It will happen to everyone at some stage. It might not be tomorrow or next week or even next year, but happen it will, and when it does, you need to be a goof little Boy Scout.
What is this disastrous possibility you ask? Simple dear reader, a hard drive failure.
The thing is, whilst your data (documents, photos, spreadsheets etc) ARE of course valuable, when it comes to rebuilding a system due to a malfunction, then the time-consuming part is not resurrecting that data.
I bring this up, as just recently I have been through this ‘trauma’ with a trusty 6-year-old Dell biting the dust. This machine has rarely been turned off in that entire time and so has had a hard life, and probably lasted maybe a couple of years longer than I expected. (My previous Dell lasted 4 years. I have used Dell XPS machines for nearly 15 years now I believe and been very happy with them as a whole).
Let me explain exactly what my setup is, and that will give you a feel for what, if unprepared, an almighty task would lie ahead.
The “box” contains a single 4TB drive split into a pair of 2TB partitions with all of the OS stuff (Windows 10 Premium) on the first partition (Drive C) and applications on the second (Drive D). For data, I have a Seagate 8TB USB 3 drive connected.
There is 32GB RAM and 8 USB slots for peripherals, one of which goes to a powered 16 port USB hub.
Why so many USB’s? This is a partial clue as to why reconstituting a system can be so painful!
I have a lot of peripherals I use daily. An awful lot. Here is a list:
Sandisk 1TB USB / LaCie 2TGB SSD / Samsung 1TB T5 / SanDisk Pro-Blade 2TB SSD (all portable USB-C based and used for various purposes such as camera / camcorder data, data transfer etc)
FlashForge Adventurer 3 3D Printer
If any of the above are not directly plugged in (the mouse for example) then they have a corresponding USB dongle that needs a port.
There are a few other things I dabble with on occasion that also require ports such as Arduino and Rapsberry Pi electronics, and of course there are needs to get data off drones, cameras, phones and so on.
A number of these need device drivers and so of course when rebuilding a system, you need easy access to these. I back these up in a separate folder, each with a sub-folder for the exact device and meaningfully named to aid in later identification.
Speaking of backups, I use a pair of Seagate Barracudas in a RAID array and powered by a Synology NAS system. I was put onto this by Adam Turner (of Vertical Hold – an excellent techie podcast – fame) and it was quite easy to setup and maintain on my network.
But it doesn’t there of course.
Back in the “old days”, we had floppy disks as masters to our precious programs – later to become CDs and then DVDs. Today everything is mostly downloaded as compressed files (ZIP, MSI and so on) and so to save re-downloading all of these (with exception), I save the masters of these to again separate folders, also meaningfully named.
The major exceptions are those applications that have a Control Panel type system such as Adobe Creative Cloud, Microsoft Office and Maxon where there is no EXE or ZIP file as such, and these systems automatically update, so all you need to do is re-install the master controller and log in.
But then you also have all the plugins and so on you have for these programs, and if you have a Loupedeck CT (if not why not!) the downloaded profiles this uses, which when you boil it down comes down to hundreds, if not thousands of macros and icon images in each profile.
I use profiles from SideshowFX by the way which are both well thought out and dare I say it, beautifully crafted.
So, now knowing all this, even with a fairly regimented storage system of the stuff I need to get a dead machine to rise from the ashes in the form of a brand new Dell XPS becomes a 2 day job, at least to get everything back to the way you want it.
My suggestion therefore is that if you have not planned a resuscitation routine, you do so with some alacrity! Even with the best plans in place, and assuming nothing goes wrong, it’s a bastard of a job, so best make it as easy as possible.
Footnote: What IS interesting is that before it died on the old system, out of the 2TB I had as the OS “boot drive”, I was down to less than 15GB free. The 2nd partition, the D drive, has around 40GB free out of the 2TB. With the new system setup, and almost identical in configuration, my C drive has over 600GB free and the D drive 900GB.
It goes to show how much “rubbish” is picked up as you go along doesn’t it, despite how many times you run disk cleaners, defraggers and so on.
