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H.264 Pro Recorder Test

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Jack Welten
H.264 Pro Recorder Test
on Jul 9, 2011 at 8:29:59 pm

Hello People,

is it possible to show what the H.264 Pro can do? Could the few H.264 Pro Recorder owners put some tests on youtube or elsewhere, including source (HDMI, Component etc), the (auto)set bitrate, capture settings (native, Youtube 720p, Youtube 1080p)

with kind regards,

Jack Welten


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Scott Francis
Re: H.264 Pro Recorder Test
on Jul 10, 2011 at 12:25:18 am

I would like to see some too....it seems from the forums, this may not be the magic bullet I am looking for...I cannot find any (detailed) review online either...not dropping $500 on a "maybe"....

Scott Francis
Mind's Eye Audio/Video Productions


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Andrew Stone
Re: H.264 Pro Recorder Test
on Jul 10, 2011 at 8:02:06 pm

Too busy with paying work to fulfill your request... Should be known though, the quality of the output, the video is stunning. If you need to produce video dailies of takes on a set or you are producing material that will end up on Vimeo or YouTube, this solution fits the bill to a "T". If you are looking to produce long form web ready video out of the shoot to post on the web, until they lower the acceptable bitrate scale from 2.0 Mbit to 500 kbps. You need to look elsewhere but the only solution I know of that will do this is the Teradek at over 2 grand and out of the box the Teradek solution doesn't give you h.264 that directly savable to your computer. You have to buy another $500 piece of software to do this. Obviously the Teradek is aimed at the higher end pro market, who won't blink at this kind of price tag and the wireless functionality that it affords.

I am hoping that Blackmagic will see the wisdom in providing a lower bitrate as this would make the unit the runaway success that it should be.

Again the quality out of the BM H.264 Pro Recorder is stunning.

-Andrew

--
Steadicam & Camera Operator


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Scott Francis
Re: H.264 Pro Recorder Test
on Jul 10, 2011 at 10:28:48 pm

So do you feel the HD quality of the H.264 output is BETTER than an HDV compression? I am hoping to get several of these to capture from the imager of my Sony FX1's to computer bypassing the HDV format...thanks for your input...sounds promising so far!
Regards

Scott Francis
Mind's Eye Audio/Video Productions


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Heinz Bihlmeir
Re: H.264 Pro Recorder Test
on Jul 10, 2011 at 11:18:43 pm

As long as you don't need encoding support for interlaced formats (like PAFF and MBAFF), yes. 20 Mbps H264 should compare well to 25 Mbps HDV. Interlaced sources should be de-interlaced externally before encoding.

The Fuitsu codec used in the design can also be found in some high-end consumer AVCHD camcorders.


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Andrew Stone
Re: H.264 Pro Recorder Test
on Jul 11, 2011 at 12:56:53 am

Hi Scott,

I am not familiar with the FX1 although I use Sony cameras. I assume your output is 1080i60. The Blackmagic recorder does do progressive output. I assume it can convert the signal to progressive so it should be more useful and subjectively the image should look much better, if your cam does output interlaced video. Progressive video is much more useful as an acquisition format unless your video is going DIRECTLY to broadcast a la ENG material being zipped off for news programming.

Go to the support section of the Blackmagic site and download the manual for the device. It should mention the different ways it can acquire the footage. You can check about conversion as well.

I cannot stress enough how good the footage looks given what it is doing -- compressing the footage on the fly. It could give your camera a new lease on life, if you can only capture interlaced and it will output progressive from your cam.

Hopefully someone from BM will chime in soon. They're on Australian time so they should be arriving at work soon.

