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Pro Opinions - KONA 3 or IoHD?

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Jesus Ali
Pro Opinions - KONA 3 or IoHD?
on May 14, 2008 at 8:08:47 pm

Hello. My name is Jesus (hey-soos) Ali.
I am an AV tech at a small midwestern art college.

I am trying to design a high end HD video workstation based around a new Octo-core Mac Pro and I can't decide between the Kona 3 or the IoHD.

We already have a lab of G5's for most students to work in. This workstation is supposed to be high-end for Seniors to master uncompressed (or prores 422) HD projects.

The envisioned demands for this machine will be to serve as a 16GB of RAM AfterEffects HD and MAYA workhorse, but also as an Uncompressed HD and ProRes 422 HQ Final Cut green screen compositing machine. Additionally, as a Surround Sound and color mastering station, and Blu-Ray disc burning station.


Our Equipment:
1 - Canon XL H1 (HDV tape, but with HD-SDI Out)
5 - Sony HDR-HC1 (HDV tape, Component out, but "after" HDV compression. I think.)
1 - Xsan Fiber channel RAID
1 - Sony HDV deck

What I want to add:
2 to 4 - Sony HC9's or Canon HV20 or HV30's (HDV tape, but with HDMI Out, before HDV compression. I think.)


We have legacy "gray box" Sony and JVC SD studio monitors. My original thoughts were that we would use the AJA product to output a SD feed to the older monitors for color correction. But I have recently heard that the SD down convert is not color correcting accurate.
Do others agree with this?

I was leaning towards the IoHD to simultaneously feed the Final Cut timeline to a 32" consumer HD television over HDMI while feeding the down convert to a legacy monitor for precise color correction. But I suppose the Kona could do that same; HD monitoring over Component, and SD over SD-SDI.
What are your thoughts?

The envisioned workflow is that in a different lab/studio, students will shoot green screen footage on the Canon XL-H1 over HD-SDI into a different AJA or Black Magic card, which will be saved to a Quad core G5 or directly to the XSan over fiber channel.

After shooting their green screen footage, students would then come to this workstation to edit and composite the footage.

I am attracted to the built-in ProRes 422 HQ acceleration of the AJA IoHD.
But I am working with a "Value Added Reseller" who is pushing the KONA 3, pointing out that it "supports ProRes 422." Can anyone explain exactly what that means? I know that "supports" isn't the same as "hardware accelerates!"
But could IoHD users please testify to how helpful the hardware acceleration is?


Because of HDMI input and output, portability, and ProRes hardware acceleration, I am leaning toward the IoHD.

But I am weary of the FW issues. Our students are accustomed to working with FW drives and making the transition to the XSan will be weird for them. I can see them naturally preferring to work on their hard drives so that they can continue to work at home off their laptops.

Another worry is that the Mac Pro might run out of PCI slots.

1-Fiber Channel Card
1-Possible AJA KONA 3 card. (do fiber channel, monitor and Kona all want to be in the PCI-E slot?)
1-Extra Firewire Bus
1-Monitor Card (ATI Radeon because I've read about rendering glitches with Maya and the GE Force cards)
1-M Audio 7.1 Channel Surround sound out card.
1-Internal RAID Card (yes we have the Xsan, but these fiber drops haven't been pulled yet, so I am weary, but that's another post.)

Yes, six PCI slots is not a possibility...

* * *

Sorry for the long and complicated first post. I am dealing with a long and complicated decision. I have tried to keep it on topic as much as possible. :)



So, for the record, based on the considerations above,
FOR THE WORKSTATION, do you professionals recommend the Kona 3 or IoHD?

FOR THE CAPTURE STATION, do you professionals recommend something else?


Thanks. Jesus.


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: Pro Opinions - KONA 3 or IoHD?
on May 14, 2008 at 8:45:36 pm

[Jesus Ali] " But I have recently heard that the SD down convert is not color correcting accurate.
Do others agree with this? "


No. I don't agree. What exactly did you hear?

[Jesus Ali] "But I suppose the Kona could do that same; HD monitoring over Component, and SD over SD-SDI.
What are your thoughts? "


If you need analog input at all, the ioHD is for you (as long as you don't need uncompressed). If you need to go uncompressed, then a Kona3 and a a/d converter is for you.


[Jesus Ali] "Can anyone explain exactly what that means? I know that "supports" isn't the same as "hardware accelerates!"
But could IoHD users please testify to how helpful the hardware acceleration is?"


With the ioHD the ProRes encoding gets done in the box itself then sent to the computer via fw800. With a Kona3, ProRes is encoded in software. No difference in quality, just in computer resources. If any of your students have a macBook pro, they can take the ioHD and shoot/record out in the field bypassing any in camera compression.

The ioHD is a totally great tool. It does not do Uncompressed (but Prores is really great) and it does not do resolutions over 1080 (like 2K for example) and it also does not do dual link. As long as you don't need any of that functionality, it sounds like the ioHD will work for as it offers the most flexibility in terms of input and output connections in both SD and HD.