And damn it, the camera would not see it in the installed media on the main screen in the LCD.
However going into the bowels of the camera’s OS, and the area covering storage, it DID see the drive as unformatted. So, in for a penny and in for a pound, I used the camera to again format the drive.
It took around 30 seconds for the 2TB and then lo! It was there, and I have a tasty 5 hours + of storage available.
Why it needed a camera format (both were set for NTFS) I have no idea, but what the hell, I don’t car, it worked and Windows can still the SanDisk when it is plugged in to the USB-C port.
Footnote: It is imperative in both cases you use the USB-C cable that comes with the SanDisk Pro-Blade Ecosystem. From my experience, other 3rd party USB-C cables may not work, but your mileage of course may vary.
From my experience, photographers and videographers are a hoardy lot. They don’t at all like to throw anything away.
And they especially hold onto older beloved cameras and lenses, often having a glass cabinet to showcase them.
Well after reading this, you may want to have a closer look at what you have might have tucked away in there.
Y’see, an old Nikkor lens has been auctioned off in Germany, and the previous owner made a few quid out of the deal.
About $150K to be exact.
The lens in question is a Nikon Nikkor-O Auto 58mm f/1 lens, created around 1970 and the only lens of its kind.
Before the sale, the lens was listed with an estimated value of 15,000 to 20,000 euros. However, it eventually sold for a hammer price of 150,000 euros and when you add the auction fees that ballooned to 180,000 euros.
Not bad if you can get it.
Also sold on the day was a Leica M series that went for 687,500 euros. Although this was a prototype making it worth more, I now weep at the loss of my Dad’s Leica Ms that went due to those evil death duties around in the 70s.
The environment of Mt Everest is complex and changes fast. DJI engineers made the theoretical calculations about what it would take to fly from the summit and adapted a Mavic 3 to be able to handle the harsh conditions.
But would actually work?
The 8KRaw team reached the summit and became the first climbers to launch a drone from the top of Everest.
The DJI Mavic 3 captured the beauty of this awe-inspiring peak and its surroundings from 9232 m (30289 feet). DJI engineers are already putting the collected data to use on development of future drone technology.
YuanZong Wang Founder of 8KRaw
“With Mavic 3 which is light small and reliable we saw Everest with a new perspective. I am beyond grateful to the mountain for accepting us.”
When we first moved into this house after buying it, in the very first week at something like 2am, a heavy banging on the front door signified the presence of a pair of “heavies” demanding to see a specific person.
On explaining that I had no idea who that was and that we had just moved in after buying, one of the heavies mumbled something about the “wrong street” and they vanished into the darkness.
Later that week we discovered evidence of serious drug use and on further checking discovered that indeed the police had been involved in “removing” one of the previous tenants.
That was the time I decided to install a security system. Not only did I want to record evidence if something nasty happened in the future, but also for it act as deterrence, as like many, I have a small fortune invested in equipment of all kinds.
My system is quite simple in that it is made up of a number of standalone Swann Wi-Fi cameras that interact via my router to an app on my mobile, alerting me – depending on the settings – to intrusions via infra-red or movement triggers. They can also employ face recognition if required.
A simple system and it works for me, with the cameras judiciously placed inside and out for maximum coverage.
I went this way as traditional security systems that record back to a central hub have traditionally used either BNC cable, or with more sophisticated systems, Ethernet, to connect the cameras. This means lots of scrambling through roof cavities and whatnot to get a system in place.
However today, Swann tells me they have just released a new Wi-Fi based system called AllSecure650™ 2K Wireless Security Kits. This contains up to four wire-free cameras with secure mounts, blending the reliability of a wired setup and ease of wireless, setting up in minutes not hours, to make a hybrid CCTV system.
It also comes with a powerful Wi-Fi NVR Power Hub, which can store up to two years of footage to its local 1TB hard drive and backup clips to the cloud. There’s a charging bay at the rear of the power hub for easy recharging and a spare battery is included so that you can always have a charged battery ready to swap in and out. So, unlike other wireless systems, there’s never any security down time while waiting for a camera to charge.
