod mounted and is compatible with EF-mount Super 35mm large-format cameras.

ON CAMERA MONITORS

There’s a wide range of decent on-camera monitors to choose from, and now there’s one more candidate: the new Marshall V-LCD70W-SH. It’s a 7”{ HDMI and SDI LCD monitor with a detachable sun hood that’s also foldable, HDMI and SDI inputs and a resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels but for great value for money and technical innovation you just can’t beat Blackmagic Designs Video Assist which works with everything from DSLR’s to SDI camcorders.

There are two models available – the 5” Video Assist features a 1920 x 1080 screen and an HD recorder. The other model is the Blackmagic Design Video Assist 4K featuring a 7” high resolution screen, two high speed recorders for non-stop Ultra HD recording, XLR mic inputs, a built-in speaker and more!

MUST HAVE ACCESSORIES

This is a great device and those who own it wonder how they ever managed without it. The NEXTO DI NCB-20 Card Batcher allows you to copy up to eight memory cards at once to either one or two external drives connected via USB 3.0, all without the need for a computer. It has a single-button operation design, and a simple 2,4” LCD display to monitor the copying process. The device is capable of carrying out automatic labelling, a feature that will sort the files on the HDD according to slots and create organised folders. It is also possible to assign a camera to a certain card slot on the device, which will copy all the files into a folder according to shooting date, slot number and a text field, such as the camera operator’s name, for example. There are 7 variants for SD/SDHC/SDXC/MicroSD (UHS1) cards, CFast cards, XQD cards, SXS cards, P2 and Express P2 cards and RED MINIMAG cards

BATTERIES

Though our cameras and production accessories continue to get smaller and more portable, battery manufacturers have been working to develop better and longer lasting batteries, which in a strange way is a problem. Recently the International Air Transport Association (IATA) tightened its regulations for battery transport. The regulations that state that Li-ion batteries transported as cargo must be charged to no more than 30 % of their rated capacity. Those with Anton/Bauer batteries will be pleased with the Anton/Bauer LPD Discharger that can discharge up to four Li-ion batteries simultaneously and works with either Gold Mount or V-Mount batteries. As a dedicated battery discharge unit, the LPD requires no external power; rather, it uses energy from the batteries it is discharging. This allows for travel-friendly operation and ensures that the discharging process does not damage the batteries.

IT’S A WRAP

Realistically, at the end of the day we all know that a great looking image isn’t judged by its dynamic range, resolution, f-stop or anything else technical. Specs do matter, but what matters most is the person behind the camera and the ability to utilise the resources you have at your disposal.

NAB 2017… the best of

In Elvis Presley’s ode to Las Vegas he chanted: “Bright light city gonna set my soul on fire, got a whole lot of money that’s ready to burn, so get those stakes up higher.” The stakes were indeed high at NAB 2017 and 103 433 visitors packed the 1 million square metre exhibition space, which has become familiar territory for those attending the world’s largest event focused on the intersection of technology, media and entertainment.

The overall theme of NAB 2017 was The M.E.T. Effect – the result of three once distinct fields of media, entertainment and technology, converging and becoming something far greater than the sum of their parts. The Exhibits and Education Programme at the 2017 NAB Show was specifically tailored to showcase all aspects of The M.E.T. Effect and its impact on the Media and Entertainment industries with great success. This year’s conference sessions revealed no real surprises, but the content always generates some excitement especially in the ‘Super Sessions’.

In the first-ever live 4K video stream from space during the Super Session: Reaching for the Stars: Connecting to the Future with NASA and Hollywood, NASA astronaut and International Space Station (ISS) commander Dr. Peggy Whitson and NASA astronaut Jack Fischer conversed live from the ISS. The event utilised a RED Epic Dragon camera and a UHD-capable video encoder opening up a whole new chapter in live broadcasting from the space station, providing a powerful new tool to support science and research.

