Thoughts on the Blackmagic Studio Camera from Richard Crowley
What makes a broadcast camera is the ability to control multiple cameras by someone doing the “camera shading” job. This is management of all the camera adjustments in real time (even while on-the-air) to keep the camera pictures matched well enough to live switching without noticeable differences in the images.
This is typically done with a Camera Control Unit (CCU). A proper CCU with a “paint box” is what separates the major-leagues from the wannabees. BMD have acknowledged this requirement with a “soft control” CCU panel for their new range of switchers. Alas the “CCU” panel looks nothing like the traditional broadcast camera CCU, and lacks virtually ALL the traditional controls all broadcast engineers have been using for their lifetime. In fact, the “soft CCU” rather looks like a mini DaVinci color tweaking window (with a full-size DaVinci window available at the click of a button).
IMHO, this shows an unfamiliarity with how multi-camera broadcast video production is done. Colorists working after-the-fact in post production can spend well beyond Real Time tweaking every shot to a fare-thee-well. But in the “heat of battle” of a multi-camera production, that kind of fine control is simultaneously too much, and too little. Too much detail control that a live program doesn’t have the luxury of time for, and too little of the familiar CCU controls that all video engineers have come to expect.
While this may be interesting to a new generation who don’t know any better, it seems rather to have dropped the ball for high-end broadcast production applications. A glaring example: there appears to be no white-balance control at all. While you could argue that you don’t need traditional “white-balance” controls with this camera, it appears that you will spend that much more time balancing all the cameras without any fixed reference point. It just makes me think that the design was created without any input from people experienced with standard, multi-camera broadcast hardware or procedures.
Now the “world’s largest viewfinder” screen is very nice, but its fixed position and angle supports only one style of shooting, where the operator’s head is directly behind and a bit elevated from the lens axis. While this may be suitable for sit-down (but not stand-up) chat/newsreader shows in a studio, or sports games from a distance, I have encountered a great many (perhaps the majority in my genre) situations where that position for the viewfinder is just not suitable. In live-event coverage where the camera head is higher than the operator’s head, that viewfinder becomes nearly useless (or neck-strain-inducing, if you try it). Not to mention a giant distraction to the live audience behind the camera). Don’t get me wrong, it is a killer viewfinder. I just wish I could put it where I could use it.