-Andrew

--
Steadicam & Camera Operator


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Scott Francis
Re: H.264 Pro Recorder Test
on Jul 11, 2011 at 2:02:51 am

Thanks Andrew, FX1 is a Sony camcorder, I have 3 and am looking as you put it at a "new lease on the camera's life." I see a big difference from it's component out (which is 1080i), and the HDV it encodes. I have downloaded the BM manual and it was quite worthless in helping me find out the info I am looking for. Since it states in the tech specs that it does 1080i (60) I suspect it will accept the signal from the camera. With it only being 20Mbps, vs 25Mbps for HDV, I was concerned about that. My AVCHD camera does 24Mbps, and the "pro" version of it does 50Mbps and 4.2.2...I am not sure how the BM H.264 Pro can do 4.2.2. and only 20Mbps...in any case I think I may give it a try based on your input...thanks again so much!
Regards

Scott Francis
Mind's Eye Audio/Video Productions


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Joshua Helling
Re: H.264 Pro Recorder Test
on Jul 14, 2011 at 5:44:08 pm

Okay...I'll chime in here (not from Aus though).

The H.264 compression is much more complex than HDV, so at similar data rates you should find that the H.264 looks better. Because the compression is so different you should stay away from comparing 25Mb/s HDV to the same rate in H.264...they'll be two different beasts. The downside is that due to the increased complexity it makes H.264 even harder to edit than HDV, and consequently it doesn't hold up as well to editing. But for delivering dailies or stuff for streaming (basically stuff you don't plan on adding renders to, its perfect).

As far as interlaced support, how it works now is that if you feed 1080i59.94 to the encoder it will output 1080p29.97. Same data rate, its just doing a deinterlace. I think we'd like to add proper interlaced support to it in the future.

As for allowing lower bitrates, I think that's something we'd also like to consider adding in the future.

I hope this helps.

Sincerely,

Joshua
Director of Support
Blackmagic Design Inc.


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Lauri Ahonen
Re: H.264 Pro Recorder Test
on Jul 25, 2011 at 8:15:48 am

We currently purchased several "Blackmagic Design H.264 Pro Recorders" for our archieving project within university. We were previously using Intensity Pro cards and encoding the material to H264 with software and aquired the Pro Recorders to simplify the workflow. We were really, really surprised that the product does not implement any kind of support for encoding interlaced material. We need to archive old PAL/NTSC tapes and the quality of the progressive encoding is really sub-standard (deinterlacing artefacts are prominent) with the embedded deinterlacer.

All in all the quality of the unit and hardware is excellent. The color balancing is great of the box and the unit does really good when capturing VHS signal - even with weak sync. The unit fits most users just perfectly and the only real concern is the bad quality of the deinterlacer and lack of support for interlaced encoding. The other problem is the included software which lacks the support for MP4 cutting. 1080i->1080p capturing is of stunning quality.

It is clear that the product is a bit work-in-progress. The package did not contain any installation cd or manual but a small piece of paper that. We intend to keep the products in hand and wait for an software/firmware upgrade for interlaced encoding. I think that this feature is _obligatory_ for this kind of professional unit.

I hope that Blackmagic adresses this matter promptly. I'm a longstanding customer and highly appreciate your products. I trust that this will be resolved. Thank you for your time.

M.D. Lauri Ahonen


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johan vermeire
Re: H.264 Pro Recorder Test
on Jul 28, 2011 at 10:00:34 am

Hi lauri,

I have this device also, bought it for converting +- 4000 vhs tapes.

Testing setup VHS player -> ADVC300 ->h264 pro recoder

What line level converter are you using btw?
Because the device does not work with the comsumer level of VHS. :(

I have also the same problems, no realtime cropping ability
(they anouced this on there site).
And i also mis the option to trim (like you can do in quicktimeplayer) and split of a large captured movie files.

At the moment this device is useless for me. :(
It is not giving me the workflow a expected from this device.

I hope that BlackMagic fix this fast, i don't gonne tell my boss he spends 400$ for nothing ...

At the moment it looks like the consumer version has more options?

gr. johan


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Andrew Stone
Re: H.264 Pro Recorder Test
on Jul 28, 2011 at 2:05:59 pm

From page 24 in the manual...

Consumer Level Analog Audio Signals

Can I use H.264 Pro Recorder with consumer level analog audio signals?...

Yes and no! H.264 Pro Recorder is designed to work with professional, balanced, analog audio equipment. It does not work directly with unbalanced, consumer level analog audio. In order to capture unbalanced audio from consumer equipment, a line level converter can be used.
It is not necessary to buy an expensive line level converter. Low cost models exist and do a great job.

Please refer to the support note Working with Consumer Level Analog Audio Signals which contains more detailed information including any, inexpensive line level converters that we have tested and have found to work well.


--
Steadicam & Camera Operator


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johan vermeire
Re: H.264 Pro Recorder Test
on Jul 29, 2011 at 7:24:17 am

Yes i know that Andrew, i'm one of the few that still reads manuals :D.
But out of the box it does not support it, so that's why i asking what level converter people are using for this device.


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Lauri Ahonen
Re: H.264 Pro Recorder Test
on Aug 1, 2011 at 11:53:07 am

I'm using external firewire audio controller (Saffire) for the conversion. I have one in hand and it works well.

We returned the units. No matter what I do, I could not keep the video in sync (vertical sync) and audio sync drops after 1-2 hours - even though we use TBC. We reverted back to Blackmagic Intensity Pro cards and external encoding server. The server implementation is cheaper and faster anyways. X264 also produces better stream as you have total control of the H.264 options.

I would not recommend the unit for any SD material. Works pretty well with HD though and I think that the unit is mostly meant for users that need to get a lot of small clips online and fast. For archiving this is not robust enough.

M.D. Lauri Ahonen
Electronics and video processing enthusiast


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Dave Johnson
Re: H.264 Pro Recorder Test
on Aug 15, 2011 at 3:55:21 pm

Joshua, Might you be able to clarify the interlacing support issue? I've read this whole thread to get end-user feedback before buying, but am now only confused by contradictions in the feedback ...

This comment seems to say the units do not accept interlaced sources ...
[Heinz Bihlmeir] "As long as you don't need encoding support for interlaced formats ... Interlaced sources should be de-interlaced externally before encoding."

These two seem to say the units do accept interlaced sources ...
[Scott Francis] "Since it states in the tech specs that it does 1080i (60) I suspect it will accept the signal from the camera"
[Joshua Helling] "As far as interlaced support, how it works now is that if you feed 1080i59.94 to the encoder it will output 1080p29.97. Same data rate, its just doing a deinterlace. I think we'd like to add proper interlaced support to it in the future."

This one seems to say both since a deinterlacer has to exist in order to be of bad quality. So, how can there be both a bad-quality deinterlacer AND "lack of support for interlaced encoding"?
[Lauri Ahonen] "... the only real concern is the bad quality of the deinterlacer and lack of support for interlaced encoding."


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Joshua Helling
Re: H.264 Pro Recorder Test
on Aug 15, 2011 at 6:30:44 pm

Okay...I can clear that up (forgive me I have not re-read the entire thread)

The H.264 Pro Recorder will accept interlaced signals. But it will also convert them to progressive.

The LACK of interlaced support is a statement that means the customer was hoping for native interlaced encoding (meaning they put 1080i in, and get 1080i out as h.264. As is currently implemented you put 1080i in and you get 1080p out.

The comment of the quality of the de-interlacer is probably suggesting that the conversion from 1080i to 1080p does not mean that particular users expectations. There are questions I'd have about this in particular. Most importantly would be under what conditions was the de-interlacer not good enough? I would imagine that going 1080i to 1080p is very easy and not to involved, but going from 1080i to 720p might be more so. So the conditions there are important.

Anyways...I hope that helps to clarify.

Sincerely,

Joshua
Director of Support
Blackmagic Design Inc.


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Eric Lanouette
Re: H.264 Pro Recorder Test
on Aug 16, 2011 at 6:02:52 am

Joshua,

Like some other people here, I'm still hoping for an interlaced encoding mode in a near future. The lack of support for that feature in a pro device is somewhat strange.

