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Stupid question: Why do I need an Ultrastudio?

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Robin King
Stupid question: Why do I need an Ultrastudio?
on Mar 23, 2018 at 7:51:50 pm

I feel like an idiot for asking this and I'm usually pretty smart, but for some reason I just can't figure out what a BMD Ultrastudio actually does??!

The blurb talks about being able to play out various formats/resolutions/frame rates of video, but doesn't my MacBook Pro already do that? When I edit (currently in Premiere), I ingest footage onto my Thunderbolt HDD (H.264 or ProRes, HD or UHD), drag it into my project, and play it either on my laptop screen or through HDMI onto an external monitor. Admittedly the UHD MP4s straight from my camcorder play back somewhat choppily and scrubbing is a chore (so I usually work offline with proxies), but at least I CAN play those files.

So what am I missing? Does it boost/accelerate what I can already do, or does it allow me to do something I can't already do? Will it allow me to play higher resolution or higher bitrate video with fewer frame drops than I can with my MBP alone? Will it allow me to scrub through UHD ProRes or the MP4s from my 4K camcorder in 25p in real time, whereas at the moment it's a bit choppy in Premiere? I thought the playback speed was more to do with my CPU/GPU.

Thanks in advance to anyone who takes pity on me having a senior moment and can give me a basic primer on why I would benefit from it.

Robin King
http://www.robinking.com


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Glenn Sakatch
Re: Stupid question: Why do I need an Ultrastudio?
on Mar 24, 2018 at 4:17:54 pm

You might not NEED one...but they do serve a purpose.
First caveat...you work in Premiere. I don't know how premiere handles I/O...I don't use Premiere.

If you worked in Avid or Resolve, or I would assume, if you had a broadcast monitor for Premiere, then you would need some sort of I/O device, whether it be a BM device, or a AJA device (excluding Resolve). In the end, these device provide professional output connections for professional equipment...namely SDI connections.

Now some of the ultrastudio devices do provide acceleration as well. the bigger Ultrastudio 4k extreme models will help with some of the heavy lifting in a edit environment, especially in 4k, as well as give you multiple outputs, timecode output, and multiple inputs, if you are capturing off a deck or camera to your system. Audio connections will also multiply greatly in number and type with some of these models.

If I edit on my laptop, I usually just run it naked, but my actual edit suite has never been without some form of I/O device, going back 20 some years. Currently I have both a Kona 3 and a BM 4k intensity pro card in my system. These essentially serve the same purpose that an utrastudio would. They feed my Flanders, my 4k monitor, my audio board, my hyperdeck recorder, and my waveforms....all at the same time, and in sync, with no stutter playback. Sure I have a VDA as well, but still, try doing that with only a built in HDMI out )

So do you NEED one? Clearly you don't, or your post would start with ..."my playback workflow sucks, would this help?" But for many of us, our typical setups would cease to exist without something like these devices.

Glenn


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Robin King
Re: Stupid question: Why do I need an Ultrastudio?
on Mar 24, 2018 at 5:50:23 pm

Thanks Glenn for your insightful response and taking the time with me. I think part of my confusion comes from seeing some new monitors available for ~£1500-2000 which say 'calibrated/good for colour-critical work', but which have HDMI inputs. I didn't understand what an I/O device would add to that. (Apologies if seeing "£1500" and "colour-critical" in the same sentence gives you palpitations, but everybody's got to start somewhere and the only Flanders I'm going to get to see anytime soon is on The Simpsons!)

I am currently editing in Premiere and doing a little light grading in the Lumetri panel therein, but I've been wanting to download and play with Resolve for a while. For the present it would be just to acquaint myself with the interface and methodology, and to learn the NLE portions of it, while I save up towards (I think) an iMac Pro and as modestly-priced a grading monitor as is decent in polite circles. Until then I'll be on my 2015 MBP and decidedly non-colour-critical UHD HDMI monitor. Oh, and maybe an Atomos Ninja Flame (that I would use on set as a recorder) to judge colour.

