Matrox MXO2 Thunderbolt Encoding and Broadcast Monitoring

Ken Stone's FCP by Ken Stone

For the past number of years I have been working on a Mac Pro, with two 23" Apple Cinema Displays, running Legacy versions of FCP. I had added a Matrox MXO box, which went between my monitor card and my second ACD to provide Broadcast Monitoring so that I could view my video output. Hitting the Command F-12 keys would toggle the second monitor between a standard Mac Desktop and a Broadcast Monitor. This was extremely helpful in viewing and judging video output, as the Canvas window does not provide an accurate representation of the video being played back. This is an important issue because it is necessary to monitor your HD video at broadcast quality in order to do accurate color correcting, keying and effects work.

After almost 6 years, the Mac Pro was getting a little long in the tooth, and it was time for me to replace it. Rather than purchase a new MacPro, I decided to go for a tricked out i7, 27" iMac, with 16 Gigs of ram and a 2 Gig monitor card, to run FCP X. One exciting thing about the new iMacs is that they come with the new Thunderbolt connectivity.

Thunderbolt is a new ultra high speed interface for connecting peripherals to the Mac, with a bandwidth of 10Gbps of bi-directional throughput. Using a new type of cable, about the thickness of a pencil, it carries, USB 2, FireWire, Ethernet, supports high-resolution displays for up to 2 Apple Thunderbolt displays and connectivity to Thunderbolt drives and Thunderbolt RAIDs. You can daisy chain from one Thunderbolt device to up to 6 other Thunderbolt devices, and Thunderbolt cables are 'hot swappable'. My first foray into Thunderbolt was with the Promise Pegasus Thunderbolt RAID 5 which I wrote about.

When FCP X first shipped there was no 'Broadcast Monitoring' feature. With the release of FCP 10.0.3 there was a Beta version of 'Broadcast Monitoring' and now with the FCP 10.0.4 update, this feature is now ready for prime time. It was time for me to add 'Broadcast Monitoring' to my new iMac NLE. As I had a good experience with my early Matrox MXO, plus the fact that Matrox has a Thunderbolt adaptor to be used with their existing hardware, I decided to add the Matrox MXO2 LE MAX with Thunderbolt adaptor to my rig. I would like to point out that all of the currently shipping Macs, iMac, MacBook Air, MBP, and even the Mac Mini, all have Thunderbolt. The only Mac not yet equipped with Thunderbolt is the Mac Pro.

Matrox offers a number of different I/O devices with different capabilities and at different price points. I'll cover these a bit later in the article. read more...

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