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Blackmagic's new HDMI and SDI field recorder/monitor

3 minute read

Blackmagic Design/RedSharkBlackmagic Video Assist

Blackmagic's new field recorder has been a long time coming - and looks like it's something of a bargain

One significant announcement that you might have missed at last Monday's opening of the NAB show in Las Vegas was the Blackmagic Design Video Assist. And one reason you might have missed it is because it's not called what it actually is, which is an SDI and HDMI video recorder/monitor.

For $495, it certainly ticks a lot of boxes. It has a full HD 5" screen (1920 x 1080), records to Apple ProRes in 10 bit 4:2:2 and Avid DNxHD, and uses cheap, universal SD cards that can be inserted in most modern laptops.

It's bundled with DaVinci Resolve lite, which means that the recorded files will be ready for immediate grading and editing.

On the monitoring side, there's a touchscreen with histogram, audio meters, timecode and other information (which will probably be added to in firmware updates).

One final trick is that it has a 6G SDI input and can downscale and display UHD video. It is, Blackmagic points out, ideal for use with the new Blackmagic Studio Camera Mini 4K, almost as if it were designed to be a component of that tiny imager.

We've known for a long time that HDMI and SDI recorders can "improve" the quality of most cameras by taking the direct uncompressed signal and capturing it to a high quality production codec.

We were kind-of surprised that Blackmagic didn't appear to follow up the success of their Hyperdeck Shuttle. This is the first portable recording product since but you could argue that what they did instead was put a lens and sensor on their recorders and turned them into cameras. Now that the dust has settled after that innovation, they're coming back to recorders and doing them at an utterly commodity price.

We can only wonder - and we will probably only have to do so briefly - if and when they will release a 4K recorder (or "Video Assist" as they will probably continue to call them).

Keep your eyes on this space.

Full details in the press release below

NAB 2015, Las Vegas, USA - April 13, 2015

Blackmagic Design today announced the Blackmagic Video Assist, a portable, all in one professional monitor and video recorder that can be used with any SDI or HDMI camera. Blackmagic Video Assist adds professional recording and monitoring to any camera and features a bright, high resolution 5 inch monitor for checking focus, framing, and reviewing shots, along with a broadcast quality HD recorder for saving quality video files.

Blackmagic Video Assist is available in July for $495 and will be demonstrated on the Blackmagic Design NAB 2015 booth at #SL219.

The Blackmagic Video Assist is perfect for customers that need better monitoring and higher quality recording. Older cameras often feature custom and hard to use file or tape formats, while lower cost consumer cameras often have poor quality file formats and small screens, limiting their professional use.

Blackmagic Video Assist solves this problem because it works with every type of camera, from DSLR’s to older tape based camcorders, and even the latest digital film cameras. Blackmagic Video Assist can be mounted on cameras as a large monitor for the entire crew to see, it can be handed to the cinematographer or DOP for setting up shots, or set on a table in front of the director to review each take. The Blackmagic Video Assist lets customers see every detail on its larger screen, check composition and make sure the camera is perfectly focused while also recording the highest quality files.

Durable and lightweight, the Blackmagic Video Assist features a bright, 5 inch high resolution 1920 x 1080 HD monitor and touchscreen with a wide 135º viewing angle. Customers can record broadcast quality 10-bit 4:2:2 video onto fast, inexpensive and widely available SD cards in Apple ProRes and DNxHD file formats. The SD cards can be mounted directly on a computer for cloning and backup using the included DaVinci Resolve Lite and, because the files don’t have to be converted or transcoded, editing and color correction can begin immediately.

The Blackmagic Video Assist includes 2 standard LP-E6 battery slots allowing hot swapping of batteries while in use, and it can be powered using the 12V DC input.

The built in touchscreen lets customers use simple swipe gestures to display camera information, change settings and evaluate audio and video levels. Blackmagic Video Assist features an elegant, semi-transparent heads up display overlay that lets customers keep their eyes on the shoot while changing formats, viewing the current input frame rate, histogram, audio meters, timecode and more.

“The Blackmagic Video Assist has been designed as the perfect solution to help customers shoot better video on any type of camera. It combines the best of our monitoring and recording technologies for on set monitoring and professional recording into one easy to use very compact product,”

said Grant Petty, CEO, Blackmagic Design.

“Customers can use it to improve the quality of their DSLR shoots, to breathe new life into older camcorders that use expensive proprietary media. Blackmagic Video Assist is perfect for use on digital film projects to allow recording to HD files while the camera simultaneously records RAW. It’s an amazingly versatile product that customers can use with any camera and on any project!”

Blackmagic Video Assist Key Features
5 inch LCD touch screen with1080p high resolution monitor.
Professional 10-bit 4:2:2 HD ProRes and DNxHD recording.
Includes slots for 2 hot pluggable batteries as well as 12V DC power input.
Full compatibility with editing software such as DaVinci Resolve, Final Cut Pro X, Avid and Premier Pro.
All in one design, mount to cameras, hold in your hand or set up on a table with the included kickstand.
Includes 6G-SDI input allowing its use as an Ultra HD monitor.
Idea for use as a monitor for the new Blackmagic Micro Studio Camera 4K.

Availability and Price
Blackmagic Video Assist will be available in July for US$495 from Blackmagic Design resellers worldwide.

Tags: Production