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purpose of AJA IO

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Adam Querns
purpose of AJA IO
on Nov 24, 2009 at 12:50:10 am


I have been editing on Final Cut for several years but I am something of a novice when it comes to cutting anything larger than HDV. I am currently editing on a MacBook Pro 2.16 GHz Intel Core Duo.

Please, in layman's terms would someone be so kind as to explain what this piece of machinery does (the AJA IO)? I've tried to research this but I'm afraid I fall short on the industry jargon that is always used to describe this.

I know it seems like a stupid question. I am trying to expand my gear and want to know if this device is necessary.

Thank you!

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Tim Kolb
Re: purpose of AJA IO
on Nov 24, 2009 at 2:19:06 pm

The IO devices in concept, are external versions of the internally installed Kona and Xena cards.

These cards and devices are all basically "I/O" devices (in/out). They get video in and out of your computer in a variety of formats. The HDV you've been editing can be ingested through FireWire, which is typically included on a computer. There are many other video types that move in HDSDI/SDI (serial digital) signals and analog component, or even composite signal formats. These can't be ingested by a computer that can't receive these signals and mastering back to these formats is impossible unless you can output the correct signal type.

The addition of a Kona or Xena card to a desktop computer supplies these inputs and outputs, but a laptop doesn't have a slot for these cards...

This is where the external I/O devices come in. The original IO box simply added SD analog inputs and outputs to a computer on an external box that plugged into the computer's FW port. It enabled a laptop (or any Macintosh that had a FW port) the ability to input/output analog component video and analog audio to a tape format like Betacam SP, whereas FW could only input/output DV (and now HDV).

The IO HD came out in concert with ProRes and is designed to work with Macintoshes and FCP. In the case of your laptop, you would add the capability to interface with a variety of serial digital (HDSDI/SDI) video devices and analog devices as well as all those inputs and outputs are on the box itself.

When you are ingesting footage onto your computer now, the HDV footage is simply flowing through the FW cable and you're placing it on your harddrive, but if you plan on editing with ProRes, you would need to change a video format like HDcam or HDcam SR to ProRes as you ingest it...'transcode on the fly' as it were. The AJA IO HD actually takes care of this transcoding itself, taking that load off your computer, which makes it ideal for laptop work, not to mention you can also show your FCP timeline playback on you Mac Book Pro on a broadcast monitor through the outputs.

The IO Express came out as a lighter weight version of the IO HD...the express works on both Windows and Mac and has a subset of the IO HD's HDSDI, HDMI and analog inputs and outputs, but the Express also moves that 'transcode' task back to the computer. On one hand, it allows you to use whatever codecs are on your computer, so your choices expand, but you need a beefier computer to do the extra work.

It all depends on what you need and what makes your life easier. One man's ultimate solution is another's tedious detour.

If someone sees an area where I've misrepresented something...feel free to chime in...

Director, Consultant
Kolb Productions,

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Adam Querns
Re: purpose of AJA IO
on Nov 25, 2009 at 2:05:04 am

Thanks Tim. Very helpful.

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