Blackmagic Design URSA Cine 12K

Blackmagic Design on Friday unveiled the URSA Cine 12K, an update to its existing cameras designed for a high-performance digital cinema workflow that includes its best sensor yet and the ability to shoot and do post at the same time.

In its 12 years of making cameras, Blackmagic has established itself as the go-to for very user-friendly, high-performance, reasonably-priced cameras, explained business development manager for the Americas David Hoffman, who previewed the camera for MovieMaker ahead of its unveiling Friday at the NAB Show in Las Vegas. He calls it “probably the most sophisticated camera we’ve ever built.” 

Blackmagic CEO Grant Petty’s approach, Hoffman said, was, “let’s make sure that we get everything that’s necessary for the new generation of digital cinema workflows.” The company aimed to keep costs down by producing all its components in-house, even though the URSA Cine 12K is designed to work with non-Blackmagic accessories. 

Though some productions use Blackmagic for secondary or crash cameras,  Blackmagic has designed the URSA Cine 12K as a big step up — a main camera, or A camera, that does what no other main camera does, especially at its cost of $14,995 cost. In addition to a brand-new 12K, 35 mm large-format sensor, it also offers a cloud workflow for doing post production on existing footage in the camera even as it is being used to shoot new scenes. 

A front angle of Blackmagic Design’s URSA Cine 12K

A camera operator can capture pristine new shots, in other words, even as color correction, editing, VFX and other work is being done remotely on the footage saved within the camera. It means much smoother workflows and allows for shooting and post to occur simultaneously.

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How many people can join in the crowd workflow at once? 

“I have yet to see a limit,” Hoffman said.

The idea is to compete with cameras that might cost twice as much or more, and that filmmakers would typically need to rent. It is priced to own, because the company believes you’ll need to own the camera and work with it longterm to appreciate just how many features it offers. Buying it could “could get the ROI, probably, on my next independent feature,” Hoffman said.

“If you can’t own the tool, how can you become exceptional at it?” he added.

The URSA Cine 12K is also designed to be especially useful synchronized, multicamera shoots — including using volume screens. 

“We’re seeing more broadcast workflows in cinema shoots,” Hoffman noted, and the camera is set up to allow for synchronized shooting.

Blackmagic Design URSA Cine 12K Specs

After years of evolving its URSA Mini Pro line, Blackmagic designed the new camera by breaking down one of its previous 12K cameras “to the screws,” Hoffman explained — making sure every aspect of the camera served its intended purpose. 

“If it doesn’t serve the purpose, can it be changed to serve the purpose? Or does it need to go away?” he asked. 

Monitors on the left and right of the camera’s body — the left folds out — give the time code, codec, frame rates and other basic information, and the dual monitors make it easy to pay attention to the image on one and the details on the other. They feature a 5-inch LCD touchscreen with the Blackmagic OS, with new menus added for improved functionality.

A rear angle of Blackmagic Design’s URSA Cine 12K

Slightly bigger and heavier than the current URSA Mini Pro body, it also includes two proprietary M2 in NVMe data cartridges with four PCIe lanes in each module for faster transmission and greater bandwidth, storage and performance. A future accessory will also enable the use of CF Express memory cards.

“So there’s a couple different ways you can get media off this camera,” Hoffman said.

It has two independent 12G SDI (serial digital interface connections) with UHD signals “so you can actually parse out the video several different ways,” Hoffman said. You can also use the other SDIs to access Blackmagic Video Assist. 

Below the SDIs are a 10G Ethernet port allowing you to connect that to a laptop or a workstation on set, so anyone using Blackmagic’s DaVinci Resolve will be able to view the media on the camera and “use the camera like a Cloud Store,” Hoffman said. You — and many others — can then edit, color correct, or do anything else you like in Resolve.

You can also send it to anyone to view over a third-party platform like Vimeo or Youtube — if you want to show a producer across the globe some dailies, for example.

“You no longer have to record the media, offload the media, distribute the media,” he said. “It’s immediately available to anybody on the network.”

The sensor has 16 stops of dynamic range, “the best in any of the cameras we’ve ever made,” Hoffman said. It is 35.6352mm horizontal by 23.316mm vertical, with a 42.59mm diameter. The horizontal resolution is 12,288 pixels and vertical resolution is 8,040 pixels.

Also offered is an electronic viewfinder for an additional cost of $1,695, or it can be purchased with the URSA Cine 12K for $16,495. It will be more modular than previous models, mounted on rails and designed for quick toolless exchanges. It also includes an extension arm to allow the cameraperson to more easily shoot behind a dolly.

And it has a locking USB-C connection. The buttons, including a record trigger for shooting handheld, are soft-touch, backlit and silent.

The URSA Cine 12K also includes a 15/19 mm baseplate designed for toolless exchanges from tripod to dolly to handheld — whatever the production requires.