In the past few years at NAB, Ultra HD was the featured video technology. At this year’s show, high dynamic range (HDR) moved to centre stage. From production, to streaming, to the television, the industry is working to fill the holes in the value chain of delivery. Though there are many HDR standards, the conversation at NAB seemed to focus on just two: HDR10 and Dolby Vision. There couldn’t have been a better example of the future of HDR with Sony’s display of their new hi-tech display monitor – the Canvas.

The impressive 8K by 2K, 9m x 3m Canvas uses surface-mounted light sources that Sony is calling Ultrafine LEDs, to drive large the high-contrast and HDR-ready display. The picture quality was amazing and this kind of technology could well replace the digital projector in cinemas sooner than we think.

The over-the-top video (OTT) trend has been gaining momentum for years, as Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and other companies demonstrate the demand for streaming video. But the trend took on a new dimension this year as internet giants like Google and Facebook used the show to highlight their own work in the broadcasting industry. The growth of social video has had content creators, media brands, and marketers rethinking production and distribution. Facebook has emerged as one of the most impactful players in this space – and the platform continues to evolve as publishers learn how to better leverage it.

The 2017 NAB Facebook Boot Camp featured presentations from Facebook staff, as well as creators who have found success on the platform. There were hundreds of practical tips, insightful data and best practices discussed to help publishers make the most out of this new and exciting global broadcast platform. Google hosted a number of sessions at NAB to discuss its virtual reality video efforts as well as its web video production and advertising technologies. Is this the future of television unfolding before us?

2017 is shaping up to be a real turning point for media-over-IP standards and practices, with the SMPTE ST 2100 standard inching closer to completion and a growing number of media facilities building real-time IP production into their infrastructures. A number of major North American and European broadcast companies have indicated that they will commence real-time IP production infrastructure projects this year.

With over 1 800 companies exhibiting their wares in the vast halls and corridors of the Las Vegas Convention Centre, it was a tough task getting to see everything over four days. There is a lot of new innovation out there, far too much to mention in a single sitting so I have chosen but a few of the items that caught my eye this year.

CAMERAS

This is a little beauty. Sony’s new UMC-S3C 4K camera offers an astonishing 0.004lx, expandable to ISO 50-409600 range on its full-frame 35mm Exmor sensor. The camera is compatible with E-mount lenses and can capture smooth 4K/29.97P/25P colour video in almost pitch-black conditions, from night-time starlight to poorly lit rooms. It’s extremely compact size and on-board recording capability make the camera ideal for remote PoV (Point of View), documentaries, wildlife and live action shooting, plus challenging environments where cabling or space are limited.

HDR

A great addition to the monitor market from Australian innovators Atmos. They have continued their push into HDR monitoring with the super-sized 19-inch Sumo monitor-recorder, rated as a 1200-nit 10+ stop panel on a box offering 4K 12-bit raw or 10-bit ProRes or DNxHR recording. And because of its size, the Sumo is being promoted as a solution for on-set workflow as well as an HDR grading monitor.

360/VIRTUAL REALITY

Everyone’s favourite action camera company GoPro were showing off Fusion, a 5.2K 30 fps spherical camera. Aimed for virtual reality environments, the Fusion features a new OverCapture creative solution that gives content creators the flexibility to produce conventional non-VR video and photos in HD quality.

360° video has been on the rise of late, with more and more 360° camera rigs from established companies entering the space. Vimeo’s new 360° service launched at NAB does not simply introduce new features for videos on the site, but it also now supports the new content type. With 360° file sizes commonly four times larger than “flat” video, Vimeo’s support of uploads up to 8K and is the no-brainer destination for 360° creators.

LIGHTING

There weren’t too many products that stopped me in my tracks at NAB, but this one from a burgeoning start-up company got me intrigued: Illuminati’s wireless, smartphone-connected light and colour ambient and strobe meter. The meter takes an ambient reading of your location and sends stats straight to your phone. Unlike traditional light meters, however, it’s not just taking exposure readings; it also measures the colour temperature and even chromaticity of your ambient so you can correct magenta/green shifts. Pretty cool!

