Blackmagic Design have brought new functionality to the URSA Mini Pro, their flagship camera. Keeping up with the times, users will now be able to download an app in order to control the camera. The best part? They’re letting the public create their own custom versions.
With most DSLRs touting a smartphone companion app, and now even cinema cameras, it’s difficult to release a camera without this functionality. It’s a sign of the times really – we’re sticking our cameras on jibs, gimbals, and flying them on drones. While you can’t beat a solid HDMI connection, there’s no denying that it’s insanely handy to have full monitoring and control over a camera via your smartphone.
Enter, the new 4.4 update for the USRA Mini Pro. You can get the update on their website, and then the companion app from the App Store. From what I can tell, the Japanese version is live and we'll have to wait for the US version. From there, you’ll get something akin to the stellar new menu that Blackmagic released earlier this year. That includes timecode, media status, and a faux slate to use on set.
With this setup, we won’t be able to throw a smartphone on a gimbal and get shooting. Disappointingly, it’s only available for iPads. Even worse, there’s no option to use the iPad as a monitor. When the lower end cameras are able to offer this, it’s frustrating to see the function be omitted. Although to their credit, this isn’t a paid update, and with their close attention to color science I could understand that monitoring on an iPhone isn’t as accurate as they would like to see.
The lack of monitoring is in line with most cinema cameras that allow for wireless functionality. It seems as though most manufacturers have allowed for third parties to fill the gap. While Sony and RED have their solutions, third party companies have brought more functionality to smartphones. Intelli-G and Foolcontrol manage to bring remote monitoring and control to smartphones, and they’re just the common examples.
For now, we’ll have to take Blackmagic's word that the new system functions well. More than that, we can hope to see more third party solutions being introduced over the coming months. While cameras of this caliber are usually accompanied by larger teams, with a full video-village setup, it would be nice to see beefier cameras compete with the consumer level on this front.