How to work with 12K footage

With Blackmagic Design, filmmakers now have access to 12K RAW footage.

With most post pipelines still miles behind, what exactly is the point of 12K footage today and who needs it?

The Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 12K was not an easy task. For this one version of the camera they developed a completely new sensor, they developed a legendary new RAW codec (yes BRAW was developed together with the Ursa Mini 12K) and they created a new version of their color science. All of these aspects together make shooting in 12K resolution a truly feasible reality.

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I did it. Inside determinationIn fact, it is surprisingly fast and responsive on my relatively humble computer, and I have never seen hard drives explode. This is because the Blackmagic team designed the entire system in-house and built everything to work together.

One of the most common settings on the camera is that it does not require 12K footage. Why do you need 12K footage? Well I tried to answer that question in the video below. Listen.

As of now there are no 12K TVs on the market and all of my gigs still finish with a maximum resolution of 4K (mostly still just plain old HD). However, the prospect of a 12K camera should still be seen as a great achievement and an extremely useful tool for many filmmakers.

12K VFX disks enable reframing in the post

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VFX plates

Re-framing in the mail is a bad word for many filmmakers.

“Just do it handheld!” They say. These filmmakers don’t do VFX.

One of the best ways to sell a composite shot is to add a little hand wiggle. You might want to do an ENG-style “news material” gag Zoom in on a monster destroying a city. Not to mention the ability to completely re-frame or even squeeze two entire shots from one render by cropping from wide angle to close up.

There are many very tangible areas where access to very high resolution records can save you a ton of headaches and time as a VFX artist / composer.

With 12K footage, you can easily pull out textures for CG assets

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Textures and general data acquisition

You only have one chance to record what you want to record on set. In terms of getting it and getting the most out of it on set, 12K is a really interesting prospect.

In general, if every frame you capture is an 80 MP RAW slice of dense data, there is a lot you can do with it in post-production.

In the example below, a completely new CG asset could easily be created from a few quick shots of a building using just the textures from a few images.

These images were used for reprojection onto the 3D geometry

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For a VFX supervisor, this is common practice, just usually with a DSLR walking around on the set taking photos. However, it is definitely interesting to keep in mind that now the general camera used for the project might one day be enough for this purpose (it is already arriving).

When I talked to Blackmagic about the camera, they also informed me about a use case that was shooting in 8K resolution to use the additional data for super-smooth, gimbal-less footage.

The additional space to enlarge allows for some smoothing out in post-processing. Again, much to the chagrin of the purists.


In this video from one of my new favorite channels, On the camera, you see a great example of taking full advantage of 12K.

Also not to be a record here, but again, 12K is used great for VFX. In this case, to include assets for compositing.

Ingesting 12K VFX elements offers endless compositing possibilities

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Not only does the 12K have the ability to record up to 240fps which makes it fantastic for capturing explosions and muzzle flashes, but the added resolution makes every single thing you record with it usable for so many different scenarios.

Capture elements in element style in high resolution like Fog elements or Dust elements allow you to use these elements in a close-up or a wide-angle shot and give you a ton of new options.

12K footage is perfect for conservationists

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You don’t have to be 12K. take up

The biggest thing I don’t get about the criticism of this camera is that you don’t have to shoot 12K.

Perhaps even more important than the 12K aspect is the ability to downsample super sharp 8K (up to 120 fps) or 4K (up to 240 fps). Not to mention that the sensor does not use a Bayer pattern, so at any resolution it is the true resolution and color depth.

It’s just a beefed up Ursa Mini Pro G2 with more of what I think Blackmagic does best – options.

With this camera you don’t skimp on other aspects in order to achieve the high resolution. You still get 14 stops of dynamic range, you still get Blackmagic RAW, and you still get the form factor and operating system that many filmmakers already know and love.

The Blackmagic Ursa Mini Pro 12K

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So if you don’t need a 12K, don’t use it or just use it their other cameras that are similarly powerful.

In my humble opinion, this camera is a marvel of engineering and a significant advancement in camera manufacturing. Whether or not you want to capture 12K footage, you have to admit that it’s interesting that we can now. One wonders where things could be in a few years.

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