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Video Converters Bridge the Gap From Analog TV to HDTV

Producers have to deal with 1080i, 720p, 1080p and 3G-HDTV with 4K-TV on the horizon

North American video producers once worked primarily in analog NTSC (so named for the National Television System Committee), and that was that. Occasionally, producers would have to convert a European PAL-format video, but that was relatively rare.

But times have changed. Today’s producers not only have to deal with 1080i and 720p, but also the emergence of 1080p and 3G-HDTV video with 4K-television (providing four times the resolution of 1080p) on the horizon. Yet, when archival footage is accessed, the same producers have to deliver analog NTSC into the digital realm, plus confront the fun of converting computer-generated graphics as well as YouTube video from the Web.

Fortunately, equipment vendors have developed a range of video converters to ease producer pain by bridging the various format gaps. A sampling of what’s available on the market:


AJA Video System’s FS2 AJA Video Systems’ FS frame synchronizers can handle a range of analog/digital signals, and convert between them. Designed for use in broadcast and post production environments, FS units feature dual 3G/HD/SD-SDI inputs and outputs, comprehensive multi-channel audio connections and input/output for analog video equipment, including HD and SD component.

AJA’s FS2 model features HDMI inputs/outputs with support for 3D output, and a fiber connectivity option supporting dual LC fiber, single-fiber LC or single-fiber SC modules for inputs and outputs. The FS2 also supports dual channels that each have dedicated processors for video, audio and pro amp/color corrector work, which can be combined as necessary for dual separate outputs from a single input, for instance. The overall result is AJA’s FS1 and FS2 provide support for all broadcast video formats in a single converter box.

AJA also offers a range of mini converters that enable straight format-to-format conversion. Combinations include HDMI to SDI/HD-SDI video and audio, SDI/HD-SDI to analog audio/video and 3G/Dual Link/HD-SD-SDI to HDMI video and audio among many other options.


Blackmagic Design’s Mini Converter Heavy Duty Three families of video conversion products are available from Blackmagic Design, including the Mini Converter, the Mini Converter Heavy Duty and the OpenGear Converters. The company’s Mini Converters are meant to be advanced but easy to use, to support automatic switching between SD, HD and 3Gb/s video standards. There are 12 Mini Converter models in total, each featuring low SDI jitter and SDI re-clocking to support long SDI cable runs.

Mini Converter Heavy Dutys are Mini Converters that have been ruggedized for location usage, according to Blackmagic Design. Each converter is machined from a solid block of aircraft-grade aluminum, and can withstand being run over by the largest remote vehicle, the company said. The HDMI-to-SDI and SDI-to-HDMI heavy-duty units are also available as “battery converters,” meaning that they can be battery powered while on location.

For those who prefer rack-mounted units, Blackmagic Design’s OpenGear 2RU video converters are open standard, meaning that users can install OpenGear converter cards made by a range of vendors. The company also offers the Broadcast Converter. It is a bidirectional rack-based SDI, analog and HDMI converter that combines most features found on mini converters into a 1RU chassis.


Cobalt Digital’s Obsidian3G terminal gear card Known for its 3G/HD/SD video format conversion products, Cobalt Digital unveiled the latest at the 2013 NAB Show. The lineup included Cobalt’s Obsidian3G terminal gear cards with a down converter/ distribution amplifier; the company said it plans to follow up with DCDA-3G and DCDA-3G2 dual down converters with 3G, frame sync and AES outputs.

In addition, Cobalt Digital said its Fusion3G cards now support Dolby DD+ with simultaneous 5.1 and 2.0 loudness processing and capability of Dolby transcoding on a single card. That adds to the Fusion3G’s existing processing features such as format conversion, frame sync, wings insertion, keying, color correction, advanced audio processing, full analog I/O, audio/video delay, audio embed/deembed/ cross-point and up/down mixing.


Evertz’s 7812UDXAES8-3G Evertz makes a range of video conversion products. The company’s 7812UDX-HD and 7812UDX-AES8-HD video conversion units convert between common HD/SMPTE ST 292-1 video signals. The 7812UDX- 3G and 7812UDX-AES8-3G models handle common 3G/ SMPTE ST 424 video signals.

Those video converters all support frame synchronization and external genlock inputs (card and frame reference) for adjusting video timing, according to Evertz.

Meanwhile, the HD2014, HD2012 and HD2011 are multi-path 1RU video conversion and frame synchronization platforms. The last number in the model name outlines how many independent channels of video processing each unit supports; with the HD20111 supporting one, the HD2012 supporting two and the HD2014 supporting four. Each processing path covers full frame sync and up/down/cross conversion capabilities, plus noise reduction, video proc and video enhancement capabilities.

