Can you convince me to keep the Intensity Shuttle?

Since the Intensity Shuttle appears highly recommended here in this forum, I ended up getting one, but so far my experiences with it have been quite disappointing. Almost everything I try to do with it and the Visual Cortex, it can’t do.

Granted, if I want to record 1 Gigabyte per second of the output of the Visual Cortex, that works, but only if I don’t dare use the VC video input decoder.
As soon as I add a video input to the Visual Cortex, the Intensity Shuttle can’t deal with it. (Why is that not a problem for a little device that costs a tenth of the price of the Shuttle, is a mystery).
Someone suggested buying a TBC or a video mixer with a TBC, but, from what I have read so far, the TBC included in most “cheaper” video mixers (under €800) are “terrible” and the Shuttle seems so picky, I doubt it would work. TBC2 seems more necessary to import 2 extra video signals in sync to be used in a LZX system. Nothing guarantees that the Shuttle would be able to pick up the result afterwards.

One of the things I like to do with the Visual Cortex is working with still images. At the moment, I send them through a cheap HDMI to AV converter, which only gives me black and white, but it has the advantage of allowing me to use Preview, so I can zoom in/out and move around the image very easily.
I thought the Shuttle would allow me to send the full colour images to VC, but to send images seems a mayor pain in the… Blackmagic Media Express would not accept any image format. I see there is an option in Photoshop to export to Blackmagic Media Express, which I tried to do, but god knows where they end up. Certainly not in Blackmagic Media Express library.

Also, would like to be able to send colour video to VC, but the Blackmagic Media Express would not accept any video format I try to add to its video library, to play it back. It only seems to like its own recordings. As far as I can see, the manual doesn’t even consider the option to be able import and send an mp4, mov… any video signal, through the Shuttle.

Also, I would like to be able to send the Lumen output in full colour, through Component, to the VC… but the Shuttle doesn’t seem to be able to do that.

In Lumen, I see there is an option for Blackmagic Media Express as an input, so, I thought, at least I could take the VC output and play it in real time in Lumen. But no, that doesn’t seem to work either. I only get a black screen, even if I can see the video preview in Blackmagic Media Express.

If any of you have managed to do any of the above with the Intensity Shuttle, please let me know. I. might keep it for the time being, but I’ve already started thinking about replacing it for one of those cheap HDMI to Component devices.

Have you tried using Black Syphon?

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I can’t speak about the Intensity Shuttle, as I’ve never used one. I use other BMD products instead without difficulty. So, what’s different about the Intensity? The computer? The software? USB3 issues? I have no idea. I’ve used a BMD component-to-sdi mini converter into a BMD mini recorder without any difficulty (no USB at all). I used BMD’s own capture software on trailing edge (for 2015) hardware. Neither the MB nor CPU for that machine are available for sale now. That’s how trailing edge it was. It’s the machine I’m writing this on. :wink: I’ve since upgraded to recording video on a BMD Hyperdeck Shuttle, which is also now discontinued. Again, no difficulties at all. All my experience with BMD products has been the same: rock solid performance.

So I can’t explain your difficulty at all. You could try asking for help on the BMD support forum. Maybe there’s some issue with the computer you’re using. If so, they can do more to help you with that than I can.

So my advice earlier, and the advice below, is based on the assumption that you’re using BMD products like the kind I’ve used. If nothing I offered before helps you…all I can do now recommend is a standalone BMD solution. I expect that that would be very expensive but effective and totally reliable. I.e. don’t use a computer for either playback or recording video. Only reliable standalone devices.

As for the LZX side, I hope you’re not playing the image or video from the same computer that records the VC output. If you are, I think that could be the source of your problem. This is why I recommended a TBC earlier.

Regardless, I’ve found the VC input to be very sensitive. This is another reason for using a TBC. There certainly used to be TBC devices that cost much less than €800, but they’re much harder to find now. You can find some on ebay “preowned”, but even the models I used to see sold new only a few years ago are now discontinued.

