Blackmagic Design have been beefing up their camera range with solid firmware updates this year since the beginning of the summer. The 4K URSA debuted at this years NAB Show in Las Vegas and then it was touted by its maker as the “world’s first 4K camera with interchangeable sensor”.
The announcement of the URSA also marked the beginning of the so-called “2nd generation” Blackmagic Design cameras, with improved ergonomic design much more resembling a large sensor professional camera form-factor as opposed to the original BMCC. Earlier today, the Aussie camera manufacturer released their latest firmware update, mainly focusing on their 4K flagship camera – the URSA.
Camera Utility 1.9.9 adds the following features to the URSA:
- Compressed 4K RAW 3:1 recording
- 4K at 80 fps in 4K RAW 3:1 Compression or 4K ProRes
- Variable Frame Rate settings (5 fps to 80fps) for Sensor Speed, and Project Frame Rate for Playback – you can play back slow-motion in camera if project frame rate is set at 24/25fps
- New Dashboard – addition required as the menu became too crowded due to the addition of new features
- In-camera formatting for CFast 2.0 media – HFS+ or ExFat
- Frame Guides – Anamorphic, 16 x 9, and others
4K Raw (mathematically lossless) is still an option in the URSA, however the addition of a 3:1 (lossy) compression is a huge advantage as files sizes has been reduced in half. To put in perspective, recording in 4K Raw on the URSA on a 128GB CFast 2.0 card would give you roughly only 7 minutes of footage, while the new 3:1 compressed Raw will give you 14 minutes. The best thing about is that the 3:1 compressed raw is still 12-bit.
Additionally, the URSA now can do slow-motion up to 80 frames per second, however only in 3:1 compressed raw. For more details on the rest of the added features see the full update below or check out BMD’s CEO Grant Petty explain the features of the latest update in this video.
Here are the details of the latest firmware update 1.9.9 from Blackmagic Design:
New RAW 3:1
The first feature is a new compressed RAW format called RAW 3:1. The nice thing about this is that you will be able to record up to twice as much RAW footage using RAW 3:1 and the quality is great. You will also need to use this format if you want to record high frame rates on URSA. For example, you can record about 7 minutes of RAW on a 128 GB CFast card but 14 minutes if you use RAW 3:1. The great thing is that it is still 12-bit RAW.
URSA’s Frame Rate is now 80fps in 4K
We have also increased URSA’s maximum frame rate to 80 fps in 4K and all existing URSAs will have this enabled when the software is updated. To shoot up to 80fps, you’ll need to use ProRes or the RAW 3:1 codec. Even at 80 fps using RAW 3:1, you can still record to single CFast card.
Variable Frame Rate Settings
We have 2 new settings in URSA, a Project Frame Rate and a Sensor Frame Rate. The Project Frame Rate is the native playback frame rate of the recorded footage and in the standard video frame rates you are familiar with like 23.98, 24, 25, 29.97 and so on.
The Sensor Frame Rate sets up how fast the URSA sensor is running and can be selected from 5 to 80 fps in 1 frame increments. This makes it really easy to shoot off-speed in camera now. If you set the Sensor Frame Rate to 48 fps and the Project Frame Rate to 24 fps, you’ll end up with a 2x slow motion clip. The great thing about this is that the clip is tagged as a 24 fps clip so you can immediately play the clip back and view the off-speed effect in camera! It also plays back in the desired speed when you import the clip into Resolve without having to manually change any clip properties.
New Frame Guides
We have added the following frame guides that can be enabled on the 10” display as well.
• Thirds grid
There is a new URSA Dashboard view that can be toggled by the DISP button. This will allow you to display options for formatting the CFast card, turning zebras on/off and also the front SDI output overlays on and off.
We now support in-camera formatting. This allows the user to format the CFast 2.0 cards in URSA. We recommend you to format your media in our cameras as we optimize file system for the best performance.
We have added scrollable menus in URSA which allows us to add more options. For example, in the Display settings, you can individually adjust the brightness of each display or turn on or off the overlays on each screen or SDI outputs.
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