NAB 2016: New Filmmaking Tools from Blackmagic Design

By // April 25, 2016 // Posted in Gear & Equipment, Hardware, Video

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If you’ve been considering an external recorder for your filmmaking needs, but have been put off by the cost and complexity of some of the models on the market today, Blackmagic’s new Video Assist 4K may be worth a look.

If you’ve been considering an external recorder for your filmmaking needs, but have been put off by the cost and complexity of some of the models on the market today, Blackmagic’s new Video Assist 4K, announced at NAB, might be worth a look.

It features a 7-inch touchscreen display (1900 x 1200) and connects to your camera via either an HDMI or SDI connection. It saves files to a pair of SD cards with an overflow function that automatically transfers recording from one card to another when the first card is maxed out. You’ll be saving a high quality 10-bit 422 file in either ProRes of DNxHD formats. It supports 4K resolutions at 24 or 30 fps.

In addition to video, it can also capture audio from external mics via a pair of mini XLR inputs with phantom power. Since the sound is captured with the video, you won’t have to mess with syncing separate source files in post.

The Video Assist is powered by a pair two standard LP-E6 battery slots that allow hot swapping of batteries while in use, and it can be powered using the 12V DC input. The batteries are discharged serially, so only one is used at a time. When there’s power, the batteries are charged in parallel.

It’s available now for $895.

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The company also showed off a new real-time encoder that lets videographers automatically save a live video feed to SD cards, giving them something to sell at the end of an event (Blackmagic is pitching it towards any filming concerts, recitals, sporting events, sales conferences and more). The Duplicator 4K has 25 SD card slots and accepts a live video feed over an SDI connection.

Video is encoded in H.265–it’s a more efficient codec, so it will save more video-per-card than the older but far more common H.264.  You can fit an hour of 4K video onto an 8GB card. The downside is that H.265 playback devices aren’t nearly as widespread yet (though Windows 10 supports the format as do many Smart TVs from 2015 on).

The Duplicator can record 4K video up to 60p as well as HD and SD formats.

The front panel has  illuminated buttons for record, stop, lock, append, menu and remote. The lock button prevents accidental interruption of recording during an event, and the append record button combines recordings from different parts of an event into a single file.

If you need to record a feed onto more than 25 SD cards, you can connect multiple duplicators together with the first in the series acting as the master. Blackmagic says you can daisy chain an unlimited number of Duplicators together if you need to.

The Duplicator retails for $1,995 and is available now.

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