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Old October 11th, 2009, 02:17 PM   #1
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Black Magic Intensity Pro vs. Nvidia Gfx Card for HDTV Monitoring

Hi everybody,

I am putting together an editing/compositing/vfx/color grading workstation, & am pondering what would be the best way to output video to an LCD HDTV for video preview & color grading. I will be color calibrating the HDTV with HCFR (http://www.homecinema-fr.com/colorimetre/index_en.php) & a Spyder2 colorimeter. Adobe CS4 (PPro & After Effects) on a Windows 7 64-bit PC.

One option I am considering is a Black Magic Intensity Pro card. I do not need HD capture with the card; it would only be for monitoring.

On the other hand, I could put two Nvidia GTX 295s in there. One could drive two desktop monitors, & the other a third monitor as well as the HDTV on HDMI.

I've read here & elsewhere that an advantage of the Black Magic is that it outputs the right specs for video (16-235, YCbCr, Rec 709). However, the Nvidia can output 16-235 & YCbCr over HDMI.

For me, the Nvidia setup offers several advantages. However, what disadvantages might lurk? And also, what advantages are there to the Intensity Pro, besides the capture aspect, which is duly noted but probably not going to be important to me?

Couple more questions: The Intensity Pro can do 1080i50, 1080i59.94, 720p50 and 720p59.94i; shouldn't the Nvidia also be able to do 1080p for a 1080p monitor? What about 24p workflows? Will the Intensity Pro work properly in that situation?

Very grateful for any sage advice (always so much in evidence here).

Regards,
RQ
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Old October 11th, 2009, 07:26 PM   #2
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Hi RQ,

You might also consider the Matrox MXO2 Mini for video monitoring with CS4. It provides a calibration utility for the output to HDMI so you get the correct colors. I don't believe your Spyder is going to help with hardware like Black Magic or Intensity since the LCD will not be connected to the computer's graphics display card, the LCD connects direct to the "edit card" output via HDMI.

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Old October 11th, 2009, 07:30 PM   #3
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PS - using Intensity or MXO2 mini allows you to have 2 computer displays on the PC graphics card, with 3rd monitor for video monitoring. PC graphics cards are not strong on VIDEO output, they are meant for PC output and some just add "video output", but a dedicated card like Intensity or Matrox will give the most flexible options and format coverage with TRUE video output and correct frame rates and color space

Jeff
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Old October 11th, 2009, 10:52 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Pulera View Post
Hi RQ,

You might also consider the Matrox MXO2 Mini for video monitoring with CS4. It provides a calibration utility for the output to HDMI so you get the correct colors. I don't believe your Spyder is going to help with hardware like Black Magic or Intensity since the LCD will not be connected to the computer's graphics display card, the LCD connects direct to the "edit card" output via HDMI.

Jeff Pulera
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Thanks for the response. The Matrox looks interesting & I'll be investigating it more when I have time.

I use the Spyder to make ICC profiles for my PC monitors, but for video monitor it will be used differently, using the HCFR software (which can use the Spyder probe). I was turned on to HCFR by another interesting thread at http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/sdtv-hdt...orgrading.html .

I know computer graphics cards are not primarily designed to output to video monitors, but I'm just wondering whether it would be 'good enough', i.e., not outlandishly wrong, in the same fashion that an HDTV is not designed with color correction & video post work in mind, as is a broadcast monitor, but quite a few people are able to make a more or less workable setup with one.

I'm just thinking that a second computer graphics card could be usable if it outputs adequate (I know, that's somewhat subjective) video to a properly calibrated HDTV (& gain a third computer monitor into the bargain). If I can get the card to do YCbCr & 16-235, which I can, & work in a Rec. 709 color space in After Effects (http://www.adobe.com/devnet/aftereff...gmt_wkflow.pdf), might it not be feasible for color grading? It's all right if it's not perfect, as long as there are no major traps I'm walking into.
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Old October 12th, 2009, 03:55 AM   #5
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Ruby,

I think you are wading into very uncharted waters here. Relying on Spyder and HCFR to calibrate anything is going to be hit or miss. There is no guarantee that what Spyder calibrates will match what another calibration program will determine is correct... usually the two won't match.

