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Almost Live with Streaming Media: The Blackmagic Studio Camera HD and 4K

Streaming Media Producer contributing editor Shawn Lam and Blackmagic Design Senior Regional Manager Bob Caniglia discuss Blackmagic's new HD and 4K Studio Cameras, introduced at NAB 2014, and touted as "the world's smallest studio camera with the world's largest viewfinder."

[Note: This sponsored interview was recorded at NAB 2014.]

At NAB 2014, Blackmagic Design introduced the Studio Camera HD (shipping now) and Studio Camera 4K (coming soon), two Micro Four Thirds-based interchangeable-lens cameras designed to work seamlessly (and exclusively) with video switchers as integrated components of a live production workflow.

The Studio Cameras have no internal (or card-based) recording capability; they're built specifically to send a video signal to a switcher via SDI. They do, however, feature CCU control built into the camera, which means that producers can do primary color correction live with the Blackmagic ATEM switcher, as well as iris control, focus, pedestal levels, and so on.

In addition to offering an unmatched level of integration with other Blackmagic gear (as one might expect), the Blackmagic Studio Camera is also touted by Blackmagic Senior Regional Manager Bob Caniglia as "the world's smallest studio camera with the world's largest viewfinder."

Streaming Media Producer's Shawn Lam caught up with Caniglia at NAB 2014 to learn more about the Studio Camera, its features, its positioning in the market, and how it functions as part of a live production workflow with Blackmagic ATEM switchers and other gear.

Shawn: It’s Shawn Lam here for Streaming Media Producer at NAB 2014. We’re at the Blackmagic Design booth with Bob Caniglia, and we’re here to talk about the Blackmagic Studio Camera, which comes in two different models. Can you tell us about that?

Bob: Sure. There’s an HD version, which has a Super 16 sensor, and is shipping now. And there’s also a 4K version, which will ship later this summer.

Shawn: Tell me about the lens mount.

Bob: It has a Micro Four Thirds mount, active. And there are obviously a lot of different adapters for other types of lenses. In our booth we have one Studio Camera that has a big ENG-type lens, with the focus and zoom controls that you would expect in a big production camera.

Shawn: What makes a Studio Camera different from a camcorder?

Bob: A Studio Camera is designed to hook into a switcher. There’s no recording capability whatsoever. This one is the world’s smallest Studio Camera with the world’s largest viewfinder--10 inches. It’s really great for field shooting, whether you’re indoors or out, because we have a 4-hour battery inside.

Shawn: How does this integrate with other Blackmagic products, in a full workflow?

Bob: It’s got the connectivity that you’re looking for CCU control built into the camera, and then it connects to the ATEM switcher. So there’s going to be a software upgrade to the ATEM switcher--the entire line, from the first one to the new one, the 2 M/E--that will allow them to do full color correction and CCU control in one. It has primaries from DaVinci Resolve, plus the usual things that you would get in a CCU--pedestal levels, gain, iris control, and focus control. So that’s done via either the fibre link back and forth or with a return feed from SDI. So you send SDI to the switcher and SDI program feedback, and the metadata’s carried through there.

Shawn: So there’s no HDMI input or output on this camera, but there is a power tap?

Bob: Yes, there is a standard power tap that’s helpful if you’re using it indoors. But as I said, it also has a four-hour battery.

Shawn: What about audio connectivity?

Bob: We have phantom power audio on the side for XLR, and it has built-in com so you can have headphone and mic talkback to the switcher.

Shawn: And so how would that connect with the switcher? Would we need an intermediary product?

Bob: For that we have our Blackmagic Studio Converter. So if you’re running fibre, you’d run it to the Studio Converter, or you could actually run the SDI to the Studio Converter and that way everybody can talk.

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