Blackmagic Design - H.264 pro Recorder + MXTiny

The Blackmagic Designs H.264 was really an Analog or SDI or HDMI to h.264 hardware codec device that transferred an MPEG-4 Transport Stream file over USB 2.0 to the host file system.

Initially it was usable only with Media Express, but later an opensource program called MXTiny could access it and capture to the local file system.. but also spawn VLC - VideoLAN Client to "Postview" the recording stream during the capture, playing the file from the file system after it was stored there.

This has value since if the video stream were not streaming or there were something wrong with the audio levels, then the capture could be stopped and corrections made without investing a lot of time and restarting the capture later.

Its not quite what video capture was with a true Preview window.. but its a clever and innovative "meeting the conceptual method" half-way.


Blackmagic Design - H.264 pro "corder"

 The H.264 Procorder comes from about 2011 its a lot different from many other Blackmagic devices, while sharing a similar metal box and BNC and TRS connectors.

The micro USB port is used for both configuring and downloading the compressed H.264 video.

Media express works with this much as it would with the "SDI/HDMI mini recorder" or other Blackmagic products, however it does not produce a "Preview" of the video being captured and compressed before or during capture.

I have not explored (if any) Blackmagic WDM device driver / Directshow filter options with third party software exists yet.

One thing it does with ease, is it offers an NTSC and NTSC (progressive) capture profile from the Media Express "Preferences" menu option after selecting the h.264 device for capture.

By "omission" this implied it captured in an h.264 "interlaced format" which is rather uncommon.

After a test capture this was indeed confirmed to be the case.

MediaInfo reported an h.264 interlaced file.

It played back in VLC and Windows Media Player without issue.. however much of the player software since that time have defaulted or preferred to playback "progressive" as with game capture footage.. since that also takes less time to reassemble than "interlaced".

"Oddly" the captured video does not playback from within Media Express.. and attempting to play it back crashed the program. This was addressed simply by using VLC or Windows Media Player.

 However "interlaced" capture format from an "interlaced" source preserves more of the image detail and avoids introducing inescapable "motion blur" when compressing interlaced into progressive formats.

The default bit rate for the NTSC "interlaced" profile is 19.6 Mbps, substantially higher than most people expect from a typical h.264 video capture device trying to preserve disk space. I do not know what options there are with regards to changing the capture rate. Several other profile choices are listed in the Media Express menu targeting various common playback devices from that time.

There does not appear to be a signal source input selector like there is for other Black magic devices.. which leads me to believe it will auto select which input to source the input video from.

The choices are BNC Composite / S-Video, HDMI, and SDI (input, not output!)

The only output being through the micro USB port.

The box does warm up during capture, and while simply idling.

More exploration of this box is planned,

Snell & Wilcox Kudos+ CRV600AD - S-Video to SDI converter

 The Snell & Wilcox CRV600 comes from about 2011 or 2012 and contrary to the the earlier rack mount versions of their "Converters and Sychronizers" is a monolithic circuit board with Analog ADV chips.

The earlier full width rackmount versions used circuit cards and bays to host about six or eight circuit cards to create a bespoken device tailored for a purpose.

The CRV600 is a "converter" from Composite or S-Video Analog to SDI Digital, and an Aspect Ratio Standards Converter.. which makes it very interesting in that it can convert from PAL to NTSC and vice versa as well as deal with Aspect Conversion between various screen widths and pixel sizes.

It has S-Video Input and Output 4 pin DIN connectors and BNC Composite Input and Output connectors.

The SDI BNC connections are redundant with a loop between dual outputs for the SDI signal.

That it has Outputs for S-Video and Composite leads me to believe it can be used for pass-through to clean up and convert between various standards and then return that to analog outputs, but there is no SDI input. So conversions between SDI to Analog is not possible.

The CRV600 has one USB type B port for connecting to a PC.

This is optionally used for configuring the box, however most settings can be made from the front panel with a constellation of buttons and jog wheel and a backlit LCD screen.

The PC software for accepting a connection from the CRV600 over USB is free for download, but is no longer hosted by the companies which later merged or purchased the Snell & Wilcox line of products. Snell & Wilcox was a UK company that went through a consolidation phase and then merger/sale to Grass Valley in California USA.

The PC software consisted of a device driver for Windows XP (32 bit ) which does not work with Windows 7 64 bit. This comes from the RollTop USB hosting software which then offers up access to the device via a TCP/IP connection over a LAN  TCP/IP port.

