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Canon XL H Series HDV Camcorders
Canon XL H1S (with SDI), Canon XL H1A (without SDI). Also XL H1.

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Old August 17th, 2007, 05:57 AM   #1
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Laptop HD-SDI workflow solution

So I need some thoughts on something I'm putting together ...

I've been doing several gigs lately where I have been shooting uncompressed direct into my 8-core Mac Pro. The uncompressed option is tempting for clients.

My issue is lugging around this huge sytem and corresponding monitors and what not to every shoot that I go to. So I have been thinking a lot about a way to make a portable solution that could capture to the likes of DVCProHD, PhotoJPEG, or Sheer.

Here's what I've deduced. I have a 2.33 C2D Macbook Pro. I plan on buying the BlackMagic Intensity Pro Card and using it within a Magma ExpressBox Expansion Chassis which would be connected to the Expresscard slot of the Macbook Pro. I would take the HD-SDI out of the camera and connect it to an AJA HD-SDI-to-HDMI converter box and then take that HDMI stream and connect it to the Intensity. Using Final Cut Pro, I would capture live to either of the proposed codecs and then stream directly into a FW800 RAID 0 array. Audio would come out of the RCA outs and directly into the Intensity, which when capturing with Final Cut Pro, will combine the video/audio together (I've done this with my MacPro and Decklink HD Extreme with perfect sync).

I've contacted Blackmagic and they are not sure if this will exactly work, although they did say that theoretically, it should. They are just unsure about the bandwidth available for this. But they acutally want me to get back to them aboout the results of this if I try.

My point is to make HD-SDI capture a lot more portable everytime I have shoots that involve it, so I don't have to lug around this whole monster Mac Pro setup. I know uncompressed is impossible with this setup, but I am perfectly ok with DVCProHD, PhotoJPEG, or Sheer. DVCProHD and PhotoJPEG seems to be easily viable with this setup, although I don't know about Sheer ... it's data rate may be pushing it.

Any thoughts on this?
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Old August 17th, 2007, 07:25 AM   #2
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That sounds a little tricky and over complicated.
Why not just get one of these?

It even has a nifty handle!
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Old August 18th, 2007, 02:08 PM   #3
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MOTU's V3HD specs vs AJA's IO HD specs

These seems to be another unit that you might want to look at... Check out the MOTO V3HD unit. You can find it at:
Hope this helps... Peace, Joe Ray

Initial Comparison- MOTU's V3HD specs vs AJA's IO HD specs
I had this in another article a moment ago, and decided it was worth breaking out to be its own post.

I was discussing the new MOTU V3HD, and realized how similar it was in concept and functionality to the AJA IO HD.

OK, since it'll come up, here's my first, non-conclusive nor comprehensive, top-of-my-head differentiation between the two just based on the specs available. There are small, refinement differences, but these are the ones I think are significant. This is an ever evolving document, so don't take it as gospel - I keep adding pieces to it, and you're welcome to chime in with your thoughts as well in the Comments (link after end of article).

Major Similarities between V3HD and IO HD:

-SDI & HD-SDI based capture & output
-analog component/s-video/composite capture & output
-can transcode to a high quality codec in hardware
-FireWire800 based connection to host computer
-can function as standalone converter
-reference loopthrough
-RS-422 deck control
-other myriad audio/video features
-both can output simultaneous HD & SD over SDI taps
-both can output two SDI or two HD-SDI
-both have 4 channel analog audio I/O via XLR connectors
-both will work as standalone format converters - we're winners either way, this is very, very useful

Potential Advantages of V3HD over IO HD

-DVCPRO HD is an industry standard, ProRes is not (but AJA does support DVCPRO HD editing via FCP)
-Mac and Windows (IO HD is Mac only)
-EDIT to clarify - simultaneous output of standard and high defintion analog simultaneously - IO HD can't do that, as it only has a single component output set.
-optical audio in/out
-at least 8 analog in/out - which allows for affordable 5.1 surround output (hey, it is MOTU, audio is what they DO)
-FW400 as well as FW800
-generally more audio goodness, as that is MOTU's specialty
-in general a few more discrete outputs - SDI and HD-SDI are separate instead of combo, as are the component outputs (HD & SD component outputs, not a single switchable set) - but wait, see below....