[Jesus Ali] "But I am weary of the FW issues. Our students are accustomed to working with FW drives and making the transition to the XSan will be weird for them. I can see them naturally preferring to work on their hard drives so that they can continue to work at home off their laptops. "

As long as you separate the FW busses, you are fine. ProRes will work on FW800 drives. If you shoot/capture Uncompressed HD they won't be able to work off of laptops at all.

Jeremy



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Jesus Ali
Re: Pro Opinions - KONA 3 or IoHD?
on May 15, 2008 at 10:34:08 pm

Thanks for all the info Jeremy. Here are some follow questions I have:

[Jesus Ali] But I have recently heard that the SD down convert is not color correcting accurate. Do others agree with this?

[Jeremy] No. I don't agree. What exactly did you hear?

[New from Jesus Ali] Here on CreativeCow, I had just read Shane Ross' "Ultimate Real World FCP FAQ's -Part 2", in specific: "Number 25: HDV External Monitor Viewing" wherein he states:

To view HDV on an external monitor you are going to need to purchase a capture card, like the ones Blackmagic or AJA offer. They will both play out HDV in real time. The catch is that you cannot view this on a regular TV or NTSC monitor. Since this is HD, an HD monitor will be needed.

HOWEVER, both cards are capable of down converting the signal so that it can be displayed on an SD monitor. This won't be color accurate however.


[New from Jesus Ali] Did I misunderstand and perhaps the color incorrectness stems from HDV's 4:2:0 color space and that's why the down convert won't be calibrated? Or do you think he's saying that hardware down convert simply isn't reliable for color correcting?


[Jesus Ali] "But I suppose the Kona could do the same; HD monitoring over Component, and SD over SD-SDI. What are your thoughts? "

[Jeremy] If you need analog input at all, the ioHD is for you (as long as you don't need uncompressed). If you need to go uncompressed, then a Kona3 and a a/d converter is for you.

[New from Jesus Ali] What would the best workflow be for the Sony HC1 cameras? They shoot HDV to tape. The cameras themselves offer Component Out, but I don't know how to transfer Timecode. We could put the HDV tapes in a HVR-M25U HDV deck, it has Component and HDMI Out, but I'm still not sure about Timecode. I know there is Convergent Design's HD Connect boxes, but isn't there a cheaper way to get Timecode out with the footage? The deck also has "Control S" and LANC connections.

[Jesus Ali] "Can anyone explain exactly what that means? I know that "supports" isn't the same as "hardware accelerates!" But could IoHD users please testify to how helpful the hardware acceleration is?"

[Jeremy] With the ioHD the ProRes encoding gets done in the box itself then sent to the computer via fw800. With a Kona3, ProRes is encoded in software. No difference in quality, just in computer resources.

[New from Jesus Ali] I was understanding "hardware acceleration" as meaning that you need to render the FCP timeline less or not at all. Is that correct?

On a 10 minute FCP project with 3 layers of ProRes video, how much of a benefit is the hardware acceleration of having the IoHD connected to the computer?

If you had the same project (working in ProRes, not DVCPro HD) with a KONA 3 connected instead of the IoHD, would you be rendering and waiting dramatically longer?


This is probably a dumb question, but just to be absolutely certain, while the KONA 3 "supports" ProRes, but doesn't accelerate it, can the KONA 3 convert the HD-SDI stream from the Canon XL H1 into ProRes 422 HQ instantaneously on the fly in realtime? or do I need the IoHD for that functionality?


I thank everyone for their expertise and continued patience.



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Jeremy Garchow
Re: Pro Opinions - KONA 3 or IoHD?
on May 16, 2008 at 1:15:54 am

[Jesus Ali] "HOWEVER, both cards are capable of down converting the signal so that it can be displayed on an SD monitor. This won't be color accurate however. "

This has to be taken out of context or an error. AJA hardware downconversion is definitely 'color accurate' and does a fine job of converting from 709 to 601.


[Jesus Ali] "Or do you think he's saying that hardware down convert simply isn't reliable for color correcting? "

I don't know, see above.

[Jesus Ali] "LANC connections. "

You can use an addenda converter that converts lanc to rs422.


[Jesus Ali] " was understanding "hardware acceleration" as meaning that you need to render the FCP timeline less or not at all. Is that correct? "

No. Hardware acceleration in the FCP sense involves scaling of anamorphic Hd footage for HDV and DVCPRo HD like codecs and doing to encoding in hardware and not software in the case of the ioHD. It will not accelerate any renders in FCP as that's tied to your CPU speed.

[Jesus Ali] "On a 10 minute FCP project with 3 layers of ProRes video, how much of a benefit is the hardware acceleration of having the IoHD connected to the computer? "

See above and below.

[Jesus Ali] "If you had the same project (working in ProRes, not DVCPro HD) with a KONA 3 connected instead of the IoHD, would you be rendering and waiting dramatically longer? "

No. Rendering has to do with the speed of your CPU and a little bit to do with the speed of your hard drives, but not much. FCP is a CPU based NLE and the faster your CPU the faster FCP renders. COnvenient for Apple to sell computers, ain't it?

[Jesus Ali] "can the KONA 3 convert the HD-SDI stream from the Canon XL H1 into ProRes 422 HQ instantaneously on the fly in realtime?"

Yes.

[Jesus Ali] "or do I need the IoHD for that functionality?"

No.


Jeremy


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gary adcock
Re: Pro Opinions - KONA 3 or IoHD?
on May 16, 2008 at 11:52:32 am

[Jesus Ali ] " "HOWEVER, both cards are capable of down converting the signal so that it can be displayed on an SD monitor. This won't be color accurate however. ""

The context of that statement was that you cannot accurately judge HD colorspace on an SD display - not that the colors in the down conversions were somehow inaccurate.

gary adcock
Studio37
HD & Film Consultation
Post and Production Workflows
Inside look at the IoHD




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walter biscardi
Re: Pro Opinions - KONA 3 or IoHD?
on May 16, 2008 at 12:22:56 pm

[gary adcock] "[Jesus Ali ] " "HOWEVER, both cards are capable of down converting the signal so that it can be displayed on an SD monitor. This won't be color accurate however. ""

The context of that statement was that you cannot accurately judge HD colorspace on an SD display - not that the colors in the down conversions were somehow inaccurate."


Yep, especially when it comes to chroma as you know, you can push the chroma and colors so much further when you're working in HD that you just don't see that represented correctly in SD. If all you're looking at is SD, you'll most likely keep the colors a bit more muted that you really should.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Biscardi Creative Media
HD and SD Production for Broadcast and Independent Productions.

STOP STARING AND START GRADING WITH APPLE COLOR Apple Color Training DVD available now!
Read my Blog!
View Walter Biscardi's profile on LinkedIn


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Shane Ross
Re: Pro Opinions - KONA 3 or IoHD?
on May 16, 2008 at 4:21:59 am

[Jesus Ali] "HOWEVER, both cards are capable of down converting the signal so that it can be displayed on an SD monitor. This won't be color accurate however.

[New from Jesus Ali] Did I misunderstand and perhaps the color incorrectness stems from HDV's 4:2:0 color space and that's why the down convert won't be calibrated? Or do you think he's saying that hardware down convert simply isn't reliable for color correcting?"


You misunderstand. What I mean by that is that when you are monitoring in the SD color space looking at the footage, you are not seeing an accurate HD color space. You are seeing a proper SD color space, if you are on a proper SD Broadcast monitor. So if you are intending to output HDV to SD, then this will be accurate for that. However, if you are viewing this HD footage on an SD monitor, you are not seeing a color accurate HD signal. So you cannot color correct for HD on an SD monitor. If you get what I mean.


Shane



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walter biscardi
Re: Pro Opinions - KONA 3 or IoHD?
on May 14, 2008 at 8:56:25 pm

[Jesus Ali] "I am trying to design a high end HD video workstation based around a new Octo-core Mac Pro and I can't decide between the Kona 3 or the IoHD."

They are pretty much exactly the same with one major difference.

The Kona 3 allows you to Capture / Edit Uncompressed HD and 2K resolutions.

The IoHD cannot.

Other than that, they are pretty much identical except one comes in an outboard box and the other is a card internal to the machine.

We have had two machines running the Kona 3 for almost two years now and it's rock solid. We're setting up a third workstation to transition from a Kona 2 to the Io HD.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Biscardi Creative Media
HD and SD Production for Broadcast and Independent Productions.

STOP STARING AND START GRADING WITH APPLE COLOR Apple Color Training DVD available now!
Read my Blog!
View Walter Biscardi's profile on LinkedIn


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Matthew Radcliff
Re: Pro Opinions - KONA 3 or IoHD?
on Jun 12, 2008 at 8:35:55 pm

Sorry to be jumping into this thread so long after everyone else, but I've been behind on my COW reading.

This doesn't likely apply to Jesus Ali's situation, but there is another big difference between the Kona3 and the Io HD that hasn't been mentioned: the IoHD requires FCP 6 but the Kona3 does not. Is that right? I've been looking at the two systems anyway, as I plot out upgrades to my system. I'm still in the early years, so paying rent gets top priority with my income, rather than upgrades to the software.

Matt R


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Jesus Ali
Re: Pro Opinions - KONA 3 or IoHD?
on Jun 13, 2008 at 5:50:39 am

Hey Matt,

I don't know this for certain, but I do know that Apple's ProRes 422 codec requires Final Cut 6, (Studio 2.0).

Since the IoHD is SO tied to Apple ProRes 422, you would be losing the majority of its intended utility to use it when you couldn't use ProRes 422 (FCP 5.0, Studio 1).

Also, I saw a note in the IoHD User Manual that at one point even recommended placing DVC HD PRO video into a ProRes 422 Sequence in FCP so that FCP could utilize the acceleration to live Preview your Timeline.

You may be able to use the IoHD to capture other formats into FCP, but it would offer no acceleration, so it wouldn't serve much point, other than providing a BCN connector for SDI or HD-SDI. If that's the case, you may as well go with the KONA which offers DVC HD PRO hardware acceleration.

Good luck. I'm sure other with more experience can endorse or correct this post more reliably. ;)



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