A spare battery in the Power Hub can act as a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) providing an additional 5 hours of power to the hub in the event of a power outage. The Power Hub also stitches video activity clips together for fast and easy playback.
Apparently, you can only buy this system through Swann, Bunnings, JB HiFi, The Good Guys and Amazon but it is quite inexpensive. The 3-camera unit retails at $949.95 AUD and the 4-camera unit retails at $1,099.95 AUD
Good value for the piece of mind if you get either some knuckle dragger pounding on your door at 2am, or as a deterrent if someone decides after working out you have some tasty gear just right for flogging down the pub and they’d like to ‘ave that.
Might bring your insurance premiums down too by the way.
Although probably impossible to prove, it is more than likely the most popular and widely used NLE is Adobe Premiere Pro.
If you look through the various forums on video editing programs however, any number of people will tell you that they will not use it as they do not want to get roped into the Adobe eco-verse of subscription payments as against owning their software outright.
Fair enough. It’s also fair to say that the way an NLE operates is very important to the way your personal workflow is setup. In my case, for more than 10 years I have been using Vegas Pro, and only recently switched to DaVinci Resolve for major projects. I still use Vegas Pro for quick and dirty stuff though as I can bang out a 30 second clip in just a few minutes.
But even the paid Studio version of Resolve is incredible value for money for what it is capable of, especially if, as I do, you also get the Speed Editor editing console.
Before Vegas I did use Premiere Pro though, and in fact its fair to say I learnt digital editing via that program, before that being mainly analogue based.
So, it is hard for me too to justify the Creative Cloud subscription for Premiere Pro at around 40 bucks a month. And if that is all there was in the “people versus Premiere Pro” argument pool, that would be the end of that.
But it isn’t, is it? And this is the bit that more often than not is precluded from the Premiere Pro vs the rest subscription argument.
$40 a month for Premiere Pro as I say, I cannot justify. But $80 a month for a subscription that includes Photoshop, Illustrator and After Effects with InDesign thrown in I certainly could if I was a serious editor.
Sure, Bridge I would not use (Kyno is my app of choice for asset management) and Rush doesn’t work on my mobile devices so there is a no point there either.
But to your serious video editor, Photoshop and After Effects are almost indispensable.
So my tip is certainly keep using the NLE of your choice. That really does not affect things in the greater scheme.
$79.99 per month (or $871 on an annual basis) I would have thought is an easy choice to make though for the benefits the other apps give you?
Of course, if you have never used Premiere Pro, you might turn out to be surprised how good it actually is. And the very tight integration between all of the Creative Cloud apps is an added bonus, being a great time saver as well as enabling a fantastic workflow.
If you have never used After Effects, then frankly, you do not know what you are missing! You can get a trial of it and have a play. Grab some tutorials and run through them. While initially you may have NO idea what you are doing, you’ll soon pick up the concept and probably think of a million things you could use it for and a few million more you COULD have used it for!
Get the trial After Effects here. And have a look at your first tutorial here.
Two and a half years ago I reviewed the Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini Pro. At the time, I waxed lyrical at its features and the amazing price for what you get. I later wrote a few tutorials, and these have consistently been our highest read pieces on the website. Indeed, the one entitled “Tutorial: Setting Preview and switching in Blackmagic ATEM Mini Pro” has been our #1 story week after week for over 60 weeks now!
I just checked out of curiosity, and the price has dropped of the Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini Pro and you can now get it for as low as $698 if you shop around (that price is at Videopro but I am sure others will price match).
