The dreadful black sunspot artifacts produced by the Blackmagic Cinema Cameras can be a very frustrating issue when shooting in harsh bright sunlight conditions. Typically, the problem appears when you point your camera directly towards the sun. Further, you can get the same effect in car headlights at night as well as sun highlights on objects. In reality, the issue can be avoided when filming (but only to some extent) by just lowering the exposure slightly. Keep in mind though that for some situations with many lights such as musical concerts or other live performances it can be very troublesome and even unavoidable.
The simple explanation for this flaw is the fact, that some of the sensor photosites get overloaded causing the clipping that results in a visible black sunspot baked in the recorded footage. On some cameras such as the BMPCC, it was fixed with a firmware update. However, cameras like the BMPC 4K and the first generation URSA that share the same CMOS sensor still suffer from the issue. You can find a few videos online that address the problem by showcasing multiple post-production workflows that deal with the flaw just like the video below produced by Theo from MiesnerMedia. In fact, this is his latest quick tip on the topic.
There’s not much to say about this particular solution. If you want to remove the black sunspot artifacts, select the affected clip’s thumbnail in the thumbnail timeline of the Color page, and by right-clicking navigate to the bottom of the drop-down menu and choose Black Sun Highlight Correction. Hopefully, the problem should be resolved instantly. Overall, kudos to Blackmagic for implementing this helpful feature in DaVinci Resolve 12.
However, if you are still experiencing the issue, you can try some of the other alternative workflows that also promise to deal with the problem. For instance, you can utilize qualifiers and the Tracker in Resolve 12 to remove the black sunspot manually. Either way, it’s still an annoying flaw of CMOS technology in general and can be seen even in footage shot on high-end cameras such as the Arri Alexa. Here’s another way to remove the black dot.
Ultimately, some BM forum members claim that the issue could be eliminated via firmware only by lowering the overall dynamic range of the camera. As long as Blackmagic Design doesn’t like any tradeoffs regarding image quality and dynamic range particularly, implementing the feature in Resolve 12 rather than in the camera might be annoying for some but indeed does make more sense. We can only hope that the upcoming generations of Blackmagic cameras such as the new URSA Mini 4.6 won’t suffer the issue. Fingers crossed.
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