Potential Advantages of IO HD over V3HD:

-uses ProRes, which is markedly higher quality than DVCPRO HD (but not industry standard, and Mac FCP 6 specific). This is a biggie. ProRes is full raster and 10 bit in HQ mode, DVCPRO HD is...not.
-HDMI in as well as out (V3 HD is HDMI out only)
-IO HD has cross convert capabilities that V3HD doesn't appear to have (if it did they'd probably say so)
-RCA stereo pair for simple monitoring
-a single set of cables for connecting to monitors..again see below

One other aspect that's a little fuzzier to quantify, but AJA has been making Mac/PC video specific hardware for a long time and has a very strong track record in that specific category. Their hardware and software are a known quantity (and known to be high quality). They partnered with Apple on this, the same way they did on the prior Io SD device - lends confidence it'll work very smoothly - the usual AJA way.

MOTU, on the other hand, has been around for a long time and is similarly well regarded in the audio industry, also has strong ties to Apple, BUT...AFAIK this is their first major video product, with all the implied Version 1.0 potential issues of a new product in a new market sector for them - their strong track record is audio, not video.

In the "different not necessarily better" * category:

-V3HD is intended as rackmount or desktop gear, while IO HD has a handle for easy transport and is meant to sit on a desktop.
-IO HD uses BNC connectors for AES/EBU audio I/O, V3HD uses a dense 25 pin type connector that you'd need a breakout cable for
-V3HD has separate sets of component connections for connection standard and high def. If you have two, separate monitors, this is great. If you have a single multi-mode monitor (like my JVC VT-1910CG), this is a pain, as you'd have to switch cables around to do standard and high def. On the other hand, the IO HD has a single set that are software switchable (no recabling required) so if you have a multi-mode monitor like mine, just leave it hooked up and you're good to go. BUT...if you want to drive two analog monitors, one in HD and one in SD, no dice.
-in exchanging emails with AJA on this, they pointed out that the IO HD has a clean, simple front display. Granted. The V3HD has a lot more discrete information displayed - is that more useful information, or just clutter? Client bling or inefficient, overkill and busy? Judgement call, personal preference. There's aspects of the detail V3HD gives I like, there's areas where I see they could convey the information more efficiently. But the information given is very thorough and discrete, and the geekier side of my soul likes that too.
-if you want to go beyond 4 channels of analog audio, you'd need a breakout cable from another 25 pin connector (but at least you can, IO HD doesn't have that many analog audio outputs). Nod, if an inconvenient one, to V3HD, since it will more affordably do 6 channels of analog audio out for surround. While you certainly can do it from AES/EBU, it is frightfully more expensive based on my recent research.

* (one could argue which is better, and I don't want to argue over it here...yet. For now, I'm OK calling them different, and although it may be that one has greater utility than the other, it is easily envisionable...blah blah see right below)

Winner? Either "nope", "not yet", "it depends", but ultimately "can't tell yet" it isn't clear which one is definitely "better" to my mind, it would depend on the user and usage scenario to differentiate (as well as the price), since I can easily envision multiple scenarios where either would be preferable to the other. In THEORY: On Mac? Got FCP 6? Not worried about 5.1 surround monitoring? Want/can use ProRes on the project? IO HD is lookin' good! On Windows? Or a Mac on FCP 5? Or doing surround, and want to monitor affordably? Need an analog HD output and an analog SD output? Want to see exactly what's up with all of your connections? A heavy audio kinda guy? MOTU V3HD is lookin' damn shiny. As usual, we're talkin' 'bout a horses for courses kind of thing. Also keep in mind...neither of these products has shipped yet. While both companies have good track records of shipping solid products, either or both of them could conceivably blow chunks in actual use, so keep in mind this is all complete conjecture based on published specs. And, as always, price matters.

I'm guessing, since it was just announced and they only have nice Photoshop mockups online, that V3HD is further from shipping than IO HD, since we saw fully working units of IO HD at NAB, and those are scheduled to ship in July for $3495 list.

OK, that's good for now, I'm heading out for the evening. Chime away using the link below with your thoughts and preferences, I'll revisit this over the weekend probably. Anybody want to guess at the price? Feel free in the comments, keeping in mind AJA is coming out at $3495 with theirs.

If there's any known technical inaccuracies in all of this, PLEASE do let me know - I'm just tryin' to get it right.

Labels: post, post equipment
Posted by: Mike Curtis / 6/08/2007 06:33:00 PM (8) comments links to this post
Joe Ray Skrha, Esq.
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Old August 18th, 2007, 03:33 PM   #4
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I think you gave a great review of these two products.

I need HDMI IN but then I need Windows.

So neither product works for me currently.

However, I will probably get a MacBookPro so the AJA will eventual work, but that is only assuing that I do more with Apple.

