Category Archives: Software

Major Firmware Update For All Blackmagic Cinema Cameras

Blackmagic Design cinema camera
Blackmagic Design

In addition to releasing DaVinci Resolve 11, Blackmagic Design has also released major firmware upgrades for all of their cinema camera models. The new firmware (v. 1.8) features an all-new code base for the cameras, as well as new user interface, compressed RAW DNG for the 4K production camera, greater performance at higher ISO levels, better focus peaking, and enhanced lens control, among other things. The update can be downloaded from Blackmagic Design’s support page, which has also had a nice redesign.

Here is the press release in full:

Fremont, CA – 24 June, 2014 – Blackmagic Design today announced the release of Blackmagic Camera Update 1.8 software which includes updated features for all Blackmagic Design cameras. Blackmagic Camera Update 1.8 is available now for download free of charge for all existing Blackmagic Camera customers from the Blackmagic Design support page on the website.

The new Blackmagic Camera Update 1.8 software features a completely new code base for all Blackmagic digital film cameras so provides a foundation for new features. This update supports the original wide dynamic range 2.5K Blackmagic Cinema Camera, Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera and the Blackmagic Production Camera 4K.

This all new code base also improves performance and includes a new modern user interface similar in design to the new URSA camera announced at NAB. This new user interface is included in all models of cameras available from Blackmagic Design, allowing a nice clean fresh look.

Blackmagic Camera 1.8 adds compressed RAW DNG support for the Blackmagic Production Camera 4K model, and this allows RAW recording in real time so all sensor data can be captured allowing more range and much higher image quality when doing post production and color grading. DaVinci Resolve 11, also available today, fully supports RAW grading and rendering to final output direct from the RAW camera original files. This means customers get incredible first generation masters, with a solution that edits RAW files as easily and as responsively as a normal video file.

New features in this update include enhanced lens control support for EF lens mount cameras such as the original Blackmagic Cinema Camera EF and the Blackmagic Production Camera 4K models. This means customers can now get auto focus when pushing the focus button on active EF based lenses and the cameras will mathematically analyze the center of the image and optimize the focus for maximum sharpness.

This is important with high resolution 4K cameras where images are so sharp that accurate focus is critical for the best results. Because this update uses the focus button for auto focus, the focus peaking feature is now enabled by double pressing the focus button.

This release also improves the focus peaking display allowing incredibly accurate and super sharp manual focus, critical when using cine lenses. The focus peaking is now green in color so it’s much easer to see, and the filters generating the edge peaking have been optimized allowing for better detection and display for maximum sharpness. In addition, the iris control has been changed, due to customer request, to hold its setting between record and playback.

This new Blackmagic Camera 1.8 also includes major improvements for the original Blackmagic Cinema Camera models including improved audio performance and a completely rewritten new higher quality de-bayer processor. This new de-bayer means when customers record to normal video files such as ProRes or DNxHD they will get sharper and cleaner looking images. This new de-bayer processing features algorithms that have been incorporated from DaVinci Resolve, which means that Blackmagic camera customers get the benefit of DaVinci Resolve’s research and development in image processing and its partnership with major Hollywood studios.

Other benefits for the original Blackmagic Cinema Camera includes enhancements to the cameras dynamic range when shooting at 1600 ISO. This means, with this new software update, customers will get even more dynamic range and image quality, free of charge, even if they purchased their camera 2 years ago.

Improvements for the Pocket Cinema Camera are also included in this update, including the modern updated interface, new focus peaking and improved de-bayer quality, plus additional active MFT lens support for lenses including Sigma and Lumix.

‘We have been working very hard to incorporate camera feature requests that customers have been sending us’ said Grant Petty CEO Blackmagic Design ‘There are major changes and improvements in this update and we are very excited to see the wonderful creative work done with the benefit of this software. Of course, we are working very hard on more features we want to add into our cameras and you will see more and more of what we have been working on in updates that will be release over the upcoming months.’

Apple’s Final Cut Pro X as a Platform

I ran across this interesting post by Alex Gollner about Apple’s new patents, and how Final Cut Pro X could develop into a platform of its own. This is a good read. Sharing clips with collaborators and holding window-based chat sessions to discuss changes? Sign me up. Seems a lot easier than shipping hard drives back and forth…

Why I Won’t Switch to Adobe Premiere Pro from Final Cut Pro 7… Yet.

Final Cut Pro X graphic
Mehhh, maybe not...

