Camera design is usually application specific. With professional features ideal for large crews, high-end cinema cameras are often too bulky for mobile purposes. Conversely, ENG systems are ergonomically designed for solo, 'on-the-shoulder' situations, but lack the usability and image quality required for cinematic workflows. URSA Mini is the first digital film camera to disrupt this archetype, combining a compact, versatile design ideal for solo shoots with a full set of production tools for integration in feature-film workflows. The unrivalled image quality it offers to ENG applications is vital given the variability of on-location shoots and the lack of control operators have over their environment.
Ultimately filmmakers and broadcasters are judged on the quality of the footage they produce; lost detail and ugly artefacts are quite simply unacceptable. Driven by the pursuit of peerless, Hollywood video quality, Blackmagic's 4.6K resolution image sensor with an industry-leading 15 stops of dynamic range produces footage with an immersive cinematic 'film look', capturing unparalleled depths of detail in high contrast and low-light situations. Whether shooting in a highly controlled studio environment, a crowded press gallery or a dark alleyway, the lossless Cinema DNG RAW files it records means that virtually all sensor data is preserved, ensuring maximum creative flexibility downstream.
While portability is an obvious driver of miniaturisation, the real benefits are those relating to usability and the creative opportunities it affords. At less than 2.5kgs URSA Mini is light enough to be flown on a drone, exceptionally well balanced and easy to handle. Every component has been meticulously refined to this end, ensuring camera operators remain focussed on their creative role and not on the burden of heavy, awkward equipment. URSA Mini offers professional performance in an agile package ideal for feature films, electronic news gathering (ENG) and documentaries. Half the weight of most high-end cinema cameras, it excels in close quarters and enables discrete filming of sensitive situations.
The portability of URSA Mini is equalled only by its expansive versatility. The adjustable side handle with integrated camera control is secure and comfortable, allowing operators to convert quickly between hand-held set-ups and perfectly balanced, shoulder-mounted configurations. Multiple mounting points permit almost unlimited expansion with professional monitoring and diagnostic peripherals such as the URSA Electronic Viewfinder and Blackmagic Video Assist. The rear panel can also be removed, allowing for future modular upgrades to be easily bolted on. This extends the capabilities of the camera into more specialized applications.
A challenge for any production is the high capital investment required for capturing, monitoring and distributing professional content. Bulky and complex, high-end camera systems 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 $2995 was met without compromising the performance professionals demand. Fully equipped for Hollywood, URSA Mini remains an affordable solution for independents, grass-roots broadcasters and institutions.
Sculpted efficiently around a compact image sensor module and thermal management system, URSA Mini'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'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'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 exchanger, which uses assisted natural convection to silently dissipate heat.