blackmagic design

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.


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.


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



New Footage: Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera (Training Day)

Last year Blackmagic Design unveiled a few new cameras at NAB 2015. While most people obviously gravitated towards the 4.6k Ursa Mini with it's high resolution Super 35 sensor, high frame rates, and many other pro level features, the Blackmagic Design Micro Cinema Camera with Super 16mm sensor seemingly slipped under the radar, in comparison.

With us now nearly in to the month of March, and NAB 2016 right around the corner, the customer anger (or RAGE?) is building day after day over the epic delays for these cameras that were promised to begin delivering back in July. Per usual, there is next to no communication from Blackmagic Design as to why any of this is happening, but finally some sample footage has begun trickling out from behind the "iron curtain" through it's secret network of beta testers.

This beta footage from the Micro Cinema Camera looks great, and shows just how amazing a feature like 60p can be. I'd say it's probably the most sorely missed capability of the original Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, at least for us. That, and the horrific battery life - now seemingly fixed with the implementation Canon LP-E6 batteries in the Micro Cinema Camera.

I'm still not sure about the design of this diminutive camera, although I do like the "cube" form factor for cameras in general, as you can easily cage and bolt things to it, similar to RED cameras - known for their flexibility and modularity.

As it comes with no screen of any kind, you essentially need to have it rigged up with some kind of viewfinder or monitor to even see what your filming or what settings you are in, thus sort of defeating the purpose of the small form factor - sigh...

Although, it should be perfect for all instances you would of otherwise HAD TO use a GoPro, and get stuck with trying to mix that garbage image quality in with your other footage (yuck).

Even a small overall size increase, to add a simple display (similar to GoPro's tiny screen?) of some kind to show what settings you're in, would probably be welcomed by most.

NAB 2016 is looming large, and Blackamgic will surely look to grab all the attention again this year, as its kind of "their thing" now. So, who knows what they will introduce this year...

Maybe the mythical combination of:

  • Pocket Sized Camera
  • Super 35 Sensor
  • High Frames Rates (even modest ones)

Also, notice how I said "introduce" and not "ship"? Why would they ever want to do a thing like that!?  



Blackmagic Design - Davinci Resolve Update - 12.3 (12.3.1)

Blackmagic Design just released an update to DaVinci Resolve (12.3). There are a few nice tidbits included in this mostly refinement and bug fix update.

Some of the new features include:

  • Decode support for HEVC/H.265 QuickTime video in DaVinci Resolve Studio on Windows
  • Added Media Storage context menu option to directly add storage locations without opening Preferences on Mac and Windows
  • Ability to add Media Storage locations without restarting Resolve on Mac and Windows
  • Added support for reading Reel Names in OpenEXR media
  • Added decode support for Sony MPEG2 video files
  • Added support for ARRI RAW sharpness when using the ARRI Full Res Debayer
  • Added support for smaller font sizes on burn-ins
  • Added support for keyboard shortcut for loop on the Edit Page
  • Improved HEVC/H.265 decode performance on Mac in DaVinci Resolve Studio
  • Improved H.264 decode performance on Windows
  • Improved Varicam, MPEG4, AVC and AVC-Intra MXF decode performance on Mac and Windows
  • Improved compressed OpenEXR decode performance
  • Added support for RED SDK v6.1
  • General performance and stability improvements

Quick Thought

The one change that stands out to me most is correcting the inability to easy add media locations in Resolve. And once you've added it, you had to restart the entire application for them to take effect. This has been driving me crazy for a long time and I'm glad they fixed this relatively microscopic, yet massively annoying issue.

12.3.1 Update

UPDATE: One bug fix that was not actually fixed in the 12.3 update has now been squashed in a very minor (12.3.1) update today. This fixes the application stability when opening CinemaDNG files from by a camera or recorder device other than from Blackmagic cameras and recorders. Previously, CinemaDNG files from other third party recorders and cameras would possibly cause crashes in Resolve.

Download the update right now over at Blackmagic Design's support page, free of charge - per usual.


Blackmagic Video Assist - Firmware Update 1.2


As anticipated, Blackmagic Design has just released a firmware update (v1.2) for their very affordable Video Assist monitor that adds a couple of welcome, albeit, overdue features.

This isn't exactly the "WOW!" kind of firmware update that Video Assist owners were looking for, but the closer the devices gets to actually being able to do what it says it can do on the box, the better.

The update includes a couple features, as well as bug fixes.  For example, before this 1.2 firmware, the monitor couldn't even retain the date entered by the user, and would revert back to the default date, as if it was reset. Really?

Sure, I can absolutely understand that this is an incredible value for the price ($495), and the fact that the monitor doesn't have false color, LUTs, etc (yet?) is fairly reasonable, but to not be able to effectively input the correct date? It just seems a bit absurd that it even shipped to customers like that, and then took months to get a firmware update out to "fix" it. 

But I digress...the new features include:

  • Adds DNxHD codec
  • Adds extended Zebra range
  • Adds SD card record time remaining on status overlays
  • Adds clip playback information panel
  • Adds HDMI record trigger

While this isn't the most exciting update, its certainly welcome. I'm fairly confident this monitor will end up with features added in with future firmware updates that were never even promised, just as Blackmagic has done before with other products - but how long it takes to get to that point is anyones guess. Hopefully Blackmagic Design can ramp up the speed with which they release firmware, to both add more features and squash more bugs, and can shake the stigma of slow response and poor communication with customers. If they can achieve that, this monitor is well on its way to being the best monitor value on the market, if it's not already.

This new 1.2 firmware update is available from Blackmagic Design on their product support page.


Update: This update also covertly added support for the Lexar 1000 SDXC cards, that are great speed/value for the money, but for whatever reason, didn't work in the  BMPCC or Video Assist.