Then a program called RollCall was installed on a central PC to manage multiple LAN connected devices via Ethernet. This eventually enabled a studio environment to be managed by a central console and dialog boxes for each remotely connected device to be configured.

Its a lot simpler to use the RollCall software, but not strictly necessary.

Since the device comes from the UK it came default configured for PAL signal types and required some exploration to figure out how from the front panel to set not only the Input and Output connection jacks would be configured.. but also what signal type to search for on the S-Video jack.

Initially I had a problem where the diplay would flash "PALM" ( that is PAL-M )  then "Error" and refuse to lock on to and convert from Analog to Digital. The setting was buried in the "Others" button menu and once it was changed to NTSC (not PALM or NTSC-j) it started working without error.. perfectly.

I connected the SDI output to a Blackmagic Designs SDI/HDMI "mini recorder" and was able to use that with Blackmagic Designs "Media Express" to make recordings.. the Blackmagic Design WDM device driver also let me use Noel Danjou's AMCap, Virtualdub, SONY Vegas, OBS Studio and other capture software with the CRV600.

The CRV600 has an auxiliary corner of the box for optional plug in models to customize it further. One such is the "AD" or AuDio (AD) module which uses WECO 930 three pin strain relief audio jacks to bring in Balanced or Unbalanced Audio and Audio Embed the information in the same SDI signal.

Like the Analog video outputs, the audio section also has analog outputs.

This section can also "delay" the captured audio in order to sync it up with the video since analog to digital video conversion takes a finite amount of time and can often hasten the audio relative to the video since audio conversion takes less time.

The chips on the mainboard of the CRV600 are ADV7311 and the ADV7198 and several much larger FPGA or glue logic chips.

The ADV7311 is a Digital to Analog converter, no doubt for the Analog Output connectors.

The ADV7198 is a 12 bit capture, 10 bit internal workflow to standard 8 bit SDTV Video Decoder with the Analog Devices ADLLT line length FIFO process to ensure line length sampling compliance at 720 samples per line, and a sophisticated sync recovery system for dealing with VCR head switching noise. This is advertised as their "mini-tbc" feature.

It also has Digital Noise Reduction, Chroma Transient Improvement (edge sharpener) features and more.

As a Synchronizer, it can also accept a Reference signal for clocking the output from its full frame memory buffers, eliminating vertical jitter.

The CRV600 also has the usual PROC-AMP controls for Brightness, Contrast, Hue and Sharpness.


Secrets of the "Video Capture 6.0" program bundled with SONY/Magix Vegas

The Video capture program bundled with SONY Vegas and later Magix Vegas has an interesting development history. There was the time before when SONY owned it, and the time after when Magix owned it. And inbetween it seemed to fall in quality and was revitalized or fixed after the acquistion.

The first of the great reawakening seems to have been during the Vegas 14 update releases, as a patch specifically mentions Blackmagic Decklink functionality had been repaired.

That meant Vegas 15 was the first to have it fixed "out of the box".

The readmes and release notes are well worth the time to read.

For Vegas 15 the readme is located in the file system after install:

C:\Program Files\VEGAS\Movie Studio 15.0\readme\Videocapture_readme.htm


It seems to be treated by this document as if its an entirely separated program, bundled with the larger suite of Vegas tools.


Video Capture 6.0
July 2007
1.0 Welcome

Thank you for purchasing Sony Creative Software Inc. Video Capture 6.0 software. 


The next section contains a lot of tips and insider information regarding the program including advice on how to deal with certain situations.

2.0 Known Issues

Capturing to the same hard drive where your operating system is installed can result in dropped frames. If you have more than one drive, you can specify the target drive on the Disk Management tab of the Preferences dialog.


The next section covers DV specific information.

OHCI-compliant IEEE-1394 DV capture cards are required for DV device control.

Even if device control does not work, you may still be able to capture video by manually controlling your video device (e.g. pressing play on your camcorder's remote and then clicking the Capture button in Video Capture). If you are having capture problems, try clearing the Enable DV device control check box in the Preferences dialog.

If your DV camera is connected to another IEEE-1394 device ("daisy-chained"), the bandwidth of the IEEE-1394 channel may not be sufficient for print-to-tape operations. Connect each device to its own IEEE-1394 port before using print-to-tape.

For more detailed OHCI hardware, drivers, and DV information, visit the Sony Pictures Digital DV support page.

