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Billy Gedney
Live Converters
on Jun 14, 2010 at 3:36:50 pm

Hi all- I'm kinda a newbie poster on this forum, but I've been a long time reader.

I'm working on designing a live production system for a church. I've chosen a For-A production switcher (the 300 series).

I wanted to get the Echolab ATEM, but alas- no more Echolab.

I need to I/O everything in HD-SDI. Because we're a church, we are going to keep our current cameras (a PD-150 and a PD-170) until we have the money to purchase our planned cameras (Fixed RED Scarlets [which could even be a longer wait according to Jim's announcement his morning]).

My problem comes down to converter choice- I need to convert from S-video to HD-SDI (Cameras), HDMI to HD-SDI (Graphics), and from HD-SDI to HDMI (projector output). I was looking at the BlackMagic Mini-Converters, but I was talking to a friend this weekend and he says they use them in their production system at his church, and while he had no specifics, he seemed to think/feel/recall all their problems seemed to be blamed on that converter and that they are not stable for live production.

The other issue is price, for a some time, we're going to have to convert a bunch of video sources in and out, so I'm going to end up with like 4 or 6 of these converters.

I've noticed the AJA converters are cheaper, they look like they're going to do what I need them to. I have no manufacture preference, but no hands on experience with either of these product lines.

Anyone compared the two brands for latency? (I know I cant be too picky- I'm converting every which way, but I want to be mindful of it.)

Does anyone have any advice for me on selecting the best converter for the price for the job?

Thanks!

Billy Gedney


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Walter Soyka
Re: Live Converters
on Jun 14, 2010 at 4:40:11 pm

[Billy Gedney] "I need to convert from S-video to HD-SDI (Cameras)"

This one looks tricky -- going from SD to HD, you don't just need a converter, but also a scaler. If you've chosen a switcher with a built-in scaler (I think some of the For-A switchers have this option), then you may be able to convert the S-Video outs to SDI, and let the switcher upres it (though this will add at least another frame of delay). If not, you're looking at something more expensive than a simple A/D converter.

[Billy Gedney] "I've noticed the AJA converters are cheaper, they look like they're going to do what I need them to. I have no manufacture preference, but no hands on experience with either of these product lines. Anyone compared the two brands for latency? (I know I cant be too picky- I'm converting every which way, but I want to be mindful of it.)"

I use AJA capture cards, and their support is top-notch. I don't know off-hand what the delay on their converters is, but if it's not in the manual, I'm sure support could get back to you with the answer very quickly.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Billy Gedney
Re: Live Converters
on Jun 14, 2010 at 4:46:10 pm

Ya- the For-A I've chosen has built in Frame Synchronizers Re-sizing Engine on each input. My Concern is purely the converter reliability and latency at this point.


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Walter Soyka
Re: Live Converters
on Jun 14, 2010 at 5:33:49 pm

[Billy Gedney] "Ya- the For-A I've chosen has built in Frame Synchronizers Re-sizing Engine on each input. My Concern is purely the converter reliability and latency at this point."

Gotcha. I have not heard of any reliability issues with either of these lines of converters (until your mention of your colleague's concerns). I believe there are several users of each of these systems here on the COW, but you might have an easier time finding them in the AJA or BMD forums.

I hope this helps a little...

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Chuck Pullen
Re: Live Converters
on Jun 15, 2010 at 2:32:36 pm

Billy, I just went through something very similar with a church I work with. I can tell you that I personally se ALL AJA converters, and other then being slightly tricky to make sure they are set up properly, I have had zero issues with them. My guess would be after all is said and done, you will be introducing less than a second, maybe 15 frames or so delay with all of the converting going on. Depending on how much compression/tools your audio mixer uses in the audio chain, that may be just about the same delay that is introduced when you send audio through a digital mixer, Compressor, feedback destroyer, etc… So you may be surprised to find your video and audio will be close to being in sync.

Sounds like you are headed in the right direction, the last thing I would put out to you, is that I was recently looking for both an HD recorder to go along with the new HD mixer, as well as a down converter to tie it into the house feed. Well guess what does both of those all in one? The Ki Pro. It has just about any output you need, and saves you needing a separate $1k down converter.

Chuck


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Chuck Pullen
Re: Live Converters
on Jun 15, 2010 at 2:40:55 pm

Just a follow up; I double checked the specs, and I am figuring about 6 -7 frame delay with the switcher frame sync, and the 2 converters, so you can expect at least a quarter second delay possibly as high as a half second depending on the other equipment in your air chain.

Chuck


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Walter Soyka
Re: Live Converters
on Jun 15, 2010 at 2:48:39 pm

[Chuck Pullen] "Just a follow up; I double checked the specs, and I am figuring about 6 -7 frame delay with the switcher frame sync, and the 2 converters"

Plus any processing on the PJ...

Seems like quite a bit of delay until you are able to go to an HD-SDI native solution.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Billy Gedney
Re: Live Converters
on Jun 15, 2010 at 2:49:27 pm

That is exactly the recorder I was planning on using. My sales guy got me in touch with a engineer at For-A and he said the frame sync should take less than that, but that is still better than MX-1 I'm currently using (it keeps dying on me!). Thanks for your legwork and for sharing your experience with me. I'm thinking I'm going to go with AJA.

I'm going to get nailed on delay because of my I/O needs and making it compatible for our older projectors, so I'm just worried about the cumulative delay until we get everything to HD-SDI.

Thanks again.


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Walter Soyka
Re: Live Converters
on Jun 16, 2010 at 3:15:37 am

I contacted support from each manufacturer about their standard definition analog video to SDI converters. AJA says 1 frame; BMD says 4 lines.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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