September 10, 2011

AJA, Blackmagic, and Matrox Introduce Thunderbolt Video Interfaces at IBC

The new Intel/Apple thunderbolt interface is much simpler and potentially cheaper than previous high-speed solutions. It's also much more versatile, with a display interface built-in; on-set data wrangling, for example, stands to become a more straightforward and more compact operation with thunderbolt. At Amsterdam's IBC tradeshow this weekend, each of the leading video hardware companies introduced new thunderbolt interfaces:

Blackmagic Introduces Thunderbolt Intensity Extreme for $299

The $299 Intensity Extreme has a price point for DIY filmmakers and the features to match -- meaning, it lacks high-end HD-SDI connectors and is based primarily around HDMI. But, it's $299, plugs in through thunderbolt, and captures and outputs when working with Adobe Premiere Pro, Apple Final Cut Pro 7, Adobe After Effects, Adobe Photoshop and other QuickTime-based applications. The Intensity Extreme is also thunderbolt-powered (no A/C adapter required), which makes it nice for on-set use, and captures/plays back the following codecs: DV25, DVCPRO HD, HDV-MPEG2, Online JPEG, and ProRes (10-bit) along with uncompressed video. It also has component video, s-video and composite video connectors. Shipping Q4. Blackmagic also introduced the higher-end thunderbolt I/O device, Ultrastudio 3D.

Matrox Adds Thunderbolt to MXO2 Devices

Matrox originally announced a $299 adapter for their existing MXO2 family of adapters at NAB, but has since lowered the price to $199 (possibly because of Blackmagic's price point above). Here's a presentation from NAB in April; more details at ProVideo Coalition.

AJA Debuts Io XT Interface with Thunderbolt Connectivity

The front of of the Io XT (which sort of looks like a typo when written out) can be seen at the top of this post; the connectivity is just above. Here's the official description of the $1,500 device, which should ship in Q4: "Io XT connects to your Mac with a single Thunderbolt cable and provides a second Thunderbolt connector for daisy-chaining other Thunderbolt-enabled devices, such as storage, making it perfect for on set, or in the edit suite.

Compact, portable and powerful, it's loaded with high-end features including 3G/Dual-link/HD/SD-SDI, Component Analog, and HDMI connectivity. AJA's industry-proven OS X software and drivers connect the hardware to extensive codec and media support.

Pair Io XT with a MacBook Pro and Thunderbolt-based storage solution and you've got a no-compromise, fast editing system -portable enough to fit in a backpack.

Io XT features full 10-bit, broadcast-quality, motion-adaptive SD to HD up-conversion, HD to HD cross-conversion, HD to SD down-conversion, and automatic HD/SD 12-bit component analog output. Since all conversion functionality on the Io XT is hardware-based, it's available all the time on ingest or playback."

More details at AJA's page.

Finally, G-technology demonstrated new Thunderbolt storage products, which join Promise's Thunderbolt offerings in the thunderbolt storage universe.

[via ProVideo Coalition]

Your Comment


So could anyone explain to mo what these devices are used for?

You connect your 5D via HDMI with the Blackmagic Intensity Extreme and connect that device via Thunderbold to your Macbook. What now?

September 10, 2011 at 3:28PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


By being able to capture straight to your computer, you remove the encode/decode step. You could record straight to the editing format of your choice, instead of H264/AVCHD/etc.

As a GH2 user, this opens up a world of awesome stuff. As the GH2 hack develops, it will hopefully remove the crippled HDMI out, enabling a beautiful 4:2:2 image straight from the camera, into the capturing program of my choice.

September 10, 2011 at 4:02PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


Thank you very much for the explanation, Nathaniel.
So besides that Blackmagic Intensity Extreme you'd need to carry a macbook pro on your rig to record to?
Does that make sense?

Why not capture straight to an external recorder?

September 10, 2011 at 4:34PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


Yes, that's the reason why there is another product - BlackMagic HyperDeck Shuttle.

it's specifically designed as an external recorder, takes HDMI and SDI, records 10bit 422 uncompressed, only works with certain hi-speed SSDs.

currently 5D does not output full resolution signal, you will also need to install Magic Lantern (to remove all GUI like zoom box), and you still get letterbox in the frame, therefore prohibiting the external recorder from capturing full 1920x1080.

September 10, 2011 at 5:09PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


This is more beneficial in a studio, not something you will likely find next to a camera on-location where a portable recorder would be more adequate. Also, this is utterly worthless with your 5D (it's okay, I'm in the same boat), as the 5D doesnt have clean HDMI, so recording to CF is your only option.

September 11, 2011 at 4:50AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


Thanks a lot you guys. That helped a lot.

September 11, 2011 at 8:25AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


5D does have "clean" HDMI, provided that you installed AJ's Magic Lantern firmware. however it's not full 1920x1080.

September 11, 2011 at 9:21AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


Isn't it only 480p or thereabouts?

September 11, 2011 at 12:25PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

Ryan Koo

480p in recording mode, 1080/60i in standby liveview, however due to the letterboxing, actual usable resolution is something around 1600x900 (8bit, 4:2:2 uncompressed quicktime, roughly 200MB/s)

September 11, 2011 at 4:30PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM



September 12, 2011 at 1:12AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


This is the third product they make in this Intensity serie.
Something looks weird to me though, I read through the Tech Specs and this is what the Intensity Extreme & Pro support : 1080i50, 1080i59.94, 1080p23.98, 1080p24, 720p50 and 720p59.94.
This is what the Intensity Shuttle (USB 3.0 model) supports : 1080i50, 1080i59.94, 1080i60,1080p23.98, 1080p24, 1080p25, 1080p29.97, 1080p30, 720p50, 720p59.94, 720p60.
Is the lack of 1080p25 (and several others) on the Pro & Extreme models a major flaw ? In Europe, it may be. What is the actual standard for broadcast material ? 1080p25/30 or 1080i50/60 ?
These devices are also a way to get a proper HDMI output for color grading for example.

September 12, 2011 at 8:56AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


We always deliver HDCAM tapes 1080i59.94 to the broadcaster (North America) even for programs shot in 1080p24p the final delivery is always a 1080i on HDCAM. Those are the specs I've had to deliver anyway. Things would be different in the UK etc.

September 15, 2011 at 3:32PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM


That's correct, from a broadcast point of view, you never output at 30p or 25p. Broadcast is alway 1080i/50 or 59.94, and theatrical would be 1080p/24. While I have at times filmed at 1080p/30 for personal projects, professionally speaking, as a broadcast and cinema professional, I would have no use for it. The only use to me would be for web distribution maybe, in which case I probably wouldn't rely on external device for output anyway.

September 15, 2011 at 5:13PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM