August 10, 2014

The First Blackmagic URSA Footage Is Finally Here, & It's Absolutely Gorgeous

Ursa SunriseLast week, we got word that the highly anticipated Blackmagic URSA cinema camera was at last starting to make its way out into the wild. With the camera landing in the hands of some capable cinematographers, it was only a matter of time before footage started to surface. As was the case with the previous Blackmagic cameras, Australian DP John Brawley was among the very first to spend some quality time with the URSA, and now, we finally have some footage to sink our teeth into.

Before getting to Brawley's video, which he shared on his blog, here's what he had to say about how he shot the video:

This clip was shot over a period of about 90 mins.  I filled three of my four 128Gb SanDisk CFast 2.0 cards and did it on two Vlock batteries. Many of the shots were done before sunrise.  Pretty impressive for 400 ISO @ T4 at that frame rate. All shots are ISO 400, 60 FPS at 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) ProRes HQ except for just one which was 24 FPS, the shot of the sun actually rising in shot.

One thing to note.  The Cooke 25-250 zoom is a vintage lens that’s over 30 years old.  It’s quite soft on the edges even when the centre is sharp.  You’ll also see a lot of chromatic aberration.  It’s hardly what you’d call a modern lens design.  But I like it for it’s personality. I used the True ND 9 and 1.5 once the sun was up.

Because of the characteristics of the vintage Cooke zoom that Brawley used, it's a bit difficult to judge some of the technical aspects of the following footage, but from a purely aesthetic perspective, it's pretty damn gorgeous.

Of course, it's extremely difficult to judge the images in this video both because of the lens that Brawley used and the shooting situation. However, as first footage goes, this clip provides us plenty to be excited about in regards to the Blackmagic URSA.

Link: Ursa Does Bronte -- John Brawley

Your Comment

129 Comments

So exciting!! Does this mean that the black sun spot is banished?

August 10, 2014

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Andrew Johnston

from his blog: "I should add, single node grade in Resolve, no NR and I had to fix two shots with black sun."

August 10, 2014

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John Cliff

Since these are first shots to promote the camera you should have left the black spots in so people know what they are getting as potential customers. I know we can imagine it but it would be good to see.

August 10, 2014

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This whole black sun thing is the dumbest thing...I saw an episode of Sherlock where a flashlight was shone into the lens and the center went black. What was it shot on? Alexa.

August 11, 2014

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Gabe

its inherent to every CMOS sensor. Its just that the blogs like to talk shit on blackmagic all the time.

August 11, 2014

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john jeffries

I've never seen it on any camera I've used but I've never used a BM camera. Its not on every camera. I'd say very few cameras.

August 12, 2014

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Agree not even my ole T3i has it.

August 14, 2014

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Gary Simmons

I shoot on a Sony PMW-350K on a daily basis and sometimes on a Sony PMW-200 - both have CMOS sensors and both never show a black sun or any kind of black light source.

August 15, 2014

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Heiko

Never seen that in countless of hours of Alexa footage. May have been due to operator error. Some software packages freak out if they receive an image with values above 1.0 and will draw false colors.

August 11, 2014

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Uncompressed

Alexa does it with the current Firmware.

JB

August 12, 2014

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John Brawley

I was going to make a seriously snarky comment about whip the camera left to right in a shot. Looking at specs-It's apparently a Global Shutter CMOS sensor-so my near bad. Hey Sony-buy a clue!

August 10, 2014

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Lord Bronco

Why Sony? At least they have the global shutter of the F55. Why hmmm.. Canon who probably dont have a single global shutter. Few cameras have global shutter. But even fewer cameras have BLACK SPOTS.... Which would you prefer?

August 10, 2014

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The C100-500 are global shutter. All their DSLRs are rolling shutter.

August 10, 2014

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Levi Stutzman

That is simply not true. The Canon C line just has a fast - but rolling -readout of the sensor, negating most of the jittery jello-cam of DSLR's. Fast pans or fast moving objects through a static frame will still skew and flashing lights will still occupy two halves of separate frames. Very much a traditional CMOS sensor.

