Australian-based video technology company Blackmagic Design is no stranger to disrupting the markets that they engage. They offer access to cinema-quality cameras and studio equipment at price points that fall well within the grasp of the prosumer and enthusiast audience. Their hardware also offers a high degree of user customization, allowing users plenty of flexibility for powering, recording, rigging, and monitoring their cameras.
At NAB 2016, Blackmagic took this commitment to customization further with the announcement of the 3G-SDI Arduino Shield. The shield will connect to any standard Arduino and provides an SDI input and output port. SDI is often used in broadcast equipment as a high-bandwidth, connection for uncompressed digital video and audio streams. The protocol is also able to issue commands to the camera or recording device through unused portions of the data stream which allows for control over recording stop/start functions, iris and shutter control, color correction, and more. The shield will also provide power to the Arduino board, which will come in handy if the shield can be powered by 12v, which is the most common voltage among camera equipment and accessories.
Blackmagic has opened the doors for users to create their own custom control interfaces for their cameras, especially as it pertains to remote operation. While many of these functions are currently available through the all-but-moribund LANC port found on most cameras, the control interfaces for that have poor documentation and exist largely as the result of reverse engineering. The shield will be limited to controlling Blackmagic’s hardware that uses the 3G-SDI interface. Whether you’re an engineer looking to control studio cameras from a control room, or you have a camera in a remote location (such as on a vehicle or octocopter) the Arduino shield should be able to provide a huge level of control and customization that hasn’t existed before. The 3G-SDI shield will be available mid-year for $95 USD.