Machinima Artists Guild

Moderators: Cisko, Larkworthy Antfarm, Celestial Elf, Asil, Natascha Randt

After experimenting with Fraps, PlayClaw, and the Hauppauge HD-PVR, I've bought a Blackmagic Intensity Pro video capture card and after a lot of fiddling with settings this morning, I finally have it working.  I haven't done any real shooting yet, just testing, so what follows are just first impressions, in case they help someone else.

I'm using a two computer setup, with SL running on one computer in full graphics mode and the Intensity Pro in the second computer.  Both computers are Windows 7 64-bit, dual core Intel 3.0 CPUs; the SL computer has an NVIDIA GT260 and the capture computer has an NVIDIA 9800 GTX. 

The Intensity Pro comes with a DVI-HDMI adapter cable that I'm using to connect the two computers.  The DVI end is in my SL computer's video card (NVIDIA GT260) and the HDMI in the Intensity Pro.  The SL computer is set for dual monitor output, with duplicate displays.  I'm using the NVIDIA control panel to set resolutions.

EDIT: The DVI-HDMI adapter cable doesn't come with the Intensity Pro.  When I wrote that, I forgot that I ordered the adapter separately from Amazon.

With this setup, I can capture at the following resolutions (I didn't test lower resolutions):
  • 1080p 30
  • 1080i 60
  • 720p 60
Blackmagic recommends against using the Intensity Pro with a single standard hard drive and instead recommends using a RAID with two disks for SD or with at least 8 disks (!) for HD.  I'm using a single fairly fast SSD (OCZ Vertex 2) which looks to me like it will be barely adequate. 

The Intensity Pro comes with speed test software for testing your capture hard drive; I've attached an image (it's after the end of this post) showing the results for my Vertex 2, showing the fps for various resolution and recording formats.  Blackmagic recommends leaving a very large margin below this.  For example, if the speed test shows that I can record at 56fps, I probably should aim for shooting at a substantially lower fps.  Blackmagic recommends allowing a 100% margin with a two disk array and a 30% margin with an 8 disk array.

The Intensity Pro comes with Media Express for video capture and playback; I've been able to capture with it and also with Premiere Pro CS5.

I'll post more after I've actually used it for a while.  In the meantime, I hope this helps someone. 

Views: 934

Attachments:

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Awesome! I may buy this card, just so we can troubleshoot together!! Really looking forward to your initial tests. For machinima, if your audience is YouTube and its brethren, the 720p should be more than enough.
Great idea! I look forward to comparing results and troubleshooting.

The Intensity Pro has a much lower CPU impact than I expected. I probably could have installed it in the same computer that I'm using for SL, but I still feel more comfortable having it in a separate computer. I have the second computer right here at my desk, so I may as well use it, but my preliminary feeling is that in a reasonably powerful computer, the Intensity Pro would work satisfactorily under most conditions in the same computer that's running SL.

Asil said:
Awesome! I may buy this card, just so we can troubleshoot together!! Really looking forward to your initial tests. For machinima, if your audience is YouTube and its brethren, the 720p should be more than enough.
Ordering from NewEgg now. *Fingers Crossed* will have it up and running Thursday or Friday!
Apollo Manga said:
Great idea! I look forward to comparing results and troubleshooting.
Is it on Newegg? It wasn't when I ordered mine. I ended up ordering from amazon.

Oops, I just remembered, I made a misstatement in my original post. The DVI-HDMI adapter cable doesn't come with the Blackmagic. I ordered it from amazon, their own brand. It costs $8.37. The product link is www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001TH7T2U/ref=oss_product. My apologies!
NewEgg doesn't have it ... ordering from B & H. Thanks for the tip on the adapter cable. :-)

Apollo Manga said:
Is it on Newegg? It wasn't when I ordered mine. I ended up ordering from amazon.

Oops, I just remembered, I made a misstatement in my original post. The DVI-HDMI adapter cable doesn't come with the Blackmagic. I ordered it from amazon, their own brand. It costs $8.37. The product link is www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001TH7T2U/ref=oss_product. My apologies!
I was too busy yesterday to use the Intensity Pro and when a friend came over in the evening and wanted to see how it worked, I was apprehensive that I might have configuration issues. It's happened too many times in the past with other new technology. I think I have something working but haven't thoroughly tested it and when it's time to put it to work, the configuration needs further tinkering.

That wasn't the case with the Intensity Pro. I started up Media Express in the capture computer and then powered up the SL computer. As soon as it started up, I immediately saw the SL computer's screen duplicated in Media Express on the capture computer, and when I logged into SL, it was also on the capture computer. It was working!

I won't have time for a few days to really test it, but I'm feeling comfortable now that when I do, the Intensity Pro will be ready. Of course the real question isn't the testing, it's how it performs when I actually start shooting. That's coming soon.
RL commitments have kept me from doing any shooting since installing the Blackmagic, but today I was able to increase its write speed by about 12%, to a little over 250MB/s (as reported by the Blackmagic Speed Test utility). I did this by changing my SATA mode in BIOS from IDE to AHCI.

