This all started when I sat down to give ScopeBox a spin.  ScopeBox, as you can see via the link, is a way to get external scopes running on your Mac.  Feed it a signal via firewire from a camera, or via a signal into a capture card connected to the computer.  When I was testing it out (and I am still in the middle of testing it, so no final conclusions at this point and time), I noticed that the video levels that it indicated was different than what I saw in FCP or Color.  BUT, I should note that the scopes in FCP and Color didn’t show the same thing either.  But this I knew.  I have grown accustomed to trusting the Color scopes more than FCP’s… even though I know I am not supposed to trust either one.  Because software scopes are no match for hardware ones.  But I felt that the ones in Color more closely represented what I saw when I did have hardware scopes on a system once.

OK, I am doing testing, looking at the comparisons when…I noticed something.  I am parked on the same frame of video in FCP and Color.  Kind of bright, so peaking a little over 100IRE, blacks a little high too, muddied.  BUT, when I switched back and forth from FCP and Color…the signal I got from them to ScopeBox was DIFFERENT!  The image from FCP was a little hotter….brighter.  Just by a couple points, but noticeable when I switched back and forth and looked at the scopes.  The signal coming from COLOR was different than that coming from FCP…even though I had the same hardware involved.

By the way, the hardware involved is my MacPro Octo 3.0 Ghz Jan 2008 machine, outputting from my Matrox MXO2 Mini via HDMI or Component (same issue on both) into my Matrox MXO that is connected to my MacBook Pro 2.4Ghz Duo core machine.

So the image looked different.  In FCP, the image was brighter.  Well, the brights were brighter, the blacks were actually more crushed too.  This concerns me.  Which is the PROPER video signal?  Because I color correct in Color, but then output to tape in FCP.  I wondered if this was an issue with my hardware…the MXO2’s.  So I went into work and that machine is running an AJA KONA 3 feeding a Flanders Scientific (FSI) monitor via SDI.  Using the built in scopes on the FSI I checked this again.  Sure enough, THOSE scopes didn’t match what FCP or Color was showing, and it TOO was showing the offset between FCP and Color.  Again, FCP was hotter and more crushed.

This is not good.  And I am sure that if I point this bug out to Apple, they will do nothing, as FCP 7 and Color 1.5 are legacy apps, with FCP X around the corner.

The full sized screen captures of the scopes from ScopeBox can be found here.  SIGNAL FROM COLOR.  SIGNAL FROM FCP.

Comments welcomed.

UPDATE: Here is a frame of video seen from FCP and Color…output via an AJA Kona 3 to an FSI monitor via SDI.  FCP scopes, and FSI scope…and Color scopes, and FSI scope.