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Future: What will BMD announce at NAB 2014?

February 2, 2014

Here are my guesses as to what Blackmagic Design will announce at NAB 2014 this April:

BMD will add 4K UHD, Thunderbolt-2, and USB-3 to most of their products.

Note: This raises the possibility that the very late BMPC-4K camera will not start shipping until NAB 2014, presented as “new & improved, now with Thunderbolt-2 and USB-3!” (including TB2 video I/O @ up to 4K UHD, and data transfer to a computer). Wouldn’t that be a kick in the head?

UPDATE 2/10/14: BMPC-4K is now shipping, and its list price has been lowered to $2,995 US!

2 new monitors:

A 4K UHD monitor with 6G-SDI, Thunderbolt-2, USB-3, and UltraScope built-in. Given the low-cost ~24″ panels shown at CES 2014, I imagine BMD would be able to package such a monitor at a very competitive price (~$1K).

A relatively small, battery-operable, native 1080p monitor with 6G-SDI, Thunderbolt-2, USB-3, and UltraScope built-in. Perfect for field & on-camera use. Around $1K.


A new Hyperdeck Shuttle (“Hyperdeck Shuttle Extreme”) portable video recorder with a built-in, ~5″, 720p touchscreen monitor (bright, matte finish, LCD/LED), UHD & 1080p recording, Thunderbolt-2, USB-3, XLR analog/digital audio I/O, on-screen menus, plus all existing HdS features, plus additional ProRes recording modes (HQ, 422 & LT); <$1K.

(The Hyperdeck Studio models will also get TB2 added).

A battery-operable device for fast transfer of data from a SSD and SD media to internal RAID HDD/SSD storage. For off-loading clips shot with a BMCC, BMPCC or BMPC-4K without a computer. Probably has a small built-in screen. Ability to format SSD and SD media for use in BMD cams. With TB2 & USB-3 to transfer stored clips to a computer (can also be used as RAID storage for a computer). <$500 without built-in drives (standard 2.5″? 3.5″? HDD/SSD can be user-installed, or a build-to-order option).

A new HD Link but with 4K UHD capability, Thunderbolt-2, USB-3, WiFi, ability to manipulate/adjust LUTs in realtime via a connected computer/smartphone/tablet (for example, so it can be used as a CCU to “shade” multiple BMPC-4K cams connected to an ATEM switcher), talkback, plus all other existing HD Link features; <$1K.

And in their booth, a complete 4K UHD TV production studio demo using several BMPC-4K cameras connected to their ATEM switchers via the new HD Links & Resolve 10 (for live grading & camera matching), the new monitors, etc. Not just a simple “set” with solo cams pointed at models, but a real TV production demo, showing the workflow from multiple cams to switcher to final output.

Also: Something unexpected, such as a lighting product (plasma?, LED?) with great specs & low price, or a relatively inexpensive wireless 6G-SDI 4K UHD transmitter/receiver, or an audio recorder with great specs & low price (actually, the new HdS described above is pretty much that, but maybe they’ll do one w/o a built-in monitor), or timecode-related gear???

Probably no new cameras, but if they do:

A new, improved version of the original BMCC (called the BMCC Extreme 2.5K priced at $2K) with updated electronics hardware so it can share some of the same enhancements available for the BMPCC pocket & BMPC-4K cams. My guess is the original BMCC doesn’t have enough RAM or CPU to be updated via firmware alone, so it needed a hardware revision plus new firmware. The BMCC Extreme will be available in two versions: With either an EF active lens mount, or a new active MFT lens mount. New higher-res (720p), brighter, matte-finish LCD (LED?) touchscreen monitor. Will include Thunderbolt-2 and USB-3 for UltraScope and data transfer to computer (or to the new BMD data storage device described above). The sensor will be the same size and color science as the original, but with slightly better dynamic range and S/N specs. Possibly frame rates up to 48 fps. Maybe switchable between rolling and global shutter modes (the GS mode will have less sensitivity). Possibly additional ProRes modes (HQ, plus 422 & LT). Possibly XLR phantom powered mic inputs replace the TRS jacks, with improved audio performance for both mic and line level recording. Wildcard: Built-in switchable ND filters. Most of these features will require a new firmware; see below.

Owners of the original BMCC-EF & BMCC-MFT will be able to buy a new BMCC Extreme (either active EF or active MFT) for only $1K.

New BMD camera firmware for all their cameras. Small, incremental, but welcome improvements such as: Audio peak meters, record time remaining while recording, a fix for the “black sun” issue in all cams except the original BMCC-EF & BMCC-MFT, full timecode functionality, Stop Motion & Stills mode (with a few additional shutter speeds >1/240th sec.), and maybe a few other minor tweaks. For the BMCC Extreme, the Focus magnify mode can be repositioned via touchscreen including while recording (required a new additional frame buffer in new hardware). And also the BMCC Extreme may get up to 48 fps due to its new hardware. I hope the BMPC-4K will get the new FPS & Focus features, too, but I don’t know if its hardware can handle it.

Or: A high frame rate >1080p camera for super slow motion at a relatively low price (but possibly the same or higher price as BMD’s BMPC-4K cam). Perhaps capable of several hundred FPS, but with relatively low sensitivity. Sensor size possibly no larger than S16. High FPS, and very good color science, but low sensitivity, so it doesn’t compete with BMD’s other cams. Priced low enough to compete with HFR cams from other manufacturers.

Or: Something to compete with GoPro’s inevitable higher-end model … perhaps a “BMME” (the “Mini Extreme”): A very small 4K UHD “action cam” (smaller than a BMPCC pocket cam) in a rugged, easily mountable housing? Maybe not a S16 sensor or active MFT lens mount like the BMPCC, but instead maybe a smaller hi-res sensor as big or bigger than the sensor in a GoPro, with a “C” lens mount? Recording ProRes 422 and LT and compressed RAW to a fast SD card? Its killer “action cam” feature is a global shutter mode (switchable RS or GS). With USB3 (not TB2), and a small built-in LCD. Price <$500.

(My guess is that a true “BMPCC 4K” pocket isn’t possible yet. The available technology is either not good enough or too expensive.)

Or: Maybe they’ll announce something like my dream camera that I described in detail several months ago?

Of course, whatever they announce, most of it will ship months late.

Or, the biggest surprise of all:

All the new products available immediately!

P.S.: Remember, everything mentioned above is a guess on my part. I have no inside information as to what BMD will actually announce at NAB 2014.

P.P.S.: It’s a coincidence that NAB starts just a few days after April Fools Day, right?


My list of related links, short films, and resources for Blackmagic Design cameras.

My words only: ©2014 Peter J. DeCrescenzo. All rights reserved.

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