Monday, April 14, 2014

Blackmagic URSA 3D-Capable at $6,500 Per Camera!

"The new URSA Cameras do support genlock and should work with 3D, but will also need to be frame synced."
- Rick Rivera

Tim here, and I've gotten confirmation from Blackmagic Design (via Rick Rivera, a Support Representative) that their new URSA camera will be 3D-Capable. More accurately two URSA cameras can be synced together for Stereoscopic 3D production. This makes this the most affordable 4K Cinema Camera to be able to be used for Stereoscopic 3D! Or does it?

At $6,500 roughly for the PL-Mount version of the camera ($6,000 roughly for EF-Mount), this definitely comes in as the most affordable 4K Cinema Camera. However, the media that it records on to is super expensive. It records on to CFast Cards, and to give you an idea about how much it costs: 120 GB = $1,200! How much 4K RAW gets recorded on to one 120 GB CFast Card at the normal 24 frames per second? Sadly, 6-Minutes! (Source)

Now there are 2 card slots in the camera, so that means you could technically record 12-Minutes before needing to reload both cards; but, that's a total of 240 GB at $2,400 for 12-minutes of RAW footage. OUCH! During a regular shoot you'll want a couple of cards available to continuously shoot. So if you dump two cards while two cards are in the camera that gives you 4 cards, but you'd likely want 6 cards to be safe. Thus, you're looking at $7,200 for recording media!

The price will drop as most recording media has in the past for the industry. And Blackmagic Design isn't the only company using CFast Cards. ARRI is betting on the CFast technology as well as its the primary recording media for their new AMIRA camera. The AMIRA is the lower cost ($45,000) documentary version of their ALEXA. The ARRI ALEXA can record on to three media: SXS Cards, XR Modules (XR Capture Drives), and CFast Cards (through adapter). This should help bring the price down of the CFast media, and as well increase the sizes of cards.

Coming back to the cost of the Blackmagic URSA for 3D Production we need to look at the cost of the camera body and media for each eye. Say one already has lenses and the other necessary camera accessories and just needs to know the cost of the cameras and media. Two PL-Mount URSA Cameras will cost $13,000 to the average consumer. Say one buys 6 CFast Cards per camera, then that's 12 CFast Cards total and will cost $14,400. That means that the URSA in a 3D-Capable capacity costs $27,400! Wow, that's affordable compared to the RED Scarlet or Epic. Each Scarlet will cost $14,500 for the body alone; thus, two Scarlets are $29,000 before RED SSD's for recording media. The Epic is more money than the Scarlet, obviously. The ALEXA is expensive at $75,000 per camera. In the end, The Blackmagic URSA is still the most affordable 4K Camera for Stereoscopic 3D Production!

Let's look at some of the Technical Specs for the Blackmagic URSA compared with the ARRI ALEXA since they are so similar in physical design.

