Blackmagic Buys Ultimatte and Fairlight, Updates Resolve and More

Blackmagic Ultimatte
Blackmagic UltimatteCredit: Blackmagic
Blackmagic Design's IBC announcements came out today: They bought live green screen compositor Ultimatte, sound hardware manufacturer Fairlight, and updated Resolve to 12.5.2.

There are companies out there that buy up smaller companies because they can, and never do anything with what they bought. That is not Blackmagic Design. They bought Da Vinci systems and have been on a nonstop tear updating the software for the modern era, and giving it away for free. The same has been true with most of their other acquisitions, like the FX platform Fusion, the cross conversion Teranex hardware line, and even including Cintel, where they upgraded the film scanner for the modern era (thunderbolt!) in a move that they must have known had a very, very small market. 

At IBC this year, Blackmagic announced their acquisition of both Ultimatte and Fairlight. Ultimatte is an Emmy and Oscar Award-winning company, founded in 1976, that specializes in realtime image keying. This obviously is very useful in the television and live event world, with the ability to key in a weather map behind a newscaster, or a variety of sets behind performers, which has been a longtime mainstay of their toolkit. However, with the increasing use of greenscreen and compositing in narrative production, live keying is becoming increasingly common on narrative sets of all sizes, including some of the smallest indie productions.

Blackmagic continues their path of dominating all of motion picture post-production from the moment of image capture all the way through final delivery.

A live key is a great tool for ensuring that your lighting on set is properly matched to the elements you are planning on keying against, and is also useful for creating roughly-keyed dailies to enable editorial to start working on an edit with a rough key already in place that was overseen by the DP, director and client on set. However, most indie live key tools haven't been particularly powerful or sophisticated, and I look forward to seeing the Blackmagic magic in play here with a lower price point options and integration with the rest of the Blackmagic suite sure to come.

With their purchase of Fairlight, Blackmagic continues their path of dominating all of motion picture post-production from the moment of image capture all the way through final delivery. Fairlight makes both audio software and hardware tools for motion picture post, including massive mixing boards capable of delivering 5.1, DTS MDA, Dolby Atmos, NHK’s 22.2 and more. While it remains to be seen how closely they will be able to integrate these sound tools into their primary editing and finishing tool, Resolve, we can be confident that this will lead to some indie friendly audio mixing boards designed to work in close conjunction with the Blackmagic video output cards and adapters. At this point we just need Blackmagic to buy a DCP creation platform and one company will have pretty much covered the whole pipeline.

Fairlight board.Credit: Bklackmagic

Anyone who has gone through the process of setting up a 5.1 review system will surely be excited to hear news of this acquisition. We are likely to see very affordable systems for the small post house and independent filmmaker to at least add 5.1 monitoring to small suites, and perhaps we will even see some indie friendly tools for more sophisticated systems like Atmos as well. However, if history is any indicator, the big boards will likely remain out of reach; the only thing that hasn't gotten dramatically cheaper with DaVinci is the big DaVinci control surface, which continues to sit at $30K, and it doesn't seem like Blackmagic will be able to give us an affordable big mixing board anytime soon.

Resolve is updated to 12.5.2, with better fusion connect in Linux, better integration with the metadata functions of the Blackmagic URSA Mini, and color space tagging for Quicktime export.

While those two purchases are the big news, there were some other updates to the line that are worth noting.  They released the new Teranex AV, specifically targeted at cross-converting material with ultra low latency (67 milliseconds) for live event use. If you've ever spent a long weekend ensuring every single piece of media you want to show behind a concert was in the correct format for projection, you understand the kind of time and trouble this tool can save for concert professionals, especially if you are dealing with a tour where every show might bring a different projection resolution. They also slashed $1000 off the price of the HyperDeck studio, released only a year ago for $2495 it's now down to $1495; it's been a popular device and the volume has allowed for them to refine the design and lower the manufacturing costs. 

For their video assist and capture platform they have updated the software to version 2.2, with improvements in the capture of DNxHD and DNxHR formats, which now use the MXF wrapped. For Windows Avid users, and there are many, this will make the ingest process much faster and more stable. The update also brings false color (a popular exposure evaluation tool) to the platform, along with expanded focus assist and rotation options.

Blackmagic Video Assist 4k false color
Blackmagic Video Assist 4k false colorCredit: Blackmagic

Finally, Resolve is updated to 12.5.2, with better fusion connect in Linux, better integration with the metadata functions of the Blackmagic URSA Mini, and color space tagging for Quicktime export. As we push further into a post-Rec. 709 world, where various tools for playing .mov files can no longer simply assume the file was authored in 709,  tagging allows the file itself to know if it is mastered in P3 or Rec. 2020 space will increase frequency of correct playback of your files into the future.

One small but useful improvement is the addition of FX plugins as a timeline filtering tool in the color page. The timeline filters tools of the last few revisions have really sped up the grading process on complicated projects, and the ability to sort for all clips with a plugin (so the colorist can render them all, or check the settings on all, or turn the plugins all off) is a huge bonus in this upgrade. You can also now copy local grades to remote; you've long been able to copy remote grades to local, and it's nice to be able to do the reverse. 

12.5.2 available now from the Blackmagic site for free. Other updates coming in the next few weeks, with the results of the Ultimatte and Fairlight acquisitions likely to be showing up in public within a year.     

Be sure to check out more of our IBC 2016 coverage.

Your Comment



September 9, 2016 at 12:12PM

Patrick Ortman
I tell stories. Sometimes for money.

BMD Not holding back a single punch!!! and when they get the URSA Mini units in proper shape... then thats going to just be awesome.

September 10, 2016 at 3:21PM

Wentworth Kelly
DP/Colorist/Drone Op

And just in time for NAB 2017: "Blackmagic buys Arri"... Well, we can dream!

September 12, 2016 at 7:47AM

David Barrington

No, that wouldn´t be that great. We, the endusers, need the competition between the companies. Blackmagic wouldn´t stay the same.

September 15, 2016 at 11:47PM