Melbourne Now countdown – day 31

One of twenty one designers featured in Design In Everyday Life a giant ‘design wall’ curated by Simone LeAmon and designed by LeAmon and Edmund Carter for Melbourne Now, Belinda Stening is the founder and publisher of the industrial design magazine, Curve, as well as its online counterpart, curvelive.com, which features the world’s best in industrial design and product development.

Belinda founded Curve in 2001 to support and promote the industrial design profession and manufacturing businesses developing and producing innovative products around the globe. An industrial designer, she has many years of experience in design consulting, including consumer appliance design, biomedical product design, packaging and furniture design.

All of the important aspects of product design and development are covered in Curve – including profiles of design and industry leaders; the latest technologies for products; digital design; innovative materials and finishes; strategies for business; conceptual design; creative thinking and, best of all – ideas.

Currently appearing in Issue 44 of Curve, Belinda Stening reports on the success of Blackmagic Design – whose high-end products for the global film and television industry will feature in Melbourne Design Now at NGV Australia on Level 2. Kindly sharing her article for the NGV Blog, read on to learn more about Blackmagic Design and their legendary rise in the design world.

Title: Clearing a cinematic pathway

Strap: One-third the size of existing cinema cameras, our camera has a revolutionary form and fresh aesthetic for the film production industry

By: Belinda Stening

First published: Curve Issue 44, 2013

Revolutionising the way cinematographers work and create, and democratising film production, the Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera – which was included in the red dot best of best selection this year, and also won the coveted Australian International Design Award of the Year – is a groundbreaking reinvention of a complex and very expensive piece of camera equipment.

‘One-third the size of existing cinema cameras, our camera has a revolutionary form and fresh aesthetic for the film production industry,” says Simon Kidd, Director Industrial Design at Blackmagic Design. “The design has a simple, pared-back aesthetic for a number of key reasons. Traditionally, cinema cameras have been complex intimidating designs, with vast arrays of buttons and confusing interfaces, so we wanted to create a friendly design that draws users into the camera,’ he explains.

“The precision-machined chassis is the backbone of the camera, all sub-assemblies attach to this part. It performs a key functional role and is also a unique aesthetic element. It’s produced by passing a solid billet of aluminium through 57 separate machining operations on seven different machines, the centre is machined out and used as the disk slot door and the scrap is fully recycled,” says Kidd.

The story behind the camera and Blackmagic is one that started out of sheer determination, plus a drive for excellence and quality from CEO, Grant Petty. Petty is a colourful character who is renowned for his straight, down-to-business attitude and work ethic. Blackmagic Design has offices and production facilities worldwide. Petty and his design team are an international group of innovators, best known in the US.

“We have won big awards overseas and are well known in the US, so I was surprised to win an Australian award. Australia is only one per cent of our market. It’s been a long hard road to get to where we are now, and we are not very well known here,” says Petty.

“Blackmagic is the end result of me being an unhappy customer. Cinema cameras for film production have historically been roughly constructed, they barely work and need constant servicing – costing an absolute fortune,” he explains.

“We have a philosophy of creating products of extremely high quality, and doing what we say we are going to do with our products. People don’t believe that a great product like this can be low cost. That’s been one of the real challenges for us,” he says.

The Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera retails for a fraction of the cost of other cameras on the market (less than $3000), making it very popular with professionals and amateurs.

“Every product we produce has gone well. We have been operating since around 2000 (I think that’s right, I don’t think about the past much!). We’ve been dominating the cinema camera market now for years,” says Petty.

Melbourne Design Now is supported by the Hugh D. T. Williamson Foundation.