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Old August 21st, 2007, 09:29 AM   #5
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Instead of getting Blackmagic Intensity and the AJA card, why not simply use the HD Extreme from your MacPro?

The Magma Express Card can work with it I believe.
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Old August 21st, 2007, 10:45 AM   #6
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Hey all,

THe Decklink HD Extreme wont work as it needs a PCI-E 4x slot and the Expressbox to Expresscard uses PCi-E 1x.
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Old September 19th, 2007, 01:05 PM   #7
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i am awaiting availability of both machines here in europe.
The motu appeals a lot to me . Portable like my motu traveller audio interface. Amazing. The aja i/o is not really that portable I think.
I checked the aja io at the IBC. Very convincing but indeed not enough audio outs for me...( surround needs :-) ) The guy at Aja pointed out the possibility to use to little boxes from aja that allow to take out the embedded audio and thus have discrete analog audio outs. This does not look like a very appealing solution to me. cables more hardware....
I saw aplle pro res at apples IBC stand. I haven t been able to see a split screen comparison with DVC pro HD. But I could not see the differnce between uncompressed HD and pro res hq.

So I end up with asking the lucky ones in The USA that have hands on experience with using the MOTU V3hd and Aja IO
, to post reviews! I want to hook one of these machines to an 8 core and a MBP pro.....

let me know your thoughts.


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Old March 24th, 2008, 07:40 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Michael Galvan View Post
Hey all,

THe Decklink HD Extreme wont work as it needs a PCI-E 4x slot and the Expressbox to Expresscard uses PCi-E 1x.
The manual of the Expressbox states the following:

"Each system can accommodate up to a
x16 (16 lane) PCI Express card."


"Just about any type of PCI Express card can be used in ExpressBox1
ranging from audio processing, video capture, graphics, test &
measurement, data-acquisition, SCSI, FiberChannel, SATA and more."


"Interconnect Bandwidth: 2000Mbps 250MB/sec (full x1 PCIe speed with no latency)"

So it seems that the ExpressBox can accommodate a 16-lane card although the bandwidth is limited to one lane.

Now, uncompressed 1080/50i 10bit 4:2:2 video has a bandwidth of 132 MB/sec, which is well within the x1 PCIe bandwidth of 250MB/sec.

Which makes me think that it MIGHT work after all!

Has anyone tested this?

Last edited by Atilio Menendez; March 24th, 2008 at 08:52 AM.
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Old March 25th, 2008, 05:16 PM   #9
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Hey dont know if you guys know this but lycom makes the exact same thing like the magma box but way cheaper. In fact i think the magma is like 800 well the lycom one is 80 bucks. Yeah crazy huh. It supports 1 lane so you could throw a blackmagic intensity pro or intensity and good to go for about 400 to 450. That is saving you about a thousand compared to setup on magma box with intensity and like 2500 with io-hd. Now i have not tried one yet but i know that cineform tired with the magma and posted their results on their website you could check out. So with the newer macbook pros you should beable to do prores capture to firewire 800 drive. Oh and one more thing if you guys want to buy one (why not try it for price) the place in us is i spoke to manager about this and he is now carring this item in stock. I dont think its posted yet but you could always just call and order it. Hope this helps anyone.
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Old March 25th, 2008, 07:37 PM   #10
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Luke could you post the model number? I checked the site but couldn't find the item you're talking about.
I have a dream that one day canon will release a 35mm ef to xl adapter and I'll have iris control and a 35mm dof of all my ef lenses, and it will be awesome...
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Old March 25th, 2008, 07:48 PM   #11
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Its the EK-108 just go to its first thing on page.
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Old March 25th, 2008, 09:14 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Luke Garza View Post
Its the EK-108 just go to its first thing on page.
The EK-108 is just an adapter for cardbus cards to fit on an expresscard host. The expressbox on the other hand allows you to connect DESKTOP Pci express cards to a LAPTOP, a more complicated manner since such a card requires more power than a laptop can supply and has to be powered externally.

But you are totally right though that the magma adapter is overpriced. It is basically just a bridge and a 5v power supply! Someone should come up with a much cheaper product...

Thanks anyway!

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Old March 25th, 2008, 09:43 PM   #13
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Yeah just looked at it again and really read it and your right. Sorry my bad feel like idoit now, but also sad cause this would have been so cool if was what thought it was. Oh well will see what nab has to offer.
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Old April 9th, 2008, 12:20 PM   #14
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Let's see, the price of P2 cards . . .
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Old April 10th, 2008, 02:55 AM   #15
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MOTU V3HD Adds Support for Windows
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