  Blackmagic URSA ARRI ALEXA
Picture of Camera
Effective Sensor Size 21.12mm x 11.88mm (Super 35) 23.76mm x 13.37mm (Super 35)*
Effective Resolution 3840 x 2160 2880 x 1620*
Exposure Latitude 12 stops 14+ stops
Frame Rates 3840 x 2160p (23.98, 24, 25, 29.97, 30, 60)
1920 x 1080p (23.98, 24, 25, 29.97, 30, 60)
Sensor frame rate support: Up to 60 fps
ProRes HD 0.75 - 120 fps
ProRes 2K 0.75 - 60 fps
DNxHD HD 0.75 - 120 fps
ARRIRAW 0.75 - 120 fps
Exposure Index ISO Presets: 200, 400, 800, & 1600 ISO Presets: 160, 200, 400, 800, 1600, & 3200
White Balance Presets for 3200 (tungsten), 4500 (fluorescent), 5000, 5600, 6500, and 7500 (variety of daylight conditions). Presets for 3200 (tungsten), 4300 (fluorescent), 5600 (daylight) and 7000 (daylight cool). Automatic calculation or manual white balance for 2000 to 11000 Kelvin, adjustable in 100 K steps
Lens Mount EF, PL, B4, HDMI (Camera body without sensor, features an HDMI 4K input with mounting plate to connect any HDMI camera for URSA quality recording, monitoring, audio and timecode.) ARRI Exchangeable Lens Mount (ELM); ships with Lens Adapter PL Mount with LDS contacts, 54 mm stainless steel PL mount, Super 35 centered. 52.00 mm nominal flange focal depth without FSND filters.
Weight 7.5 kg/16.5 lbs ALEXA XT body with XR Module: 7.3 kg/16.1 lbs.
Dimensions Length: 312 mm/12.3", width: 155 mm/6.1", height: 244 mm/9.6" Length: 332 mm/12.95", width: 183 mm/7.20", height: 158 mm/6.22"
Output:   1 x 12G-SDI -- 10-bit 4:2:2
1 x 3G-SDI -- down-converted signal for monitoring
Input   1 x 12G-SDI
Reference   1 x Reference input
Timecode   1 x Timecode input
1 x Timecode output
Analog Audio Inputs   2 x XLR -- selected mic/line level and +48 V phantom power
Analog Audio Output   1 x 1/4" TRS -- for headphone monitoring
SDI Audio Output   2-channel via SDI output
Remote Control   1 x LANC on 2.5 mm sub-mini -- controls record START/STOP, iris, and focus
USB   1 x USB 2.0 mini type B for software updates
Supported Standards   SDI Compliance: SMPTE 292M
SDI Audio Sampling: 48 kHz and 24-bit
1x media slot for XR Capture Dive or SxS adapter
2x BNC recording out HD-SDI, 1.5G/3G (REC OUT 1 and REC OUT 2)
2x BNC monitoring out HD-SDI, 1.5G (MON OUT 1 and MON OUT 2)
1x XLR 5-pin analog audio in (AUDIO IN)
1x BNC return video in HD-SDI, 1.5G (RET/SYNC IN)
1x LEMO 16-pin external accessory interface (EXT)
1x Fischer 2-pin 24 V power in (BAT)
3x Fischer 3-pin 24 V remote start and accessory power out (RS)
1x LEMO 2-pin 12 V accessory power out (12 V)
1x LEMO 5-pin timecode in/out (TC)
1x TRS 3.5 mm headphone mini stereo jack (AUDIO OUT)
1x custom LEMO 16-pin electronic viewfinder (EVF)
1x custom LEMO 10-pin Ethernet with 24 V power (ETHERNET)
1x Fischer 5-pin Lens Data Display (LDD)
2x Fischer 5-pin Lens Control System (LCS)
1x Fischer 12-pin for CLM-2, CLM-3, CLM-4 or later (IRIS)
1x Fischer 12-pin for CLM-2, CLM-3, CLM-4 or later (FOCUS)
1x Fischer 12-pin for CLM-2, CLM-3, CLM-4 or later (ZOOM)
BNC connectors designed for fast exchange without camera disassembly. These connectors require a special tool.

*ARRI ALEXA has 3 Sensor modes 16:9 (23.76mm x 13.37mm at 2880x1620 pixels), 4:3 (23.76mm x 17.82mm at 2880x2160 pixels), and Open Gate (28.17mm x 18.13mm at 3414x2198 pixels)

As you can see from the above comparison the Blackmagic URSA is a pretty decent camera when compared to the ARRI ALEXA. Naturally the ALEXA is higher end and a camera that would be more prefered by the professionals. However, for a lower-end professional camera the URSA is capable of delivering good quality for those looking to make a project to get them noticed. And Blackmagic will only improve the camera.

Some additional details about the Blackmagic URSA can be found in the link below, but one of the best things about the URSA is that its sensor and lens mount assembly can be changed. This means you can upgrade to the latest sensor technology in the future and keep your investment in the camera body! Now that's a sweet deal. And, the sweetest part of the whole deal is that Blackmagic Design packages the cameras with the full version of its DaVinci Resolve Software!!! They also did this with their previous cinema cameras. What this means is you get the full professional color grading software many feature films use. What's more is that DaVinci Resolve comes with a plethora of Stereoscopic 3D finishing tools. More information about DaVinci Resolve can be found here.

That's the Blackmagic Design URSA Camera for you. You can read more about it on the official Blackmagic Design Website here. The Blackmagic URSA Camera is scheduled to be released late July 2014.

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Jim Dorey
jim (at) marketsaw (dot) com

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