Arduino is often thought of as a beginner's platform, largely due to the incredible ease with which someone who has no electronics or programming experience can get started with making things blink or burble. It should be remembered, though, that it's also a very powerful platform - and that's not something that Blackmagic Design, a TV and cinema specialist, has forgotten in using it at the heart of its latest creation.
The Blackmagic 3G-SDI is designed to make it as simple as possible for people to create customer interfaces to devices speaking Blackmagic's SDI Control Protocol. Connected to an Arduino, it provides the connectivity and logic - powered by a Xilinx Spartan field-programmable gate array (FPGA) - for the Arduino itself to communicate with compatible Blackmagic cameras, capture cards, and other devices. This connectivity can then be used for a variety of projects: directly controlling the camera and connected lens, talkback, or even on-the-fly colour correction.
"For example, customers could build a simple controller with a joystick on top of the SDI shield that sends camera control commands to adjust things like focus or iris," Blackmagic explained in its launch announcement. "The possibilities are endless and customers now have an easy way to create completely customised solutions for use with Blackmagic cameras, switchers, cards and more."
The launch of the Blackmagic 3G-SDI, which simply sits on top of any Uno-layout Arduino or compatible as an interposer shield onto which additional hardware can be stacked, shows how large companies like Blackmagic are beginning to embrace both the Arduino platform specifically and the maker movement in general. Allowing users to build their own add-ons for high-end camera and recording equipment is rare, and it's great to see it being encouraged.
The Blackmagic 3G-SDI shield is available now, priced at $95 (around £72 excluding taxes.)