DRONES

Content creators are always looking for fresh perspectives and new angles to propel their projects to new heights. The NAB Aerial Robotics and Drone Pavilion always delivers. Whist GoPro was pushing the reborn Karma in a desperate attempt to save face following its earlier model that kept crashing, it was DJI who stole the show with their drone innovation and their first 100-megapixel integrated drone imaging platform. The DJI M600 Pro drone, the ultra-smooth Ronin-MX gimbal and the Hasselblad H6D-100c camera was demoed as an unprecedented tool for precise, detailed and accurate aerial imaging. You will need to win the lotto to get this one but is just goes to show how the drone industry is changing and there are already murmurs of US news channels replacing their live ‘news copters’ for drones.

DJI is improving that smooth silky look for ground images too. The latest from DJI, the Ronin 2, is a 3-axis camera stabiliser based on the company’s transformative gimbal technology, providing more power and torque to carry larger cameras. With an enlarged camera cage and 50mm extendable arms, its versatility can support everything from DSLRs to full cinematic camera and lenses up to 30 lbs.

AUDIO

Sennheiser released its MKE 2 microphone for GoPro. The microphone is completely waterproof up to 1-metre and the included windjammer has been tested at speeds up to 100 kph to help reduce any unwanted ambient noise. It’s quick to install and perfect for HERO4 cameras, a version for the HERO5 is in the making, great for those surfing videos.

Tiny package, big punch! If you’re a sound recordist, you already know what radio frequency (RF) interference can do to a production track. The ZAXCOM ZFR400 is a standalone device that records professional Broadcast Wave Format (BWF) or MP3 files directly to an internal micro-SD card. Measuring just 55.8mm x 40.6mm x 14mm and weighing 62g with the battery, it’s ideal for wiring talent when wireless transmission is unfavourable or when distance is an issue. The included rechargeable battery provides up to ten hours of runtime. This is a truly innovative device that you need in your sound kit.

Whenever I walked past, there were queues of enthusiasts at the Sound Devices stand eyeing out their new MixPre-3 and MixPre-6 multi-function audio devices. The MixPre series give you a mixer, a recorder, and a computer audio interface, all in one rugged box that will fit under your camera at a really reasonable price point and quality that is just unmatched. I’ve never seen a product generate such interest, everybody wanted one!

STUDIO

Blackmagic wowed the crowds with its first of a kind ATEM Television Studio Pro HD. It’s a hardware control panel with the controls on it, and the inputs on the back of the unit so it’s more of a traditional, table top-type design. It has eight 1920x1080p60 HD-SDI inputs, and four of them can be switched to HDMI. Also, if you’re using Blackmagic cameras, you have controls for secondary colour correction. It also has tally and talkback. Well done Blackmagic Design for another innovative product.

POST-PRODUCTION

On the software front, there were three industry role players who had big announcements at NAB this year.

Blackmagic’s mission has been to make DaVinci Resolve a one-stop-shop for colour grading, editing and audio – what, did I hear you correctly…audio! Oh yes indeed, DaVinci Resolve 14 now features a powerful post-production audio tool for film and broadcast. Basic features include sound editing, mixing and routing, professional bussing and multi-format mastering to 3D audio formats like 5.1, 7.1 Dolby and 22.2. Not only that—Blackmagic is dropping the price of the software from $999 to a $299 license and doing away with dongles. I have to make mention too of Blackmagic’s DaVinci Resolve Micro Panel – a high quality, portable low profile panel that features three high resolution trackballs and 12 precision machined control knobs for accessing all essential primary colour correction tools, perfect for independent editors and colourists that need a truly portable solution.

Avid announced the release of Avid Media Composer®. First, a free version of the industry-standard video editing system. It’s powered by the Avid MediaCentral® Platform, so “First” users can also easily connect and collaborate with other aspiring creative and media professionals through the Avid Artist Community. The free version is limited however with four video tracks, eight audio tracks, and a host of built-in visual effects, transitions, colour correction presets and titling templates.