As the video glitches looks to be gone, if the audio can stay in sync for long clip, it will only miss an interlaced encoding mode for this box to be perfect as the high CPU usage is related to MediaExpress.

Eric


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Félix Pouliot
Re: H.264 Pro Recorder Test
on Oct 15, 2015 at 12:01:03 pm

Hello Andrew,

I am quite new to this recorder and was wondering if I can use it whit my BMCC to have much smaller files?? I want to ba able to edit on a less powerfull computer. Do you just plug the box between your BMCC and the ssd and you get H.264 files directly when you shoot whit the camera?

Thanks!

Felix


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Andrew Stone
Re: H.264 Pro Recorder Test
on Oct 15, 2015 at 3:42:35 pm

From the SDI Out on the BM Cinema Camera you should be able to take that video stream and simply connect it to the H.264 Pro Recorder. Note, you will be recording into a computer via the USB cable from the H.264 device.

Sounds like you have the device. If so confirm that you can successfully record from the Recorder to your computer. I would be extremely leary of doing this on a professional and/or paid shoot unless you are certain you will get a continuous uninterrupted signal. Test, test, test.

Good luck.

-Andrew

--
Steadicam & Camera Operator


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Jack Welten
Re: H.264 Pro Recorder Test
on Jul 11, 2011 at 8:26:23 pm

Hello Andrew,

thanks for your input, I will order one too, as soon it is available over here in the Netherlands
for your info, I'm not a pro like you are, I operate the camara at acrobatic gymnastic competitions (about 120 hours / year),
these video's are used by judges, for this reason it is important that the videofiles's are directly available after recording (over a wired networkconnection), furhtermore these files are used to educate new judges,
last years I captured in SD-quality by firewire and recorded in mpeg2-format on a laptop, which is connected with other viewing laptops of the judges,

again thanks for your input,

with kind regards,

Jack


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Andrew Stone
Re: H.264 Pro Recorder Test
on Aug 1, 2011 at 5:38:06 am

Markertek has a whole whack of unbalanced to balanced audio converters. Musicians use what they call DI boxes.

Here is one that is good bang for the buck. Good thing to have in your arsenal...

http://www.markertek.com/Audio-Equipment/Audio-Processing/Audio-Hum-Noise-E...

If you want more choice here is a search listing from the same site...

http://audio-video-supply.markertek.com/broadcasting/Balanced%20To%20Unbala...

--
Steadicam & Camera Operator


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johan vermeire
Re: H.264 Pro Recorder Test
on Aug 9, 2011 at 8:51:07 am

Ty andrew.
But i gonna stop using this device, after a lot of testing.
Software is not stable, quiting unexpected,
I only could install it on 1 of the 3 Imac i tried .
(driver wil not loading or somthing like that)

And after 1/2 hours recording , video and audio are out of sync.
It is no good for vhs archieving.

My conclusion : 400€ peace of "pro" crap... :(
I realy expected a lot more of this Black magic device.


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Lauri Ahonen
Re: H.264 Pro Recorder Test
on Aug 15, 2011 at 2:59:19 pm

Same conclusion here. Definitely does not fit the bill, especially with analog (VHS) sources. Bad publicity for Blackmagic.

M.D. Lauri Ahonen
Electronics and video processing enthusiast


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johan vermeire
Re: H.264 Pro Recorder Test
on Aug 16, 2011 at 7:00:20 am

Lauri Ahonen.
Have you found a setup voor VHS archiefing ?


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Lauri Ahonen
Re: H.264 Pro Recorder Test
on Sep 8, 2011 at 12:58:47 pm

We are using Blackmagic Intensity PCI-Express cards for Studio purposes with TBC capable JVC VHS Deck.

We also have several of these - http://www.trustedreviews.com/Panasonic-DMR-EX83-HDD-DVD-Recorder_TV-record... - top quality conversion and also supports RGB input.

M.D. Lauri Ahonen
Electronics and video processing enthusiast


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