With most post pipelines still miles behind, it begs the question, what exactly is the point of 12K footage today, and who needs it?

The Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 12K was no easy feat. For this one camera release, they developed an entirely new sensor, they came up with a legendary new RAW codec (yes BRAW was developed in tandem with the Ursa Mini 12K), and they created a new version of their color science. All of these aspects together make shooting in 12K resolution an actual feasible reality.

12K Footage plays back nice and smooth inside of ResolveCredit: Am I A Filmmaker?

I've done it. Inside of Resolve, it's actually surprisingly fast and responsive on my relatively modest machine, and I've experienced no exploded hard drives yet. This is because the Blackmagic team purpose-built the whole system themselves, and they built it all to work together.

One of the most common takes about the camera is that 12K footage isn't necessary. Why would you need 12K footage? Well, I've attempted to answer that question in the video below. Check it out.

As of now, there are no 12K televisions on the market, and all of my gigs are still being finished out at a max resolution of 4K (most of the time still just regular old HD). However, the prospect of a 12K camera should still be looked at as a major accomplishment, and an extremely useful tool for a lot of filmmakers.

12K VFX Plates Make It Possible To Reframe In PostCredit: Am I A Filmmaker?

VFX Plates

Re-framing in post is a bad word for a lot of filmmakers.

"Just do it handheld for real!" they say. Those filmmakers don't do VFX.

One of the best ways to sell a composited shot is to add a little bit of handheld wiggle. Maybe you want to do a "news footage" type gag with an ENG-style slam zoom on a monster destroying a city. Not to mention the ability to re-frame entirely, or even squeeze two entire shots out of one render by being able to crop in from a wide to a close-up.

There are a lot of very tangible areas where having access to very high-resolution plates can save you a ton of headaches and time as a VFX artist/compositor.

With 12K footage you can easily pull out textures for CG assetsCredit: Am I A Filmmaker?

Textures and General Data Capture

You only have one chance to capture what you're trying to capture on set. In terms of acquisition and getting the most out of it while on set, 12K is a really interesting prospect.

When every frame you capture is an 80MP RAW slice of dense data, you can do a whole lot with it in post in general.

In the below example, from a couple of quick shots of a building, an entirely new CG asset could be easily created just using the textures from a couple of frames.

These images were used for reprojection onto 3D geometryCredit: Am I A Filmmaker?

For a VFX supervisor, this is common practice, just usually with the use of a DSLR walking around set and taking photos. Though it is definitely interesting to consider that now the general camera used for the project may one day be enough for this purpose (it's already getting there).

When speaking with Blackmagic about the camera, they also informed me of a use-case where people were shooting in 8K resolution to use the extra data for super-smooth gimbal-less footage.

The extra room for zooming in allows for the ability to do quite a bit of smoothing in post. Again, much to the dismay of the purists.


In this video from one of my new favorite channels, InCamera, you see a great example of 12K being used in full effect.

Also, not to be a broken record here, but 12K is again put to great use for VFX. In this case, to shoot assets for compositing.

Shooting 12K VFX Elements Provides Endless Options In CompositingCredit: InCamera

The 12K not only has the ability to shoot up to 240fps, which makes it fantastic for shooting things like explosions and muzzle flashes, but the extra resolution makes every single thing you shoot with it usable for so many different scenarios.

Shooting element style assets in high resolution like fog elements or dust elements allow you to use those elements in a close-up or a wide-shot alike and give you a ton of new options.

12K footage is perfect for nature shootersCredit: Am I A Filmmaker?

You Don't Have to Shoot 12K

The biggest thing I don't understand about the criticisms about this camera is that you don't have to shoot 12K.

Perhaps more importantly than the 12K aspect is the ability to shoot super crisp down-sampled 8K (up to 120fps), or 4K (up to 240fps). Not to mention the sensor doesn't use a Bayer pattern, so at each resolution, that's true resolution and color depth.

It's just a beefed-up Ursa Mini Pro G2 with more of what I think Blackmagic does best—options.

With this camera, they aren't skimping on other aspects to yield the high resolution. You're still getting 14 stops of dynamic range, you're still getting Blackmagic RAW, and you're still getting that form-factor and operating system that a lot of filmmakers already know and love.

The Blackmagic Ursa Mini Pro 12KCredit: Am I A Filmmaker?

So if you don't need 12K, then don't use it, or just use their other cameras that are similarly capable.

In my humble opinion, this camera is a marvel of technology and a significant leap forward in camera manufacturing. Whether you intend to shoot 12K footage or not, you have to admit that it's interesting that we now can. Makes you wonder where things might be even a couple of years from now.