It wasn't that long ago when broadcasters would go through the expensive process of upgrading their pipeline from standard definition to high definition. In the United States, this was, of course, heavily subsidized by a government's desire of SD bandwidth for other purposes, and was willing to go as far, in some markets, helping end users buy TVs and HD receivers. With the recent push beyond HD into UHD (4k) broadcast, government subsidies just aren't there at the moment, and the Australian-based company Blackmagic Design hopes to step into that rift by offering affordable solutions that bring live event productions and broadcasts into the UHD universe.

Nofilmschool_blackmagic_ursa_broadcastCredit: Blackmagic

The biggest news is the $3,495 URSA Broadcast camera. Built around the same body as the URSA Mini Pro, the new URSA Broadcast has a smaller sensor and a B4 lens mount while offering the same UHD 3840x2160 capture and output options. Recording both to internal cards and delivering UHD over 12G SDI, the Broadcast is designed to offer higher quality imagery than is normally found in broadcast. How? With a 12-stop latitude-using sensor technology originally developed for their digital film cameras. The B4 lens mount is immensely popular within the broadcast space and offers a plethora of used-lenses. The cameras can be swapped over to still photo lens mounts that complement well with the smaller sensor size, and by going for a smaller sensor, the camera is able to give a deeper depth of field for the same field of view.

Blackmagic_nofilmschool_ursa_broadcastCredit: Blackmagic

The camera can be used in either a video gamma designed to deliver immediate, pleasing images for live switching or direct streaming and broadcast, or in a film gamma mode that captures all 12 stops of latitude to file for maximum latitude in later color grading. We especially appreciate the ability to shape the look of the image with full 3D LUT support, allowing users to apply a creative look to their footage even when it's being live broadcast. In charge of purchasing one for a school, church, or other platform that requires broadcast cameras for live production? These cameras offer the ability to switch back and forth between broadcast gamma and film gamma. That's a huge benefit.

Nofilmschool_blackmagic_ursa_broadcast_0Credit: Blackmagic

Like the Mini Pro, it captures straight to ProRes and DNxHD up to 220, which makes it great for fast turnaround jobs where direct-to-edit capture is appreciated. It's particularly impressive that Blackmagic has managed to wrap all of that into a package that runs only $3495, even as you remember that you'll still need to purchase a lens, capture media, and batteries. Broadcast is a huge volume business and offering an affordable way to work in UHD was a smart move.

Nofilmschool_smpte_fiber_receiverCredit: Blackmagic

Blackmagic has also released new solutions for longer cable runs between camera and broadcast truck. While SDI is traditional on film sets, it usually only runs 300-500 feet. On a larger live sporting event, you may need up to 2k of cable to get image to where it needs to be. While wireless is growing, hard-lined signal flow remains preferred for the stability it creates in busy RF areas where wireless can get interrupted. The current preferred solution for longer runs in SMPTE fiber, Blackmagic has released two new interfaces for connecting both your camera and your control room to fiber for long runs. Most innovative of all was the decision to front mount and monitor the SMPTE cable to the control room box; after extensive research, the company discovered that many trucks didn't have access to the back of the rack and, as a result, ran expensive extenders to the front for patching. By front mounting the port, Blackmagic hopes to alleviate that inconvenience while providing a monitor for instant confirmation of a proper connection having been achieved.

Blackmagic_uhd_switcherCredit: Blackmagic

To top it all off, Blackmagic has also completely redesigned their switcher panel for live editing. With a new custom designed joystick, T-handle, connectors, and deeper scallops on the buttons for precise resiting positions, the panels fit in with the design of the new color panels, designed to simplify the interface while preserving legacy designs that woin't requiring retraining.

URSA Broadcast Available now for $3495.  Learn more at the Blackmagic site.

URSA Broadcast Tech Specs:

  • 2/3 inch sensor size when using 4K B4 mount (Actual sensor size 13.056mm x 7.344mm)
  • Electronic lens control via 12-pin broadcast connector. 
  • 12 Stops+ dynamic range
  • 3840x2160, 1920x1080 (full frame, not windowed)
  • 23.98, 24, 25, 29.97, 30, 50, 59.94 and 60 fps supported. Off-speed frame rates up to 60p.
  • 2-stop, 4-stop and 6-stop ND filters
  • Less than 1 frame timecode drift every 8 hours 
  • 1 x 12G SDI input
  • 1 x 12G SDI output, 1 x SDI Monitoring 
  • 2 x XLR inputs switchable between mic, line and AES digital audio. Phantom power support.
  • 48 kHz and 24 bit sampling
  • DNx, CinemaDNG, and ProRes
  • SDI Talkback and Tally