Every spring in Las Vegas, the National Association of Broadcasters puts together a massive trade show called (what else) NAB Show. Exhibitors from across the globe bring their latest broadcast and cinema technology to debut at NAB. Back at NAB ’07, Red debuted the Red One, which has changed digital cinema camera platforms forever. Today, Red’s versatile cameras are favored by the likes of Ridley Scott, Peter Jackson, and Michael Bay.
This year’s NAB is going on right now, and yesterday at the show, Blackmagic Design dropped what I might call a quiet bomb: the URSA. URSA shoots in 4K Resolution, with a sensor the size of a Super 35 cel. It can shoot at up to 60 fps, and has a fairly wide dynamic range (12 stops). There’s a big honkin’ ten inch, 1080p fold-out monitor, and two control touchscreens for navigating the URSA’s menus. The camera is designed to be user-upgradable, with lots of options for customization. There will be four main variants of the camera: one with an EF lens mount for DSLR lenses, one with a PL lens mount for film industry lenses, one with a B4 lens mount for broadcast lenses, and a sensorless model designed to connect via HDMI to another camera.
The EF and PL versions of the camera will start shipping in July, at a price of $5,995 USD. Ship dates and prices for the other two models have yet to be announced.
“Why should I care?” you might think. Here’s why: If you’re a low-budget filmmaker, this could mean a hell of a lot. The two major industry standard digital cinema cameras today are the Red Epic and the Arri Alexa. Red modules alone can cost up to $50,000 USD, and an Arri Alexa kit can cost upwards of $80,000 USD. This means that microbudget indies can ditch their DSLRs (Shane Carruth’s Upstream Color was shot on a Panasonic DMC-GH2) but keep their lenses. They’ll have another choice (potentially a better, more versatile one) and will be able to shoot at a greater resolutions, in Apple’s ProRes codec.
Sure beats the shit out of smartphone or GoPro footage.