Hardware - Part 1 - My Single Camera Setup

Okay it’s time for the fun stuff… the hardware.

As you know from previous posts, I am using both Windows and Mac machines. Aside from a few software differences, the hardware is pretty much the same for both systems.

Standard Blurb:  It is not necessary or recommended for you to use or purchase all or any of the items I use. This is just a guide and you should choose what works best for you and your workflow. :-)

Single Camera Video Capture

As far as I know, for Script Supervisors working in HD (baby!), the Blackmagic UltraStudio Mini Recorder is the way to go. It was recommended to me by a few VTR guys.

Note: Windows users you must have a machine with a Thunderbolt port to use the Mini Recorder (well, *technically* you might be able to use it via HDMI but check with your favorite VTR person for his/her opinion). There is a Blackmagic UltraStudio SDI USB 3.0 device for $395 (vs $145 for the Mini Recorder… yikes!).  I don’t have any personal experience with this particular device but from what I’ve read, it is very particular about the motherboard, graphics card and USB 3.0 controller used in your machine. I suggest reading the FAQ and the Support Notes for this device before purchasing.

Keep an eye on the Thunderbolttechnology.net website to see the current list of computers (Windows and Mac) and other devices with Thunderbolt ports.

Let’s talk about connecting the Mini Recorder to  your computer.

 (2 images below from Blackmagic)

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The Mini Recorder will take input from either an HDMI cable (video cameras?) or HD SDI cable (this is what we will use). The connection to your computer is via Thunderbolt cable.

(layout diagram adapted from Blackmagic)

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Note to Windows users: I have found my computer to get finicky with the Thunderbolt cable. If the cable becomes loose or disconnected while I have the Debut video software open, my laptop will freeze then give me the dreaded BSOD (Blue Screen of Death). It’s some kind of fault I can’t remember the name of but I think its software related. Windows 8.1 Pro forces me to cold reboot the computer 3 times before it will boot back to the desktop. If the shoot is moving fast it can be a major pain. I haven’t used the Mac enough to know if I would have the same problem. If I do, I’ll let you know.

Once the Mini Recorder is connected check with VTR to see if the output is 1080p or 1080PsF and check or uncheck as necessary in the Blackmagic Desktop software control panel.

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You will then need to change the video format in your chosen video software (usually it will be either 23.976 fps or 59.94 fps for NTSC but it could be almost anything).

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That’s it for now! The next post will be about my 2 camera setup.