We chat with cinematographer Judd Overton about how he uses cameras like the Blackmagic URSA Mini 12K for his work in film and television.
Originally from Australia but now based in Los Angeles, director of photography Judd Overton is no stranger to the world of film and digital streaming. He’s been the man behind the camera for shows which are set to stream on almost every streaming service out there with projects like ghosts (CBS), killing it (Peacock), and God’s Favorite Idiot (Netflix) all recently under his belt.
And while he’s perfectly comfortable manning a wide variety of cameras for different projects (as is the case with any working DP racking up some big shows), he’s found a new preference for the Blackmagic URSA Mini 12K as one of his go-to cameras.
as part of our coverage of NAB 2022we chatted with Overton about why he enjoys using the URSA Mini 12K, his ranching-turned-filmmaking history, and his advice to “just keep shooting.”
No Film School: What originally got you into filmmaking and video production?
Judd Overton: I grew up on a cattle station (ranch) in the middle of Australia, a long way from the media except the dozen VHS tapes we rewatched til the tape broke. One day we had a film crew drop in, doing stories about the outback. The cameraman hung off the back of me as we sped along on my motorbike to film some shots of the 4WD bouncing across the plains. I thought, this is for me!
NFS: What do you look for in a digital video camera these days?
Overton: I shoot a variety of projects from film and television to documentary and dance so I need a camera which is versatile. Other than that it’s exposure latitude and reliability.
NFS: Were there any specific features that attracted you to the Blackmagic URSA Mini 12K for projects like ghosts, God’s Favorite Idiot, and killing it?
Overton: I have used my 12K URSA on my last three projects. On the pilot for ghosts we shot a complicated stunt sequence where Sam falls down a long set of stairs, almost dying in the process. With a tight TV schedule it’s a lifesaver to have the black gif in my kit. We wouldn’t have completed the day without it.
On killing it, my new show for Peacock, I used 3x 12K URSA Minis for all of our driving plate work. Often the driving plates you can buy are shot on small cheap cameras like the GH series and I find the resolution and latitude just doesn’t match the quality of the current high resolution, large format cameras. The 12Ks give great exposure latitude and are made to be manipulated in DaVinci Resolve, which seems to be the go-to for many post facilities.
Gods Favorite Idiot was an incredible project shot for Netflix, and I believe the first to use the 12K URSA with the addition of the RAWlite 12k OLPF. I used the Blackmagic for all the high-speed work on the show and much of the stunt and second unit work.
NFS: Did you use any other BMD products on set (or work with DaVinci Resolve as part of your workflow)?
Overton: Yes, all graded on DaVinci Resolve by Siggy Ferstl at Company 3.
NFS: Where do you see the future of camera technology heading?
Overton: I love that we are still making cameras smaller and the options for dual ISO are allowing filmmakers to shoot as the eye sees, using less lighting, and showing the audience angles they don’t often observe.
NFS: If you could give one piece of advice for up-and-coming filmmakers or cinematographers today, what would that be?
Overton: What a mentor once told me, “Just keep shooting.”
The Blackmagic URSA Mini 12K
If you’re interested in learning more about Blackmagic’s URSA Mini 12K, here are the full specs and price.