Capturing video -- Matrox vs. BlackMagic, and a general workflow issue

    Dec 14 2010 | 11:48 pm
    Am looking for opinions on video-capture options for my studio work. Lots of good information in these threads:
    Starting a new thread since my questions are different.
    I work exclusively with QT/2D video/effects in Jitter. My Jitter output is 320x240, which is interpolated up to whatever monitor resolution I'm using. My end result needs to be an editable format since I do "post-production" on the captured video in FinalCut Pro. I've always been happy with DV as my capture format.
    My Jitter-capture workflow used to be simple. Not highest-quality results, but I never saw deal-killing problems:
    Jitter Laptop (Windows XP) --> S-Video output via laptop graphics-card --> DV conversion via Canopus ADVC-100 --> Capture via iMovie in another Mac
    I moved over to a 15" MacBook Pro in April (the penultimate generation). No S-Video. VGA scan-conversion has too many conversion anomalies (tearing, banding)
    It seems the best way to maintain my original workflow is:
    Jitter Laptop (MacBook Pro) --> HDMI 720p output via laptop mini DisplayPort adaptor --> Captured by a Matrox MXO2 Mini or BlackMagic Intensity Shuttle on another computer --> Converted down to DV by the Matrox or BlackMagic during capture
    Finally, the questions:
    1. Any opinions on the MXO2 Mini vs. Intensity Shuttle? Key issue for me is quality of the capture and conversion down to DV. But also interested in any thought about the devices.
    2. Am I doing the down-conversion too soon? Should I capture the 720p as-is, edit in FinalCut Pro, then have FCP handle the down conversion? Will FCP produce better conversion results? I have next to no experience editing HD video, so I'm not sure what problems that creates vs. SD editing.
    Thanks for reading my long post, and thanks for any responses.

    • Dec 15 2010 | 1:26 am
      I can only comment on the MX02 Mini as I own one...
      I don't see any reason to go to 720p if your source material is SD aspect ratio. The MX02 captures SD just fine, and your HDMI output should be able to go to 640x480 or "NTSC" without a problem.
      I have seen no issues with the MX02 capturing via HDMI or via analog composite. I generally capture into ProRes 422 HQ - at SD resolution its data rate is comparable to DV, but generally better quality. I would go with that codec rather than DV myself, but if you must finish to DV then I'd capture in ProRes and then transcode to DV after the edit process is finished.
      The recent FCP Suite speaks ProRes natively.
      (As an aside, a nice feature of the MX02 Mini is that it can be used as a video input device to Jitter. Can't confirm this with the Intensity Shuttle.)
    • Dec 15 2010 | 1:36 am
      Thanks, Jesse. This is all good info. I assumed capturing via HDMI was limited to HD, glad it isn't. I'll experiment with ProRes.
    • Dec 15 2010 | 2:02 am
      NP. Another aside - I don't think the Intensity Shuttle will run on a Mac yet...
      There is another option in this range - MOTU HD Express
      Haven't heard much about it, but its specs are better than the MX02 Mini.
    • Dec 15 2010 | 5:12 am
      Yeah, I saw that. I just assumed dedicated video companies like Matrox or BlackMagic would do a better job handling video.
    • Dec 16 2010 | 10:35 pm
      Got a Matrox MXO2 Mini. My initial tests have gone well. I've never done HD capture before, so have nothing to compare it to, but looks good to me.
      My final workflow is:
      Jitter on a MacBook Pro --> 320x240 source material --> Interpolated and sent out second monitor via HDMI 720p --> Captured via MXO2 Mini HDMI in --> Real-time converted by the MXO2 to DV/DVCPRO NTSC (i.e, standard def)
      The MacBook Pro is willing to send lower-res output signals, like 420p or SD resolutions, but unless I'm missing something, the MXO2 HDMI input will only recongize 720p and 1080
    • Dec 17 2010 | 12:27 am
      If you're using the Easy Setups for FCP that come with the Matrox card this may be the case, but I would imagine it's possible to create your own and capture at SD resolution via HDMI. Then again, I've never done this, so it's just speculation.
      Glad you are having good results with your workaround. I suppose if the interpolation method works for you then the above is moot.
    • Dec 17 2010 | 1:19 am
      So far I've only worked with Matrox's proprietary utility capture software. I assume that it, along with the hardware preference panel, exposes all the settings available to the unit.
      Yeah, so far I'm happy with the capture/conversion results. Definitely better than the years I spent going S out a laptop to a DV converter.
      I've spent alot of time researching gear and seting up this box, so might be a while until I dig deeper to see if I'm missing settings that will make it look even better.