So your best option might actually be an LZX module, when such a module - either the original TBC or the forthcoming TBC2 - becomes available.

Ah, yes, I had read about Black Syphon some time ago, the first time I started considering the Intensity Shuttle, but I forgot about it. Thanks for reminding me! It works beautifully with Lumen, input and output.

Black Syphon also reminded me that I can import any videos to VDMX and send them to Black Syphon with its Syphon Player, and from there, into the Visual Cortex through the Intensity Shuttle. This also works to send still images and play with the zoom and position.

Now, if I could only find a cheap way for the Shuttle to be able to continue to recognise the video signal coming of the Visual Cortex, when the VC is sync to a external video input… That would be perfect.

Thanks for the reply. Just to clarify, I wasn’t trying to trash Blackmagic as a company or its products. I was only expressing my disappointment with the Intensity Shuttle in connection to the Visual Cortex, in terms of its apparent limitations.
I have read lots of posts in the Blackmagic forum regarding how picky the Shuttle can be, and there doesn’t seem to be a cheaper solution to it not being able to pick an “unstable” video signal.
My question now would be about the Visual Cortex, why exactly its output signal becomes so “unstable” after syncing to an external video. In my case, what exactly would be its output after feeding it a NTSC signal (converted from HDMI)? Until the Intensity Shuttle, I assumed it continued to output an stable NTSC signal, since I had no problems picking it up with a very cheap video capture device.

As for Blackmagic Media Express, from what I’ve read, it’s a very simple application, that lacks the majority of video codecs, so it can’t really be used to output other video formats or images through the Intensity Shuttle. Luckily, there is VDMX and Black Syphon, so now I’m good in that respect.

I’ve never had trouble syncing to the output of a VC. The input, I’ve found, is another matter. That’s very picky, but using another to ‘buffer’ the signal going into the VC helps. However, if the VC’s input signal depends on the VC output in any way, that’ll cause sync problems. This will be true for any video device that doesn’t use a TBC, as you’re creating a feedback loop. However, when you put a synced (to the VC) TBC in the feedback path, you can get a perfect N-frame delay (where N is most likely going to be 1). I.e. perfectly in-phase and rock-steady.

So, I reiterate my recommendation. Wait for the TBC2 to be released, as that’ll be your cheapest way to solve this problem. Do not expect good results when sending a signal direct into the VC input decoder. It’s good, but there are (or were) better devices that’ll accept video from a wider range of sources. Your options there will be increasingly limited as more of these devices are discontinued. I expect a few years from now my advice will be: get a TBC2. I doubt any other options will exist by then, but the TBC2 will be available. If that doesn’t work, contact Lars.

BTW, don’t worry about which format you record in. BMD always give you the option of recording in high quality formats. E.g. uncompressed video, no loss of information at all. Then you can convert to whatever format(s) you like. It’s not unusual for people to use uncompressed video all over their production process and only compress for the final version. BMD fully support this style of production. Capture software has exactly one job to do: record video at the highest quality you want. That’s it. For editing, BMD can sell you a state-of-art video editor with tons of features, including the very expensive option of a GPU-box.

These days, my own production workflow is super-minimal. I record using a stand-alone device and editing is done using FFMPEG and custom filtergraphs. I sometimes write code to generate the filtergraphs and music. All the video is uncompression QuickTime until I have something ready to publish. Then I use FFMPEG to upscale and convert to the compressed video format, adding metadata etc. The final step is to upload the video to a hosting service or transfer it to a playback device, like the LZX Andor.

I’ve even used FFMPEG itself to capture and compress video from the BMD Mini Recorder PCI card. After all, it’s the card is just another video device, and FFMPEG supports it via the BMD driver. I don’t recommend anyone doing it this way, but you can, and I have. I just don’t usually bother. The uncompressed video is more useful for the production stage because its higher quality.