My eventual goal is to be able to edit and grade UHD footage recorded with an A7R3+Ninja as ProRes, in Resolve. As I'm on a budget I can put up with a proxy workflow and waiting for renders, but if there's something I can change about my prospective setup that doesn't cost the earth and will improve my experience, I'm all for it.

Thanks again!

Robin King
http://www.robinking.com


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Chad Pearson
Re: Stupid question: Why do I need an Ultrastudio?
on Mar 28, 2018 at 12:07:25 am

Like Glenn said, capture devices like the UltraStudio line exist to interface with "professional" Television and broadcast equipment. They are really the only way to capture and playout to tape decks of yore found in TV stations around the world, or for plugging in a video camera signal directly to the computer instead of recording to files and ingesting into a computer.

On the playback side, they find a home in the live event space. If you need to play back a clip into a professional video switcher that uses SDI, you need a device like this. Want to do lower thirds with alpha transparency? Only a device like this will work.

For video editing, the only value it provides is the ability to plug into a broadcast monitor or TV so you can preview exactly what it looks like, and ensure that you stay within the legal color range.


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Robin King
Re: Stupid question: Why do I need an Ultrastudio?
on Mar 28, 2018 at 9:04:37 am

Very interesting, thanks! So the first two paragraphs wouldn't apply to me but the third, if I'm looking to start learning how to grade properly, would. I didn't realise that an HMDI monitor (if it's a calibrated one) wouldn't show exactly what the colours look like... With the budget I have available I was thinking of an HP Dreamcolor Z27x.

Robin King
http://www.robinking.com


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Kevin Rag
Re: Stupid question: Why do I need an Ultrastudio?
on Mar 29, 2018 at 1:26:34 pm

Hey Rabin, for a pro Color grading broadcast monitor like the Flanders Scientific, you need SDI which is much better. Color grading for broadcast requires a pro monitor like this. Hope this helps:)

K


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Robin King
Re: Stupid question: Why do I need an Ultrastudio?
on Mar 29, 2018 at 2:43:14 pm

One day... one day... thanks Kevin.

Robin King
http://www.robinking.com


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Kevin Rag
Re: Stupid question: Why do I need an Ultrastudio?
on Mar 30, 2018 at 10:00:24 am

My pleasure:)

K


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Jeff Pulera
Re: Stupid question: Why do I need an Ultrastudio?
on Mar 30, 2018 at 3:02:28 pm

In very basic terms, when you simply use an output from the computer graphics card to "preview" video output from Premiere, there are a few caveats:

1) The timing is wrong. Video frame rates might be 23.976 or 29.97 or 59.94 fps, but the graphics output from the computer is likely 60.00 fps. A discerning eye may pick up that the video is not smooth, something is a little "off" with the playback. I can usually see it, just doesn't look quite right.

2) If working with 1080i (interlaced) footage, the computer graphics output is going to be progressive and not properly display the interlaced source

3) Color - computer output may be "RGB" while HD video usually uses "Rec. 709" color

I use Premiere on a PC and if I simply use a second HDMI display from graphics card as the "Output" monitor for Premiere, to me the "video" doesn't quite look right. Might be a little choppy, or hard to put words to, but just not quite up to par.

If I use a Black Magic output device and run that HDMI signal to same monitor, the video looks more like...video. Just looks better to me.

Now I don't have a color-calibrated display or claim to be an expert on color correction or anything, but going back like 20 years, I have used video I/O devices from DPS, Matrox, and later Black Magic to always monitor my NLE video output AS VIDEO, and feel this has been beneficial to me to see the video as intended to be seen, rather than looking at a "computer display approximation" of the video. This goes way back to working with SD video via S-Video output devices and then later moving to HD first via Component Analog connections and later HDMI as technology evolved.

