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Multibridge Pro 2 - Green Video on HDMI Input

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Ken Machacek
Multibridge Pro 2 - Green Video on HDMI Input
on Jan 17, 2009 at 8:32:00 pm

Hello! I'm a video game reviewer and film/TV editor, and I have an odd issue that the Blackmagic Design support team can't seem to fix. I'm using a Multibridge Pro 2 on a Dual-3.2 GHz Quad-Core Mac Pro (Early 2008), Mac OS 10.5.6, and Final Cut Pro 6.0.5. One of my primary uses for my Multibridge Pro is to capture high-definition 720p video game footage directly into my Mac Pro. Now, my Multibridge Pro has been working just fine using all Multibridge software revisions, through version 6.8.2. However, ever since the Multibridge 6.8.3 update (all the way through the latest 6.8.7 update), the HDMI video capture from my Multibridge Pro appears extremely green... Everything looks like the Jolly Green Giant.

However... if I downgrade my Multibridge Pro back to version 6.8.2, everything goes back to normal, and the video looks perfectly fine.

Now, since I'm reviewing video games, I need to see what I'm playing on my television without any delay, while simultaneously capturing into my Mac Pro. Here's how my system is currently set up:

The Sony PlayStation 3 (using component video cables), the Microsoft XBOX 360 (using HDMI), and the Nintendo Wii (using component video cables) are connected to a "Gefen Home Theater Scaler". This product acts as a switcher/scaler, and outputs incoming component and HDMI signals over a single HDMI cable. I currently have the output set to 720p. Just for reference, here's a link to the "Gefen Home Theater Scaler" product page:

http://www.gefen.com/kvm/dproduct.jsp?prod_id=4174

Next, the HDMI output of my "Gefen Home Theater Scaler" is going into a "GefenTV 1:4 Splitter for HDMI 1.3". This HDMI splitter "mirrors" the incoming 720p signal to up to four separate destinations. One HDMI output of my "GefenTV 1:4 Splitter" is going to my HDTV, and the other HDMI output is going to the HDMI input of my Multibridge Pro. Also for reference, here's a link to the "GefenTV 1:4 Splitter for HDMI 1.3" page:

http://www.gefen.com/kvm/dproduct.jsp?prod_id=4997

Now, the advantage of using this setup is that the "Gefen Home Theater Scaler" converts all incoming video to 720p, and allows me to switch between all three video game systems without disconnecting and reconnecting the cables. Meanwhile, the "GefenTV 1:4 Splitter" mirrors the audio and video to my television and Multibridge Pro. This allows me to play the video games on my television, without any delay between what I'm doing and what appears on the television... while simultaneously capturing in 720p to my Mac Pro.

Everything has been working perfectly fine, until Blackmagic Design released the Multibridge Pro 6.8.3 update. Now, my Multibridge Pro only sees the video as entirely green in color. I've tested it, and this same issue appears with every successive update to the Multibridge Pro, all the way up to the latest 6.8.7 software update. However, if I downgrade back to 6.8.2, everything is fine.

Since downgrading to version 6.8.2 fixes the issue, I know that it's a software problem and not a hardware issue, on the part of my Multibridge Pro. Also, the video on my television appears to be perfectly fine, so I know that my Gefen products are working just the same as they always have. Either way, this seems to be a software-related issue on the Multibridge side of things. Something changed in the way that the Multibridge Pro processes an incoming HDMI signal, between the 6.8.2 and 6.8.3 updates.

For the moment, my issue is resolved by using the 6.8.2 software, but I want to be able to upgrade my Multibridge Pro in the future, especially since I'm sure that Apple will release new updates to Final Cut Pro and the Mac OS... I'd like to be able to stay up-to-date.

Anyway, I'm just looking to see if anyone else has experienced a similar issue and get some advice. Thanks very much for your help, and I look forward to hearing from you guys!


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Tracy Peterson
Re: Multibridge Pro 2 - Green Video on HDMI Input
on Jan 31, 2009 at 6:36:26 pm

Ken, have you rebooted your machine?

Thanks for posting that setup, your hardware selection actually solves some problems for my setup. I think I'm going to give this Gefen deal a try.