And while HCFR is good at evaluating the output, unless you make your own probe from their design, I believe you can't create a LUT with it. That leaves you with the monitor controls alone to do the calibration. Monitor controls will let you set the proper white point, but I don't think they are going to help you adjust individual color levels.

On the other hand, the Matrox is designed to do what you want. I'm not saying you can't get the nVIDIA solution to work, but it's going to be essentially a workaround and you're going to be one of few doing it. Monitor calibration is all about agreement. You don't want to be out on your own if you can avoid it.

I'm also not sure that an LCD HDTV is the best choice. LED and plasma are supposed to have better black levels. But some probes have problems working with them.

In any event, be sure you're using the latest version of Spyder2; I believe it's 2.3.5. The results are different, i.e. more accurate than those from the prior version.

My humble advice to you would be to find out more about the MXO2 and what monitors people are finding works best with them. Pretty much exactly what Jeff said, LOL.

HTH.
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Old October 12th, 2009, 10:08 PM   #6
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Thanks for the advice. I'm thinking about getting the Matrox & a PC graphics card both & trying both approaches side by side, compare & contrast, be a guinea pig. I'll do a write up (it's a few months off yet).

On a tangent: I'll be working with (among other things) Red r3d files in AE, 32-bpc float, linear light, HDTV project working space, according to the workflow as given at Color management workflow in After Effects CS4 | Adobe Developer Connection & http://blogs.adobe.com/davtechtable/...files_cs4.html . According to Adobe, linear compositions are sent to preview monitors without color management, so will be dark (gamma 1.0) & no good for color work really. But you can view them color-managed on your computer monitor (naturally). Furthermore, you can use the Simulate Output feature to simulate on the computer monitor various presentation devices. The idea is that it will show on the PC monitor what the image will look like when it is, e.g., projected on a screen with various projectors & film stocks or shown on an HDTV. Does anybody know how well this feature works? What is its potential for gauging, by comparison, the effectiveness of an HDTV monitor calibration? How about, for quick-&-dirty purposes, or in a pinch, for using it as a reference monitor, not only for linear compositions but for others as well?

Regards,
RQ
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Old October 25th, 2009, 07:57 PM   #7
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Just want to warn you about the Matrox Mini with Premiere and AE. I just disconnected it after only 2 days of use because it caused problems. Read my post here: http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/tapeless...re-laptop.html

I am considering a solution very similar to you. I found in my nvidia settings that I can display bars and adjust everything that the Mini can do except Blue only. However, I am trying to decide on: 1) getting a Quadro FX3800 w/ 264 & mpeg2 accelerator and a 30" LCD and a 24" JVC pro video LCD($1700) or 2) keep my 2 20" lcds and get the new ATI 5xxx series gfx that has 2 DVI, 1 HDMI & 1 Displayport and hookup the JVC(via DVI).

The JVC or maybe HP DreamColor will be ordered no matter what. The first option costs $2000 while the second option is only $200. I need to figure out if the ATI cards provide the same adjustments.

For you, I think the DreamColor and a cheap gfx card with Displayport is the best option as it will allow you to edit in Rec 709 using the DreamColor's built-in preset as well as 10 bit.

I should also add that the Mini cannot display 24p natively and the DreamColor needs a progressive signal in order to use its "DreamColor Engine" (this provides all the various color gamut presets such as Rec 709 and 10bit).
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Old October 25th, 2009, 11:26 PM   #8
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Thanks for the input. Does DisplayPort have any advantages over HDMI for this purpose?

Regards,
RQ
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Old October 31st, 2009, 06:23 PM   #9
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Ruby,

I want to update my suggestion - I just found the brand new Eizo CG243W, which is a good competitor to the Dreamcolor. The Eizo has a true 10bit display when used with Displayport and has 16bit internal processing and 12bit LUT. Its only $2300-2400, has a 5yr warranty and comes with a hood. It has several gamut presets, including Rec 709, but does NOT require a progressive + RGB signal in order for the presets to work (unlike the Dreamcolor).

I don't know about HDMI vs DP but all the monitors I have seen that are 10bit, always use DP for their 10bit connection.

I just reread your original statement and realized that the Mini is not Windows 7 compatible at the moment.
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