Maybe not as important today with 1080p sources, but having worked for many years with SD and HDV, both of which were always interlaced, using a real VIDEO monitor helped me often to see fielding issues that never would have been apparent looking at the computer screen alone. I was able to see exactly what the customer would see in the delivered video, watching it on a TV monitor as they would be. Otherwise a lot of issues may have made it out of the studio unnoticed.

Thanks

Jeff Pulera


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Robin King
Re: Stupid question: Why do I need an Ultrastudio?
on Mar 30, 2018 at 4:24:25 pm

Very interesting! Thanks Jeff. I do notice playback from Premiere to be not so smooth, and it does bother me!

Does that mean that if I went from my MBP > HDMI > Ultrastudio 4K > HDMI > HP Dreamcolor Z27x, I would get smoother playback with better colour fidelity in Rec.709 than going MBP > HDMI > HP Dreamcolor Z27x? (I mean, until I can afford a Flanders or something)

Also, I notice on BMD website that they offer a rack-mount 4K broadcast monitor called the Smartview 4K for $995... are they just labelling as broadcast monitor something which is not so? Is there any reason I can't use that free standing for grading? How is it so cheap?

Robin King
http://www.robinking.com


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Jeff Pulera
Re: Stupid question: Why do I need an Ultrastudio?
on Mar 30, 2018 at 5:41:35 pm

Hi Robin,

Just using an HDMI or SDI output device does not in itself guarantee smooth playback - if the computer is not fast enough to decode and play the video on the fly without dropping frames, the output device cannot help that. It can only play out frames as fast as they are delivered to it from the NLE.

If the laptop is not keeping up, you may need faster storage, or may get better results using proxies or intermediate clips that are less compressed than the original clips and therefore easier for the machine to play.

"Does that mean that if I went from my MBP > HDMI > Ultrastudio 4K > HDMI > HP Dreamcolor Z27x"

Important to note, the HDMI output from your computer has no part in this workflow! We want to bypass that. Premiere will feed video frames directly to the Black Magic output device via Thunderbolt. The display card in the computer is not used in any way to feed that output.

I don't have any experience with the SmartView 4k unit. According to specs, it can be calibrated and provide nice images.

I freely admit that I have never used a properly calibrated broadcast monitor - I set things up by eyeball - but nevertheless I do appreciate the improved output provided by an output device versus graphics card.

Thanks

Jeff Pulera
Safe Harbor Computers


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Robin King
Re: Stupid question: Why do I need an Ultrastudio?
on Mar 30, 2018 at 6:07:55 pm

Thanks again. Ah yes - I do tend to get the choppy playback when playing back frames of the UHD MP4s straight from my camera (100 Mbps). I'm hoping to get a Ninja Flame soon to get a ProRes HQ workflow.

And as I understand from you, I can set up my system to go:
Premiere (or Resolve) > TB2 > Ultrastudio 4K > HDMI > Dreamcolor
OR
Premiere (or Resolve) > TB2 > Ultrastudio 4K > SDI > BMD Smartview 4K

My storage is a TB2 RAID Array set to RAID 0 - not the fastest out there but not bad:
http://www.g-technology.com/products/g-raid-thunderbolt-2

Robin King
http://www.robinking.com


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Robin King
Re: Stupid question: Why do I need an Ultrastudio?
on Mar 30, 2018 at 6:57:14 pm

Reading further about the Smartview 4K I can see it's not intended as part of a grading solution - 8 bit only for a start. Still, it's an interesting thought for a tight budget.

Robin King
http://www.robinking.com


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Jeff Pulera
Re: Stupid question: Why do I need an Ultrastudio?
on Mar 30, 2018 at 7:19:51 pm

Correct -

"And as I understand from you, I can set up my system to go:
Premiere (or Resolve) > TB2 > Ultrastudio 4K > HDMI > Dreamcolor
OR
Premiere (or Resolve) > TB2 > Ultrastudio 4K > SDI > BMD Smartview 4K"


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