When using a digital-to-analog transcoder without a LANC adapter connected, clear the Enable DV device control check box on the General Preferences tab.


More information on genetic capture cards, and tv tuners

If you experience degraded system performance, clear the Enable still image capture check box on the Capture tab of the Preferences dialog.

If you experience problems using a TV tuner card or displaying closed captioning, clear the Enable still image capture check box on the Capture tab of the Preferences dialog.

If you're unable to preview an MJPEG-encoded file to an MJPEG external monitor, select the Close current device when in file playback mode check box on the General tab of the Preferences dialog.


Of (Major) interest is the same Vidcap program is installed with "Vegas" or "Vegas Movie Studio". 

Movie Studio is a slimmer collection of tools and years later its much easier to find Movie Studio than the Pro or Edit editions of Vegas. It also cost significantly less than the Pro or Edit versions if you don't need any of those other tools.

4.0 Installation

Video Capture is automatically installed with Vegas and Vegas Movie Studio software.


Vegas 16 saw little change to this same readme in;

C:\Program Files\VEGAS\Movie Studio 16.0\readme\Videocapture_readme.htm

bit added a new one from the new owners "Magix";

C:\Program Files\VEGAS\Movie Studio 16.0\readme\Vegas_Movie_Studio_readme.htm

but seems to not contain any more useful information for the Vidcap program.



SONY YUV capture with Vidcap6.0 from Vegas 15

Release notes for Vegas 14 update refer to fixing the SONY Vegas Decklink capture ability for the DV capture tool Vidcap6.0.exe, Vegas 15 has a Vidcap which already includes the fix.

While advertised for its DV video capture ability over firewire. It also serves for Blackmagic WDM and Decklink video capture. And when used for Decklink it captures full YUV 4:2:2 with 48KHz 16 bit audio Uncompressed. That is in SONY YUV.. which apepars to be the higher 16 bit form of the UYVY (YUV) which is different from the earlier and simpler 10 bit YUV. 

SONY Vegas processes and plays back SONY YUV just fine.

Blackmagic Media Express will playback SONY YUV files just fine.

Windows Movie Maker will playback audio but the video is corrupted and appears mostly as a gray blob with vertical lines over it and the hint of ghost of a moving image in the background.

By renaming the default capture.avi file to capture.mpg then Windows Movie Maker has no problems playing back the same file with no further processing.. that is;  nothing else needs to be done other than simply renaming the file.

VLC (VideoLAN Client) can playback either the original capture.avi file, or a renamed capture.mpg file since it does not use the same methods to derive a playback algorithm for playing the YUV file type.

Troubleshooting Tip!

While experimenting with the SONY YUV problem I installed the free AJA Directshow filters.. the SONY Vegas Vidcap program then had the same problems previewing the capture and the available devices listed some mysterious extra "Device Types" for nonexistent AJA hardware in my system.

The solution or "fix" was to uninstall the AJA Directshow drivers package from the Windows Control Panel > Programs and Features .. then the SONY Vidcap returned to working with the Decklink hardware device for raw SONY YUV capture. - I suspect it confused the Vidap program, or changed the "merits" system so that AJA filters were trying to be used for the Vidcap program preview.

A curious side effect of using the SONY Vegas 15 (now Magix) Vidcap is it no longer works with Blackmagic's WDM device driver for capture.. in earlier SONY Vegas 9.. only the WDM device driver was working.. or Decklink wasn't exactly stable.

I have since learned the DV "deck controls" called "device control" can cause a Blue Screen overlay to pop up and prompt for inserting a tape. along with a dialog box requesting a tape name.

This kind of makes sense in an old context where it was primarily used as a DV import tool for "capturing" video from a  firewire device.. and "Logging" it to the computers hard drive. DV is not really an analog format, but a digital format with a subchannel for controlling old firewire devices to advance and stop tape.. as well as detecting and indexing scene breaks. All of that is ancient history now and firewire is a far less used paradigm.. however it crops up in many tools that have a long legacy lifespan and recall and still offers that old method of import and editing.

A true analog system however relies more on the default streaming (as in self started spewing of frames of data with no beginning and no end, not the internet streaming meaning of the word "streaming").. to start and stop the video input.

In that context prompting for a "tape name" while assuming the DV tape player is stopped makes no sense.. the video is always playing.. and you need to dismiss the tape name dialog box.. and the blue screen overlay.. so that you can see the preview video.. and "start" the video capture.. because until you satisfy the tape name prompting.. and use the DV tape device control to "start the video playback" as if it were a remote controlled VCR with firewire commands.. it will block you from using the Vidcap program as a "normal" analog video capture application.

