How the Blackmagic Design Philosophy Changed Film Cameras Forever

Film cameras were once the creme de la creme. Now you can get one for less than $2,000. Here’s everything you knew (or didn’t know) about BMD.

I still remember the first time I saw the OG Blackmagic Cinema Camera (the BMCC for short). It was a tight, square silver box that looked more like a lunch bucket than any of the ergonomic DSLR camera models I was used to. However, I also remember the first time I edited footage with it, and that eureka moment when I saw exactly what that extra dynamic range meant for the colors in my video.

For those who aren’t old enough, or who just haven’t been in film and video long enough (or heck, even for those who’ve forgotten the plumpness), let’s take a look at the Blackmagic Design story in this cool featurette from Forbes.

From video capture cards for video editing

Starting in 2001, CEO Grant Petty founded Blackmagic Design in his hometown in Australia. He sits down with Forbes magazine for this featurette, and we get a pretty cool behind-the-scenes look at BMD’s history and the philosophy behind it.

BMD’s first product was a video capture card for macOS called DeckLink, which was used to deliver uncompressed 10-bit video to early video editors and colorists. As demand for their original product grew, Petty and BMD ventured into other areas adjacent to these color and video editing needs.

Personally, it’s cool to see Petty talk about BMD’s origins so candidly. Although it has grown and developed into a holistic technology and video equipment company, the brand remains truly true to its roots and core principles, which Petty based on his early days working in a small television studio. It was about meeting creative demand and not just creating a product to sell.

BMD bread and butter.Credit: black magic design

Making color technology affordable

Over the years, Petty and Blackmagic have evolved from simple video capture cards to video editing software. In 2009, BMD acquired DaVinci Resolve (known then as Da Vinci Systems), their first color grading application and NLE.

At the heart of this expansion decision, Petty also unveiled one of BMD’s biggest brand philosophy decisions when they announced that DaVinci Resolve would be free-to-play. That mantra of “making creators free” truly lives on because Resolve is still free and easy to use today, unlike its NLE competitors like Premiere Pro and Final Cut. Petty is pretty candid about his distaste for the subscription model and believes in empowering creatives, which will keep them coming back to BMD to buy more products. So far, this business model has paid off.

That being said, Blackmagic also offers a slightly more capable studio version for $295, including expanded resolution capabilities, additional OFX plugins, and DaVinci’s noise reduction engine. But even at this price, it compares well to its competitors. (And something video editing consumers should be happy about because, at the very least, it keeps prices low and innovation high in the industry.)

Credit: Forbes

Digital cinema cameras and the future

Eventually, Petty and BMD made the bold move to get into camera design and creation, but maybe not for the reasons you might think. According to Petty during this encounter, one of the biggest motivators for camera manufacturing simply came from the frustration that there weren’t enough quality (and affordable) cameras that could use their excellent color grading products.

To remedy this problem, BMD announced its first Blackmagic cinema camera at NAB in 2012. Since then, BMD has become one of the biggest names in the digital cinema camera game as it revolutionized the industry with the BMCC aforementioned, the URSA Mini and, of course, the Pocket Cinema Camera 4K (and 6K, 6K Pro, and now 6K Pro G2).

Credit: black magic design

The biggest takeaway from this interview with the founder of BMD is that the brand certainly doesn’t seem to be slowing down. And, truth be told, the film and video industry continues to grow at a rapid pace. This means brands like BMD and others will continue to push for new technologies, products and workflow solutions. So whether or not you’re a BMD user, you should feel good that there are forces at work that make your movie life easier and better every day.

What do you think of products like DaVinci Resolve and the Pocket 4K? Let us know your favorite (or least favorite) BMD innovations in the comments below!

About Chris C. Hairston

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