I have a strong personal preference towards using Windows PCs over Macs running OSX. That said, Adobe’s release of an OSX of their CS3 suite of video products has recently brought me into more frequent contact with Apple’s products. I currently have a MacPro tower in my office, primarily for testing purposes. Until last week, the Mac version of Premiere Pro had no hardware I/O support, limiting its usefulness in professional environments.
Blackmagic has become the first company to support the Mac version of CS3 with their line of hardware products, with the version 6.6 release of their drivers on Oct 26. I was aware of this at the time, but didn’t report it here until I had a chance to experiment with them myself. I have installed a Multibridge Extreme in my MacPro and done some quick tests. Everything seems to be in order, and most of the issues I encountered can be attributed with my lack of familiarity with the Apple way of doing things.
The only real advantage I see Mac offering over the equivalent PC system, is that the Quicktime engine allows a greater variety of compression formats to be played in realtime through the hardware output. (For example DVCProHD) I am hoping that this more open approach to compression support will allow Cineform compressed MOV files to be output in realtime sometime in the future, maybe even at 2K with the MultibridgePro. I also hope to see this on PC, but the Mac Quicktime architecture currently seems one step closer to achieving this than the eventual PC solution.
I plan to do a more full fledged test of the HD-SDI I/O options in the near future. So far, the only thing I have been unable to do, is get a realtime down-converted SD output of my HD timeline. Does anyone know if this is supported, and if so, how to configure it? I will need it to add pulldown, since most of my HD work is 23.976fps. Since I only have an internal SATA array on the MacPro, I will not be able to push the Blackmagic hardware to its limits. My three disks will be struggling to provide the data-rate required for 1080p 4:2:2, let alone 4:4:4 RGB or 2K.
UPDATE: I found the settings for downconverting, and it seems to automatically add pulldown for SD output, but I don’t see a way to add pulldown to HD output. Unfortunately my system is currently doing a center cut to SD even when I have anamorpic or letterbox selected. I have also been having many other playback issues, so it seems there are still a few things to be worked out.
One other benefit that the Blackmagic solutions provide, is that the same hardware can be used by PC applications in Windows. This will be a significant advantage to those of you out there who are using Bootcamp to run Windows and OSX on a MacPro. Currently Blackmagic offers the only hardware solution that publicly supports this dual environment compatibility.