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URSA: 3 monitors? Seriously? [Updated]

April 8, 2014


In an online discussion about Blackmagic Design’s new URSA camera, a forum member posted:

“On that kind of a shoot an [Assistant Cameraman] is going to have their own monitor on an Israeli arm or ultralight arm … Most ACs have a preference as to which on board monitors they like to pull [focus] off of and trust. And a monitor built flat into the side of the camera that doesn’t allow them to to have eyes on the action AND the monitor at the same time is going to be something they won’t want.”

I agree.

And I replied:

“I know I’m alone on this, and I know lots of people will buy the URSA as-is anyway (that’s cool), but IMHO it would be a “better” camera if it included no monitors at all.

Instead of not one but three (3!) monitors, the URSA should have 2-4 monitor output connectors that users can connect to monitor(s) & EVF of their choosing — including the new monitors & EVF that BMD will inevitably start selling soon after the URSA starts shipping. (You know that’s gonna happen!)

Mount & connect your monitor(s)/EVF on the cam wherever/whenever you need them. Don’t pay for or weigh-down your rig with monitor(s)/EVF you don’t want or need.

As cool as the URSA is, kinda, it’s actually a very retro design in terms of its on-board monitoring. Instead of including 1 monitor/EVF in the (sometimes) “wrong” place like most cams, it includes 3 monitors in the sometimes wrong place! That’s not progress.

Now, instead of the URSA design, add a user-replacable lens mount and sensor assembly to my dream camera design, and use SSDs rather than stupid-expensive CFast cards, and I’d be much more interested.

As I said, I’m alone on this, so carry on.”    🙂

But wait, there’s more!

Another reason I don’t want the built-in URSA monitors: Just like BMD’s original BMCC and the BMPC-4K cameras, the new URSA screens are highly reflective (shiny), as seen in the image below. As I know, users can address this issue (somewhat) by applying 3M anti-reflective film and a sunshade onto the screen(s), but I’m gobsmacked that BMD has done it again, and not once, but 3 times in one camera! Brain dead!

URSA shiny LCDs

So, OK, obviously the URSA design bugs the cr*p out of me.

Here’s more to chew on (from my recent post on BMCuser):

“All the more reason why I think my sensor-in-a-box camera “design” makes more sense than BMD’s URSA.

Since at least last year, if not 2-3 years ago, building monitoring and recording into a pro camera is, um, … unnecessary.

I prefer RED Epic style modularity, but because RED uses such proprietary accessory/components, they’re stupid-expensive. Again, mostly unnecessary, at least from a customer perspective.

There are so many excellent monitor, EVF and recording solutions already in existence — and new ones being released fairly frequently — so in most cases it no longer makes sense to design them into cameras.

For some users the traditional “all-in-one” cam design is totally appropriate. But given the ready availability of superior separate components (now and in the future), the traditional approach more and more becomes the “special” case. YMMV.

I understand that having redundant hardware can sometimes be a good thing in a pro on-set workflow, but adding a 4th or 5th monitor and/or EVF to an URSA just to make it usable is clearly a stupid waste of money and resources, period.

BMD’s reported reason for using CFast because it’s small is also stupid. SSDs aren’t much bigger, SSDs will always be significantly more cost effective, just as fast or faster, highly-reliable … and there’d be plenty of room for them in an URSA if the cam didn’t include _3_ f*cking monitors.  🙂

I strongly disagree that this situation is anything like the BMCC/BMPC-4K cam’s built-in battery … as if people like me simply aren’t getting the brilliance of the URSA design. I’m a huge fan of the BMCC/BMPC-4K built-in uninterruptible power supply battery feature. The URSA’s triple monitor design isn’t anything like that. The URSA’s 3 monitors don’t add “invisible” convenience and security with little or no downside or cost.

Oddly enough, if URSA didn’t have built-in monitors and recording, there’d be room for a built-in uninterruptible power supply battery. Funny that.

The only thing I like about the URSA cam better than my design is that the URSA features a user-upgradable sensor and mount assembly. This is a really great feature! But BMD should jettison at least 2 of the built-in monitors (or all 3) and the CFast recorder, too.

One last point:

I totally “get” the value of pumping-up the price of a camera as a way of pricing-out wanna-be whiners like me (grin), and just as importantly, as a way of financing a very necessary pre-sale and after-sale support network for pros. I get that. However, pumping-up a cam’s price by adding stuff that often no longer makes sense these days (let alone a couple of years ago) does no one any good.”

My take on the BMPC-4K.

BMPC-4K shooting tips from early users.

More BMPC-4K footage samples here, and a list of related links, short films, and resources for Blackmagic Design cameras.

For my words only ©2014 Peter J. DeCrescenzo. All rights reserved.

Note: I don’t receive income or remuneration for this blog, or for products seen or mentioned here. Advertisements on the page have nothing to do with me. The ads support WordPress, the publisher.


From → Blackmagic URSA

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