I received the Matrox MXO review unit last week, but didn’t get to test it until this weekend. Unfortunately it wasn’t a FULL test. I lack an Apple Cinema Display to test the capabilities of the MXO in that manner…so see whether or not I get a broadcast quality image on it. Which, of course, is the main reason I wanted to see the unit. I’ll get a hold of an ACD soon. My producer has one he is willing to loan me, but has been swamped. So…soon.
But I did test the MXO output to my HD CRT, the Sony PVM-14L5. I copied over a dozen shots from my Raid to a G-Raid and connected that to my Powerbook, since what people want is a box that can output from a laptop or iMac. So I wanted the test to be real world. I connected the MXO to my Powerbook via the DVI port, and a USB port. Then thru the MXO to the Sony via HD SDI.
One question that people have been asking me is does it play back 24p footage properly. Yes, it does. I loaded the same DVCPRO HD 23.98 shots on the tower and the laptop and pressed play, and it played back just fine. In fact, I switched back and forth between the MXO and my Kona LH (the monitor has two HD SDI inputs) and the images were identical. So the unit is capable of converting the DVI signal into a broadcast signal. AND…it carried embedded audio. I heard the audio from the clips playing back on the monitors speakers. The MXO is also designed to extract timecode information from the DVI port as well, but I don’t have a deck to layback to and test this.
I did try this on my Dell 2405 monitor, but I was having issues setting the Dell up to BARS. The MXO has calibration for the Apple Cinema Display, and obviously the ACD and the Dell are different and have different setups. But I did try, and I got close. The image looked great, but was a bit off…not green enough, too saturated…stuff like that. Close, but no cigar. So, awaiting the ACD.
This weekend I also shot a bit with the Canon XL-H1 HDV camera. I intended to capture this HDV footage to further test the MXO. I did shoot both 1080i60 and 1080 24F. Initially, because I have been seriously out of practice shooting, my footage was very stuttery and grainy. But then I played with the controls, turned down the gain, lowered the shutter speed from 500 to 180 and as low as 60 in broad daylight. I will say that this camera does MUCH better at 108060i. 24F lowers the vertical resolution by about 15%. It is noticable, but not by much. I shot my kids playing, and our excursion to the Griffith Observatory. So I got great shots of the city and of the Hollywood sign. The camera is a bit front heavy, but pretty easy to shoot with.
The issue I had was with capturing. I couldn’t get Final Cut Pro to see the camera at all. The computer saw it…right there in the system profiler. But no matter what HDV setting I chose…and a few that I tried to custom make…FCP would not see the camera. iMovie…nope. Couldn’t figure that out. So, I hooked up the camera to my Kona LH via HD SDI and captured it thru the card as DVCPRO HD. At least doing this I didn’t get any timecode breaks or cadence errors.
What I would like to point out is that this camera gave me a GREAT image. Stunning…clear…sharp. I mean, I could easily see shooting with this camera and mixing with with Varicam footage…heck, even HDCAM. I shot moving cars, whip pans, my kids running and skating. Not one bit of artifacting. Not one blurry shot. Each frame showed a clear sharp image. While this camera was a bit of a pain in post, it has changed my opinion of HDV. I no longer think that HDV≠HD.