Blackmagic Design UltraStudio 3D and UltraStudio SDI


Video-capture devices for computers used to comprise internal cards for desktop systems, since there were no external ports that could acquire data as efficiently as the system bus. In recent years, however, external ports have markedly increased velocity, to the point where there are now a plethora of choices in external video capture devices.

As fast as FireWire and USB 2.0 ports are, today’s Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 ports offer much better performance. Blackmagic Design is taking advantage of these speedier ports with two new video-capture devices. The Blackmagic Design UltraStudio 3D is a 3G/HD-SDI capture and playback device that connects to a computer via Thunderbolt; all you need is a Mac computer with a Thunderbolt port. The Blackmagic Design UltraStudio SDI is a similar device for Windows 7 computers equipped with a USB 3.0 port.

Blackmagic Design UltraStudio 3D

The Blackmagic Design UltraStudio 3D is a 3G/HD-SDI capture and playback device for Mac computers that are equipped with Thunderbolt ports. Thunderbolt supports data rates up to 10 Gb/s, which is fast enough to allow real-time effects processing of two streams of 1080p HD video, and also happens to be fast enough for dual-stream stereoscopic 3D productions.

Housed in a machined-aluminum enclosure, the UltraStudio 3D features dual 10-bit SD/HD SDI inputs and outputs, so it can capture uncompressed 10-bit 4:4:4 RGB and 4:2:2 YUV video from SDI sources and it can output SDI video to SDI broadcast monitors. Both dual- and single-link 3G-SDI with resolutions up to 2K are supported. The UltraStudio 3D also features HDMI 1.4a input and output connections, so it can capture and output HDMI video. The device includes RS-422 deck control and it accepts a blackburst or tri-sync reference signal for genlock.

Blackmagic's Media Express software captures separate QuickTime or DPX files for the left- and right-eye images, allowing dual-stream 3D workflows in side-by-side, line-by-line and top-and-bottom formats. The open standard 3D files can be edited using many popular software packages including Apple Final Cut Pro, The Foundry's Nuke, eyeon Fusion and Digidesign Pro Tools, as well as Adobe’s Premiere Pro, Photoshop and After Effects.

UltraStudio 3D is the ideal companion for Apple Final Cut Pro. It supports features such as 10-bit rendering, 16-channel audio, ProRes, JPEG, DV, DVCPRO, DVCPRO HD and 8- and 10-bit uncompressed video.

UltraStudio’s low-jitter SDI connections instantly switch between all SD, HD and 2K video formats, and captured video signals are pixel-for-pixel clones of the source. A breakout cable provides connections for analog signals including component video, S-Video, composite video, analog audio, genlock, AES/EBU audio and RS-422 deck control. A universal power supply, complete with international socket adapters for all countries, lets you use the UltraStudio 3D wherever you need it.

Blackmagic Design UltraStudio SDI

If you don’t have a Thunderbolt-equipped Mac computer, but are fortunate enough to possess a Windows 7 system with USB 3.0, the Blackmagic Design UltraStudio SDI is what you need. Note that the UltraStudio SDI does not support USB 2.0 capture and playback, so don’t get your hopes up if you’re confined to USB 2.0 connectivity. Of course, you can always add USB 3.0 connectivity to notebook computers with a USB 3.0 ExpressCard Adapter or to desktops with a USB 3.0 PCI Express adapter. USB 3.0 supports data rates up to 4.8 Gb/s.

Housed in a machined-aluminum enclosure, the UltraStudio SDI is a Windows-compatible HD-SDI capture device that gets power from its USB 3.0 connection so there’s no power supply to wrangle. The UltraStudio SDI features one 10-bit SD/HD SDI input, one 10-bit SD/HD SDI output and one HDMI 1.4 output. It can capture uncompressed 10-bit 4:2:2 YUV video from any deck, broadcast router or video camera with an SDI output, and plays it back to broadcast-quality SDI monitors. The HDMI output allows monitoring on an HDMI TV, computer monitor or projector.