For those who are not familiar with the Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini Pro here is a quick run down of what it does:
Allows input connectivity of up to 4 HDMI input devices
Allows you to connect one HDMI output monitoring device
Allows input of 2 x 3.5mm based audio devices with volume control
Allows you to switch between input devices, complete with built in dips, fades and transitions
Allows previews before switching so you cue up correctly
Lets you stream directly via Ethernet port straight to YouTube, Facebook, Twitch etc without any software intermediary
By attaching a camera to the USB-C port it becomes a web cam with all above controls operational
The built in USB-C port can have an SSD hard drive attached and streaming sessions can then be recorded for later use.
With optional (and free) ATEM Software Control,
Allows control of Blackmagic Cameras
Allows up to 20 graphics to be stored in memory (eg lower thirds, titles etc) and switch these in and out as you require
Allows both upstream and downstream keying
Has built in multiview so all HDMI input devices can be viewed simultaneously
Gives you an audio desk for controlling on-camera audio as well as mic input audio
Allows control of colour, LUMA and Chroma, plus patterns in graphic overlays
… and much more besides
If you have the slightest interest in anything the Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini Pro (or its siblings the ISO and Extreme) have to offer, I suggest you download the 180 odd page English language manual (other languages are also available in the one PDF document) to get comprehensive information. Get it here.
Be prepared to be amazed. Seriously.
For more info on the Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini Pro, see the Blackmagic Design website here.
Over the years Apple has forged many new innovations that others have reluctantly and grumbly followed in order to keep pace. Of course the probable most important was the iPhone concept.
But there is another beautiful Apple innovation (I bet my friends never thought they would hear me say THOSE two words in the same sentence) that I also applaud.
All of a sudden packaging became almost a Work of Art, and major companies leapt on the bandwagon.
I can think of DJI in particular (its packaging of the Robomaster was exquisite AND functional), but recently Zhiyun also have brilliant packaging. Today, I received a SmallRig Cage for my Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K and it too looks like something you never want to pull apart, but instead put in a glass cage, illuminated by soft light and simply admired lovingly for its beauty.
But Bah Humbug I say!
Once unpacked, have you EVER managed to get everything back in the box the way it came out? No nor have I.
Worse, with the penchant these days to put all the small bits into those soft, translucent plastic bags, you need to rip these apart at the start to get the stuff out in the first place. So that’s the end of them.
And then there are the companies that seal everything, so you have completely obliterate the outside wrapping to be able to attack the INSIDE wrapping (looking at you GoPro).
And don’t get me started on bloody blister packs!
Can we please go back to good old, simplified packaging where you open the box and there it is.
And don’t need a degree in project management and origami to get to it.
Then there is operating manuals with text so small you can’t even read ‘em!
At the bottom of this page is a 17 minute video review. A review of the lens starts at approx 7:46
Blackmagic Design have really pushed the limits in producing the latest version of the Ursa Mini Pro with a whopping 12,288 x 6480 pixel (80 megapixels) Super 35 sensor. If you plan to use the full 12K resolution, be prepared for everything to be huge. The camera, with large V-lock battery, handgrip and DZO Pictor 20-55mm cine lens weighed in at 6.55kg. The files, encoded with new, highly efficient proprietary codecs, will also be huge, as will the data transfer rates required to record these large images at up to 60 frames per second, but the results will blow you away.
All data are recorded solely in Blackmagic Design’s proprietary BRAW format. This requires editing in Da Vinci Resolve Studio, although Vegas Pro 19 and above will also natively handle BRAW files.1 There are several ways to record the RAW data, either at constant quality or constant bitrate. Four compression levels are available with constant bitrate recording, ranging from 578MB/s at 5:1 down to 160MB/s at 18:1 compression.
Choose variable bitrate, and your data rates will lie in the range 289 – 1,156 MB/s at Q0 quality, down to 97 – 413MB/s at Q5 quality.
The Blackmagic RAW codec is designed to work with various performance modes, so if you decide to shoot 12K and edit and finish in an 8K timeline or 4K timeline then the performance will be much faster and you may not necessarily need a high performance graphics card.
