With Hollywood quality colour grading suites costing over $30,000, small enterprises simply cannot afford to invest in professional technology, forced instead to rely on inferior hardware or mouse-based UIs. This not only limits creativity, but hampers production efficiency, vital when operating on shoestring budgets and tight schedules. The core values of Blackmagic Design centre on empowering creative people with affordable, accessible technology equipped with professional features and performance. By carefully optimising engineering, assembly and manufacturing processes a price of $995 was met, making The Micro Panel the world's most affordable cinema quality colour control panel.
Democratisation leads to an increasingly diverse user base, as affordable technology finds its way to those previously unable to access such tools. With independent producers retaining creative control through non-traditional platforms like Vimeo and Netflix, unconventional applications inevitably arise. Traditional panels, designed primarily for large post-production houses, are large and heavy; ill-suited for use outside the studio. At just 3.5kgs the lightweight Micro Panel balances tactile resilience with effortless portability, offering unprecedented immediacy on set, in a cafe or even on the road. Until now, pairing cinema quality colour grading with such creative flexibility was virtually impossible.
In high pressure post-production situations, colourists need to remain focused on the moving image, continually aware of the implications their adjustments have on the quality of a scene. Pared back to its essential elements, the top control surface is deliberately minimal in both form and colour: a rational, distraction free work space for intuitive, error-free operation. In contrast, the dynamic aluminium chassis recedes from the top surface, minimising perceived size while providing a natural pick-up point. In a subtle aesthetic nod to DaVinci Resolve's influence on light, precision CNC machined edge chamfers loop around the anodised chassis, catching elegant highlights and shadows in the process.
Professional colourists working with demanding clients and strict schedules must continually balance creative ambition with production efficiency. The deeply nuanced nature of video colour control means that to keep this equilibrium an instinctive approach, attuned to such subtleties, is required. With three perfectly weighted trackballs located for a natural link between hand, eye and GUI, The Micro Panel allows users to hold moving images in their hands. Each assembly features an optical grade lens and precision z-axis ring for simultaneous real-time adjustment of lift, gamma and gain ensuring subtle changes, which are difficult to articulate with mouse and keyboard, are achieved accurately and efficiently.
With colourists spending 10 - 12 hours a day grading during post-production, an empathetic design solution was vital. Led by extensive anthropometric study The Micro Panel offers efficient use and natural ergonomics, reducing fatigue and long term stress and strain. The considered 5° angle of the control surface presents a comfortable working posture. The clear, hierarchical layout puts oversized buttons for commonly used adjustments at the user's fingertips, for quick, intuitive access without releasing the trackball. Infinitely variable, precision magnetic encoders allow direct control of core functions, and introduce deeper features to novice users, encouraging discovery, experimentation and learning.
DaVinci Resolve software, created in partnership with Hollywood studios, has been the standard in post-production for over thirty years. Featured in blockbusters like the 'The Martian', 'X-Men: Apocalypse and HBO's 'Game of Thrones', it has been used on more high end feature films, television commercials, music videos and episodic productions than any other system. Organised into logical work zones for each stage in the post-production workflow, DaVinci Resolve is embedded with powerful non-linear editing, colour correction, media management and 'live on set' multi-camera tools, making it a virtual hub for the entire creative process.
Resilience in a range of unforgiving locations and hectic film sets is essential. Precision CNC machined from aircraft-grade aluminium, The Micro Panels' chassis facilitates exceptional structural integrity and a highly accurate datum for consistent positioning of controls. The high-pressure die-cast control surface enhances the panel's perceived quality while providing a tactile durability that demands confidence. A custom powder-coat finish eliminates glare from overhead lighting and provides tactile contrast to the highly polished trackballs and soft-touch silicone buttons. Back-lit for legibility in dark studio environments, the durable keypads minimise user errors and reduce eye strain.