In Review: Blackmagic's Intensity Pro

DV by Ned Soltz Intensity ProOf all the products introduced at NAB 2006 that could receive the overused accolade “breakthrough,† Blackmagic Design’s Intensity card was indeed worthy of such praise. For just $249, editors with PCI-e computers could achieve capture from the new generation of High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) devices while being able to output virtually any video to an HDMI-equipped device. This would include the vast majority of HD televisions today. At NAB 2007, Blackmagic upped the ante with Intensity Pro. For just $100 more, the card adds analog audio and video. Like all of Blackmagic’s boards, Intensity and Intensity Pro run under both Mac OS and Windows, and support Final Cut Studio and Adobe’s Premiere (Windows), After Effects and Photoshop. HDMI basics Before looking at the features of the Intensity Pro and reporting on my testing, a few words about the growing importance of HDMI, the all-digital interface with specs to carry up to 1080p video and digital audio over a single cable. It has become the digital standard on HD televisions and is finding its way into more and more cameras and decks, as well as HD DVD players/recorders and game consoles. HDMI operates over a twisted-pair cable with three video streams plus a clock stream. Data throughput is 1.65 Gb/s per stream, for an aggregate data rate of 4.96 Gb/s (some rounding went into the 1.65 figure). It differs from the SMPTE standard of SDI in that SDI, running over coax, can exceed the 10-meter, 1080p maximum cabling length specified by Sony, with a wider data path as well (to be able to handle uncompressed signals). HDMI could be subject to some amount of loss (which is why there could be value in buying better quality cables), and it only handles up to what we would effectively call 4:2:2 compression. read more...

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