You can't simply change the SATA mode on an existing system. It generates a BSOD. However, making two simple changes to the Windows registry will allow the SATA mode to be changed. Anyone interested can read about it at www.tomshardware.com/forum/244840-32-convert-sata-ahci-vista. This article is about Vista, but it worked on my Windows 7 64-bit system. However even though the change is simple, I don't recommend editing the Windows registry if you don't have experience with it. You can totally mess up your computer by making the wrong change.
Took "tricking" the nVidia graphics software, but I was able to get the Blackmagic to render off the same workstation. Older graphic cards (think analog) will push a signal to a second monitor, even if that monitor is not connected. Thanks to DRM restrictions and the newest EDID protocols, you can't add a second monitor feed out of your graphic card unless you have the second monitor connected. If you're connecting to the same computer, that's a problem because the feed will loop and you bascially won't see anything.

Depending on your graphic card, this trick may work for you. The nVIdia 480 support up to two monitor feeds at a time, but it has three outputs (two HDMI and one mini-HDMI). I connected the two HDMIs to my monitor and the mini-HDMI to the BlackMagic rendering card. Since the driver software only allows me to have two active feeds at a time, it didn't loop either feed; instead it disabled the second and third feeds and asked me to choose. This allowed me to choose the mini-HDMI and configure it to work on an extended desktop that was locked to BlackMagic's Capture Software before activating it.

Then, I ran two instances of SecondLife (using two different avatars) and pushed the "camara" avatar's instance of SL on to the extended desktop (the mini-HDMI feed) where it locked into the capture software. Now I'm able to render video on to the RAID array in this workstation. Only hassle factor is the hack needs to be recreated every time you want to render (can't leave the three feeds connected to the graphics card as the nVidia driver doesn't read the third feed at boot).

So far, am rendering 720 dpi at a 16:1 aspect ratio and I'm liking it. Will do some tests tonight any hopefully post tomorrow.
I didn't realize how complicated setting up the Intensity Pro for use with a single computer would be. I was originally going to install mine that way, but at the last minute I opted to install it in a different computer than the one running SL. It appears that I saved myself a considerable amount of hassle. It was relatively easy to set up.
/me nods. I confirmed on the nVidia forums that its output of SL would not be a nerfed feed and confirmed with BlackMagic that it would be able to capture the SL feed before I bought the card. [For DRM reasons the Blackmagic Intensity HDMI input is unable to capture from copy protected HDMI sources (like Hollywood DVDs or some streamed content), so you always want to confirm copyright ownership before capture or distribution of content.]

I actually think rendering to a second computer is a better choice if you can organize your production workflow to support it. However, my other rigs are either a small form-factor (so the Blackmagic can't fit in the case) or would require major retrofitting, so I am committing myself to one rig for this project and will leave the rest of my SOHO alone. Good thing too, as my laptop died last week (looks like the LCD screen went bye-bye) and the graphics card on my old rig burned out. Its like the hardware knew it was OK to "give up the ghost".

CORRECTION: I'm shooting 16:9 not 16:1. Typo!!!

Apollo Manga said:
I didn't realize how complicated setting up the Intensity Pro for use with a single computer would be. I was originally going to install mine that way, but at the last minute I opted to install it in a different computer than the one running SL. It appears that I saved myself a considerable amount of hassle. It was relatively easy to set up.
@Asil, in your situation, the Hauppauge HD-PVR that I originally posted about (and then returned) might be a better choice for you than the Blackmagic. The Hauppauge is an external unit that allows you to send rendered output to a separate computer for writing to disk. Pretty much any computer can be used for writing as the output is sent via USB.

The main problems with the Hauppauge are:
1) It uses H.264 AVCHD encoding
2) The maximum resolution is 1080i
3) The capture software is primitive.
4) I've read a lot of complaints about it overheating and failing early. I suspect this problem could be avoided by leaving the unit turned off except when using it.

However there are a lot of very satisfied users; it has the advantages that it takes all processing off the SL computer by sending second monitor output to an external unit for rendering and allows using a less powerful computer for writing to disk.

I never got mine working correctly and returned it before determining whether it was a defective unit or a problem I could correct. My other experience with Hauppauge - a standard definition WinTV-HVR-1850 card that I've used for capture from an old analog camcorder that I used for shooting Native American dancing - has been very satisfactory.
I'm loving the BlackMagic and see no reason to change it. You will remember my desire was to benefit from the PCI-e architecture; if I wanted to use UBS, I would have gone with the Blackmagic Shuttle. And seriously, after the issues you had with the Hauppauge, saw absolutely no reason to test it. However, thanks for the thoughts!

Apollo Manga said:
@Asil, in your situation, the Hauppauge HD-PVR that I originally posted about (and then returned) might be a better choice for you than the Blackmagic.

RSS

Photos

Loading…
  • Add Photos
  • View All

Available

Now!

© 2017   Created by Lowe Runo.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service