Tracy Peterson
http://www.onetwomany.com


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Ken Machacek
Re: Multibridge Pro 2 - Green Video on HDMI Input
on Jan 31, 2009 at 9:38:04 pm

Tracy,

No problem, man... I'm glad listing my setup helped you out. It's been great for me so far, and the Gefen products I listed work together like a charm. (So does the Multibridge Pro, if it weren't for the crappy 6.8.3 through 6.8.7 updates.)

In terms of your suggestion... yeah, I tried rebooting... No luck. Although, I finally got the Blackmagic folks to try it out, and they encountered the same "green" video when capturing from the XBOX 360 over HDMI and using the Multibridge Pro 6.8.3-6.8.7 software. So, they've officially listed the "green" video as a "bug," and they said that they'll address it in a future update.

But, like I said, if you decide to go for the configuration I have, simply use the Multibridge 6.8.2 software (or earlier) in the meantime and you'll be fine. You can download older versions from the following link:

http://www.blackmagic-design.com/support/software/archive/?s=Multibridge&p=...

I saw from your website that you guys do a lot of material for Gamespot. The configuration I've got definitely works for gaming folks like us. Now, the Multibridge Pro won't capture 1080p video at anything but 24p (which the Gefen products won't up/down-scale to... They'll only upscale to 1080p at 60 Hz)... But, the Gefen Home Theater Scaler will up/down-scale to 720p at 59.94/60 Hz or 1080i at 59.94/60 Hz, which the Multibridge Pro will capture over HDMI.

Also, the other nice thing about this setup is that I don't have to adjust the resolutions of the XBOX 360, PS3, or the Wii. The Home Theater Scaler does it all for me... In fact, it even captures the 480p component signal from the Wii and upconverts it to 720p/59.94 Hz. The HDMI signal is then "split" between my HDTV and my Multibridge with the Gefen 1:4 Splitter for HDMI... Without any delay. This is important for gaming, since you don't want any "lag" between the output of the console and what you're seeing on your television. So, the great thing is that I get to switch between all three consoles, the Home Theater Scaler automatically up/down-converts the signal, and I can play all the games on my HDTV without any delay, while simultaneously capturing into my Multibridge Pro.

Since the network I work for broadcasts at 720p, I capture everything into Final Cut Pro using the Apple ProRes (HQ) codec at 720p 59.94/60 Hz. The quality is great, and the file sizes are really small - especially compared to other uncompressed high-def codecs. I'm really impressed with ProRes. One word of warning, though... Unless you have an audio mixing board that can adjust a digital audio signal over HDMI (I'm not even sure if there IS one), you MAY have audio from the games that over-modulates when capturing into Final Cut Pro... The solution to this is that 99% of all videogames allow you to adjust the audio levels within the game. Simply adjust the audio levels within the game settings, while using your audio meters in Final Cut as a reference, and you'll be good to go.

A couple other pieces of advice... When using my setup and connecting your consoles to the Gefen Home Theater Scaler:

- Use the component cables for the Wii, and set the console to 480p for the best quality. On my setup, this captures into Final Cut Pro as ProRes (HQ) 720p/59.94 Hz video.

- Secondly, use component cables for the PS3... For some reason, recent updates to the PS3 have prevented A/V capture over HDMI due to copyright issues. Now, I understand that developer versions of the PS3 allow you to turn off this HDMI copyright protection... But regular, consumer versions of the PS3 don't. The workaround for this is - instead of outputting the PS3's audio and video over HDMI - use component and analog stereo cables, and connect them to the Gefen Home Theater Scaler. In the PS3's settings, output the video to whatever resolution you'd like (I just keep it at 1080p, and have the Gefen Home Theater Scaler down-convert the signal to 720p.) On my setup, this captures into Final Cut Pro as ProRes (HQ) 720p/59.94 Hz video.

- Finally, use HDMI output for the XBOX 360, set it to whatever video resolution you want (I just keep it at 1080p), and be sure to set the audio output of the console to "Digital Stereo"... NOT "Dolby Digital". The Multibridge Pro won't capture Dolby Digital audio, and you'll get some really annoying "RAT-TAT-TAT" sound coming into Final Cut Pro. So, just be sure to set the audio output over HDMI to "Digital Stereo" within your XBOX 360's settings. One little oddity... While the PS3 and Wii capture into Final Cut Pro at ProRes (HQ) 720p/59.94 Hz, the XBOX 360 will only capture at ProRes (HQ) 720p/60 Hz. When capturing from your XBOX 360, go into Final Cut Pro's capture settings, and switch the settings from 720p/59.94 Hz to 720p/60 Hz, and your XBOX 360's video will appear. It's weird, I know. You'd think that the Gefen Home Theater Scaler would do the same up/down-conversion to all three consoles, but the XBOX 360 only outputs at 60Hz, and you'll get a black capture screen in Final Cut if the capture settings are set to 59.94 Hz.

