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Blackmagic Design Finally Updates Their Video Assist Monitor - LUTs, False Color, etc

The 5" Blackmagic Video Assist monitor/recorder has, at long last, been updated by Blackmagic Design. This monitor has always represented a great value being that it comes in at less than $500 for a great 1080p panel along with professional SDI/HDMI connections, ability to record to SD cards, exposure zebras, focus peaking, etc.

Unfortunately, until this 2.3 firmware update, the more recently released 7" version had been the only one to have received all of these new features, while only selling for a couple hundred dollars more. This was obviously causing a lot of of early adopters of the 5" model to feel a bit "burned" when many, many months passed and it appeared that the new expanded features set would never be coming to their own 5" monitor.

videoassist_lutsupport.jpg

While this was always a substantially less pricey monitor in comparison to the SmallHD and Atomos lines, it definitely had some glaring shortcomings in comparison to its competitors - namely the lack of LUT support.

This is even more essential these days since all Blackmagic cameras (as well as many others), shoot in LOG/flat profiles. Without the ability to properly monitor with a normalization LUT you are stuck trying to guess exposure and make aesthetic choices based on a low-contrast, low saturation image. It's possible, but definitely not ideal.

With the release of firmware 2.3, Blackmagic Design fixed that shortcoming by allowing you to load up to 6 LUT's to the monitor, giving you various "looks" to choose from to help you make important image decisions on set, as well as to not confuse/panic your clients if they see the bland and flat LOG image on the screen.

videoassistfalsecolor.jpg

The other "headline" feature in this update is False Color. This has become a very popular tool for exposing digital sensors and is greatly welcomed by all. Though, while False Color is awesome to have, I'd say one of the least sexy, but most important new features in the 2.3 update is the improvement of the dreaded "green cast" that these monitors had displayed up until this point. The Improved colorimetry included in the update promises to improve the green tint/cast that had plagued the Video Assist monitor since day one, and will allow for a more neutral, and natural image to be viewed by the user.

Overall this is a very late, yet amazing update from Blackmagic Design, nicely rewarding their loyal customers by instantly adding TONS of value to their already existing product, for free.

 

What's new in Blackmagic Video Assist 2.3

  • Add LUT monitoring for both the Blackmagic Video Assist and Blackmagic Video Assist 4K
  • Add MXF wrapper to DNxHD for the Blackmagic Video Assist
  • Add DNx different bit-rates - DNxHD 220,145 and 45 for the Blackmagic Video Assist
  • Add False Color monitoring to the Blackmagic Video Assist
  • Add expanded options for Focus Assist to include Red, Green, Blue and White as well as Peaking
  • Add manual control for screen orientation
  • Add extended HDMI luminance range for the Blackmagic Video Assist
  • Improves screen colorimetry on Blackmagic Video Assist
  • Improves fan audible noise on the Blackmagic Video Assist

 

 
 

Behold: The Mill's Blackbird Transformer Car Rig

Think you need an actual car on set to film a car commercial? Think again. The Mill's new Blackbird Transformable Car Rig allows filmmakers to digitally "skin" any car over the Blackbird's rolling chassis.

The frame is fully adjustable in length and width, to replicate the size and dimensions of the car to be skinned over the Blackbird's frame. The wheels can be changed and suspension adjusted to further match the driving characteristics.

It's packed full with an electric motor, 3D cameras for recording the surroundings and other extremely impressive tech.

What a world we live in...what a world.

INFO LINK: http://www.themill.com/portfolio/3002/the-blackbird®

FCPX + Apple App Store 2.0 - New App Subscription Model

Just a few days before WWDC 2016, Apple has revealed that there are some major changes coming to the various App Stores. (iOS, tvOS, watchOS, OS X)

Namely, app SUBSCRIPTIONS.

One could argue that this has been a long time coming, especially with many software creators (e.g. Adobe) turning to subscription based models to keep their cash flows steady.

What this change ultimately means for general purpose "consumer" apps is unknown, although it does appear to give developers more options for how they would like to monetize their apps, which couldn't be a bad thing from their perspective. The better profit share splits being offered from Apple should appeal to developers as well. (From 70/30 to 85/15 split after 1 year of a customer's subscription)

The more interesting (worrisome?) question is what will happen with Apple's own Pro Apps like Final Cut Pro X, Compressor, Motion 5, Logic Pro X? On one hand, its kind of mind blowing that with all the updates and improvements to Final Cut Pro X since it's 2011 debut, that Apple hasn't charged for a single update.