Not to be upstaged Adobe Systems released a major update for video in Adobe Creative Cloud delivering new features for graphics and titling, animation, polishing audio and sharing assets; support for the latest video formats, such as HDR, VR and 4K; new integrations with Adobe Stock; and advanced artificial intelligence capabilities powered by Adobe Sensei. From what I have seen this huge upgrade puts Adobe (who are also celebrating their 25th anniversary) into a league of their own.

UNTIL NEXT TIME

The NAB organisers wrapped it up perfectly, “Technology is evolving faster than humankind itself and we’re living in a world of our own invention. Behaviour and business have merged to redefine content, workflows and revenue streams, fuelled by hybrid solutions and boundless connectivity that’s changing the very nature of how we live, work and play.” NAB is an exciting platform that offers an insight to the ways our industry is growing, adapting and transforming in an ever-changing world. In the words of the King himself’ “Viva Las Vegas!”

WWE uses Blackmagic Design’s Fairlight for audio post-production

Blackmagic Design has announced that World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) relies on Fairlight for all of its audio post-production.

Reaching more than 650 million homes worldwide in 25 languages, WWE delivers original content throughout the year including WrestleMania and SummerSlam live specials, scheduled programming and a massive video-on-demand library.

“We’ve been using Fairlight at WWE since 1997. We’ve never lost a session and we are still able to open projects from 19 years ago in just a few clicks. That’s something you just don’t see from any other manufacturer,’ begins WWE’s VP of post-production, Chris Argento

Six Xynergi equipped audio suites complete with Fairlight PYXIS and CC-2 audio engines help Argento and his team handle all audio post on content such as long format shows, spots, social media, short format and dramatic packages, 17 pay-per-view specials, promotional packages and much more.

Content is ingested into WWE’s library where producers cut packages and create shows from the raw materials. Argento’s team then receive AAF files and flattened MXF-wrapped video files for sound designing, editing music and mixing. With PYXIS, the team are able to play the files off of any server in the building.

Fairlight’s library file feature allows them to import multiple edits from another timeline across multiple tracks in an instant. “Just open the library file, grab the portions you want and import them. You get all edits, all EQ, all level and more across multiple clips which is a huge time saver,’ explains Argento.

“As we are telling different stories, we are showing background history of the wrestlers and so might have to pull something from last week, last month or last year – Fairlight makes that a seamless process,’ he continues. “We rely on this efficiency because our deadlines are short, and we need to deliver fast.’

Regarding Fairlight’s audio base, he notes that it is “the greatest thing ever.’ Adding, “You can find and spot sound effects in the library faster than you can with any other programme. We use sampling to make crazy wrestling sounds, for example a person getting thrown through a wall, which we then store in the library. As the shows are made, we collect bits and pieces of sound and put them right into the audio base, so they are searchable and available in the library in all of the audio rooms.’

Argento believes the way Fairlight handles video is revolutionary and says he can’t overemphasise the importance of video as after all, audio post is a process for video. “The level of synchronicity is astounding,’ he continues. “I can pull off rough video edits right on the timeline, cutting audio and video together and resume the session without worrying that the audio won’t match the picture later.’

“I built the audio post department from a single room to six suites with full staff and we have relied on Fairlight every step of the way,’ concludes Argento. “From four to five hours of programming a week to now hundreds of hours a week across multiple delivery platforms. The transformation has been amazing.’

Blackmagic Design announces new Video Assist update

Blackmagic Design has announced Video Assist 2.3, a major new update for Blackmagic Video Assist customers that adds 3D LUTs to both models. This update also adds features to the 5′ Blackmagic Video Assist including improved DNxHD and DNxHR support, false colour monitoring, expanded focus options and new screen rotation features. The Video Assist 2.3 update is available for download now from the Blackmagic Design website and is free of charge for all Blackmagic Video Assist customers.

Customers using the Video Assist 2.3 update can now load up to six 3D LUTs when monitoring video on set with their 5′ or 7′ Blackmagic Video Assist. 3D LUTs have become an important part of digital filmmaking because they transform the camera images into a look that closely approximates the final look the director wants. The benefit of monitoring with 3D LUTs is that the crew can see the footage as the director intends it, and it’s completely non destructive because the original camera footage remains untouched. The six x 3D LUTs can be stored and recalled at any time by the user and this new feature is available on both the 5′ Blackmagic Video Assist model and the 7′ Blackmagic Video Assist 4K model.