Anyway, using the settings I've listed above, everything works like a charm. The Home Theater Scaler will up/down-convert all of the incoming audio and video signals to 720p 59.94/60 Hz, and output them all through a single HDMI cable. The Gefen 1:4 Splitter for HDMI then splits this signal to my HDTV and my Multibridge Pro. And the Multibridge Pro goes straight into Final Cut on my Mac Pro. Just remember to adjust the audio levels within the videogame settings, and you'll be good to go.

I know I've written a lot here, but this is all the result of MONTHS of testing, and I figured I should let you know all of the quirks so that you can hit the ground running. Overall, I'm super-happy with this setup, and while it's got a few little oddities, it allows me to capture instantly into Final Cut Pro, without recording to tape and without any delay to my HDTV. It saves a lot of time, and A LOT of work... And, like I said earlier, I highly recommend using Apple's ProRes (HQ) codec... It's super-efficient, and really high quality (as good as other uncompressed codecs, as far as I'm concerned). I'm able to capture about 10 hours of gameplay before filling up my 1-terabyte internal hard drive... So, roughly, 1 hour of ProRes (HQ) video at 720p equals 100 gigabytes.

Anyway, I hope that helps, man. And Blackmagic told me that they'll address the "green" video in a future update, since this problem IS a bug in the Multibridge software. So, hopefully the 6.8.8 update (or whatever they call it) will fix the issue... Even if you upgrade your Multibridge software, you can always downgrade to a previous version. I'll be sure to try it, once the next update is released, and I'll let you know how it goes.

Take care!

- Ken



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Tracy Peterson
Re: Multibridge Pro 2 - Green Video on HDMI Input
on Jan 31, 2009 at 9:48:23 pm

Wow, Ken,

Thanks for the huge response, I've actually made a file of it for future use. Great share and I hope I can repay in kind sometime.

May I ask what network you work for?

Also, I'm really glad to hear they will address this. I was waffling on multibridge based on video game footage capture potential, so now I'm back in for a multibridge.

Thanks TONS.

T

Tracy Peterson
http://www.onetwomany.com


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Ken Machacek
Re: Multibridge Pro 2 - Green Video on HDMI Input
on Jan 31, 2009 at 10:53:02 pm

Tracy,

I'm the writer/producer/editor/director/graphic designer (basically, a one-man show) of "FOX News Gamers Weekly" for the FOX News Channel. "Gamers Weekly" covers the latest in videogame news, new releases, and reviews, and while it's only appeared on the TV network a few times, it's produced specifically for new media platforms - including cellphones, iPods, and the web. We've had it running since February 2007 with the release of "Crackdown" for the 360, and it's actually FOX's #1 most-watched online video podcast. I'm really proud of it, and I just recently re-vamped all the graphics in 720p (everything was originally done in 4:3 SD quality), which is why I was looking for a set-up that could capture in high-def. If you'd like to check it out, just visit:

http://www.foxnews.com/gamersweekly/

...or search "FOX News Gamers Weekly" in the Podcasts section of iTunes, and you can download the show straight to your iPod or iPhone.

So, even though the show doesn't appear on the web in 720p, it definitely looks a lot crisper when I create everything in high-def. Plus, when it's broadcast on TV on the FOX News Channel, I have a 720p version ready to go.

I do the show as a freelancer for FOX from here at home... My PS3 is my primary DVD/Blu-Ray player, and I'm on the Wii and 360 all the time... I wanted a set-up where I could capture all of the game footage, but I didn't want to have to disconnect and reconnect tons of wires, and I wanted to be able to watch all of my Blu-Rays in glorious 1080p. The extra bonus with this set-up is that, when I'm capturing game footage for the show, I just set my Gefen Home Theater Scaler to output at 720p... But when I'm just watching a movie or playing for fun, I just set the Home Theater Scaler back to 1080p. (This is why I keep my consoles' video output settings at 1080p, and let the Home Theater Scaler do all the work.) This configuration not only looks neat and tidy and does the job, but it's also great for me, since I needed a set-up that had this kind of flexibility.