Thanks again for your response. However, I think there is some misunderstanding. I’m sorry if I have not been clear enough, but I have no problem whatsoever getting VC to sync to an incoming video signal. The problem is only with the Intensity Shuttle when the VC is in sync to an incoming video signal (another video capture device has no problem with it).

And no, I’m not trying to sync the VC output to its input. If for some weird reason, after syncing to an incoming NTSC signal, the VC ended up with a PAL output signal (highly improbable, I know; this is just an example), that would be ok, as far as the Intensity Shuttle could recognise it —and in theory it should, since it can also take PAL signals.

As for the TBC2, as far as I understand it, that would be necessary if I had problems getting VC to recognise the video input signal, or if a wanted to use more than one video signal, which is not the case. If the TBC2 could end up improving the VC output signal, to make it more Intensity Shuttle friendly, I would like to hear about that; but, still, when a possible solution is not only unavailable but costs twice as much as the device that its having the issue…

Also, my issue with video formats was not about recording, but to get the Intensity Shuttle to send still images and videos to the VC. Blackmedia Media Express can’t do that, because it doesn’t have the necessary codecs. VDMX and Black Syphon seems to be the easiest way to get around it.

My final recommendation: contact LZX. It sounds like either #1 your shuttle is faulty, or #2 your VC is faulty. Clearly something is faulty. Good luck.

Have you tested multiple input sources? Maybe the device you are using to convert from HDMI to component video is introducing sync issues? Might be easier (and cheaper) to sort out on the input end than the output, if possible.

I am not at all surprised to hear that the Shuttle is having difficulties that a cheap-o device does not. In my experience, more expensive converters are more, not less, sensitive to sync issues (the Shuttle is 100x less finicky than a Matrox converter I was trying to use for a while). But once/if everything works, it will/should look a lot better!

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Thanks again for the suggestion, but I’m not sure there is something wrong with my Visual Cortex or the Intensity Shuttle.
If there was something wrong with the VC, then it shouldn’t work with a different video capture. But it does. When I use the cheap Digitnow video capture, there is no difference if the VC is in sync to an incoming video signal or not. I can always see and record the VC output.
But if there was something wrong with the Intensity Shuttle, my guess is that it wouldn’t work under any other circumstances. And since it receives and sends NTSC video signals from and to the VC without problems (at least when the VC is not in sync to an external video input), it seems unlikely there is something wrong with the hardware or the software.
So, my theory is that something happens to the VC output signal (Component and Composite; I haven’t tried S-Video), that makes it difficult for the Shuttle to recognise it as one of its accepted video signals. That “something”, however, seems to be not so big as to make any difference to the Digitnow. Unfortunately I don’t have an oscilloscope capable of testing the video signals coming out of the VC, to spot the difference.
Perhaps @Helpdesk could explain what changes, if that’s an expected outcome or known issue?

I would also like to hear from other people here about their experiences recording with the Shuttle when their VC is in sync to an incoming video signal. Do you experience the same problem? If not, would you mind describing your setup? I can’t remember anyone mentioning it here in the forum before.

No, you’re right, I haven’t tried other input sources yet. I know I should, to narrow down the “source” of the issue I’m experiencing (non-intended pun), but it’s really not that easy to find another source that will work with the VC. They are either cheap signal converters like the one I’m using, or professional equipment that cost more than 500 hundred of euros… The Intensity Shuttle seems to be the only thing in-between, not cheap, but also not as expensive. That’s one of the reasons why I ended up getting the Shuttle. In the end, it might have to end up buying another computer and another Shuttle. But I’ll have another look, and see what else I can find.

For now, I’m satisfied with the quality of my not-so-sensitive Digitnow, to capture the image and video processing. For the rest, the Shuttle works great.

For me it works fine to send still images and all sorts of video formats through the Shuttle by using Premiere Pro.
By saying that I’m not defending the Intensity shuttle since I also had the same experience using the Media Express and it is very faulty at recording AV including my LZX Vidiot, even without anything plugged to its video input.