Isadora offers a direct, low-latency connection to Blackmagic input devices such as the Intensity Shuttle or the UltraStudio Mini Recorder, but setting up the proper configuration can be a bit tricky if you are not especially technical. Below you'll find a step-by-step procedure to get you going as quickly as possible.
Blackmagic devices support a wide range of input (and output) connections, most notably HDMI or SDI. This allows them to be used with a variety of professional and prosumer cameras and camcorders, including many DSLR cameras. Some input devices also support older, SD (standard definition) composite video sources. Depending on the hardware you are using you may need to select the connection type (eg: HDMI or SDI) either thru software supplied with the hardware or in the Operating System settings. Please read your hardware manual to determine if this step is required.
Important Note: On some cameras (and many DSLR cameras) the camera menus and interface will appear on the HDMI output. That means you'll need to change a setting on the camera to hide the interface items from the HDMI output. If you can't find a procedure to hide these interface items in the camera's manual, it is likely that it is impossible to turn them off and get a clean HDMI output. Please test that you can get a clean live feed from the camera you wish to use before you plan to use it on your next project!
- This first test is not required, but it's a good way to ensure there is a working video output from the camera in the first place. (If you don't have a projector handy, skip to step 3.) Start by connecting one end of an HDMI cable to the camera's output, and the other directly to the video projector. (If you're working with SD video, then use a composite video cable instead.) If you don't see an image, look for a button on the projector labeled "input." Usually, pressing this button will cycle through the various video inputs on the projector. If you can’t see an image on your projector, then the camera may not be providing an output. As mentioned above, many cameras will require you to change some settings in the menu to provide an HDMI output. To solve this problem, you’ll need to consult the manual for the camera itself.
- Once you can see an image in the video projector, you can proceed to the next step. (Note: sometimes the projector will show you the format of the HDMI signal. If it does, take note of what the projector says, as it will speed up the process when you get to step 5.)
- Now connect the camera to the computer. If your Blackmagic device uses a USB 3.0 cable, then you want to connect: Camera -> HDMI Cable -> Blackmagic HDMI INPUT -> USB 3.0 Cable -> Computer. IIf you have the older Blackmagic with a Thunderbolt connection, then the connections will look like this: Camera -> HDMI Cable -> Blackmagic HDMI INPUT -> Thunderbolt Cable -> Computer.
- When you install the Blackmagic software, you get an application called “Blackmagic Media Express.” Open that program and click the “Log and Capture” tab.
- Open the Media Express Preferences. In this window, you'll see an item labeled "Project Video Format" with a popup menu (Mac) or drop-down list (Windows) next to it.
If you've connected an HD camera, click the first HD video format option in this menu/dropdown, which should be 1080p23.98. If you've connected a SD camera then start with NTSC and go from there.
- After you choose an item, close this the Preferences window. Does the video appear in the main window of Media Express? If not, repeat step 6, moving on to the next one HD video format, e.g., 1080p24, 1080p25, etc. You need to keep trying until you discover the video format of the camera connected to the Blackmagic. (Unfortunately the Blackmagic doesn't figure this out automatically.)
- Eventually, you should see video appear in the Blackmagic Media Express. When you do, you've successfully discovered the HD video format of your camera. You can now quit Media Express.
- Open Isadora and choose Live Capture Settings from the Input menu.
- Choose “Blackmagic” using the “Driver” popup.
- Pick the device in the Device menu. (Should say "UltraStudio Mini Recorder"; mine says “Intensity Shuttle.”)
- In the “Input” menu choose the video format that worked with Media Express above. Your Live Capture Settings should now look something like this:
- Click “Start Capture.” If you've followed the steps above, you will see an image appear in the thumbnail at the bottom of the Live Capture Settings window. You can access the live video feed from your camera using the Video In Watcher actor in your Isadora patch.