Like the UltraStudio 3D, the UltraStudio SDI features RS-422 deck control for popular VTRs and it accepts a blackburst or tri-sync reference signal for genlock. All UltraStudio SDI files are open standard AVI, DPX and QuickTime format, so you can edit with just about any software, including Sony Vegas. Even though UltraStudio SDI is a Windows-based device, it is compatible with Apple Final Cut Pro and supports all its features. A developer SDK lets you develop custom software solutions.

Also, like the UltraStudio 3D, the UltraStudio SDI features low-jitter SDI connections that instantly switch between all SD and HD video formats and it offers compressed and uncompressed video capture and playback in the 10-bit 4:2:2 YUV.

Both the UltraStudio 3D and the UltraStudio SDI include a full set of drivers for capture and playback with real-time effects in Premiere Pro, and both include Blackmagic’s Disk Speed Test and LiveKey utilities, the Blackmagic software codec and Media Express software.

The UltraStudio 3D and UltraStudio SDI are so physically small that you can hold one in each hand, and with Thunderbolt or USB 3.0 providing high-speed connectivity, you can piece together a high end video-editing station that integrates the UltraStudio 3D or UltraStudio SDI with capacious external storage and your favorite MacBook or Windows notebook. The result will be workstation-class video editing in a highly portable solution.

The UltraStudio 3D and UltraStudio SDI both include a free Class on Demand Black Card, which offers two-year access to any single video-based training package from the Class on Demand catalog. The various software titles cover editing, lighting, graphics, animation, cameras, Windows and Mac operating systems, IT and more.

Blackmagic Design UltraStudio 3D

Blackmagic Design UltraStudio SDI

  • Thunderbolt Connection to Mac
  • USB 3.0 Connection to PC
  • Bandwidth up to 10 Gb/s
  • Bandwidth up to 4.8 Gb/s
  • Dual 3G/HD/SD-SDI Inputs and Outputs
  • HD/SD-SDI Input and Output
  • Stereoscopic 3D Capture and Playback
  • Uncompressed 10-Bit 4:2:2 YUV
  • HDMI 1.4a Input/Output
  • HDMI 1.4 Monitoring Output

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I got a bootcamp MacBook Pro. Does this mean that I cannot use any of the above products? I've got a Thunderbolt port which I cannot use for UltraStudio 3D because I am limited to running my laptop on a Windows environment. And I do not have a USB3 port, so that rules me out from using UltraStudio SDI? Am hoping someone can help confirm this?

Currently there are a lot of technicalities to using a thunderbolt device under Boot Camp. 

A few include:
Not being able to use the Express 34 slot at the same time as thunderbolt.
Devices must be connected during startup, or they will not be recognized.
The Computer will not sleep.

Currently Parallels Desktop, and VMWare Fusion will not be able to use a thunderbolt device.

The Blackmagic Design Ultra Studio SDI will work running through a USB 3.0 port on the express 32 slot. However, Blackmagic does not support this on the Mac OS, and they do not have drivers for it. The Sonnet 2 Port expansion card with work with the latest versions of both Windows, and the Mac OS.

The problem is that Blackmagic does not currently make a device for USB 3.0, or thunderbolt that is cross-platform. Depending on your use, you may want to look at the AJA Io Express Portable Video Audio I/O Interface. It includes the express 34 card, and is cross compatible with Mac, and Windows.

So far, there is no official support for Linux.

Can I confirm that ultra studio will actually work with bootcamp, with all the known technicalities you just stated?

To sum up on compatibility:

The 3D will only work with the Mac OS and not in Boot camp.

The SDI will only work in Windows.

The SDI will work in Boot Camp as long as you have a USB 3.0 Express 34 card.

Blackmagic's list of compatible hardware is almost useless...that being said, any idea if the Ultrastudio SDI USB 3.0 will work with Lenovo L530 with Intel eXtensible Host Controller? I read on one of their forum posts that "they have had some luck with it", but that is shaky.

You would think with a device this popular that we wouldn't be having these issues. If I purchase it and it doesn't work, can I return it without a restocking fee? Thanks, Phil

This unit will display video at 1080i and Frame rate of 59.94 that using BM Design Media Express, and with Adobe Premiere Pro, all it do is drop frames from the first 20 frames. I need it to stream live content at 1280 x 720 HD. I used every recommendation from BM Design
Technical Advisor.