Composite Video Input Devices for OSX

    Apr 03 2011 | 4:45 am
    It's been a long time since I wanted to run Composite video into Jitter. Last time I was looking, the Imaging Source products were the ones to go with when working with Jitter. But the unit I used was Firewire.
    I'm looking to find out what users are finding to be good, stable solutions for getting composite or svideo signal into Jitter.
    I am looking at the Imaging Source DFG/USB2-Lt but I'm very surprised that my searches on this forum return only one reference to this device. Has anyone tried it? Are there actually drivers for it on OSX? (the firewire version required a third party driver)
    What ARE you all using for Composite input into Jitter on OSX nowadays?
    Thanks in advance!

    • Apr 04 2011 | 1:01 am
      Really - Nobody uses standard composite video for live input into Jitter anymore? Surely SOMEone is doing real-time processing of composite video.... what I/O device are you using?
    • Apr 04 2011 | 3:12 am
      I take composite video from my tv, route it into an old mini-dv cam (via a cable with phono plug to 1/8"plug) and use firewire to connect the mini-dv cam with my computer. Works just fine for me.
    • Apr 04 2011 | 7:43 am
      You can use the Pinnacle Dazzle RCA/Composite / USB 2.0 adaptor which gives you uncompressed NTSC/PAL over USB 2.0.
      Daystar XTraview, also uncompressed NTSC/PAL over USB 2.0
      Aditionally you can use similar and cheaper devices that work with the Video Glide Driver
      (IIRC the Xtraview comes with a license of VideoGlide driver). All the video glide devices are Uncompressed, USB 2.0.
      Here is an image of the capture devices for size.
      Note, the Diamond Multimedia device shows up in the driver list, but I've not gotten it to work. I would stay away from it if on the Mac. The Pinnacle and the XLR8 work just fine, and show up in Jitter and other Quicktime compatible applications.
      Here is the Jitter list:
      I've tested all 3 of the above, and they all work about the same (albeit the Diamond on PC only). I suspect they use the same chipset or same family of device, with small changes to provide vendor lockout (Diamond, im looking at you).
      These devices are cheap, but they work. Latency is I want to say around 3-4 frames (been a while since I tested). Better than DV (which usually 7, although some folks say 4 on new machines/OS'es, ive never seen 4 frames personally), and I think thats about on par with the DFG-1394.
    • Apr 04 2011 | 7:51 am
      Oh, one last note. All of these devices are very sensitive to Sync issues, meaning you need to provide good clean true video signals in for capture, or use something like a Time Base Corrector to fix older devices, or poorly made custom stuff (like, say, my shit). Unlike some better capture cards, these devices need to see vertical sync to lock to even allow capture. If you are looking to capture funky, glitched out old sources, these devices will randomly stop capturing when they lose sync. Something like an AJA, BlackMagic or Matrox will work for those scenarios, but can be an order of magnitude more expensive. (You do, in fact, get what you pay for though).
    • Apr 04 2011 | 10:38 pm
      Thank you! If I could find an Aja or Blackmagic that would provide me with a USB or Firewire based input that was not a compressed or DV signal, I'd be really happy.
      I had heard that XLR8 was out of business. Clearly not quite true. And that the Pinnicle required use of their software to get the unit to 'wake up' and start I was bypassing those.
      Thank you again!!!!
    • Apr 05 2011 | 6:26 am
      Vade - I wanted to thank you again for the excellent information. I have searched for both the XLR8 and the Pinnacle unit and, unfortunately, most vendors are out of stock at the moment (especially for 6 units, which is what I need for these 6 machines). But I VERY much appreciate the fact that I now know with some confidence that if I manage to find some units, they should work. Now, to do that within 4 days.
      For you and others who might be interested:
      I spoke with an engineer at Grass Valley today about the GrassValley ADVCmini video to usb converter. He confirmed that this device does NOT function with software other than theirs and that GrassValley was not planning to release an API for others to write drivers for this unit. He was very clear in saying that this unit requires a message from their software to appear as an input device and will ONLY do so with their software and not Quicktime or other 'generic' software. I'm not saying nobody here could hack the device, but it doesn't look like it will be plug and play.
      Likewise the Imaging Source DFG/USB2-LT only has windows drivers (like the older DFG Firewire unit) and the folks who wrote the third party drivers for the firewire unit said they had no way to write a driver for the new DFG/USB2-lt.
      So, onward with XLR8 and Pinnacle.
    • Apr 05 2011 | 5:08 pm
      I've had reasonably good results with the Canopus ADVC110, but I believe it uses DV, which is basically the same as running through a miniDV camera, but without the bulk. It's unfortunate to see that there is such a move away from firewire (and QT support), but my impression is that over time Quicktime support is becoming less of a priority for manufacturers.
      I look forward to hearing other reports.
