Hardy’s Music – Tech and Looking Back

Dan Atkins

So we were in Bristol last Friday filming this awesome promotional video for our good friends at Hardy’s Music. For us it was a real opportunity to kickstart the new business with a bang and a great excuse to be as creative as we want.

We really wanted to show off our new camera and to produce something that could wow future potential clients. We were initially thinking about how we could promote the guys and their guitar shop without directly producing a generic advert. We came up with the idea that we should just look to promote them as brothers and who they are as people. This is why the video has a very personal and relational feel to it. Your just getting to know them and their passion for music and being passionate about something we often find is quite infectious.

As you can sort of see from the above image, the shop is really quite small which could of posed some problems for the shoot. The way we combatted this was to again, follow the theme of a relational video, and get out the shop and film some shots at home. Shots of them hanging out or mixing a new track in their home studio I think really benefitted the video and again helped us the viewers get to know the Hardy’s as brothers and how they came to start the shop.

The camera played a big part in how we moved and the shots we took, but overall I was really impressed actually by the URSA’s versatility considering it’s weight. Hand held, on the tripod or even on my 6ft glidetrack slider (balanced by two wooden stools), it all worked really well! The diversity of these shots made a real impact on the style of the video and had everything been shot on a tripod, as many have stated that this is the way that the camera should be used, it just wouldn’t have looked the same. My other worry was about the battery life and card storage, but this was all done on one IDX EHL9 battery (although I did have another just incase) and one 120GB Sandisk Cfast 2.0 card, all shot at 4K Pro -Res 4:2:2 (I only had to dump footage on to my macbook once during the whole day).

Overall I’m really excited about future prospects and future videos with this camera and after doing this shoot I’m no longer as fearful about data issues or the weight. If anything, these things actually play into your hands and make you think harder about the shots your about to take.


Why the Blackmagic URSA?

Dan Atkins

Blackmagic Ursa
Blackmagic Ursa

As many within the film industry, for a long time now I have been working on a DSLR workflow. For a time it gave people the freedom to create high quality results on a budget. This widened the 1080p full hd market and became the most popular format for amateur videographers. It did and still does however come with its drawbacks and subtle movements and sound would often suffer without rigging these small camera’s to the hilt with accessories.

Starting a business made me really think about the type of products I wanted to be producing and the clients I wanted to reach out to. I knew I wanted 4K capabilities, good sound quality, something that was a good investment for the future and of course had good bang for buck! Choosing a camera up to the task was a difficult choice and had me trawling through various forums, youtube reviews and spec sheets. I knew that Blackmagic were pushing the boundaries in producing quality products for a fantastic price as I already own the BMPCC (pocket cinema camera), which I love by the way. But I must admit I was dubious about the URSA, it just didn’t seem possible to have something priced at around £4000 that could potentially compete with the likes of a RED Epic.

So what do we know; Sure, it’s stupidly heavy (not ideal for a run and gun situation) which will probably mean a new tripod for most, it still suffers from black hole sun (as far as I’m aware) but I’d hope for a firmware update for this issue and it’s certainly not built for a low light situation. But, all this being said it has so much going for it; It is the first camera of it’s kind with a user interchangeable sensor (which means exciting upgrades for the future!), we get our usual Blackmagic 12 stops of dynamic range and a free copy of da vinci resolve 11 (colour grading software worth £500), 3 in built monitors!? anyone who has worked with a DSLR primarily should be excited about this, it comes with an EF mount ready for all that beautiful Canon glass that you either already own or can readily get hold of, 2 in-built XLR points for a mic with phantom power, it shoots in 4K Raw, 4K 3:1 compressed and all the standard pro res formats and finally blackmagic have built us a camera that has a higher frame rate than just 25fps, we can now shoot up to 80fps across all resolutions and formats and this still has the potential to increase throughout further firmware updates.

Now by no means am I saying that this is the best camera available, as we all know this is the ARRI Alexa, am I right? However, unfortunately the Alexa along with many other top production camera’s comes at a very high cost that just isn’t attainable for most of us who aren’t working with the biggest budgets. Now for a realistic full set up on the URSA, I’m talking cards, batteries, lenses, tripod, handheld accessories and a carry case for protection, your probably looking around a total of £9000. That’s a big jump from £4000, but even if we take our total of £9000 and compare that price with similar production built camera’s, we’re still nowhere near the average asking price, hell, the canon c300 (which is a fantastic camera also) is around £8,500 for just the body.

So, here it is, for me purchasing this camera just made sense. No it’s not going to be the perfect camera and I’m sure I will find situations where things like the weight will bug me. But for what it’s giving me, for the price your paying surely it’s worth a good hard look at and hopefully we’ll see a sensor upgrade in the future that will really turn this camera into an outstanding camera.

Thanks for reading why I have chosen this camera and I’ll leave you to ponder with some beautiful URSA footage

Dan Atkins – Director