My school is about to start live broadcasting again, and we've purchased a Blackmagic Design Intensity Extreme to hook up via thunderbolt to play news packages and graphics from an imac. We previously used a Sony Firewire to Composite video converter, however as we slowly make the transition from SD to HD we are having to upgrade pieces of equipment as we can. We could no longer use the Sony converter box when it would only output the frame the playhead is last paused on (audio plays, but only one frame stays on the screen until playback is stopped, then frame updates again). The Intensity Extreme works fine with an NTSC sequence in Final Cut Pro 7, as expected, but I cannot get it to playback anything in a HD 720 or 1080 sequence. We have a Panasonic AG-MX70 video mixer (which I am guessing only handles SD?) that I am running the component out from the intensity to, however only NTSC size sequences play properly. Other size sequences do the same thing as the previous box: audio plays normally, but only last paused frame is displayed. I have tried nearly every combination of settings and connection with the intensity, switcher, and final cut pro view settings including only composite, component, down converting to SD from HD, etc but I have had no luck getting any HD sequences to play. The only solution is to take HD clips and re-render them in SD sequences, however this takes time and is the same solution we used for the Sony converter.
I am wondering if there is some sort of setting I have not yet tried, or if I am setting all of this up completely wrong. We are planning to start practicing live broadcasts later this week, so any help as soon as possible would be greatly appreciated.
Not familiar with this box directly, but looking at the specs on the Black Magic web site, it doesn't mention anything about downconversion of HD to SD on playback. You are right. Your switcher doesn't support HD signals, so my guess is that the component signals you are feeding to it are (should be) HD analog when your timeline is HD, which the switcher can't use. Most Black Magic cards/devices should have software to control the device. It's often in the preferences panel on a Mac. You might check there for additional controls. See if there is a box to enable the downconvert function, if it exists. I know the Decklink Extreme card has this feature and a control for it.
I'm thinking that for the price point of your box, it might not have the ability to downconvert, but this is purely a guess.
The Intensity Extreme has a Downconversion dropdown setting in the System Preferences area, however this seems to have no effect on the video whether it's set on HD to SD letterbox or anamorphic. For now it looks as though we will just have to rerender everything in FCP, but does anyone know a way to play HD sequences through the blackmagic intensity extreme to SD (component or composite)?