This is the default behavior when "assuming" you have connected a camcorder and want to use the DV device controls to name a tape and begin "logging" scene selection into a database for use later as a tape bin when constructing a video from source bin materials. 

DV device control ON

This is"Options > Preferences ..." then uncheck the "Enable DV device control"

And this is the result, it no longer prompts for a tape name or to insert a tape.

During capture the audio playback in preview is consistently "offset" by a delay from the video. In other capture software a manual delay can be set to correct for this.. it has little to no effect on the actual captured file. This is an example of capturing with an Analog to SDI capture device. The processing of analog video into captured fields and frames is interlaced or progressive at the users choice.. but takes a few frames worth of finite time defined in a document somewhere. The SDI audio embedding at the point of video capture synchronizes the audio to the video and unlike other capture methods that do not use a hardcoded embedder.. there is no opportunity for audio and video "drift" over time. If there are dropouts from lost frames or bad signal.. they are both dropped at the same time.

This is kind of more like what happens with an H,262 (MPEG2) or H.264 encoder in that the audio and video are "synchronized" before transport to the computer.. and is closer to the digital capture experience many people were accustomed to with DV video "capture".. although DV video file "copy" might be a better indicator of what's really going on with DV video capture.

Lost fields or Lost frames also lead to Lost audio samples and the stream stays in lock step. Glitches for whatever reason.. are a bit more intuitive.. if not more noticeable. 

"deciding" whether to abort a capture after a signal loss, is a choice and a setting

otherwise, as soon as the capture device can reacquire the signal, it continues the capture until stopped

An "Advanced" Preferences (Hidden tab) can be activated by Holding the [LEFT SHIFT] key down while pressing the Options > Preferences... selection

It has many settings I do not fully understand.

The "Dump DirectShow graphs" selection will open up a box while in Preview mode before capture describing the Graph builder graph in text.

This can be used to create a functional Graph outside of SONY Vegas Vidcap in GraphEdit with a little guess work. Mostly SF-Video Capture  and SF-Audio Capture represent "Decklink" video and audio capture filters in GraphEdits inventory.

The WDM device driver also works with other capture software, like Cyberlink PowerDirector 9

Or various versions of VirtualDub

Or OBS Studio

Or Noel Danjou's AMCap

Or VideoLAN Client

Or Windows 7 Movie Maker

SONY Vegas YUV playback in VLC 2.2.4

The simple answer here is it works, if you default the video demux to "Automatic" instead of prefer one over another.

VLC does not use the traditional graph builder algorithms to process video but the libavcodec.dll it imports externally for all codecs.. it can use external demuxers.. but only one at a time.. so setting it to "Automatic" which is normally the default works better in some situations. It rapid fires through its inventory of av codecs and finds an appropriate one and usually works. But sometimes, if VLC is installed by another application as part of a bundle, or a user gets specialized directions to change the Preferences so the default demux is "fixed" then it doesn't work and VLC simply appears to be playing but remains on the Playlist guid page and plays nothing.

With automatic though you get something like this:

In this case changing the default file extentions after capture is not needed.. it can remain .avi

This was not the case with WMC12 where it would corrupt the playback if you tried to play .avi file from the SONY Vegas Capture.. there you had to change the file extension and then it would play back the just captured video file without further processing.

This is done from the "Advanced" Tools > Preferences menu, then check the tiny box at the bottom left called "Show settings : All"

Then "Input / Codecs" > Demuxers > and choosing the Demux module drop down to make sure its set to the Top option which is - "Automatic"


SONY Vegas YUV playback in Windows Media Player 12

Basically a work around is rename the file extensions from .avi to .mpg and it plays.

I'm not sure why this works, if you try to playback the SONY Vegas YUV ( UYVY 16 bit Uncompressed Video ) as it captures to a file with extension .avi it plays with a grey overlay and vertical lines through the image.. its not really viewable. 

I think the Microsoft YUV codec doesn't support this format.. but I (guess) renaming it to a wrong extension like .mpg and forcing it to be interpreted by a different codec sends it down a different graphbuilder path that eventually finds a codec that can handle it.

MediaInfo seems reasonable.. but I wonder if its the 16 bit versus 10 bit video encoding. I think the Microsoft msyuv.dll only handles 10 bit.