Blackmagic HDLink & Video Hub

Besides their Mac and PC compatible I/O components, Blackmagic makes a couple of utility devices that greatly increase the options available to a small post facility in using SDI video gear.  Technically, the Multibridge used to fall into this category as well, until they added PCIe support to it, totally extending its functionality.

The HDLink is a small box that converts HD-SDI video signal to DVI or HDMI, for monitoring video signals at full resolution with a computer LCD screen or projector.  It supports regular 1080 and 720 in most variations, and RGB 444 over dual link SDI.  It also has stereo sound output for audio monitoring.

These HDLinks are in widespread use at a number of the facilities I work at, and at under $500, they are within the reach of independent editors or anyone else who needs an economical solution for monitoring SDI.  They do get hot though, so they should be powered down when not in use, and they don’t last forever.

The new HDLink Pro adds 3Gb/s SDI for 2K support on a single SDI cable, but lacks dual link support, which is still the most popular RGB standard.  It also adds 6 Channel Audio de-embedding to analog RCA ports for 5.1 surround sound monitoring.  I have not yet had the opportunity to try one of these out yet, but I look forward to doing so as I find myself doing more 2K work, especially now that I have a 30″ LCD to connect it to.

 Separately but related, Blackmagic’s Workgroup Video Hub is a 12×24 SDI router.  It supports SD and HD, but currently not the 3Gb/s SDI standard that Blackmagic has been rolling out this year.  With a bit of creativity, it can easily support dual link connections, but that lowers the number of devices you can connect by half.  All patching is controlled in software via USB, which is connected to a single system, that hosts a network utility to share control with all users.  Their utility for patching as well designed and fleshed out at this point.  You can also patch through a built-in downconverter to SD, and it has a Still Store, ideal for color bars or logos.

We use these at three facilities I work at, and they bring a dramatic increase to the flexability and efficiency of your workflow.  They are not economical for use by a single individual, but will be well worth it in work areas shared by 3-10 people.  They greatly ease the sharing of high end video equipment.  For example, I can output any edit workstation’s SDI playout to either: a projector on an HDLink, an LCD on an HDLink, an HD CRT, our vectorscope, or any combination thereof.  Using a Video Hub can have a significant effect on your environment if you frequently find yourself reconfiguring your peripherals when switching between different projects.

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