While its 4K production and Pocket Cinema cameras got much of the attention at their stand this past NAB, at IBC 2013 Blackmagic Design (BMD) used the more mellow atmosphere of Amsterdam’s RAI convention center to turn the attention to the rest of its line, rolling out solid updates to its ever expanding range of production and post gear.
Expanding further into live production looks like its part of BMD’s plans for the future. While the company doesn’t yet provide a studio camera with the typical controls of a large Sony or Ikegami, BMD is prepping the software with the latest Desktop Video 10 software/firmware, which reworks the line of UltraStudio 4K and DeckLink 4K Extreme capture and playback products. BMD noted that after selling thousands of capture and playback products for Mac, Windows and Linux over the past 11 years, it was time for a “wholly new design”.
They better hurry with that camera though, as Sony looks like it won’t be yielding the Australian company any ground. Earlier this month, Sony announced the PXW-Z100, a “true” 4K (4096px x 2160px) that’s lightweight (7lbs.) and is expected to price under $6000. While it’s aimed at fields news rather than studio work, the camera keeps its costs down by sharing innards with a new 4K consumer camcorder, the FDR-AX1.
BMD’s redesigned firmware and drivers — which drop in October as a free upgrade — include optimization for high speed Thunderbolt connections, PCIe computers, and future Ultra HD television formats; simultaneous capture and playback (great for on-set confidence checks and live grading); and “almost zero latency”.
That last item will allow DaVinci Resolve better use available GPUs in the system. Access to improved GPU processing – including lots of RAM to load scenes too — is key to real-time color grading, whether for on set use or in post. Replying on the company’s forum, BMD’s Peter Chamberlain said the more GPU cores the better for DaVinci Resolve overall, noting that “for GPU ram, 4GB (RAM per card) is our current expectation for regular 4K work using v10.”
BMD offers a scenario for working live with Resolve: taking direct capture from cameras, grading scenes in real-time, with final output to monitors on the set. With enough real-time speed so folks don’t have to wait around, DPs, the director and others will start to optimize the film’s look at the head of production, browsers and waiting until the final finishing stages.
Using a 4K production system live is also behind the upgraded ATEM 1 M/E Production Studio 4K switcher. The initial model in the series, released at NAB 2013, is described by BMD as “the world’s first Ultra HD live production switcher.”
The ATEM Production Studio 4K works with both HDMI and SDI cameras. Since the ATEM is aimed at live production, BMD fitted it with a lot of HDMI inputs. Even the existing basic, non-4K ATEM 1 M/E production switcher offers 4 SDI inputs and 4 HDMI inputs, along with DVE, keyers and more for only $2500, which puts it smack in NewTek TriCaster territory.
BMD again challenges the established players in the production switcher market with the pricing on its new ATEM 1 M/E Production Studio 4K. Pegged at only $2500, this higher-rez capable switcher includes features such as 10 independent 6G-SDI inputs each with frame sync, built in DVE with zoom, scale and rotate, 4 upstream chroma keyers, 3 independent aux outputs with front panel control and a larger media pool that holds both still frame graphics as well as motion video clips.
The new model, with all SDI inputs, so it’s designed specifically for broadcasters and professionals who are building all SDI based systems. BMD has dropped the current ATEM Production Studio 4K in price to an entry-level tab of $1695.
The built-in 6G-SDI and HDMI connections allow Ultra HD connections with a single cable, although you can instantly switch between SD and HD as well. Those not immediately moving to Ultra HD spec’d production (3840 x 2160) have still future proofed their investment.
While not many reading this will remember the beginnings of live DVE gear, it’s still pretty astonishing to have so much graphics chops — the capability of full position, resizing, scaling and rotation of any live video source — at these price points. (Like most every piece of gear from the beginnings of computer and video technology, the initial DVEs from Abekas et al were large, cumbersome, expensive and limited devices.)
SmartScope Duo gets an update too, becoming the SmartScope Duo 4K with 6G-SDI connections. Devised for rack mount video and waveform monitoring, it now works in SD, HD and Ultra HD television formats. The duo Park comes from the two large 8 inch LCD screens, with each screen switchable between video monitoring or a choice of 6 scope displays including waveform, vectorscope, RGB parade, YUV parade, histogram and an audio scope with 16 channels of SDI audio and audio phase meter
Here’s a simple but effective technique: trying to match color settings on multiple monitors can be a chore. SmartScope Duo 4K overcomes this by connecting to your Ethernet network, so you can use Mac and Windows software to adjust all your monitors from one central location.
The public beta of DaVinci Resolve 10 is available for download. New features include the capability of integrating the workflows of multiple different software products used in the film and television industry. To deliver this, DaVinci Resolve 10 offers upgraded on set tools, upgraded editing features, support for OpenFX plug ins as well as new tools for delivering final project masters to cinemas. The free of charge DaVinci Resolve Lite edition doesn’t stint either, as it also offers Ultra HD resolutions and additional GPU.
There are other updates too numerous to mention at this point. BMD now has enough products — from 4K production through to finishing – that it takes two huge shows like NAB and IBC to roll everything out each year.
(You can find the IBC releases in this blog posting.)
For a company much smaller than the major players it now increasingly competes with, Blackmagic Design is showing how it can continue to compete and innovate along with the best of them.