August 10, 2014

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Einar

jinx

August 10, 2014

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ryan

That's not true. C100-500 have a faster rolling shutter. But it's not a global shutter. It also wouldn't have nearly the low light capability it does if it were a global shutter

August 10, 2014

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ryan

I had to look it up. You are actually 100% incorrect. Please do your research before you come here and spread misinformation.

The C100-C500 may have LESS rolling shutter artifacts than many other CMOS sensors (they use software to mitigate SOME of it) but they the rolling shutter jello is still undeniably present.

FYI: It is nearly impossible to build a CMOS sensor with a global shutter unless you have some kind of mechanical or optical contraption in front of the sensor like Red has done with their Motion Mount and others do with a spinning mirror.

PLEASE DO YOUR RESEARCH so young kids don't start internalizing your misinformation that you spout off without proper due diligence.

August 10, 2014

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Harry Pray IV

'FYI: It is nearly impossible to build a CMOS sensor with a global shutter unless you have some kind of mechanical or optical contraption in front of the sensor like Red has done with their Motion Mount and others do with a spinning mirror. " Well, no, a global shutter can be implemented in circuitry, as it is in the CMOSIS CMV12000, the sensor in the Ursa, the BM4K, and the Aja Cion.

August 11, 2014

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Tzedekh

You're also incorrect. =P May want to take your own advice and do research.

August 11, 2014

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Kholi

I'd much rather see these sort of tests than charts. The fact that he used a vintage lens just proves how much versatility there is with most digital cameras, and the final outcome is a variant of so many possible choices. The reality is, most these cameras are very capable. In the right hands anyone should be able to create a great image. Film still seems to be the de facto standard, but I think it's ridiculous to think something has to look a certain way.

August 10, 2014

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tony

Charts are much more useful, because any camera can make a seaside sunset look good. There are no lit skintones, for example, in this, so we have no idea what skin really looks like.

August 13, 2014

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Robert Ruffo

That's what I thought... you can make this kind of sunset look good on almost any kind of modern camera. Take any kind of DSLR with a decent lens - if you know what you're doing, it will look great.

Also, once you upload it to vimeo, you can't really judge the footage. Vimeo is good, no doubt, but it is still heavily compressed web video.

August 15, 2014

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Heiko

Is the max ISO still 800 as per the BMPC?

Is there any hope of higher than 1600 iso's appearing on the other cameras I know they are designed for lighted environments but they can just look so nice in run and gun style environments I'd love to be able to gain in camera rather than murdering the codec in post for when you absolutely need it.

August 10, 2014

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" this clip provides us plenty to be excited about in regards to the Blackmagic URSA "

Well, I am exited about Australian DP John Brawley !

Getting up and ready before dawn to catch those unbeliebeable rose lit waves. He certainly knows what to do with a camera, probably any camera.

" With the camera landing in the hands of some capable cinematographers, it was only a matter of time before footage started to surface. " very well said : ) it's more the person behind, than the camera that determinates the outcome of how the shooting.

August 10, 2014

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Richard

agreed, it's hard to see the capabilities of a new camera over the internet. But these shots are just beautiful and that has much more to do with the DOP than anyone else....

August 10, 2014

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Kathleen

Very very dificult to see the quality of the footage in this video, hope soon will be better shots ...!

Bradley say that hi fix two black sun, I wonder if hi means about the hot spot of the other camera. Hard to believe that still this camera come with this problems ?!?

August 10, 2014

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atd3d

yaaaaawwwwnnn.

August 10, 2014

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John Wilton

Just two years ago getting your hands on a camera like this would have cost $25,000+. Now, it can be had for just $6,000. An amazing accomplishment to say the least.

Maybe you haven't been shooting long enough to remember when the most heavily compressed codecs were the ONLY choice. I do, and I think it's safe to say that anyone who does now shudders at the memories. With all of the advancements we've had it's felt like going from the Dark Ages straight to the Renaissance in a mere two years.

And if you just enjoy getting cute in comment sections that's your prerogative. But, do try to learn a little something and maybe gain some appreciation for the how far camera tech has come. Especially since you get to reap the benefits of all that advancement.

Something to think on.

August 10, 2014

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finducinema

Amen, brother. The democratization of filmmaking technology has some in the Hollywood industry feeling threatened, and yet others like JJ Abrams are getting excited about the possibilities of storytelling through film being attainable for the masses. It will only make the quality of films being made each year just that much better. Now whether the quality films will see deserved distribution is another matter entirely lol...

August 10, 2014

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Alex

I'd hardly call affordable cameras democratization, and I doubt anyone in Hollywood is feeling threatened. So much more goes into a production. The cost of the camera on major productions is so minuscule that it is almost a non-factor. If you go into this thinking that a camera will turn you into a filmmaker I can only guarantee your camera will sit and collect dust because you have no clue what else is involved. Making films is expensive, even without the camera. If you couldn't do it with your 5D, don't pretend to think you can do it now.

August 10, 2014

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Peter

The digital democratization/liberation includes these and perhaps more - high IQ and simultaneously low cost digital cameras; the low cost digital media (instead of film); affordable editing/coloring suits instead of the flatbeds and chemical baths; the ever more powerful computers that allow an inexpensive handling, editing and rendering; low cost LED lighting - including portable panels and flexible strips - that can be powered without a generator and often off a battery; versatile software programs beyond mere editing that can erase noise, create a film look, help with effects, track images, etc.; the low light/high ISO cameras that can be deployed with only practical lighting even at night; handheld rigs, jibs and multiple axis stabilizers; RC vehicles and helicopters; inexpensive yet very high quality lenses and adapters from the likes of Samyang/Rokinon, SLR Magic, Sigma, Metabones, Mitakon, etc; digital delivery via DVD's and/or internet; high end TV's, projectors and monitors on top of home audio that can make a trip to the movie theater unnecessary; a string of the internet streaming services - from YouTube to Vimeo to Fandor to Yahoo Screen to Netflix to Amazon Prime - that made the connection between a creator and his audience a very quick one; high speed internet that can transfer huge amounts of data in real time, et cetera, et cetera.
.
All of the above was released in the last fifteen years or so and the entertainment industry is still figuring out how to best capitalize on these developments ... some of which I must have inadvertently left off.

August 10, 2014

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DLD

Yes some of the tools have gotten cheaper. Access to locations, closing off streets, extras, sets, set design, sound stages, costume, props, pyrotechnics, good actors, experienced crew, insurance, film permits, good writers, visual VFX aritist, VFX advisors, composers, sound men, sound designers, hotels, lodging etc, etc hasn't. Don't forget feeding a number of crew members throughout the day on a multiple days or even months for that matter. How many of us have the luxury of keeping a crew on board for months on end? Most Hollywood films rarely rely on LED lighting, its always some 4K, 12K, 18K HMI light with large generators and an electrical crew rigging up yards of electrical line around the block. Just about every Hollywood film is using technocranes, ultimate arms, Chapman-Leanord dollies, etc, etc.

I agree, some of the tools have gotten cheaper, but Hollywood feel threatened? That's like comparing a pontoon boat to an aircraft carrier.

August 10, 2014

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Peter

Peter, the democratization of filmmaking is not some wild analysis I contrived myself. It's pretty much been an accepted and acknowledged phenomenon in recent years, and JJ Abrams gushed about it himself which is why I mentioned his name. NLEs, equipment, special effects, etc. are three key cost-pillars of a production that once made a film completely out of reach for the outsider, and all three are now within reach of those far removed from the Hollywood machine. Does it drive the cost of an independent film down to zero? Um, no. Does it cut it in half or more relative to a film-based full production budget? Yes. But today moreso than ever gathering people together to tell a story through film/video is no longer a pipe-dream reserved for the Hollywood-bound ingenues. It's started to become a reality for people geographically far from Los Angeles, middle-class, or without insider connections. Is it really that outrageous to consider these as tenets of "democratization"?

And I was very deliberate about phrasing it as "some in the Hollywood industry," and not "Hollywood" because obviously to make a sweeping generalization like that is absurd. Most are probably excited or skeptical or apathetic, as they'll benefit from it financially or creatively either way. The "some" I was referring to were facets like expensive camera companies, film labs, telecine houses, insecure filmmakers who only view influx of young talent as wolves nipping at their heels, etc. Are they all like that? Or even most? Of course not. Thus the word "some."