All of this data can be recorded internally on two CFast 2.0 cards or on two UHS-II SD cards, with the useful option of hot-swapping out cards as they fill up. Alternatively, data can be recorded externally via the rear-mounted USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 Super Speed powered expansion port, recording to external media such as a high performance SSD drive. For this review a Samsung 1TB T7 SSD was used 2
It is important to use the cable supplied with the SSD drive, not an after-market version. I encountered numerous data interruptions, signalled by an exclamation mark in the red record button on the LCD screen, until I swapped to the Samsung USB cable that came with the T7. Once formatted, you can test the disk’s performance using the BMD Speed Test. On a PC, you’ll need to download the free BMD Desktop Video app which includes the Speed Test app. This will check that the read and write speeds of your SSD drive and your computer’s drives are adequate to handle the load imposed by the Ursa 12K.
Controls and connectors
Having satisfied yourself that the recording media are up to the task, the fun really begins. The Ursa Mini Pro 12K has been thoughtfully designed, drawing on the expertise of experienced cinematographers to ensure that everything you need is close to hand and easily accessed during a shoot. This care and attention to detail really pays off.
ISO/Gain, Shutter and White Balance levers are placed at the front of the side panel and status indicators are clearly visible in the LCD screen on the left hand side. This LCD panel opens to reveal the microphone selectors and phantom 48V power switches. Beside these are the four slots for memory media as well as a USB-C port for software updates. This port should not be used for data recording, which is handled by the high-speed USB port at the base of the rear panel. At the bottom of the side panel are record, playback and menu buttons. All very self-explanatory and easy to read with crisp white lettering on black buttons.
The inside of the side panel door features a large, colour LCD touch screen. This is where the very clear menu options can be displayed. The menu system is logical and well laid out and the screen itself is a very crisp monitor. The touch screen functions very well and the virtual on-screen buttons are large enough to be easily selected even under field conditions.
There is a large viewfinder which has its own menu system with buttons on top covering zoom, display and peak functions. Key functions include colour or monochrome, zebra, display overlays, display LUT, peaking, false colour, zoom and meters. The viewfinder zoom function is invaluable in getting precise focus which with pro-grade optics and an 80 megapixel sensor is critically important.
The various inputs and outputs comprise three SDI jacks (one IN, two OUT) and two XLR audio input jacks with optional phantom power. These upward-facing jacks are protected when not in use by a sturdy rubber flap. In addition to these mic inputs there are two inbuilt mics at the top front of the body, providing stereo audio input. Audio levels are controlled by two volume wheels on the door.
A four-position ND wheel is positioned at the front beside the lens mount. Below this are various controls which only apply when a servo-assisted lens is fitted.
Beneath the sturdy upper carrying handle, which has three ¼” 20 threaded sockets, are the mesh covered outlets for the ventilation system. I have always been concerned that upward facing vents may be vulnerable to dust, sand or rain although I’m sure the Blackmagic people have ensured that the risk of such entry is minimal.
I found the camera really good to use, provided you mount it on a sturdy tripod. There is a shoulder mount accessory that screws onto the base of the camera and that works well, especially with servo lenses having their own dedicated hand grip.
So what do 12K videos look like and how difficult are they to shoot?
Two decades ago I worked as Associate Producer on a large format (IMAX) feature film called Australia, Land Beyond Time. This was shot on an IMAX film camera, using 70mm film passing horizontally through a revolving gate. The film is therefore 70mm high by 15 perforations wide, hence the name 1570 film. Apart from the immense difficulties of trying to film wildlife with a very large, very noisy film camera, perhaps the most critical issue was focus. The depth of field was tiny so focus was critically important and difficult to achieve using a viewfinder basically similar to that on a Bolex 16mm camera. This is why the zoom function on the Ursa viewfinder is such a boon.
IMAX film purportedly has a resolution of up to 16K although direct comparisons with the pixel count in a digital film are not straightforward. Projected from a film projector, the image can fill a screen such as the one in the Melbourne IMAX cinema which is 32 metres wide by 23 metres high. The Melbourne cinema also features a 3D laser digital projection system with a resolution of 4K (2 x 2K projectors) and superior brightness and evenness on the huge screen.
