Blackmagic Design‘s NAB press conference just finished moments ago, and to say that it was one of the most anticipated press events of the show is a bit of an understatement. Blackmagic Design in past years brought out some key show announcements such as the original BMCC 2.5K, and then years later the URSA Mini. This press event however was more focused on the new features and enhancements built into the company’s latest DaVinci Resolve 14 grading suite and NLE than new cameras.
A lot of people were disappointed to hear there was no announcement of a Blackmagic Pocket camera version 2 (at least for now) or any other new camera from the company whatsoever. Instead, we got some new capture and playback devices, switchers, and some updates to existing products.
Camera-wise, there was actually some news – Blackmagic Design today announced a new open protocol for URSA Mini Pro 4.6K camera, which will allow users to create their own remote control solutions via Bluetooth. The protocol is being demonstrated at NAB (booth at #SL216), with the API and sample code anticipated to be released to customers free of charge in June 2017.
Apparently, all URSA Mini Pro cameras feature built in bluetooth, but it hasn’t been enabled until now. The built in Bluetooth will allow customers to send and receive commands from up to 30 feet away.
To make the new Bluetooth support even more flexible, Blackmagic Design has developed a new open protocol and is publishing a developer API, along with sample code, for customers that wish to build their own camera control solutions.
A demonstration iPad app and sample code will be provided to customers that want to use this feature. The iPad app allows customers to create digital slate applications that feed metadata, such as scene, shot, take information and even full script lines to multiple cameras on set while shooting. Common remote control of camera settings like frame rate, format and shutter angle are all possible from the demo app.
With a fully open API and developer support for URSA Mini Pro Bluetooth, customers can go well beyond the demonstration app. They can build an iPad application to remotely adjust camera settings and motorized lenses while the camera is mounted on a crane.
Those out there technically skilled enough could even build an application that uses the camera’s built in DaVinci Resolve colour corrector so that images can be graded live during a shoot.
New workflows are also possible. A great example of this is that customers can mount Blackmagic URSA Studio Viewfinders on multiple URSA Mini Pro cameras to create a live multi camera shooting scenario, however instead of connecting to a switcher, the iPad can trigger all cameras to record to their internal media with matching metadata.
This means the media can be later edited using DaVinci Resolve 14 multi-cam editing to work as fast as live production, however with the accuracy of post production. That’s faster, lower cost and higher quality editing than was easily possible in the past.
“URSA Mini Pro has been received extremely well by our customers,” said Grant Petty, Blackmagic Design CEO. “Customers love the broadcast features and controls, the built in ND filters and interchangeable lens mount. Now, the possibilities are truly endless because customers are going to have the tools they need to build completely custom remote control solutions of their own design using the new Bluetooth support!”
Blackmagic Camera 4.4 update, which will support the URSA Mini Pro bluetooth API and sample code will be available in June 2017 as a free download.