For customers using the 5′ Blackmagic Video Assist model, this update adds new features that were previously released only on the 7′ Blackmagic Video Assist 4K model.

These new features include the ability to record to DNxHD and DNxHR files in MXF format which improves compatibility with Avid systems running on Windows. In addition, customers can now choose between DNxHD 220, 145 and 45 bit rates, or between DNxHR HQ, SQ and LB formats when recording.

The Video Assist 2.3 update also adds false colour monitoring exposure tools to the 5′ Blackmagic Video Assist model. False colour exposure tools make it easier to properly set exposure in different parts of the image by highlighting specific colour ranges of luminance with a solid colour overlay. For example, green indicates neutral grey, while pink tones are good references for skin, which is typically one stop over neutral grey. Using false colour helps camera operators keep exposure consistent from shot to shot.

In addition, Video Assist 2.3 update also expands the options for focus assist so customers can now choose whether they want to see red, green, blue, black, white or traditional focus peaking indicators. This makes it easier for customers to accurately adjust focus in a wider range of scenes and under a variety of different lighting conditions. Customers will now also have the ability to manually control the screen orientation and turn off the auto rotate feature which makes it easier for customers to use the 5′ Blackmagic Video Assist model with handheld gimbals and other equipment designed to move the camera and rig simultaneously.

“Blackmagic Video Assist is perfect for customers that need better monitoring and higher quality recording,’ said Grant Petty, CEO, Blackmagic Design. “This new update adds incredible LUT monitoring to both models, and brings some of the same powerful high end features from the 7′ Blackmagic Video Assist 4K model to customers that have the 5 inch Blackmagic Video Assist model.”

Blackmagic Video Assist 2.3 update is available now and is a free download from the Blackmagic Design website.

Blackmagic Design introduces URSA Mini 4.6K and Micro Cinema Camera

Last week Blackmagic Design announced that the URSA Mini 4.6K and the Micro
Cinema Camera have commenced shipping and that the specifications of the two
cameras have been changed.

The development of the global shutter in these cameras took longer than expected,
resulting in the delay in shipping. For the past six months, Blackmagic Design engineers have been working hard to resolve the issues. As the performance of the global shutter is not up to the standard that Blackmagic Design strives to give its customers, the company has decided to ship both cameras without the global shutter feature.

The prime reason for this decision is that over the last few months, professional
cinematographers and DOPs who have been beta testing the cameras on all types of different projects have reported incredible results. Their feedback states that the
cameras should not be delayed for the purpose of the global shutter feature as the
main benefit of the cameras is the wide dynamic range which is only available when
running without the global shutter. The beta testers working in high end digital film and television production are wanting to use cameras such as the URSA Mini 4.6K to
obtain the advantage of the 15 stops of wide dynamic range and high frame rate
capabilities of the rolling shutter.

With the release of URSA Mini 4.6K, customers will be able to choose between two
very different models of URSA Mini. Originally the URSA Mini 4K was intended to be the entry level model and the URSA Mini 4.6K to be the higher end model with more
features. However, now these two cameras are targeted for different kinds of work
as customers can choose between the URSA Mini 4K if they want global shutter for
fast action sports or the URSA Mini 4.6K if they want wide dynamic range for high
end digital film work.

Blackmagic Design understands and accepts that some customers who have back
ordered a URSA Mini 4.6K may like to change their order as a result of this feature
change.

“We’re deeply sorry that it has taken much longer than expected to ship the
Blackmagic URSA Mini 4.6K and Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera, and extremely
disappointed that we are unable to deliver a feature that we had previously
announced,’ said Grant Petty, CEO, Blackmagic Design. “As an engineer, I have always felt that my job is to build a stage for customers to perform on, but until we ship a product we never know what kind of stage it is. This camera is truly amazing and images are just so filmic…’

For more information and for a full feature list visit the Black Magic design website.

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