Anyway, the audio and video quality coming from the Gefen products and my Multibridge Pro is great... I wanted a capture device with an HDMI input to capture from the videogame systems, and to my knowledge, there's only the Blackmagic Multibridge products and the AJA IoHD. My problem with the AJA IoHD is that it cost $1000 bucks more than the Multibridge Pro, and it only has hardware up/down-conversion when using the Apple ProRes codec. I'm a freelance editor, and I wanted the flexibility to use ANY codec, and the Blackmagic Multibridge Pro not only does the job, but it also lets me capture 2K film footage as well. Sure, the Multibridge Pro doesn't have any hardware-based up-conversion built-in, but my Dual-3.2 Ghz Quad-Core Mac Pro is screaming fast, and doing any up-conversion within the software doesn't take any time at all. (Obviously, I don't have to do any up/down-conversion for my game footage, since it's all coming in at 720p from the Home Theater Scaler.)

I'm sure that the AJA IoHD is a great product, but the Multibridge Pro seemed like the more economical and flexible solution. And while I hear that AJA's technical support is better than Blackmagic's, the Blackmagic support folks that I've spoken to have been extremely helpful. And hey, they even tested my set-up, saw that the "green" video was a bug, and said that they'll fix it in a future update. I mean... what more can you ask for?

Overall, I think my configuration is great for any film/TV editor. But, especially since you're working with videogame footage, the configuration I've got is perfect for you. Here's a breakdown of the cost:

- Multibridge Pro - $1,459.95 from B&H (http://www.bhphotovideo.com)

- Gefen Home Theater Scaler - $449.00 from Gefen (http://www.gefen.com)

- Gefen 1:4 Splitter for HDMI 1.3 - $299.00 from Gefen (http://www.gefen.com)

- TOTAL COST: $2,207.95 (plus tax)

Excluding the cost of the computer, that's pretty cheap for a system that allows me to switch and up/down-convert the signals from all three videogame systems, and capture up to 2K-quality footage into Final Cut Pro. I run both Avid and Final Cut Pro, though, so my only complaint with the Blackmagic Multibridge Pro is that it's not compatible with Avid. (Although, I don't believe that the AJA IoHD is compatible with Avid, either.)

Anyhoo, it's relatively cheap, it works great, and it fit my needs as both a hardcore editor and casual consumer. I know you probably won't be using your own configuration from home, but hey... it's just an added bonus.

I'm really glad I helped you out, man. If you have any more questions, please don't hesitate to send me an e-mail at persona1138@me.com. And if you're ever online, my XBOX 360 and PS3 screenames are both "persona1138"... Add me as a friend sometime, if you'd like. (I don't know my Wii's "Friend Code" off-hand... I really hate those friend codes, they're incredibly stupid.)

See you later!

- Ken



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Ken Machacek
Re: Multibridge Pro 2 - Green Video on HDMI Input
on Feb 1, 2009 at 12:03:22 am

One quick correction to my previous post... Blackmagic DOES sell the "DeckLink High-Definition" and "Intensity" cards, both of which offer HDMI input... The AJA IoHD and Multibridge series aren't the only ones. Also, I forgot that recent updates to the Multibridge allow for hardware-based upconversion from SD and 720p to 1080 high-definition video.

So anyway, you have a variety of options. Mostly, I just like having a separate, external box for all of my SDI, analog, XLR, and HDMI inputs... It's a lot easier than sneaking around to the back of my Mac Pro to a capture card, just to re-wire my A/V connections. But, you can probably save a few bucks by going for one of Blackmagic's capture cards over the Multibridge Pro.

Oddly, the only AJA product that offers HDMI input/output is still the AJA IoHD... So I'd stick with one of the Blackmagic products.

If you go for a "DeckLink" or "Intensity" card, please let me know how it works out for you.

- Ken



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Tracy Peterson
Re: Multibridge Pro 2 - Green Video on HDMI Input
on Feb 2, 2009 at 4:35:07 pm

I will. Hey, I'm actually looking to speak with a dif. network soon about gaming content, would you do me the additional kindness of dropping me an email? I'd love to ask you a couple questions.

tracy@onetwomany.com

Tracy Peterson
http://www.onetwomany.com


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