Could this change bring a new monthly charge to get the next version of Final Cut Pro X? Or perhaps not a full blown subscription, but will this simply put in place a method for Apple to charge an upgrade fee when there is a significant update to FCPX? Both are somewhat plausible, although the latter seems to be more so, in my opinion.

 
 

With a new update of Final Cut Pro X rumored to be coming some time next week during WWDC 2016, it would stand to reason that any changes to the way it's being priced and sold will be revealed at that point as well. I personally doubt that Apple will start charging a subscription price for any of the Pro App's, simply because they have no track record of doing that in the past, and its relatively "small potatoes" in the grand scheme of their vast business.

I've always thought of Apple's hardware as being "the cars" that they sell and their software as being "the road" on which you can "drive" the car on. Basically, they stand to make more money, more often if they have a good ecosystem (highway system?) of software on which to run their very profitable hardware on.

Also, while the Final Cut Pro X user base continues to grow as more people come to understand its power, it's still hasn't completely shaken the stigma it unfairly earned when it debuted back in 2011. It seems that it would be in the best interest of Apple to continue to make it readily accessible to the masses at its incredible one time price, and it will continue to permeate slowly outwards to the Youtubers, students, bitter FCP7 die hards, old-timer AVID fogey's, anti-subscription Premiere users, and to the masses of other post production professionals who may now be willing to give it another chance.

Who knows, maybe you'll even be able to get an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription through the Apple App store before you know it? Stranger things have happened...

 

In The Wild: Sigma 50-100mm F1.8 DC HSM Art Lens

Sigma's 18-35mm f/1.8 blew people's minds when it burst on the scene a couple years ago. Both the price and performance were unprecedented, as it was (and is) the fastest zoom lens ever created to that point. All the while also being priced at well under $1000. It has no stabilization, but the crystal clear image, along with the wide constant aperture, certainly garnered much respect and attention.

 Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8

Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8

The only problem was, that it's just a bit on the wide end of things. Realistically, to have all your bases covered you would probably need something longer, possibly in the 50-XXXmm range to go along with it, even if you're utilizing both a Speedbooster and dummy adapter on smaller sensor cameras like the Blackmagic Cinema Camera and (Super 16) Pocket Cinema Camera. This two adapter method allows the user to get two different fields of view out of the single lens, which is pretty handy.

 Sigma 50-100mm f/1.8

Sigma 50-100mm f/1.8

Those who saw the lens first hand from CP+ seem to think it's very similar in build quality to the previously released 18-35mm lens, and the image characteristics should dovetail between the two lenses very nicely. The internal focusing and zooming mechanisms will have the video shooter very pleased as well, especially when dealing with rod systems and matte boxes that require cinema style internal mechanics.

Also, I'd imagine this new lens will be "cinevised" with re-housings, lens gears, clickless apertures, etc. almost immediately upon release by people like cinemaglass.com, Duclos, and other lens modification services.

 
 Cine Version of Sigma 18-35 f/1.8

Cine Version of Sigma 18-35 f/1.8

 

While these lenses not yet officially released yet, it stands to reason that this could possibly be best 1-2 punch combination of lenses for most people, period. Paired with Speedboosters or regular adapters, the focal range available from just these two lenses is pretty unbelievable. Throw in the fact that they are on par (image-wise) with many top of the line prime lenses and it appears to be the makings of an unbeatable combo.

All for under $2000!

The Sigma 50-100mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art lens will be available at the end of April 2016, in Canon EF, Nikon F and Sigma SA mount. It will retail for $1099.


PRODUCT HIGHLIGHTS

  • Canon EF Mount/APS-C Format
  • 80-160mm (35mm Equivalent)
  • Aperture Range: f/1.8 to f/16
  • One SLD and Three FLD Elements
  • One High-Refractive Index Element
  • Super Multi-Layer Coating
  • Hyper Sonic AF Motor
  • Internal Zoom and Focus; MF Override
  • Rounded 9-Blade Polycarbonate Diaphragm
  • Fixed, Rotating Tripod Collar