Blackmagic software only drivers
We mainly use Harris VelocityQ editing systems but have one Decklink HD Extreme system with an HP recommended workstation. It's used mainly for compositing, animation and encoding.
The problem we're running into is that when we create video files on the Blackmagic system, many of our other video related apps on the VelocityQ workstations have a ton of trouble reading the Blackmagic files. We have the software codecs installed on all the other systems, but using Sherlock Codec Detective and other codec tweaking apps, the Blackmagic codecs always show up as "broken." They also conflict with VelocityQ's own software based AVI codec, which we occasionally use to export files.
Is there some secret to getting the Blackmagic software codecs to install and register correctly in WinXP? And then, to have them not conflict with our main editing system's own AVI codec?
It's gotten to the point where we avoid using the Blackmagic system for anything that might need to be shared on other systems, because we consistently have issues reading and importing the files. We've installed and uninstalled, cleaned registry settings etc. etc. I've built scores of computers and dozens of high-end editing systems and graphic workstations over the years, but have never encountered more finicky or quirky drivers and codecs.
Any tips from other Windows users of Decklink products?? I've become convinced the Blackmagic hardware and software is optimized for use on a Mac and only "sort of" works on PC's after more than a year of struggles with this card, drivers and codecs on an HP xw8200 PC with all approved hardware and Premiere Pro CS3.
At the moment, all we trust this setup for is capturing finished videos via SDI played from our VelocityQ systems for later web encoding and compression.
Just recently we opened a previously completed Premiere Pro project on the system to output to tape. I had recently updated the drivers from Blackmagic's website. This previously functioning timeline which hadn't been opened in weeks, now won't play or render. It instead hiccups upon playback and eventually freezes, then crashes Premiere. The ONLY thing that's changed in this workstation is the driver update. In fact, Premiere hadn't been opened even once since this project was completed. Other timelines exhibit the same behaviour.
Anyway...any suggestions are appreciated...beyond the typical answers of wiping your hard drive and doing fresh installs, which we've done already numerous times...once even by a certified HP tech to make sure the system was properly configured.
I don't mean to trash Blackmagic's products, as the hardware seems brilliant, but the drivers and codecs just don't seem to be on the same level. And without that, the hardware isn't very useful...at least on the Windows side of things.
Magnetic Image, Inc.
You could try reverting to an older driver version, as you said the problems started when you installed the latest driver.
There could also be a memory (memory issues can be quite unpredictable) or hard disk problem.
You can quickly check your (you must create a bootable usb or floppy but it's very easy) memory with memtest:
The software only codecs have been a constant issue. The latest drivers only resulted in the Premiere Pro CS3 timeline issue I described.
The sofware codecs to my knowledge haven't changed in quite a while...in fact, you can no longer find them for download on the Blackmagic site. I only reinstalled by finding them on one of our hard drive backups from from over a year ago.
The software codec problems occur across multiple workstations that otherwise are stable workhorses with many other broadcast and graphics apps...so this is definitely not a memory issue.
Magnetic Image, Inc.
When you say you're having trouble reading the files, what exactly is the trouble? Is it showing up in a different color rendering? Is it corrupted? Are you getting error messages from your system?
What kind of AVI codec is your VelocityQ system using? Is it 8-bit or 10-bit? Do you know what kind of FOurCC they are using? Maybe it's a FourCC conflict?
There are still a lot of unknowns in this so further investigation is required.
I'm not sure I've explained the issue clearly.
The issues work in both directions. If we output an AVI based video file from our Velocity systems (using either the Harris software based AVI codec or many common 3rd party codecs like Matrox and others), Blackmagic and Premiere will import the files fine... but then almost immediately crash if you play the timeline. This only happens on Blackmagic based timelines (set up to use Blackmagic codecs)
If we conversely create an After Effects comp and render it out using the Blackmagic avi codec, then import that into Velocity (there are several importation methods), the import crashes either Velocity or the other import apps that Harris provides. If we bring that blackmagic avi into AE on a machine without BM hardware and using only the BM software codecs, it too crashes.
Velocity's avi codec is proprietary and I have no idea what the FourCC is.
Perhaps these applications just don't like each other's flavors of .avi codecs. But we output avi files for use in other apps (encoding, compositing, 3D animation) from Velocity all the time, and none of the other apps ever complain about those avi files. Some do complain about the Blackmagic avi's since we have to install the blackmagic software codecs in order for those 3rd party apps to read the Blackmagic avi's.
So this isn't only an issue between our NLE system and Blackmagic. We see the issue when bringing the Blackmagic AVI's into other apps that have nothing to do with our NLE system.
