Alexkorp Films Blackmagic Video Assist Review

September 6, 2016

The Black Magic Video Assist is a recorder monitor with both HDMI and SDI inputs which can record HD footage in ProRes and DNxHD codecs onto high speed SD cards.

 

DISPLAY

The Video Assist is equipped with a 5” LCD full resolution touch screen, which is great both visually and as an interface. The image is the full 1080 image that you are capturing so you can be sure that your image is correct. The five inch size is a great pairing with a DSLR as it gives you a much bigger monitor than your onboard DSLR, whilst not making your rig too cumbersome.

 

FUNCTIONS

The Video Assist has several very handy onboard features. The histogram function is quite handy when you are shooting LOG files to make sure you are getting your exposure right and I find the focus peaking function to be much better than the onboard focus peaking of my GH4. The VA also has guide bars for different aspect ratios, so if you plan to shoot in a different aspect you can see what your shot is going to look like. You can also adjust the brightness and contrast in the menu.

 

INPUT

The VA has both HDMI and SDI inputs.

 

OUTPUT

The VA has HDMI out and records to high speed SD cards.

 

BATTERY

The Video Assist takes LP-E6 batteries, your standard canon batteries. I don’t have any canon cameras so I had to go out and buy some. BetterBatt sells them for around $30 each, that was the cheapest place I could find them. The Video Assist chomps batteries, I usually find that one battery lasts about an hour. It has 2 battery slots and you can hot swap the batteries out if you want to do continuous shooting for long than 2 batteries hold out for though. You’re going to want to stock up on canon batteries if you’re planning to run this system.

 

MOUNTING

The VA has 3 ¼” mounting points on both the top and the bottom of the device. I use a SmallHD 7” arm to rig my VA to my GH4 cage. The first arm I bought was a cheap one off Ebay and it could barely hold up a tissue let alone the VA. The lesson here is to not cheap out on your mounting arm. 

 

CONNECTIONS

SDI Video Input

1 x SD/HD/3G/6G-SDI via DIN 1.0/2.3 connector

 

SDI Video Output

1 x SD/HD/3G-SDI via DIN 1.0/2.3 connector

 

HDMI Video Input

1 x HDMI type A connector

 

HDMI Video Output

1 x HDMI type A connector

 

SDI Audio Input

2 channels embedded in SD and HD in QuickTime files, 2 channels in Avid DNxHD MXF files

 

SDI Audio Output

2 channels embedded in SD and HD in QuickTime files, 2 channels in Avid DNxHD MXF files

 

HDMI Audio Input

2 channels embedded in SD and HD QuickTime files and Avid DNxHD MXF files.

 

HDMI Audio Output

2 channels embedded in SD and HD QuickTime files and Avid DNxHD MXF files.

 

Audio Output

1 x 3.5 mm stereo analog audio output jack.

 

SD Interface

1 x UHS-1 SD slot

 

Storage Type

U3 High Speed SD Cards

Screen Dimensions

5" 1920 x 1080p60 capacitive touchscreen LCD.

 

Computer Interface

1 x Mini-B USB 2.0 connector for initial setup, software updates and HyperDeck Utility software control.

 

CONCLUSION

The Black Magic Video Assist is a great addition to any DSLR rig. Once you factor in the cost of batteries, SD cards and mounting options the setup is going to cost over $1000. I still think its worth it, it makes my job a lot easier when running my GH4 rig and I take it on every job I go on.

 

NOTES

When I first bought the Video Assist it didn't work with the GH4 in Cinema or PAL mode. If you are experiencing this problem with the GH4 you need to update your Video Assist via the USB interface.

 

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