When Final Cut Pro X was released, I was one of the users who threw down my three-hundred bucks and drank the Kool-Ade™ immediately. I was also one of the users who demanded a refund inside of a week after running FCPX for the first time. And, to Apple’s credit, they didn’t even ask me why; they just said, “Here you go!” and gave my money back. That says a lot about the backlash they’re getting from FCPX and also that maybe — just maybe — they will admit they made a mistake in their FCP strategy and will rethink the way they want to step into the future from this point.

When you get down to brass tacks, FCPX isn’t bad. It has some really cool features. It’s a lot easier to review clips in the new file browser, for example, and I think the in-app color tools are much more advanced. However, that magnetic storyline thing has got to go. I was willing to put up with a lot of quirks while I was getting used to the new app, but when it started rearranging clip order and screwing with my ins and outs on clips I had already placed, well — in the words of Devin the Dude, “Bitch gotta go.” (don’t bother Googling, it isn’t worth the time)

So, after I asked Apple for my money back, I started working in Adobe Premiere Pro (again), because I was a little sour on Apple for the time being (pun totally intended). I like Premiere. I’ve always liked it, but it’s never been my main NLE because I simply knew FCP better, and there was really no reason to switch. However, since the days I first tried Premiere, I changed part of my workflow that affects my ability to use the app now: I started color grading in DaVinci Resolve.

DaVinci Resolve graphic
<3

The recent release of Resolve 8 is awesome, as it allows for round trips from Final Cut Pro by exporting XML files from the editor. One can also export XML files from Premiere, but here is where a big wrench gets thrown into the machine due to a cool feature of Premiere. Yes, a feature about Premiere that I like is what causes a problem in my workflow, and here’s what it is: A lot of my footage is shot on Panasonic P2 cameras, and Premiere has the ability to work with the native P2 files, which is awesome, since AVCIntra or DVCProHD files don’t see the improvement from being converted to ProRes that H.264 files from a DSLR do. However, DaVinci Resolve does not recognize native P2 files, so if I want to make round trips from Premiere, I first have to convert my P2 files to ProRes before I bring them into Premiere. Yes, I also have to do this in Final Cut Pro, but FCP’s log and transfer window makes it a snap, and it’s much easier to work with these files in FCP instead of Premiere if I want to send the project to Resolve at some point, which I always will.

So, the problem isn’t with Premiere; it’s with Resolve. If Resolve recognized P2 files, all would be well, but the fact is that it doesn’t. I thought it was really strange that Resolve didn’t recognize P2, so I emailed BlackMagic about the issue and they confirmed that that was indeed the case, although the wording of the reply did contain the phrase, “…does not yet support…” so I guess that says there is future hope for working with P2 in Resolve.

So, it comes down to the fact that, if I want to work in Premiere, I would have to remove Resolve from my workflow unless I felt like coming up with a complicated batch conversion process for all my raw footage. Now, I LOVE Resolve, so there is no way I’m going to stop using it. I like Premiere, but I also like FCP 7, and there is no reason why I should switch to Premiere for now. I say, “for now,” because the future hinges on what Apple has in store for FCP, and whether or not they truly intend to abandon the Pro suite of applications for easier pro-sumer profit. If FCP will truly end with version 7, then there is a problem, but if Apple will admit they made a mistake and continue developing FCP the way it should be done, then all will be well. Regardless, I hope Resolve will support more raw camera formats in the near future, because more options are always better.

Final Cut Pro X? No. iMovie Pro X? Sure.

I just got back into town from Dallas, and I’m really tired, so I’m going to bed. BUT, I wanted to post a word of warning beforehand, just in case I can save a poor soul or two from blowing $300.00 on Final Cut Pro X between now and tomorrow, when I get a chance to write a better post on the matter.

If you are expecting the new Final Cut Pro X to replace Studio, just get off that bus right now. I bought and installed it, and let me tell you that it has been WAY over-simplified. A video professional cannot make use of it to satisfy clients. You can’t even import or export XML or EDL files, so right away, working in DaVinci Resolve or Adobe After Effects is right out. Forget about it. Wait until Apple updates it and gives it the professional options it needs before you buy it.

That being said, it does have a lot of really cool stuff going on under the hood. Background rendering is really sweet, as is the native 64-bit processing. The in-app color tools are really nice, and there is a lot of other stuff that’s cool, but it is nowhere near ready for prime time. If you’re a hobbyist, or pro-am, go for it, but if you make your living via moving pixels, WAIT.