IMAX certified cameras
Sony Venice range
Arri Alexa 65 IMAX camera
Panavision Millennium DXL2
RED Ranger Monstro
As of August 2022, the Ursa Mini Pro 12K has yet to be certified by IMAX. Its specifications make it eminently suitable for that role, although the aspect ratio would need to be adjusted to match that of an IMAX screen, namely 1.43:1.
The reason I’ve made this digression into the world of IMAX is that IMAX 1570 film cameras are huge, extremely expensive, heavy and noisy. Recording dialogue is not feasible so in a drama actors must resort to ADR to successfully record dialogue. An IMAX 3D camera has two film magazines and weighs in at around 120kg. They also typically have a limit of around five minutes of shooting per magazine, with significant wastage as the film takes some time to accelerate up to speed and to slow down after you button off. In the IMAX film world cost is a major consideration. Film stock and processing are extremely expensive and the camera itself cannot be purchased, instead being rented at around $15,000 per week, with bookings being required up to two years in advance.
By comparison, the Ursa Mini Pro 12K weighs in at around 7kg, is silent and has essentially unlimited shot duration, depending only on the storage media. It also records sound. The total cost of the rig I have reviewed here is around $25,000 and the media, while not cheap, are readily available and re-usable. Especially in the case of live action and also wildlife film making, the Ursa Mini Pro 12K is an extremely attractive package.
There is no point having a camera of this quality with such a superb sensor without providing the finest quality lenses. The lens reviewed here is the DZOFILM Pictor 20-55mm T2.8 Super 35 zoom lens, supplied by Videoguys in Melbourne. It is a compact lens with all-metal internals and a moderately fast aperture of T2.8 throughout the zoom range. It is also a parfocal lens which means that focus is retained throughout the zoom range as well. I tested this by filming a calibration chart. With peaking switched on, the chart glowed red as the peaks verified focus at 55mm. Then, zooming out to 20mm, the red peaks clearly indicated that focus was retained.
This Pictor cine lens retails for around AUD$3,999 which is an almost unbelievably low price. Videoguys are marketing a pair of Pictor lenses, 20-55mm and 50-125mm both T2.8 for AUD$8,299. At that price you would be very well set up for shooting a variety of projects with high quality results.
The description on the box promises ‘Gentle Sharpness and Moderate Contrast, Fine Details Capturing and an Organic Look and Cinematic Feeling’. Which is quite a promise. Given that a well regarded Japanese lens such as the FujiFilm XK 20-120 T3.5 retails for $24,000, how would the Pictor lens, at one fifth the cost, compare? The answer, based on my brief two weeks with the lens, is that the Pictor performs surprisingly well.
The lens is very well made, both physically and optically. With all-metal internal workings and an ultra-compact size it is an ideal lens, particularly for a film maker making the leap into cinema quality production. It is not servo controlled, which helps decrease both the weight and price.
The focus, zoom, and aperture rings move smoothly and with just the right degree of resistance. All three are equipped with standard 0.8 MOD/32-pitch gears to suit a variety of servo and focus-pulling options. The focus ring moves through a full 270 degrees which greatly aids focus-pulling.
Focus breathing, whereby a lens appears to slightly change focal length when focusing, is virtually absent in this lens. This feature, together with its parfocal property, is very unusual in such a relatively inexpensive lens and makes it an attractive option for someone moving into cine-style shooting.
The lens features a 16-blade iris which produces what DZOFILM describe as ‘Dreamatic Bokeh and Esthetic Transition’. This is marketing speak for producing pretty coloured dots in the soft focus background, and it’s a look commonly sought after in artsy feature films. This lens will make Bokeh-craving directors very happy.
The graduations for focus, zoom and iris are very clear, with large, bright yellow numbers on the black background. The focus ring has two sets of numbers, with distance in feet being read from the left, and meters from the right. Simple and sensible.
The Pictor lens has a Super 35 PL mount and comes with an EF adapter kit supplied. Also supplied is a set of shims that are required to adjust the back focus when using the EF mount. A lens support bracket is also provided.
The Mini Pro 12K is a delightful camera to use. I used it exclusively on a heavy Miller tripod both for security and stability. Although the weather was pretty much against me, with strong winds and overcast skies, I filmed a variety of shots around the Portarlington ferry terminal, including some shots of the Melbourne-to-Portarlington ferry coming into port and docking Fig. 13.
I also filmed some sunsets which included some very fine details, with birds flying through frame, a man fishing on a breakwater, silhouetted against a shaft of sunlight across the water, and a tiny speedboat tracking across the bay. I wanted to demonstrate the exceptional resolution that can be achieved with this camera and lens combination.
This still was taken from the timeline at sunset, filming at 12K resolution. In the camera’s viewfinder the detail was stunningly crisp. Even in this still the detail is very clear and in the close-up of the same image you can even see the fisherman’s fishing rod.
The colour and detail in these views of a yacht in the harbour are impressive.
Initially I encountered some problems with dropped frames when filming at maximum quality 12K. I received very prompt, helpful advice from New Magic’s Technical Support Manager, Warwick Morris. It turned out that the problem was very simple: I was not using the USB cable supplied with the Samsung T7 SSD drive. However I did notice that when filming at 5:1 compression in 12K, the camera would stop recording after something like 30 to 40 seconds. I did several tests and found that dropping down to 12:1 or even 18:1 compression allowed recording to continue uninterrupted indefinitely. Also if special interest was that the files recorded at 18:1 were just about indistinguishable from those recorded at the highest quality, basically due to the power of the 80 megapixel Super 35 sensor and the DZOFILM Cine lens.
Overall I was extremely impressed with the quality of the footage I obtained, even despite the less than optimal weather I encountered. The colour is rich and deep and the fine detail is stunning.
The Ursa Mini Pro 12K will perform brilliantly at its highest settings, provided your recording media and computer system can cope with the load. For example, I recorded about one hour of 12K footage which resulted in almost a terabyte of BRAW files. Similarly Warwick from New Magic stressed that the absolute minimum specs for a graphics card should include at least 20GB of video RAM. That will be an expensive card. For example an MSI card with 24GB VRAM retails for around AUD$2,400 while a PNY card sporting 32GB tops out at just on AUD$13,000.
My primary video editing software is Vegas Pro which I have used and praised for two decades. My system comprises a Ryzen 7 2700X CPU running at 3.7GHz, 32GB RAM and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Super graphics card with 6GB DDR5 video RAM. This system handles 4K video perfectly well without the need for proxies but I was prepared for it to seriously struggle with 12K RAW video clips from the Ursa. That was certainly the case.
However, this camera is far more versatile than that. Given that most of us regard 4K as very high resolution, you could set up with 4K and minimum compression, and film documentaries, corporate and educational videos that would place minimal strain on any reasonable computer and look fantastic. And then if someone came along with a big pot of money, you could throw your hat in the ring and film your IMAX-quality masterpiece with the very same camera. What a lovely position to be in.
Da Vinci Resolve Studio
The Ursa Mini Pro 12K produces video files in just one format, Blackmagic Design RAW, or BRAW. In order to edit these files the best option is to use Blackmagic Design’s Da Vinci Resolve Studio. Resolve is an immensely powerful suite of apps and it is absolutely free. It is definitely not a ‘basic’ version and is actually testament to the philosophy of Blackmagic Design’s CEO Grant Petty, whose respect for film makers is legendary. Grant writes: With DaVinci Resolve, you get a complete set of editing, advanced color correction, professional Fairlight audio post production tools and Fusion visual effects combined in one application so you can edit, compose, grade, mix and master deliverables from start to finish, all in a single tool! And I say once more – it’s free.
Resolve includes Fusion, comprehensive colour grading and effects and even the full Fairlight audio suite. The free version is limited to 4K resolution video files, so for this 12K project I was provided with Resolve Studio. I’m not reviewing Resolve Studio here but simply commenting on how I fared as a new user.
I had to step onto the Resolve learning curve which, with a couple of exceptions, proved pretty straightforward. My main difficulty initially was finding where my projects were stored in Resolve. Under the File tab there is no ‘Projects’ option. I searched online and learned that the project files are located deep in the C drive, but that you have to open them from within resolve. I sent a distress call to David Hague and the ever-patient Warwick Morris at New Media and learned that there’s a little house icon at the bottom right of the main screen which opens the Project Manager. Double click on a thumbnail and that project opens. I only mention that here as a service to readers who might try exploring Resolve and face the same ‘lost projects’ dilemma. They’re not lost, just hiding in a different place.
Most of the files I recorded here were at 12K, 5:1 compression and they wouldn’t play back on either Resolve or Vegas Pro. There is an option in Resolve to build proxy files on the fly during playback. This helped a little but the solution that worked best was to take the time to build proper proxy files. These played back perfectly on my system. I also built proxies in Vegas Pro 19 and playback was perfect there as well.
Grabbing stills from the timeline is simple. Move the cursor to the frame you want, switch to the Color tab at the bottom and open the Gallery. Right click on the preview pane and select ‘grab frame’. The image will appear in the gallery. Right click on it and choose the format you’d like to save it in. I chose TIFF.
Coming to Resolve as an absolute beginner, I was impressed. It was fast and responsive and produced very high quality H.265 mp4 renders. I found most tasks intuitive and easy to get my head around. Resolve made use of twin monitors automatically as required and my Shuttle Pro 2 worked immediately. No setting up required. Bear in mind that Resolve is an immensely powerful and fully featured suite of apps and you can reasonably expect to spend some time learning your way around all the features on offer. It will be well worth your while because Resolve may well become your NLE of choice.
Blackmagic Design have produced a real winner with the Ursa Mini Pro 12K. It is a remarkable camera that is really well designed and built. It is also incredibly good value at its list price of around AUD$10,000 as reviewed. It really is several cameras in one, being able to record superb 4K video that has small file sizes and great editing performance, but can then be extended right up to the full 12K for movies that will be perfectly at home in the cinema or on giant home TVs.
As Grant Petty writes in the Mini Pro 12K user manual, We hope you use your URSA Mini or URSA Mini Pro to produce some of the world’s most exciting films and television programming, music videos and commercials! Amen to that!
The DZOFILM Pictor 20-55mm T2.8 Cine lens is also excellent value. It is compact, well built and has all the features you will need for professional cinematic shooting. Given it’s a truly parfocal lens with virtually zero breathing, it represents unusual value at the price of around AUD$4,500.
Bringing it all together is the brilliantly fully featured software suite Da Vinci Resolve Studio. For those working on video projects up to 4K, the free version is obviously unbeatable. For projects at higher resolution, Resolve Studio is also excellent value at AUD$479.
Thanks to these great products I really enjoyed my foray into the cinematic world of 12K. The only downside was that I had to give all this beautiful gear back at the end of the review.
1 Blackmagic RAW can be handled natively by Davinci Resolve, Silverstack by Pomfort, On-Set Dailies by Colorfront, EditReady by Divergent Media (now Hedge), Scratch by Assimilate, Baselight by FilmLight, ShotPut Pro by Imagine Products, ProVu by Imagine Products, PrimeTranscoder by Imagine Products, Lightworks by Editshare, BRAW Studio by Autokroma, Edius by Grass Valley, Screen by Video Village, Kyno by Lesspain Software, SynthEyes by Andersson Technologies LLC, Mistika by SGO, Flare by Autodesk, Flame by Autodesk, Flame Assist by Autodesk, Lustre by Autodesk, Nuke Studio/Hiero by The Foundry, NeoFinder 8 by Norbert M. Doerner
2 The Samsung T7 is not on the Blackmagic Certified List. For a complete list of SD, CF and SSD certified media click here