Technical Reviews: URSA Mini Pro by Blackmagic Design, RealityCapture 1.2 Tarasque
URSA Mini Pro by Blackmagic Design
Digital cameras continue to improve in terms of light response as well as image resolution. (Of course, there’s always a debate about what we really gain as we get higher and higher resolutions.) The latest from Blackmagic Design is the URSA Mini Pro, which has a small body size. but dense and massive 12K resolution, with 14 exposure stops in an 80-megapixel film back in 35mm format. You have a choice of 24 frames per second up to 240 (in 4K and a 16mm crop on the sensor). The lens mount is available in EF or PL versions, so you have flexibility in choosing cinema lenses. You can also get a V-mount bracket for your standard batteries.
With high frame rates and deep colors come a lot of data. To accommodate this massive data flow, there are two card ports – SD CFast or UHS-II cards which can act in tandem to write Blackmagic RAW at up to 900MB / s for CFast or 500MB / s. s on SD. However, when you need even more storage, there’s a USB-C expansion port that can power external flash storage mounted on the back of the camera as an accessory.
What I found interesting with the proprietary Blackmagic sensor is that you can shoot at different resolutions, using the entire sensor. Why is this important? On other cameras, shooting at lower resolutions means cropping on the sensor, because you don’t need that many pixels. That’s fine, except it changes the perceived field of view (FOV) of the camera. So a 21mm lens could become a 28mm or a 32mm, depending on the resolution size. You’re essentially zooming in on the image and not using the full capacity of the glass. For VFX people, suddenly someone saying they were using a 21mm lens doesn’t exactly mean that, and we need to do some conversions before we can track the shot to fit our CG. With the Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 12K, you can shoot in 12K, 8K or 4K without altering the physics of the lens – a 21mm lens will always be a 21mm lens.
Now, while we’re on the goals and the aforementioned high-resolution debate, shooting at 12K has visual effects benefits beyond getting a nice, clean bezel on green screens. It has to do with tracking CG in extremely close-ups. The problem is, when you’re really close, you don’t have to follow anything. With 12K (and mastering at 4K or less), you can shoot much wider, with the intention of cropping for the close-up – without losing resolution. This could provide a lot more information that would be outside of the final shot but used by the follow-up artist. It also means that a potentially impossible shot might in fact be achievable.
The Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 12K is certainly a capable camera for filmmakers, but for shooting VFX elements and plates the resulting resolution, frame rates, and flexibility are invaluable.
Price: $ 9,995 (12,000)
RealityCapture 1.2 Tarasque
Photogrammetry, the science of obtaining information about physical objects and environments by recording, measuring and interpreting photographic images and radiant electromagnetic imaging models, has become an important part of the visual effects industry. . Sometimes we don’t have the time or money for sophisticated LiDAR scanners on our productions, and photogrammetry has filled that market for us. RealityCapture has gained a foothold in this space. In fact, this technology has been around for a few years, but as I go from show to show and studio to studio, it has become clear that it is now the software of choice. More recently, when Epic Games acquired RealityCapture, they integrated it into the game development, visual effects, and virtual production ecosystem. This means more resources for Capturing Reality developers to make great software even better.
RealityCapture 1.2 Tarasque version just released last month with a number of features and strengths – some of them might seem a bit outside the realm of 3D for visual effects and gaming, but you’d be surprised. to see how much more useful some of the less sexy tools are. We’re talking about things like being able to calculate volumes and areas on arbitrary shapes, display height profiles, calculate and export contours and cross sections, and enable slope shading on terrains. These might seem rather jaded, but when you’re building lots, which is a big part of Unreal game development and virtual production, these tools start to be surprisingly important. The applications are even more important for other industries such as civil engineering and land use planning.
Under the hood things have been optimized for faster calculations, specifically for depth maps, and on the dashboard, the user interface has been updated. The ribbon pattern is something I’m getting used to, but in my opinion RealityCapture has the simpler approach. The latest version has an updated user interface that doesn’t break the previous one, and fine-tunes the functionality by changing the ribbon to suit the context of your active window – 2D, 3D, Help, etc. It’s a walkthrough of the calculation process, but it’s not a black box – you can dive deep into each step to fine-tune and troubleshoot. Additionally, some new troubleshooting tools detect misaligned cameras, visually see camera position uncertainties, and monitor LODs.
Then there is the licensing approach (which may or may not change under Epic). Currently, you can download RealityCapture and use it for free. All you need to do is log into your Epic Games account (also free), and you can import data (photos, point clouds, map data, etc.) and process the model. It is only once you have a model that you like that you pay for the export, and that is based on the number of input sources you are using (PPI: Pay Per Input). So, depending on how many images you have or the density of a point cloud, you might consider anywhere from $ 10 to $ 20 per model. But, if you deal with tons of models every day, you still have the option of getting a perpetual license, which costs $ 3,750.
I have to say, I love the software and appreciate the versatility of the license which should work for both small and large studios.
Price: $ 3,750 (Unlimited license)
Todd Sheridan Perry is an award-winning VFX Supervisor and Digital Artist whose credits include Black Panther, Avengers: Age of Ultron and The Christmas Chronicles. You can reach him at [email protected]