Blackmagic Video Assist Update 1.2 Adds Avid DNxHD & Resolve 12.3 Improves Codec Support

Blackmagic Video Assist Interview
Blackmagic has again significantly improved one of their products after release with a firmware update.

The 5" Video Assist monitor/recorder was missing a few important features just after it hit shelves, but the company has been rolling out updates over the last few months. The 1.1 firmware added a bunch of essential features, including HDMI timecode, and the 1.2 update builds off that, and adds a brand new codec, Avid DNxHD. Here's everything that's new in the update:

  • Adds DNxHD codec
  • Adds extended Zebra range
  • Adds SD card record time remaining on status overlays
  • Adds clip playback information panel
  • Adds HDMI record trigger

With HDMI timecode from firmware 1.1, the recorder could technically trigger from HDMI, but now they've actually added HDMI record triggering in 1.2. This means that any camera with the proper flags coming from the HDMI will trigger recording on the Video Assist when you hit the record button. With the new codec just added, you'll be able to record 1080p in both Apple ProRes and Avid DNxHD on the recorder.

The Video Assist continues to improve, and one of the only features left that really needs correcting is the ability to remove the pulldown from Canon cinema cameras, something competing recorders like those from Atomos can already do. 

DaVinci Resolve 12.3 Update

Blackmagic also updated both versions of their color correcting/editing application. Here's what's been added/addressed in the newest 12.3 firmware:

  • Decode support for HEVC/H.265 QuickTime video in DaVinci Resolve Studio on Windows
  • Added Media Storage context menu option to directly add storage locations without opening Preferences on Mac and Windows
  • Ability to add Media Storage locations without restarting Resolve on Mac and Windows
  • Added support for reading Reel Names in OpenEXR media
  • Added decode support for Sony MPEG2 video files
  • Added support for ARRI RAW sharpness when using the ARRI Full Res Debayer
  • Added support for smaller font sizes on burn-ins
  • Added support for keyboard shortcut for loop on the Edit Page
  • Improved HEVC/H.265 decode performance on Mac in DaVinci Resolve Studio
  • Improved H.264 decode performance on Windows
  • Improved Varicam, MPEG4, AVC and AVC-Intra MXF decode performance on Mac and Windows
  • Improved compressed OpenEXR decode performance
  • Added support for RED SDK v6.1
  • General performance and stability improvements

Be sure to head on over to the Blackmagic support page to download these updates.     

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9 Comments

I recall the DNxHD codec was mentioned in the first announcement of the video assist. And yes, it is true:
http://nofilmschool.com/2015/04/blackmagic-micro-cinema-camera-studio-ca...

So they finally added a feature that was promised 10 months ago :-p
I understand it is not easy to develop new products, but BMD triggers some cynicism with their actual time to market after their announcements.
Hopefully, they will adept a new motto: "underpromise & overdeliver", because the opposite is already making any news and timetable they'll have at the next NAB unbelievable...

February 13, 2016 at 3:26AM

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WalterBrokx
Director, DOP, Writer, Editor, Producer
9655

I really enjoy my video assist. Even if the image is not as flawless as the small hd 501. The recording capabilities really make it an incredibly useful tool!

February 13, 2016 at 7:49AM

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i need an SDI cable for this. any suggestions?

February 13, 2016 at 1:47PM

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Dan Keeble
Video Editor + Cameraman
200

Cinecoil

February 14, 2016 at 6:52PM

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Jonathon Sendall
Stories
1672

A major issue I've experienced is the exposure range on the display. Compared to the image on my 5D LCD screen and when the file gets to my iMac, there's an exaggeration of the highlights and shadows on the Video Assist. The result is that I can't really trust what I'm seeing on the VA display e.g. If it looks like the highlights are over exposed, they actually may not be. I absolutely love the resolution and other features of the VA but this colour and exposure issue is the one thing stopping me from buying one. Anyone having the same experience?

February 13, 2016 at 1:51PM

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Simon Baker
Director / Producer
79

Glaring flaw is misrepresentation in advertising that this product works with all cameras. It does not. It lacks an important input i.e. An audio jack. Thus if your HDMI out does not have audio combined like my canon 5 d Mark iii I am out of luck folks. I had to return/ csnce lay order of this product. Atomos Blade on the other hand has just such a feature and even a specific way to sync the audio and video. Amazing.

February 20, 2016 at 3:38AM

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Bernard shaw
Owner operator
159

To be fair it does work with your 5d. One feature doesn't -audio, and more to do with canon not implementing audio over hdmi. Lack of audio jack is a bad move but misrepresentation. ...??? I'm not sure we should expect everyone else to fix/cope with the short comings of a stills camera trying to be a video camera.

February 20, 2016 at 10:34PM

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jeff brass
camera button pusher
124

I've been using my VA for a couple of months now. The differences between the 5D3 LCD screen can easily be adjusted in the VA brightness, contrast and saturation settings. I have managed to get them looking similar.
It is so good having 1920x1080 resolution to monitor with compared to say a Ninja 2.
One issue I'd like to see fixed is the green cast that the VA seems to display. There are no colour settings to remedy this.
In theory you could use a HDMI audio embedder to get sync audio straight to the VA.

February 21, 2016 at 2:50PM

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I just received the BMVA and took it out for a shoot with my GH4. Overall, I'm happy with the product. The size and resolution is great, and the 1.2 firmware adds some nice features. I much prefer the BMVA focus peaking over the blocky mess that the GH4 has. Punch in zoom is very helpful, too.

I hope Blackmagic addresses the issue of screen calibration. I also find battery life is very poor; I used five 2600mAh batteries over less than 4 hours of monitoring only (no recording). This is far below Blackmagic's claim of 3 hours for 2 batteries. I presume recording will use more battery power, so I hope to find an alternate power solution for this.

I think its a good value, but hope Blackmagic will continue to develop it. Scopes and LUT support would be very helpful.

February 26, 2016 at 3:33PM, Edited February 26, 3:34PM

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David Patterson
videographer/editor
530