Find Your Format: The Ins and Outs of Video Converters
There are two basic kinds of video converters—hardware and software—each with variations that provide plenty of options for users. However, in the age of powerful nonlinear editing systems that accept all sorts of video standards, users do not need as many of the video standards-converting “black boxes” that have been used in postproduction since the 1980s.
Production facilities that are still using tape and have the proper deck are probably using NLEs that process IEEE 1394 or HD-SDI, such as Adobe’s Premiere Pro CS6, enabling editors to use multiple resolutions and standards on a single sequence. If the project is completed in a 1080i 29.97 format and it needs to be sent to Europe—where 720p 25 is the norm—then Adobe’s Media Encoder is an option. Just load up the project and set the output. The Adobe encoder will provide a file that can easily be sent via FTP, burned to DVD/Blu-ray or output to tape. (Almost all HDV and DV VTRs record 50/60 Hz, NTSC/PAL.)
The primary use for hardware converters today is the integration of modern cameras with digital outputs into workflows with legacy equipment. Imagine a situation on a shoot where the show is mixed live; say it is shot with a Sony HVR-S270U with HD-SDI out and a Sony HVR-Z7U with HDMI out. Because of the distance of the Z7 from the HD-SDI switcher, an HDMI to HD-SDI converter on the switchers will be required to maintain the quality of the signal.
Here’s a look at some of the latest converters from AJA Video Systems, Blackmagic Design, Cobalt Digital and Matrox.
AJA | UDC
The UDC up/down/cross mini-converter from AJA can convert between SD, HD and 3G video formats. Supporting formats including 3G/HD/SD-SDI input and output, HDMI output and two-channel RCA-style audio output, the UDC also supports eight-channel embedded audio. The UDC can be configured through built-in dipswitches or AJA’s MiniConfig software for the Mac or PC via the UDC’s USB connection.
Blackmagic Design | Teranex 2D Processor
Blackmagic’s Teranex 2D processor, a standards converter with Thunderbolt connectivity, offers all conversions in 4:2:2 quality in a single channel. (There’s also a 3D version that has dual processors that can handle dual-channel conversions for full-resolution 3D processing, as well as 4:4:4 quality.) One rack unit in size, with built-in power supply, the 2D processor feature 3 Gb/s SDI, HDMI and analog video in and out, with independent eight-channel AES/EBU and four-channel analog audio. It delivers HD/SD up/down/cross-conversion, SD/HD standards conversion, cadence detect and remove, noise reduction, adjustable scaling, aspect ratio conversion, smart aspect, timecode conversion, subtitle conversion, 16-channel audio and test signals.
Matrox | MC-100
The MC-100 from Matrox is a dual SDI-to-HDMI mini-converter that supports a wide range of display resolutions through 3G, Dual Link, HD and SD-SDI. The MC-100 can be used as an HD-SDI switcher, distribution amplifier, multiplexer and 3D processing unit. Features include multiformat SDI signal distribution, SDI signal amplification, multiplexing of two HD-SDI video signals into a single 3G-SDI feed, and real-time 3D processing, including Horizontal Image Translation (HIT) and vertical offset adjustments.
Cobalt Digital | 9901-UDX
Cobalt Digital’s 9901-UDX card offers up/down/cross format conversion, frame sync, and advanced audio and ancillary data support. Users can select from options to add (as inputs and/or outputs) fiber, analog video, AES and analog audio. This level of integration reduces module count, simplifies the signal chain and provides flexibility for changing requirements. Options also include general purpose keying, color correction, Dolby E/AC-3 encoding and decoding (with both decode and re-encode on the same card), ITU/ATSC/EBU-compliant loudness metering, and Linear Acoustic upmixing and loudness processing. In situations where the full conversion capability is not required, the 9901 series is available as a base model version, with the ability to upgrade to the 9901-UDX model as necessary.