August 11, 2014

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Alex

Anyone can buy a camera. But I bump into plenty of people that were not born to use it.

August 11, 2014

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Claire, this sounds like the introduction of the newest Avenger from Marvel, Cameraman.

August 11, 2014

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Alex

The cameras of course have changed radically, but everything else is pretty much the same. Go on any film or TV show set and you still see big lights, grip carts, wardrope,ect.

As for Hollywood being threaten by the indy filmmaker selling their move on Amazon Prime? Not really. The studios and networks have many channels to sell their goods in just about every country in the world. Just alone, the TV show " Friends", which was canceled a decade ago, makes a billion dollars a year.

August 11, 2014

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Randy

When I think of the democratization of film making, I'm not thinking of competing with Hollywood. I'm thinking of the ability now available to a single person even to shoot small scale, personal films.
But I totally agree, cameras and gear are just a small expense when putting together "bigger" films.

August 11, 2014

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Let's ignore the "competition from within". In other words, working Hollywood writers each have at least half a dozen of unsold screenplays laying around. If you lower the entry costs, a lot of these projects become doable.

August 11, 2014

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DLD

I meant, "let's not ignore" ... oops

August 11, 2014

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DLD

You still need a person who can really use the equipment available to shoot a really good film.
Now that good cameras are available for less than 10K, it became pretty clear that real film making talent is still scarce :)

August 15, 2014

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Heiko

Hollywood actually has a tendency to hire these indie people you disparage. For example, Gareth Edwards who basically made his first film in very indie style.

August 11, 2014

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Mikko Löppönen

>Alex on 08.10.14 @ 7:46PM
>Amen, brother. The democratization of filmmaking technology has some in the Hollywood industry feeling >threatened, and yet others like JJ Abrams are getting excited about the possibilities of storytelling through film >being attainable for the masses. It will only make the quality of films being made each year just that much >better. Now whether the quality films will see deserved distribution is another matter entirely lol…

Actually what annoys professionals in the industry is that there are far too many people out there who equate owning a camera, with the right to call themselves a full fledged DoP. That's a little like buying a first aid kit and calling yourself a doctor.

(and I'm not talking about John Brawley here)

August 11, 2014

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bla

:D

Very well said!
However, now that everybody can own a professional camera, maybe over time it becomes more clear to potentional customers how much value there is in a talented dop or camera operator. In the past, you could always say that if you had a better camera, you could shoot better pictures.

August 15, 2014

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Heiko

+1

August 10, 2014

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Conrad

-1. So I guess that makes us equal nothing.

August 11, 2014

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Alex

The ergonomics of the camera are interesting but what is all that bulk offering in the way of processing power. This cam has the same sensor as the Black Magic 4k right? So why is that not a better option?
I read that this camera was very heavy, i really would love to see the behind the scenes video of this shoot to see a single operator using the camera with " ease ".
Right now im on the C100 and just shot an event in a very confined space where i had to put the camera over peoples shoulders and be very nimble.
Do you think that this camera is also geared more towards the on Set or staged type of shooting, or is it targeting the people that would buy an F55 or AMIRA with a mix of studio and documentary capabilities.
Can someone please post a review as soon as possible vs some of the new cameras available. AK A7s :)

August 11, 2014

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One difference with the other BM cameras is that it has a cooling mechanism inside allowing higher framerates. For now it will only shoot up to 60fps but the BM CEO said that the body is capable of doing 120fps with a future sensor upgrade.

August 11, 2014

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Alex

Well... I have a big problem with statements like that. Possibly, at some point in the future, you will get a firmware upgrade that can shoot in 120 fps. Am I supposed to buy a camera on that premise?

August 15, 2014

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Heiko

The only problem with this footage, in my opinion, is that it is too dark. I suspect that to brighten it a stop would introduce noise since the same sensor in the 4K camera is so woeful in low light.

August 10, 2014

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Bobby

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