Dual-Purpose Blackmagic URSA Broadcast Addresses Wide Market

Blackmagic Design is a company that prides itself on developing products that enable a wider variety of users to purchase them without the burden of a high price point. By keeping the cost of its broadcast studio camera low (under $10,000), they reason, more people can buy more cameras.

Bob Caniglia, Director of Sales Operations, North America at Blackmagic Design, said the company’s URSA Broadcast 4K UHD camera was designed with just the right amount of technology to make it appealing to a broad scope of users unable to afford cameras costing many times more.

The URSA Broadcast leverages many of the design features of the Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro, but includes a single 2/3-inch 4K sensor that can also be used to acquire in the highest quality HD format (1080p/60). It includes a B4 lens mount to support the vast inventory of legacy HD lenses in the marketplace and ND filters for ENG-style shooting. An optional fiber converter, the Blackmagic Camera Fiber Converter, clips on the back to allow users to send signals more than a mile over SMPTE hybrid cable (used mostly for live sporting events). It gives users talkback, return video feeds, power and all of the things you'd expect to see on a traditional broadcast camera.

The camera also benefits from the color correction capabilities of DaVinci Resolve, which can be used to shade multiple cameras in a studio or live remote set up.

The URSA Broadcast includes a B4 lens mount to support the vast inventory of legacy HD lenses in the marketplace and ND filters for ENG-style shooting.

The URSA Broadcast includes a B4 lens mount to support the vast inventory of legacy HD lenses in the marketplace and ND filters for ENG-style shooting.

“We decided to build a low-cost broadcast camera that actually serves two purposes,” Caniglia said, adding that the lens mount itself is able to adapt traditional ENG style lenses by directing the right amount of light to the right spot on the sensor to mimic what you'd typically get with a three-sensor prism camera. “You can use it for live but also because of the dynamic range of the camera and the fact that Blackmagic Design owns DaVinci Resolve, we could make it dual purpose. That has value to a lot of users across many market segments.”

The URSA Broadcast includes an “Extended Video Mode” LUT that gives the user a finished look out of the camera. This allows users to begin editing footage without color correcting, a feature many higher priced broadcast cameras also offer. This makes the camera a good choice for newsgathering crews.

“This is a LUT that sends the color gamut information to the person finishing the project,” he said. “We understand the dynamics of our sensor and we’re able to achieve great image results through our knowledge of color science.”

The camera also features internal processing at the sub pixel level.

“Because of our DaVinci Resolve R&D work, we’re able to process on areas of the sensor based on our knowledge of where the color should be,” Caniglia said. “So, we can send more interpretations of color in the areas that need it instead of those that don't, based on what colors they want to reproduce. For example landscapes don't need as much ‘color math’ processing as skin tone areas of an image.”

He also said that the URSA Broadcast works well with the company’s line of low-cost ATEM live production switchers. Users can perform shading and camera matching by accessing the camera’s CPU through the ATEM’s control surface.

Numerous customers have taken notice. New York City-based production company Live X used a full Blackmagic Design workflow, including URSA Broadcast, ATEM 4 M/E Broadcast Studio 4K and Micro Studio Camera 4K, to create and live stream last summer’s “Live on the Lanes” game show series for the world’s largest ten pin bowling center operator, Bowlero Corporation.

To appeal to today’s younger generation, Live X produced a five episode game show, “Live on the Lanes,” streamed directly to Facebook Live. Each episode had more than 500,000 viewers, and in addition to producing the series, Live X engaged viewers at home by having them participate in the game show to win cash prizes.

Production company Live X used a URSA Broadcast camera to create and live stream last summer’s “Live on the Lanes” game show series on Facebook.

Production company Live X used a URSA Broadcast camera to create and live stream last summer’s “Live on the Lanes” game show series on Facebook.

In addition, Poland’s national football association, Polski Zwiazek Pilki Noznej, hired production company transmisjelive to produce multicamera telecasts—featuring the URSA Broadcast and an ATEM 2 M/E Production Studio 4K switcher—that are streamed live in 4K on the league’s YouTube channel.

“Our cameras give fans exclusive access to information and insights that traditional broadcasters cannot deliver,” said Artur Kuszel, producer at transmisjelive, “and the huge subscriber numbers on YouTube reflect that.”

Caniglia said it is a huge advantage for customers like these to be able to buy an Atem Television Studio HD switcher for under $1,000 that can talk to up to eight cameras.

The URSA Broadcast camera records onto standard SD cards, UHS-II cards and CFast cards, and records 1080i or 2160p video into standard .mov files, with .mxf to be added in future updates. URSA Broadcast also records using DNx145, DNx220X or ProRes so the files will work with most broadcast systems and workflows.

The camera features independent controls for direct access to the most important camera settings. Buttons, switches and dials are laid out in a logical order that makes them easy to find by feel while using the accompanying URSA Viewfinder. This means operators can adjust settings, add an ND filter or even change frame rate without having to fold out the touchscreen or take the camera off their shoulder.

“The price of the URSA Broadcast camera is what gets attention,” he said. A fully outfitted camera can be had for under $10,000, with the Blackmagic Camera Fiber Converter and Blackmagic Studio Fiber Converter.  “The results are what keeps people buying them again and again. Application has always has been a big factor in what camera professionals decide to purchase. The URSA Broadcast is a great studio camera for those looking to build a multi-camera setup on a limited budget. We’re seeing a lot of smaller studios being built than in previous years. When you have to buy multiple cameras at once, you look for the most cost-effective option.”

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