video assist

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.

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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.

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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

 

 
 

Blackmagic Video Assist - Firmware Update 1.2

 
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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.