I guess my biggest frustration is that when we install the blackmagic codecs they consistently show up as "broken" using apps that check for installed codecs. This occurs even when we install them on a brand-new, clean install of Windows XP.
I should point out this isn't ONLY a problem with Blackmagic codecs, the same thing happens with several of Premiere Pro CS3's Main Concept codecs when you install Premiere Pro. I realize codecs can conflict, but we've wrestled with this for over a year...and seen it occur on PC's (without BM hardware)that have nothing installed except for WinXP and Premiere or WinXP and After Effects along with the software based codecs.
It's just frustrating because it makes sharing video and projects very difficult on systems that don't have the Blackmagic hardware installed.
I don't know if that gives you more info or not, but the bottom line is it isn't just a conflict with our NLE and that particular AVI codec. It's a broader problem that we've seen across mutliple workstations that are otherwise stable workhorses which work fine with dozens of other codecs from other manufacturers (Avid, AJA, Matrox, Apple etc.)
Magnetic Image, Inc.
So am I the only person that sees these conflicts and issues with using Blackmagic software codecs on computers that don't have Blackmagic hardware installed?
Not to mention the issue of Premiere CS3/Decklink HD extreme timelines using Blackmagic presets peforming poorly when other non-BM codecs are used on those timelines??
It's hard to believe this is a specific issue to any hardware or installation configuration we have, since we're using a recommended HP workstation (xw8200), which has has gone through two fresh WinXP installs (one by a certified HP tech using their XP disc image), and all hardware has been tested and passed (again by a certified HP tech).
I still contend that Blackmagic drivers and hardware simply are not optimized to work on the Windows platform in any configuration that approximates real-time performance, and in our case at least, in any configuration that's even close to being stable.
It's just extremely frustrating to follow all the hardware recommendations when building a system and it only be reliable as a capture and export station.
I'd be very interested to hear from other Decklink Extreme HD (version 1 I assume since we bought it 15 months agao)and Premiere CS3 users who are able to edit and composite and share projects with other non-Blackmagic systems without issue.
I should again point out that I've built probably a dozen NLE systems and high-end graphic workstations with hardware from Harris, Matrox and Canopus/Grass Valley and have never had an experience as frustrating or as seemingly un-solvable as this one.
It seems like the common response when I call tech support is to "try a different driver version." That's the only suggestion I've ever gotten when I've called or emailed (if I get a response at all). I get the same responses whenver I post on here.
If there are issues with software codecs and drivers, why can't companies just admit it? I've said it before on this forum and others and I'll say it again. It doesn't do much good to make great hardware if the software and drivers that accompany it don't do what they're supposed to do and aren't stable.
Any valid suggestions are appreciated, especially concerning sharing Blackmagic AVIs with other systems that don't have BM hardware.
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Chris I know that this may frustrate you more, but since there seems to be a problem with the BM AVI wrapped codec, would working with a quicktime wrapped Blackmagic codec work for you? It is supported on windows and I have personally worked with it with no problems...Would that work with the velocity systems?
That's actually something we already do when coming out of the Blackmagic system. Velocity imports the quicktimes fine. But going the other way isn't a good option because Quicktime is incredibly slow to render coming out of Velocity....especially when using high-quality output and codecs like uncompressed, component or H264. A 30 second TV spot will take over 20 minutes to export, which just isn't a viable option in a fast paced broadcast environment.
Since all four of our editing workstations are connected via SDI and a Kramer switcher, what we end up doing is just playing our Velocity timeline and capturing via SDI into the Blackmagic using the Media Express tool.
Then when we come back out, we export it as Quicktime using the Blackmagic codecs...or we just play that resulting project or timeline and then capture back into Velocity via SDI. Quicktimes import relatively quickly into Velocity and can even be played in real-time on the newest version of their software, but we have a ton of projects that need the older software version (which is incompatible with the newer one).
We just aren't fond of all the transcoding that has to take place as well as all the extra drive space required when we capture via SDI, since we do it all at 8 bit uncompressed data rates.
Using Quicktimes on Premiere CS3 timelines doesn't work very well...as timelines are extremely sluggish on our Windows based system when using Blackmagic Quicktimes. Should they be faster??
It would just be nice to be able to render in the BM native windows codecs and other apps be able to use those files without issue. As an example, several of our encoding and compression apps won't read the BM files even though the software codecs are installed. Windows media player won't play them either...so it just ends up being incredibly frustrating to ever use the Windows based AVI codecs, which SHOULD be what drives the performance of our system on a Windows based Premiere CS3 system.
Magnetic Image, Inc.
I wasn't talking about the other workstations, I was talking about the one HP workstation you mentioned which has the blackmagic card...The problematic Premiere project actually led to me the question, because its curious for this to happen if no software or hardware has been changed/updated...