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HDMI monitoring in FCP7 with Retina MBP

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Ben Holmes
HDMI monitoring in FCP7 with Retina MBP
on Jun 28, 2012 at 2:06:04 pm

Hi All

In response to my test posted below of FCP7 and the rMPB (spoiler - works fine, looks ok) I was asked to test the HDMI output from FCP7 as well as FCPX. I guess for many buyers, that full size HDMI port will be a tempter - so I thought I'd report on my use of it so far.

First - DISCLAIMER - I've only tested this on one monitor, my own 46" Samsung series 7 LCD HDTV. I've turned off all the motion settings on the TV (I hate it in normal use) and in all cases have set the scan frequency to 50Hz to match the 1080i50 ProRes I've been pumping out.

As an aside, I've stored a small amount of material on the super fast (400Mb+) internal flash drive for testing. This plays ProRes material like a fast RAID - it's a nice way to show edits, without needing a fast external drive!

First - good news. The HDMI output works. It's a standard lead (yay) and audio output works as well (as long as you change the audio output in prefs to 'HDMI'). Connect the display, and turn on mirroring and open a ProRes 1080i50 master in quicktime X and hit fullsreeen and off you go - seamless playback on the TV, with audio. This is a NICE EXPERIENCE. One lead - no external drive required.

I have to admit, I recall with QTP7 you could have fullscreen playback on a second screen (whilst still having a desktop visible on the laptop) but I can't manage this in QTPx - so mirroring was the only option.

Now - BAD news. I was asked to try using FCP7 with the HDMI feeding the TV as an external video monitor. You can select this (and audio - again nice) as the cinema desktop PREVIEW in FCP7. It also gives you options for 'raw' and 'full screen' on this output, but these seemed to make no difference.

Although in all my other tests, playback was smooth (see below) with FCP7 feeding my HDTV as an 'external video' feed, I could NOT get smooth playback. Juddering was common whatever material was used - although it was obviously more apparent on panning shots.

As part of my testing, I tried a couple of other options:

1. Mirroring in FCP - with the HDTV showing the same as my desktop (you can adjust the underscan in display prefs so you see everything, which is nice) and using the MAIN cinema desktop for video output. This produced smooth playback - proving the issue above is not due to the TV or HDMI cable.

2. Via a Matrox MXO2. I'm not in the habit of using TV's as external monitors, I usually use a broadcast HDSDI monitor - but when I have to capture in the field, I sometimes use the MXO2 to give a 'hotel room client viewing' by hooking it up to a TV. With FCP7 sending an external video feed via the MXO2 to the TV, I had smooth playback - no juddering.

So - since I realise a lot of people might relish the idea of using an HDTV as a client monitor whilst editing, my own tests show, unfortunately, that it doesn't work well at all. Hopefully someone else can test this, and maybe get better results. I'm not exactly running a comprehensive test here.

I'll do some tests with FCPX and post them to the FCPX forum - but quick tests with using the HDMI connection to have the 'viewer on second monitor' option on FCPX are promising - the under scan settings let you see the whole window and scopes as well if you like. It's clear this implementation has been tested and approved - unlike poor old FCP7.


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