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This is a reproduction of the first post of a thread on the Digidesign User Conference by the user “Nucelar” who decided to create a thread and outline the options, pros, cons, and costs of all the different options for displaying video with Pro Tools.
Pro Tools video Output options:
1. QuickTime to desktop monitor (1st or 2nd monitor port, with or without DVI-video adapter)
Any Mac or PC with a secondary DVI or equivalent monitor output
PROS: Cheapest solution. Low latency. Good quality when DVI or VGA is used. Handles most codecs Quicktime can play back.
CONS: You only have one monitor left for Pro Tools. Uses CPU for video decoding, thus less power available for other tasks (such as RTAS). Output only. Does not output a native video signal: may cause visible tearing due to refresh rate not equal to frame rate.
PRICE: Adapter 19 US$ from Apple + cable
for example here & here
Note: If you’re on a Mac Pro or G5, you could use a Matrox DualHead2Go on your primary DVI output to connect one more monitor, but it’s not approved by Digidesign.
2. Canopus converter (ADVC110 is the most popular and approved by Digidesign)
Any Mac with Firewire port (Firewire 400). FW 800 to FW 400 adapter cable may be needed. Should be used in a dedicated Firewire 400 bus, not in the same bus as interfaces or audio hard disks.
PROS: Cheap hardware. Controlled latency (about 18 quarter frames) . Captures SD analog video in DV format as a bonus (using third party application). Frees CPU from video decoding.
CONS: Mac only. Video must be available in DV format. SD only. Composite or S-Video output only. Irregular and unpredictable sync
PRICE: about 200 US$
WEB: ADVC family
3. Avid MOJO SDI
Any Mac or PC with Firewire port (Firewire 400). FW 800 to FW 400 adapter cable may be needed. Must be used in a dedicated Firewire 400 bus, not in the same bus as interfaces or audio hard disks.
PROS: Direct Compatibility with Avid video files (MXF). No latency with avid video. Captures video directly into Pro Tools session in sync. Frees CPU from video decoding.
CONS: Quite Expensive. SD only. Struggles with codecs other than Avid’s.
PRICE: 2500 US$
WEB: Avid Mojo SDI
4. Digidesign Video Satellite LE
Main system must be Pro Tools HD. Needs a second computer dedicated exclusively to video output. Connects to the main PT system via Ethernet.
Secondary computer could be a Mac Mini, but then you’re stuck with the drawbacks of desktop video quality. For best performance, secondary computer should be a Mac Pro with a Decklink HD card. (see Post #2)
PROS: Dedicated, stable, scalable and flexible solution from Digidesign. Frees main CPU from video decoding.
CONS: Relatively Expensive, hassle of second computer
PRICE: Mac Mini+ Mbox micro + Video Satellite = aprox. 1200 US$
PRICE: Mac Pro + Decklink HD +Mbox Micro+ Video Satellite = aprox. 4200 US$
WEB: More info on the Video Satellite LE
5. Avid Video Satellite
WEB: More info on the Video Satellite
6. Chase video deck
Pro Tools System with Machine Control ability and of course a pro video deck.
PROS: You can use professional deck for direct playback and layback. No capture or conversion needed.
CONS: Very specific workflows. Tape-based, linear. Additional wear of deck heads. Downside when editing: forward-selecting to picture is not possible because PT only outputs positional info when selecting backwards.
PRICE: You don’t want to know the price of a digibeta deck.
Notes:The Rosendahl Bonsai Drive can be used as a standalone non-linear VTR, eliminating the drawbacks of tape-based decks. SD only.
7. Blackmagic PCI Card
Any Mac Pro with a free PCI-e slot
PROS: Very good price/performance. Digi approved solution. Accepts all Quicktime-playable codecs. Very good video quality. Controlled latency.
CONS: It uses CPU Power for video decoding. Does not capture into Pro Tools or handle Avid video, unlike Mojo.
PRICE RANGE: from 200 US$ (Intensity) to 1000US$ (Decklink HD Extreme)
WEB: More info the Blackmagic web site
Third party software installed on a secondary Macintosh computer for dedicated video playback and recording.”Can be externally controlled via Midi, Sony 9-Pin protocols or TCP/IP, and can also synchronise playback, chasing timecode, even in multi-channel configurations.”
PROS: Basically the same as Video Satellite LE
CONS: Basically the same as Video Satellite LE, Mac Only
PRICE: Software is around 1000 US$
WEB: More info on Gallery web site
“Nucelar” has done an excellent job in producing this compendium and it provides an excellent resource to help all those who need to display video within Pro Tools sessions to choose the option that suits them best. I have gone for a Canopus ADVC 110.