Finally, the Evertz HD2020 Video PassPort is a 1RU, four-channel video conversion and frame synchronization platform. It combines up/down/cross conversion with a range of video/audio input/outputs, including up to 4x 3G/HD/SD coax in/out, 4x 3G/HD/SD fiber optic serial in/out, and 4x composite analog video in/out.


Matrox Video’s Matrox Convert DVI Matrox Video’s Matrox Convert DVI Plus HD-SDI scan converter is designed to let broadcasters incorporate content from computers, iPads and iPhones into television programs easily and economically.

It is well suited to creating broadcast-quality video from computer applications such as Skype, YouTube, Google Earth, FaceTime, ProPresenter, PowerPoint and Web browsers. In addition, Matrox Convert DVI Plus can be used to drive projectors and large displays at live events.

Matrox also has the MC-100 Dual SDI to HDMI Mini Converter for 3G/3D/HD/SD. It meets the diverse needs of broadcast engineers and audiovisual professionals for SDI signals within their environment, whether for monitoring, distribution, switching, multiplexing, or processing 3D in real time.


Opticomm-Emcore’s OTP-1DVI2A1UKM Opticomm-Emcore’s newest OTP-1DVI2A1UKM Optiva KVM fiber optic transport product can extend, convert and scale video signals all “in one.” The OTP-1DVI2A1UKM extends and converts multiple video input types such as DVI, VGA, RGB, RGBHV or Component (YPbPr). When the integrated scaler is enabled, it scales output video automatically to the native resolution of any display, up to 1920×1200. It is capable of transporting graphic resolutions up to 2560×1600/60Hz and video resolutions up to 1080p/60Hz. In addition, recent technology such as HUD 4K (3840×2160/30Hz) is supported.

Opticomm-Emcore has also released the c-linx Series, a new line of compact, standalone video converters, scalers and HDBaseT copper video extenders. For example, the CS-1-3G-A-HDMI converts and scales 3G HD-SDI to HDMI with analog and digital (S/PDIF) audio, as well as provides a low-jitter SDI output for local monitoring loopback) or distribution to switchers and broadcast displays. Another model, the CS-1UVDVI/ VGA-A, provides multi-format video conversion and scaling—nearly any signal to DVI, HDMI or VGA—with audio.


RGB’s Videolink 1690 The RGB Videolink 1690 video-scan converter makes possible to convert computer graphics and other signals to broadcast video. This means that both computer-generated and Web-based images can be recorded edited, broadcast, displayed or transmitted using ordinary video equipment.

As for features, the RGB Videolink 1690 supports NTSC/ PAL composite video, S-Video (S-VHS, Hi-8) and component analog video (Betacam/MII) outputs, with Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers’ standard 259M digital output available as an option. This unit eliminates interlace flicker and provides automatic synchronization to computer signals at up to 1600×1200 pixels, covering nearly all desktop computers and workstations.


Roland Systems Group’s VC-1 Series Video Converters The VC-1 Series Video Converters address a market demand for high-quality, lossless, video and audio converters for live/post production, as well as installed systems, according to the Roland Systems Group. The VC-1 Video Converter series provides uncompromising picture quality by maintaining the video characteristics of the original signal with richblacks and super-whites. There are no interlacing artifacts or other conversion or signal errors sometimes found with other video converters.

The VC-1 Series feature an on-board re-clocker to compensate for attenuation of SDI signals carried over long distances, and they support level A and B 3G-SDI, letting the user connect a variety of higherquality SDI sources, Roland said.

HDCP-compatible, the VC-1 video converters enable users to convert or pass-through HDCP signals with the exception of any SDI output. Selectable audio embedding and de-embedding enables the routing of different audio sources. Digital AES/EBU input and output signals are designed to ensure highquality audio signals can be maintained through the signal flow, according to Roland.


TVOne’s 1T-FC-677 3G-SDI Extender TVOne produces a full range of video converters to suit a variety of applications. For example, the company’s 1T-FC-677 3G-SDI Extender with HDMI Converter makes it possible to display SD-SDI, HD-SDI and 3G-SDI signals on either an SDI and an HDMI monitor at the same time.

Meanwhile, the TV One 1T-C2-520 converts DVI-D 720p or 1080i HD signals to HD-SDI for broadcast and professional use. An analog YPbPr or RGBHV signal can also be converted to HD-SDI. As well, the highly useful 1T-YPbPr-HDMI converts an analog component YPbPr or YCbCr signal to an HDMI-compliant output, enabling a user to put analog components onto an HDMI display, according to TVOne.



Blackmagic Design:

Cobalt Digital:






TV One: