Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro

  • 2017

  • Product
    Commercial and Industrial

Commissioned By:

Blackmagic Design

Designed In:


URSA Mini Pro is the world’s first all-purpose digital film camera designed specifically to address the needs of high-pressure live productions such as news, documentaries and sports broadcasts. At just $5995, it is an affordable, lightweight system pairing Hollywood image quality with the professional functionality of broadcast news cameras.

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  • Affordability is just one factor in the successful democratisation of technology. Equipped with inexpensive tools, independent filmmakers and freelance videographers are leveraging non-traditional online channels like Vimeo and The Independent Online to distribute professional cinematic and live content. URSA Mini Pro's universal lens mount system is engineered for customisation to a user's specific workflow and existing set of lenses. Offering popular DSLR standards like Canon EF and Nikon lens mounts alongside cinematic PL and live broadcast B4 video options, URSA Mini Pro caters to a wide variety of shooting scenarios. Easily disengaged via four fasteners, users can even swap lens mounts during a shoot.

  • The demands of live broadcasts are squarely at odds with cinematic workflows. Cinematographers, supported by large crews, shoot scenes repeatedly to achieve desired composition and performance. Live sport or breaking news however, involves erratic subjects, weather conditions and fleeting chances to capture key moments. URSA Mini Pro offers instant access to features via ergonomically located physical buttons, dials and selection controls, coping easily with the volatility of live situations. Eliminating missed shots from distracting menu-based UIs, the front control panel offers tactile cues for direct blind control of ISO, shutter, and white balance. A high contrast LCD allows at-a-glance diagnostic review.

  • Operators on live broadcasts or on-location film shoots must adapt quickly to changing light conditions and unpredictable situations. Rotating the knob to engage URSA Mini Pro's bespoke, internal neutral density (ND) filter wheel, users can adjust light intensity by incremental stops. This allows operators to instantly adapt to sudden changes in light, such as those when transitioning from indoors to outdoors. Cameras with inferior electronic ND filters, prone to undesirable colour shifts, and a reduction of available light even when inactive, are unusable in low light. URSA Mini Pro's optically clear glass filters maximise available light for optimum versatility and preservation of precious image quality.

  • It is not uncommon for camera operators to spend weeks, even months on-location for a single shoot. Conditions are often harsh: cramped, remote and exposed; with equipment that is more often than not cumbersome, heavy and complex. Informed by insight from tireless on-set observation, URSA Mini Pro has been carefully developed as a more empathetic solution. Lightweight, balanced and highly adjustable its considered ergonomics encourage comfortable, natural shooting positions that reduces fatigue and long-term injury. Exported to 87 countries worldwide, The Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro complies with all relevant safety standards and regulations, including AS/NZS 60950, FCC, CE, RCM, WEE & ROHS.

    Sculpted efficiently around a compact image sensor module and thermal management system, URSA Mini Pro's lightweight magnesium alloy enclosure is precisely honed for optimal size and weight distribution. This provides effortless, balanced handling, critical for accurate focus and composition. URSA Mini Pro's muscular posture and tactical detailing epitomises its high performance nature and a military-grade durability that commands respect in demanding production scenarios. This is tempered by optimising the camera's perceived size with tapering side panels, protruding connection pods and weight-saving apertures to create a space efficient and visually striking package.

    Facilitating high-end performance requires precise thermal control to prevent potentially damaging levels of heat. Typical cameras manage this with noisy, fast-turning fans; problematic on whisper quiet film sets. URSA Mini Pro's liquid cooled system silently maintains optimal thermal levels, even when running sustained high frame rates. An active refrigeration unit draws heat away from the sensitive image sensor, transferring it efficiently through liquid cooled pipes to the modular central heat exchange, which uses assisted natural convection to silently dissipate heat.

    An issue for any production is the high capital investment required for capturing, monitoring and distributing professional content. High-end camera systems can cost over $50,000, making it impossible for smaller enterprises to own equipment, forced instead to rely on ad-hoc, second-hand rentals. A core value of Blackmagic Design is to empower creative people with affordable, accessible technology. With due consideration to engineering, assembly and manufacturing processes, a price of $5995 was met without compromising the performance professionals demand. Equipped for Hollywood and the rigours of prime-time live broadcasts, URSA Mini Pro is an affordable solution for independents and grass-roots broadcasters.