Sunday, January 20, 2019
  • Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016
Director/producer/writer John Ridley shoots with URSA Mini 4K
John Ridley (photo courtesy of ABC)
  • FREMONT, Calif.
  • --

Blackmagic Design announced that director, producer and Academy Award-winning writer John Ridley (“12 Years a Slave”) is using the URSA Mini 4K digital film camera on several television and film projects, including the TV miniseries “Guerrilla” currently filming in London.
Ridley often has a spontaneous shooting style for which the URSA Mini 4K comes in handy. “My experience thus far with the URSA Mini 4K has been exceptional,” he said. “It is an amazingly versatile piece of equipment that allows me to not only use it in every phase of production, but to do so in a variety of ways.”
Using the URSA Mini 4K for previsualization (previz), Ridley notes that the camera’s efficient user interface allows him to “run and gun” with his thoughts focused on the scenes that he is building, rather than the complexities of filming. “I’m a freak for shooting before shooting, but I have found historically there were few, if any, offerings that had the durability of professional equipment, but that were also intuitive enough creatively so as not to collide with spontaneity,” he explained. “Importantly, I didn’t want a piece of kit I had to lug around in hopes I might need it. With an emphasis on the ‘Mini,’ the URSA Mini’s form factor allows it to be ever present. Even the tools that facilitate the greatest creativity can’t be of use when they are not at hand.”
In his role as director on various film and television projects, Ridley is known to grab a camera himself to capture additional footage. “The URSA Mini 4K’s ability to grab and go has also allowed me to use it as a fill-in B camera that I’ve self-operated during production,” he said. “With the camera in hand, I’ve been able to record additional footage on the move without impacting our principle photography.”
Ridley added, “On days when a true second unit proves to be as financially prohibitive as the workload is demanding, the option of using the URSA Mini 4K has proved to be invaluable. Though camera operating isn’t my primary skill set, with the URSA Mini 4K, I’ve gotten the shots I’ve needed and done so with broadcast quality that has cut seamlessly into our project.”
As a self-taught camera operator, Ridley appreciates the URSA Mini’s ease of use, but is quick to note that the camera suffers no loss in ability when he has handed it off to well-seasoned camera technicians. “The camera is remarkably adept and ‘tweakable,’ allowing it to capture the best images in a variety of lighting conditions, from harsh to lowlight,” he said. “In post, as well, the workflow is as basic or demanding as the user wishes it to be. I have turned shot footage around in minutes to use in previz, and I have also put it through a post gauntlet that has had to pass international QC. In all instances, I have not been disappointed.”
Ridley concluded, “The URSA Mini 4K is a serious cinema camera with serious capabilities, and in less than a year, it has become an integral part of my creative process. I look forward to further exploring the camera and testing its seemingly endless potential.”

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