Blackmagic URSA

  • 2015

  • Product
    Consumer Electronics

Designed By:

  • Blackmagic Industrial Design Team

Commissioned By:

Blackmagic Design

Designed In:


URSA is a high-end digital cinema camera designed specifically for the production of feature films, documentaries and news gathering. It is the world’s first camera to allow users to upgrade their image sensor and lens mount, extending its life as technology evolves. A quarter of the cost of similar products at $6000, it puts an entire suite of professional film production equipment within reach of independent filmmakers.

Driven by insight into professional on-set workflows, URSA sets new benchmarks for usability and ergonomics. With a 10” display and three intuitive zones for a cinematographer, audio engineer and focus assistant, it is fully integrated with all the tools needed for high-end productions.

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  • Rapid technology growth in the image sensor industry has seen higher resolution sensors emerge almost every year. New cameras based on traditional, inflexible platforms are quickly made obsolete, despite offering cutting edge technology when launched. URSA is the world's first camera to allow users to easily upgrade lens mounts and image sensors. This was achieved by isolating complex optical elements within a removable turret module containing the image sensor, lens mount and lens control connections. Electronically and thermally coupled to the main body, the turret can be easily disengaged by removing four fasteners.

  • Exhaustive on-set research made it clear that high-end film cameras are usually controlled by several operators, working with confusing arrays of costly peripherals for adequate technical feedback. URSA includes all the professional tools necessary for cinema quality productions in three intuitive work zones: Cinematographer: World's first built-in 10” viewfinder for accurate monitoring. Focus Assistant: 5” touchscreen for precise focus control; vector scopes for technical analysis. Audio Engineer: Large volume meters and histograms, easily read from a distance. Requiring no extra components URSA is highly agile, moving easily between setups without the need to move large amounts of heavy equipment.

  • URSA is a professional tool with an uncompromising aesthetic driven by performance and reliability, inspiring confidence in demanding production environments. Typified by interlocking panels, distinctive shadow gaps and exposed fixings, it deliberately reflects the potential of URSA's modular format, and reinforces the user's ability to remove sub-assemblies for upgrading as technology evolves. A future-proof design brings with it a long working life, requiring a tough, versatile design capable of thriving on busy sets and harsh locations. With a CNC machined aluminium body, URSA is strong and durable, excelling in the toughest environments.

  • A core value of Blackmagic Design is to empower creative people with affordable, accessible technology. Traditional high-end cinema cameras are prohibitively expensive, cumbersome and highly complex, requiring significant investment in additional components before becoming usable. This has meant that until now, independent filmmakers were restricted to hiring high-end equipment or settling for inferior video technology. At $6000, URSA is the first truly affordable option for producing professional, cinema quality content. It delivers feature-film quality Ultra HD footage, a future-proof architecture and fully integrated set of production tools at a level accessible to independent filmmakers.

    With the ability to upgrade lens mount, image sensor and other features, URSA's scalable nature allows it to evolve on pace with new technology. This greatly prolongs the camera body's life, safeguarding user investment. The unique, interchangeable turret module also offers filmmakers the creative freedom to choose their preferred lens mount platform, with industry standard PL lens mount and EF lens mount options. This means that whether they utilise industry leading cinema optics or inexpensive consumer lenses common to DSLR cameras, users can leverage the incredible image quality, and state-of -the-art image processing available in URSA.

    Capturing Ultra HD video at high frames rates generates potentially damaging levels of heat. Typical cameras manage this with noisy, fast-turning fans; problematic on whisper quiet film sets. URSA's liquid cooled system silently maintains optimal thermal levels, even when running sustained high frame rates. An electronic refrigeration unit pipes thermal energy to a heat exchanger, using natural convection to dissipate heat with little assistance from a quiet, slow-turning fan. This unit can be easily removed and upgraded to handle ever-increasing thermal demands from more powerful, higher resolution image sensors and processing technology in the future.

    Regular video cameras clip video and compress files, degrading quality and producing footage with lost detail in both highlights and shadows. This presents problems downstream during post-production when such detail cannot be recovered. URSA possesses an exceptionally wide 12 stops of dynamic range, producing stunning quality footage with a compelling cinematic 'film look'. It captures exceptional depths of detail in high contrast and low-light environments. The Ultra HD 12 bit lossless Cinema DNG RAW files it records mean that virtually all sensor data is preserved, ensuring maximum creative flexibility in post-production.