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Tutorial: Blackmagic URSA Broadcast and URSA Mini Pro 4.6K

In this tutorial I'll look at two new cameras from Blackmagic Design: the URSA Broadcast, a 4K camera; and the URSA Mini Pro 4.6K, which is an update to the previous URSA Mini 4.6K.

Towards the front, there's a toggle for headphones, monitor, and iris (Figure 8, below). Right now, I have it set on iris. If I rotate the dial, it's going to close or open my iris. There are also three quick toggle buttons here to control ISO, shutter, and white balance, so it makes it very easy to dial those on the fly just by tapping up or tapping down on those. Below that, there are two customizable function buttons and, of course, the record, start, and stop button in red.

Figure 8. Front left toggles and buttons

Moving to the top of the camera (Figure 9, below), you’ll find what you would expect to see on the top or bottom of any cinema camera: lots of female threaded ports, and below that, the rubber cover that houses your two XLR inputs for audio.

Figure 9. Top of the URSA Mini Pro

On the bottom of the camera (Figure 10, below), you’ll find holes for tripod mounting or the addition of a shouldermount kit. That's the body of the URSA Pro.

Figure 10. Bottom of the URSA Mini Pro

URSA Broadcast

Now let's take a look at the Broadcast and some of the accessories that are built onto it. On my Broadcast camera (Figure 11, below), I have both a handle, an eyecup viewfinder, and an extension arm for the controller. The extension arm, you'll notice, is actually attached to a different rosette that's not on the Pro, and that's because this camera actually has a shouldermount. The shouldermount is a must when you're doing ENG video, because anything handheld with a camera this size has got to be able to rest on your shoulder to remain comfortable over a long period of time. The rosette here, of course, is adjustable as most rosettes would be, but it puts the controller arm way out here in front so that your shoulder can be here and your control for the camera can be out front.

Figure 11. The URSA Broadcast 4K is shouldermount-ready.

You'll also notice that the lens mount (Figure 12, below) is different. The Broadcast has a B4 lens mount, which is pretty standard in a broadcast environment.

Figure 12. The Broadcast’s B4 lens mount

The viewfinder (Figure 13, below) has a manual diopter dial. There are also shortcut buttons for functions within the viewfinder directly on top, and there are several screws on the bottom that allow you to slide the viewfinder in or out, and then there's a screw on the top that allows it to slide fore and aft. There's also an optional shotgun mic holder that can go on top of this viewfinder, which will allow you to put a shotgun mic on the top right of this, like you would typically find on most ENG cameras.

Figure 13. The Broadcast viewfinder. Click the image to see it at full size.

Menu Systems

Now that we've looked at the bodies and the physical makeup of both cameras, let's take a look at the menu system, and I'll point out some of the main differences between them.

One of the best features of Blackmagic cameras is the Blackmagic camera OS. It's a really great operating system and menu system that's easy to navigate whether you're inside the menu or just on the screen shooting. One of the things I love about the shooting screen is the fact that all of your settings are up here at the top of the LCD screen (Figure 14, below), and if you want to change any of them, all you have to do is tap on one and it immediately brings up the options to be able to change them, either with a slider or by using the left and right arrows.

Figure 14. Here’s where you access the Blackmagic camera OS menus. 

Let's dive into the menu system now. The very first screen is the Record menu (Figure 15, below). You have the option of recording in a RAW format, which is basically a series of large still images, or you can record in a much more efficient ProRes codec. Depending on your resolution choices, it also enables the DNxHR format found on the right. Resolution goes all the way up to the maximum 4.6K, which is 4608 x 2592, down to standard HD, 1920 x 1080.

Figure 15. The Record menu

Swiping left and right accesses the other parts of the Record menu. The dynamic range can be set to Film mode, which would expect grading in post-production, or Video mode, which will apply some color correction to your recording. If you want to shoot high frame rates, up to 120fps in 1080p, you would have to turn on off-speed recording, and then you'd want to crank the speed up in the off-speed frame rate. Also, when you're shooting at 120fps, you'd have to window the sensor as well, which creates a cropped, blown-up image in the screen. You can choose the card that you record to down at the bottom, and both of these cameras record to CFast or SD cards, and each of them has two slots for each card.

Finally, on the last screen there's a timelapse mode. On the monitor screen (Figure 16, below), you can control what you see on the LCD--the front SDI, the main SDI, or all of them--so there are a lot of options here. “Clean feed,” of course, is whether you want to see all of the settings and parameters, or if you just want to see your image. You can choose whether you display your 3D LUT or not. You can choose a zebra pattern to help with focusing; or Focus Assist, which shows a different color on your focus plane. There are frame guides, a grid for leveling, safe areas, and then false color for helping determine exposure, especially with skin tones. Each of these can be controlled individually, so depending on what you're using each output for that would dictate what you want to display on each.

Figure 16. Choose monitor settings here.

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