Blackmagic wants to turn your iPhone into a cinema camera with its new Blackmagic Camera app. Well, sort of. It’s not going to turn your iPhone into an URSA12K, but it does provide you with the same interface and features.
It’s not just another camera app, though. It also syncs up with Blackmagic Cloud. This allows you to easily mix smartphone footage in your projects. And it does it all automatically, over WiFi. We stopped by the Blackmagic stand at IBC 2023 to find out more.
Blackmagic’s new Blackmagic Camera app is currently available only for the iPhone (although, it also runs as an iPhone app on the iPad). Obviously, it doesn’t turn your smartphone into an actual Blackmagic camera. But it does give you the look and feel.
Cinematic Tools at your fingertips
The app essentially emulates the same look as Blackmagic’s Pocket and URSA cinema cameras. It provides the same level of abilities, along with industry-standard overlays, such as waveform, vectorscope, zebra strips, focus peaking, and all of the others you’re used to from Blackmagic’s cinema cameras.
The app even includes the camera slate, letting you store information in your clip for easy syncing and editing in DaVinci Resolve. You’re not just limited to highly compressed h.264, either. You’re able to shoot h.265 HEVC and even Apple ProRes codecs.
I suspect the implementation of Apple ProRes is the main reason why the app is currently iPhone-only. It may always be iPhone-only, but I hope they manage to get it up and running for Android one day, too. Even if it only offered h.264/265 output, it would still be a massive improvement over the stock camera app for video.
More than just a camera app
Aside from the obvious UI benefits, expanding an already existing ecosystem, Blackmagic Camera offers one huge benefit over most other camera apps. It connects to the Blackmagic Cloud, letting you easily sync up your smartphone footage with your projects.
The instant the recording ends, it’s already being uploaded to the Blackmagic Cloud over either WiFi or your cell signal – I hope you’ve got a good data allowance! This then not only syncs up with your editing computer but also brings the files automatically into DaVinci Resolve.
This is fantastic if you’re working as part of a team with multiple camera operators using Blackmagic cameras and a couple just whipping out clips with their iPhone as needed. All of the cameras and smartphones can be synced together, with all the footage automagically appearing on the editor’s DaVinci Resolve window.
You can even communicate with each other in a real-time chat area. I can see this being extremely handy for things like live events and trade shows. Sending direction to camera operators dotted around a venue can be infuriating at times. This should definitely help to alleviate that!
Professional tools for filmmakers
While most people won’t be grabbing their phone instead of their Pocekt 6K G2 given the choice, being able to whip out your phone and be faced with a filmmaking interface you’re used to is invaluable. It lets you just shoot without having to think about things. You can just go on autopilot.
For some, this alone will give the Blackmagic Camera app enough of an edge over the competition to justify using it. Consistency in the interface between the different image-making devices we use as working photographers or filmmakers is key. It’s why I still shoot my Nikon DSLRs for stills and why my video lineup is all Panasonic and all from the same generation.
Having the same interface in devices from multiple manufacturers is usually unheard of. But being able to get the interface from the operating system of Blackmagic cameras on a smartphone is going to allow Blackmagic shooters to use their phone a lot more efficiently and effectively.
The app provides all of the industry-standard overlays you’re used to from working with Blackmagic cameras. This includes zebra stripes for overexposure, focus assist with peaking, frame guides, histogram, waveform, vectorscope, audio monitoring, and more.
It’s also able to shoot and sync proxies, has Time of Day timecode (although I’m not entirely clear on how that works, particularly syncing up with other cameras), timelapse, supports LUTs and a whole lot more.
For free, you can’t really go wrong!