Portable setup with Decklink 8K Pro and Thunderbolt chasiss

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Rob Swart

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Portable setup with Decklink 8K Pro and Thunderbolt chasiss

PostThu Dec 29, 2022 3:05 pm

I’m trying to create an affordable portable multicam recording and streaming setup.

I’m thinking about the Decklink 8K Pro card inside a good Thunderbolt 3 Chassis connected to a Macbook Pro M1 Max.

I’m aware that a Thundebolt 3 chassis has a limit of PCIe gen 3 x4. This will certainly limit the possibilities of the card.

I’m wondering though whether I’d be able to simultaneously record the following inputs reliably. Two inputs with UHD 4K@25fps signals and at least one but preferrably two 1080p@25fps signals.

Anyone explored and experienced the limits of this type of setup?

Thanks in advance for any info.
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David Laplant

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Re: Portable setup with Decklink 8K Pro and Thunderbolt chas

PostSat Jan 21, 2023 5:38 pm

Me to. Would this be possible with an M1 Mini or what would be needed.
I am thinking about a Setup with 2 of those chassis and 2 Cards. Would that be possible?
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Rob Swart

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Re: Portable setup with Decklink 8K Pro and Thunderbolt chas

PostSat Jan 21, 2023 9:40 pm

David Laplant wrote:Me to. Would this be possible with an M1 Mini or what would be needed.
I am thinking about a Setup with 2 of those chassis and 2 Cards. Would that be possible?


AJA sells the IO 4K+ which has four 4K inputs and uses a Thunderbolt 3 connection. But I can’t seem to find a confirmation anywhere of whether that device allows for capturing all four inputs with a 4K signals at once. I’m starting to doubt that.

If the AJA IO 4K could capture all four 4K signals I was hoping a Decklink Quad HDMI or preferrably a Decklink 8K Pro card in the right TB 3 Chassis would also work. I need a minimum of three 4K inputs at 25 fps in a portable setup.

A Decklink 8K Pro card needs an 8 lane PCIe Gen 3 slot and the Sonnet Echo Express SE III chassis is stated as having an PCIe 8 lane slot but as far as I know Thunderbolt 3 is capable of only PCIe 4 lane speeds. The question for me is whether three inputs at 4K 25fps would work when connected to an M1 Max Macbook Pro with Thunderbolt 4 ports.

The other option is, like you suggested, to divide the load over two Thunderbolt 3 ports by using two Thunderbolt 3 chassis’ with two Decklink 8K Pro cards or an 8K Pro in one and for example a Decklink Studio 4K in the other. That I guess would work reliably for capturing three or four 4K signals at 25fps. But it is a lot more expensive and less portable. Prise wise you then aproach or maybe even surpass the AJA IO 4K+ territory which is a lot more portable.

I’ve spoken to a couple of retailers here but they have never tested this kind of setup either.
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Marc Wielage

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Re: Portable setup with Decklink 8K Pro and Thunderbolt chas

PostMon Jan 30, 2023 6:11 am

Rob Swart wrote:I’m trying to create an affordable portable multicam recording and streaming setup. I’m thinking about the Decklink 8K Pro card inside a good Thunderbolt 3 Chassis connected to a Macbook Pro M1 Max.

I don't think a MacBook Pro is going to have the throughput necessary to record multiple HD or 4K cameras simultaneously.

What I see done for (say) live rock concerts or comedy performances being done in auditoriums or arenas is they buy or rent racks and racks of Hyperdeck Studio Pros (HD or 4K), and record on at least one device per camera. In once-in-a-lifetime situations, they'll do two decks per camera. The Hyperdecks record in quite a few different formats, the timecode can be connected between multiple devices (like cameras and audio recorders) to make sure every recording has identical timecode, and it's fairly reliable. Again, you can rent these in large cities, so you don't necessarily have to buy a whole stack of them. I've seen trucks with literally walls of Hyperdecks being used in situations where formerly traditional HDCam or D5 broadcast videotape decks would be used in sports and so on. And the Hyperdecks are about a grand, vs. the $50,000+ the tape decks used to cost.

I get very antsy trying to do anything really mission-critical on a laptop, because the USB-C ports are fragile enough that one minor bump could take down the whole thing. If your situation is very cost-conscious, you could try one of the ATEM SDI Pro ISOs, which will record 4 inputs via HDMI or SDI inputs (depending on the model). It only records in H.264, but it's perfectly fine if you're just doing a show destined for YouTube or something like that.
marc wielage, csi • VP/color & workflow • chroma | hollywood
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Andrew Kolakowski

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Re: Portable setup with Decklink 8K Pro and Thunderbolt chas

PostTue Jan 31, 2023 5:33 pm

What quality do you need?
Is it just for YouTube?
You can use old approach with SDI/HDMI + recorders or you could do new approach (if ProResLT/Standard quality is enough).
With old approach what is quite important is actual ingest tool. Most are quite simple and crap (eg. MediaExpress). They are unstable and can easily drop recording. With good tool like ToolsOnAir this could work.
Based one their performance sheets:
https://toolsonair.atlassian.net/wiki/s ... heet+v.5.5
M1 Max with ProRes media engines should do it, but issue can be with actual TB connection (2 xUHD 25p should work- 3 probably not, so you would need 2 cards). They could advise you.
When you look at it then it all quickly gets complex, with many hardware elements, connections etc.

I would go modern route. For 2K$ you get 4 channels (up to 4x UHD 60p) NDI recorder which is rather tiny box. You connect your cameras over 12g SDI and then box itself to 10gig network or directly to your machine (you need 10gig port though). With 75$ NDI recorder app you can record (it supports locked recording for many channels) in native NDI codec. There are no CPU needs for this as it's just copy. Premiere even supports editing while recording. I don't think you can make it cheaper (and reliable at the same time) than that (unless you have all hardware like cards and recorders).
Note- Resolve doesn't support native NDI files. I have not tested exactly this setup in real life either (just portions of it).

For h264/5 quality you may buy 4 simple recorders.
HDCAM, D5 what is this? :D

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