November 18, 2016

Blackmagic Video Assist Gets 3D LUTs With New Firmware

The new Video Assist firmware enables the use of 3D LUTs for image customization, making it easier to preview final looks.

The Blackmagic Video Assist line of monitor/recorders comes in at a healthy discount compared to similar competitors from Atomos and Convergent Design, but has long lacked many of the features that have made those popular choices worth the cost. With the release of firmware 2.3, one major feature that has been desperately needed is finally here: up to six 3D LUTs can be loaded to enable the end user to preview various looks and not be forced into viewing flat log or raw footage.

With some cameras, shooting in a raw or log format leads to an exceptionally flat video preview, and while experienced filmmakers can get used to imagining what it will look like after a color grade brings it to full life, it can be frustrating to spend all day looking at an image that doesn't reflect what the final result will look like. Applying a LUT in monitor can fix that problem by allowing you to preview what a final grade might look like, while simultaneously recording the full log or raw image and preserving the full spectrum of information to have it available for you in the color grade. By allowing users to upload up to six LUTs, Blackmagic is giving filmmakers the option to have several different "looks" to choose from, so for instance if you want to have a different look for flashbacks than for present-day scenes, you could upload a LUT for each and change the preview on set.

Video Assist 4kCredit: Blackmagic Design

These monitors also have had some report of a very slight green cast, so if you are building custom LUTs for the monitor, we would encourage you to do so with the monitor itself as your reference. Ideally, you would connect the Video Assist to a machine running Resolve and build your LUT in Resolve using a combination of test patterns and test footage to make sure that the image on the monitor truly represents the look you are going for. If you wanted to use a pre-built LUT as a base, you could load that into Resolve and add additional nodes to correct for the specificity of the monitor before outputting the LUT.

This update also brings some features from the 7" Video Assist over to the 5" model, including false color exposure tools to help with evaluating exposure decisions on the 5" monitor. Additionally, MXF DNxHD recording has been enabled, speeding up workflows for Avid editors working in Windows.

Blackmagic Video AssistCredit: Blackmagic Design

The firmware update is a free download from the Blackmagic site. The 7" 4K Video Assist is $895 at B&H

Tech Specs:
  • 6 x 3D LUTs
  • False Color
  • 1920 x 1200 Touchscreen LCD (4k model)
  • Records UHD 4K/HD Up to 30 fps (4k model)
  • 10-Bit, 4:2:2 ProRes Codecs
  • HDMI and 6G-SDI Video Inputs
  • Dual SD Media Card Slots Supports UHS-II
  • Two Mini XLR Inputs with Phantom Power
  • On-Screen Histogram and Audio Levels
  • Focus Peaking & Zebra
  • Dual LP-E6 Hot-Swappable Battery Slots
  • AC Adapter Included

Your Comment

6 Comments

They are hard to beat for the money. Kind of wish they could do 4k 60p though. If rumors are true with the Panasonic GH5 it will be needed.

I am sure the cost would be more but...

November 18, 2016 at 7:42PM

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I doubt that SD cards couldn't manage 60fps, 4K at the higher data rate (RAW, HQ, etc).

November 19, 2016 at 2:52PM

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*could*

November 19, 2016 at 6:07PM

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This is really good news. Thought already that BM forgot about the 5" monitor. Now it's really handy!

November 21, 2016 at 2:48AM

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Mikko Manninen
Collecting whispers
88

I've always had to set my GH4 to a luminance range of 16-135 in order for the video assist to display the live image correctly.

This update says "increased HDMI luminance range", however, the GH4 still has to be set to the diminished luminance range, as before. Does anyone else experience this?

(in layman's terms, the video assist crushes the blacks and blows out the whites, when the GH4 screen still shows lots of details, but once you set GH4 luminance range to 16-235, instead of 0-255, the displays match nicely.)

November 21, 2016 at 9:14AM, Edited November 21, 9:14AM

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Feature wise, these seem hard to beat. But what I would really love to see is a test/comparison on how accurate they display color. Especially with 3D LUTs now being implemented, accurate color representation is even more important.

December 16, 2016 at 5:27AM

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Patrick Grossien
Director/DOP
77