We’ve put some questions to our friends at Blackmagic Design here in the U.K. on their current camera range and any future developments. Enjoy . . .
1) I notice Blackmagic products never fail to turn heads with their design. What is the typical design process of a Blackmagic Product. Does function follow form?
I think both form and function should go hand in hand and either one of these in and of itself is not enough. At Blackmagic Design, the design process of any product is something we take extremely seriously, and our internal Industrial Design team were recently voted Red Dot Design Team of the Year 2016 for their work. To receive such an esteemed and prestigious award is a huge honour, with previous winners including companies such as Porsche, Bose and Apple.
2) Everyone is talking about the Blackmagic URSA mini right now. How has the reaction been from your point of view?
URSA Mini is an incredible camera. It encapsulates all of our learning over the past four years of making cameras, in terms of its physical form factor and connectivity, the overall acquisition workflow, it’s great price point and above all the image quality. It’s always exciting when you can bring something like URSA Mini to customers and start to see what they can achieve with the product.
3) Will we see a 4K version for your Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera?
We’ll only introduce a 4K camera of this size if we believe we can add something that’s truly innovative within this product space. Of course customers often ask for smaller 4K products but at the same time want professional connections, battery solutions, lens mounts and more, so it’s important to balance the need for these professional features with the size of the product. A small camera that’s unusable in professional applications is not going to meet the customer’s needs.
4) Are there any new flagship developments in the pipeline that you can tell us about?
It’s always difficult to talk about product development pipelines, especially as the industry moves faster than it ever has before. It’s clear from talking to customers that issues such as HDR and IP Video are at the forefront of their minds right now and indeed at NAB, we showed advancements in our offerings in both these areas. When new technology and approaches are at a point where they benefit the customer then Blackmagic Design are often first to market.
5) Where do you see the film/video industry in the next 5 years and how will your products evolve to meet the demands of the future?
I think it’s an exciting time right now. Both creatively and technically you can achieve almost anything and there are some fantastic products available to customers. At the same time, we know that change is a constant and I feel that IP video will certainly evolve as the backbone of live production and facilities. I think our job is to simplify this so that customers can use IP in the same way they are used to using standard video connectivity, while allowing both IP and video infrastructure to continue to coexist in the same workflow.
6) What do you think makes you stand out from other similar products?
That might be a better question for our customers! Whether we’re making a mini converter or live production switcher we treat every product with the same passion in its development. Ease of operation, great connectivity options s and performance quality are at the forefront of every product we make and the standards we set ourselves are always at the highest possible level.
The hope is that this comes across when someone uses one of our products, and that it does exactly what they want it to do, performing its function without them ever having to worry about it. A great product can help you create something that’s every bit as beautiful as you can imagine it, allowing you to reach previously unachievable results without any limitations due to the tools you are using.
7) Can you let us know any successful films with cinema release where Blackmagic was used?
This year our products were used in a variety of Oscar nominated feature films, including Oscar winner for Best Motion Picture of the Year “Spotlight” as well as “Cartel Land”, “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “The Martian,” “Mustang,” “Amy,” and “What Happened Miss Simone?”
More recently, Blackmagic Design products were also used in the making of “The Legend of Tarzan,” “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot,” and “London has Fallen” to name just a few!
8) Do you work with any known filmmakers when designing new cameras ?
The design of any new product, including a camera, is driven by feedback. When we released the Blackmagic Cinema Camera in 2012 it was the first time we had stepped foot into the market and one of the things that’s been wonderful since then is how many relationships we have developed with all different kinds of filmmakers, from those moving up from their DLSR camera to those who already used a digital film camera.
Everyone has an opinion about cameras and the relationship between a DoP and their camera is perhaps closer than it is with a professional and any other piece of technology, which is why it is so crucial to constantly listen to what they have to say. We’ve spent thousands of hours with filmmakers over the past few years and channeled this into the design of URSA Mini, our Micro Cinema and Micro Studio Cameras.
9) If you had to use another film camera that wasn’t made by Blackmagic which would you choose?
That’s a great question. I think that all manufacturers have been working hard to make better products over the last few years and their are some fantastic new solutions from Sony, ARRI and others. We’re often asked at trade shows “which is the best camera” and the answer to that question is hard as essentially it amounts to which is the best camera for your personal needs. Issues like size, weight, lens mount, workflow and cost are all contributory factors in making this decision and the answer depends on your answer to all of these questions. I don’t think that any other camera offers the versatility and image quality of URSA Mini at its cost and that makes it hard not to put this at the top of the list at the moment.