    • Apr 05 2011 | 5:54 pm
      The Canopus boxes are all HDV / DV, so yea, no uncompressed.
      Part of the issue with Hardware + Quicktime is that the Sequence Grabber and its companion Quicktime component API that device managers need to build on are deprecated by Apple. All I can say is with 10.7 there are going to be some new routes for video playback and for device manufacturers to have a more modern/sane/clean interface to the OS. Its not yet clear how much of a net win it is over the existing APIs though functionality/performance wise.
      Apples current devices (and possibly some select 3rd party developers) use the newer private API. This is how QTKit allows more than 1 device to say, read from the iSight simultaneously -assuming both Applications leverage via QTKit. For example you can open iChat video sharing and Photobooth at the same time, but Jitter and many other apps need sole access to the device can't handle it (I presume because Jitter does not leverage QTKit, but I'm not positive about any of that - speculation ++). As I understand it, shared device access and other features are only possible because of the new driver model, which no one can use but Apple. Of course, some things are lost - like not always being able to bring up the "standard" Capture Settings dialog, etc.
      I suspect things will turn for the better, but right now, I agree 100%, Quicktime is a mire of ugliness. I cannot wait till we get past it to more modern approaches. I just hope Apple does not drop the ball and give us half assed, semi functional, public APIs. They need to eat their own dog food.
    • Apr 13 2011 | 6:12 pm
      I realize this is an OSX thread, but does anyone have an idea if any of the above listed devices will also capture uncompressed SD video for jitter in a Windows environment? The XLR8 seems to me like the most promising option.
      So far I have been using Blackmagic Intensity pros for uncompressed SD and sometimes HD capture. I managed to combine that with a 400$ PCIe-expansion box (¤cy=GBP) to get a Windows laptop capture solution. It serves me well, but it a bit bulky and certainly more expensive than USB dongles listed in Vade's post.
      Did anyone have a positive experience with any uncompressed composite USB device in Windows?
    • Apr 14 2011 | 6:46 am
      The Diamond Multimedia box I mentioned above as works on Windows, but I dont have a lot of experience with it (or, honestly, Windows).
    • Apr 14 2011 | 5:58 pm
      I guess I'll have to chance it then.
    • Apr 15 2011 | 9:18 am
      I just an email back from Active Solutions who manufacture the LFG-4 - a SD 4 input composite/s-video card.
      "We have tested max/msp/jitter successfully with our card..."
      £495, not bad.
      Cheers, Stuart
    • Aug 03 2011 | 8:36 am
      A very useful thread - thanks! I wondered if there's been any update on this discussion - anyone tested a system in the field and can report back on it? If so, I'd be really grateful.
      I'm running an installation with four cameras connected to a Mac - I'm performing optical flow analyses of the images. Unfortunately, due to the conditions I'm working in (a tropical environment), Firewire cameras are dying after a few months in the space. Actually, the cameras survive, it's the cables and boosters that don't. I've potted the cameras in heat-conductive resin to keep the moisture out by the way, and can report that it enables the cameras to survive for three years in such a harsh environment.
      Now I'm onto plan B: replacing the Firewires with cheap, robust security cameras, then using a security camera system to turn them into one quad image, then converting that into Firewire or USB, then analysing the image on the Mac.
      So I'm now wondering:
      - Has anyone road-tested one of these composite to Firewire or composite to USB2 systems on a Mac? Did it behave itself well? NB The Mac and converter aren't in the tropical environment but a lovely cool box elsewhere.
      - What's the latest thoughts on USB2 cameras with Jitter? I've always been wary about using them as Firewire was the thing I'd tried and tested. But maybe things have moved on over the last couple of years.
      - Any other tips?
      Thanks. Sarah Spacedog
    • Nov 29 2011 | 12:04 am
      Greetings all. To answer the above post as well as I can, I have used the DFG/1394-1 and Canopus ADVC-100 and ADVC-110 extensively on a Mac with great long term reliability. The ADVC series uses a DV codec and the DFG is uncompressed. You will need to buy a third party driver on the mac for the DFG from here (canopus just appears as a standard DV device without additional drivers):
      In regards to USB devices, I cant really comment at this stage and in fact have a question for VADE or others who may have experience. I just purchased a Dazzle DVC100 to test (apparently made by AVID now) and cant seem to get it to appear as a usb input device in jit.qt.grab
      "The Pinnacle and the XLR8 work just fine, and show up in Jitter and other Quicktime compatible applications."
      I can get it to work if I install the VideoGlide driver. Just wanted to check if you actually got it to work on the mac without the additional driver as the statement indicates this? I am working with Max 5 on an intel mac.
    • Dec 19 2011 | 1:10 pm
      Just an update. The Dazzle DVC100 appears to work as an SD digitizer under OSX without problems. You need to use the videoglide drivers for it to be recognized in jit.qt.grab. Currently about $30
      Tested in Max 5 on 10.5 & 10.6