Best in Category - Product Design 2016

Blackmagic Micro Camera

Blackmagic Design

The Blackmagic Micro Camera is the world’s first cinematic quality, removable-lens action cam.

Impossibly small and incredibly light, it captures stunningly immersive Ultra HD footage from previously unattainable viewpoints. Designed specifically for remote use on drones, documentaries and live sports, it offers new creative opportunities to filmmakers and live broadcasters.

Reduced to the smallest possible volume, the Micro Camera’s unique form is driven by the environmental, functional and ergonomic challenges of remote filmmaking. Front facing keys allow unimpeded control in small spaces, and an interchangeable lens mount offers flexibility and image quality not found in existing fixed lens ‘action cams’.

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Design Excellence

The creativity of filmmakers and broadcasters is limited by imagination, instinct and the viewpoints from which to shoot a subject. Capturing immersive footage requires innovative perspectives from the most unlikely of places.

The revolutionary Micro Camera is the final word on miniaturisation of professional digital film cameras. A meticulous rationalisation of functions, parts and processes, the unique design is stripped of excess to create the smallest conceivable form factor.

While miniaturisation improved access, it was clear that to inspire shots from more obscure and restricted vantage points a concept was needed to address the unique challenges of such unusual situations.

Design Impact

The search for unique shots has seen a repurposing of compact cameras for use on drones, crash-cams and other applications. A major limitation of cameras in this context is an orthodox form factor, where setting adjustments requires disturbing the camera to access rearward controls and display.

Turning this archetype on its head with front-facing controls for non-disruptive adjustment in ‘back-to-the-wall’ situations, Micro Camera ensures continuity between every shot. The display was also removed, reducing volume to little more than that needed to house sensor, electronics and connectors. Micro Camera can be operated remotely or via connection to Blackmagic’s Video Assist.

Design Transformation

Capturing high frame rate UHD video generates heat that leads to undesirable visual artefacts. This is compounded in ultra-compact forms with little mass to dissipate heat via conduction. With natural convection impractical due to obstructions from rigs, a radical thermal control concept was required.

The Micro Camera solves this with a unique, transverse refrigerated cooling system. A central heatsink isolates sensor and processor into separate chambers, preventing thermal cross-contamination and external ingress. Integrated into the main chassis it eliminates unnecessary parts, doubling as a cowling for a centrifugal fan that simultaneously cools image sensor and processing chip.

Design Innovation

The Micro Camera’s unique form is a dramatic visual expression of the environmental, functional and ergonomic challenges it addresses. Engineered for tough environments, the magnesium alloy ‘Y-form’ chassis evokes a sense of tactical durability, flaring just enough to allow front-facing controls while protecting delicate high-speed video connectors from incidental impact.

In confined spaces, this striking form ensures constant airflow to the active refrigeration cooling system through dynamic side air intakes that reduce turbulence for silent, optimal airflow and thermal performance. Embedded with robust stainless steel thread blocks, it also provides secure mounting to a variety of rigs and gimbals.

Other Key Features

Action cams use fixed, wide angle lenses ideal for capturing sweeping panoramas. Due to their fixed nature and large field of view such lenses lack the flexibility and depth of field to produce engaging footage, especially in close up, personal scenes.

The Micro Camera’s Active MFT lens mount is engineered for precise optical calibration and full remote lens control. Accepting both inexpensive consumer optics and high-end cinematic lenses, it offers expansive creative freedom for amateur and professional alike.

Completely open and customisable, the unique expansion port allows custom remote control, external power and monitoring solutions, representing unparalleled creative technical control.