REVIEW: BLACKMAGIC DESIGN'S MULTIBRIDGE PRO
PRODUCT: Blackmagic Design’s Multibridge Pro
- 3Gb/s SDI connections
- HDMI capture and playback in SD and HD
- Full resolution 2K capture and playback
Here’s a great product from Blackmagic Design that literally has
something for everyone. Multi-bridge Pro is an external PCI Express
capture and playback solution that instantly switches between SD, HD
and 2K, in 4:2:2 or 4:4:4 video quality. (Did I miss anybody? Nope.)
Multibridge connects to your Mac or PC host via PCI Express and works
just like a capture card…but on amphetamines. All the goods are
contained in a compact 1RU external chassis connected to your host via
an included PCI Express cable and plug-in board. This unique design
allows space for lots of video and audio connections. Wanna talk speed?
This 10Gb/s PCI Express has 25 times faster bandwidth than FireWire so
editing is super responsive. Sometimes I finish shows before I even
For a very reasonable $1,595, out of the box, the Multibridge Pro
supports SDI, HDMI and analog video input and output. Multibridge has
many uses, the most common is to connect the built-in PCI Express
connection to a host computer for a killer editing and design system.
All outputs will play back video…all the time, whether it’s SDI, HDMI,
or a variety of analog formats you might recall from your troubled
youth. Of course, capturing video from any of these is also encouraged.
That’s some serious connectivity options! And because Multibridge Pro
includes the quality of 4:4:4 color sampling, you can feel confident
you’re maintaining proper chrominance of the image through your entire
post process. Not like the 4:1:1 limitations you may have learned to
loathe from the 1394 era. Speaking of ancient history, remember HD-DVD?
That was like soooo 2007.
TO EDIT OR TO CONVERT?
When you disconnect the PCI Express cable from the host computer you
have the ideal solution for converting analog equipment to SDI-based
digital systems, as the Multibridge Pro will instantly switch into a
bi-directional broadcast video and audio converter. Conversion
solutions using Multibridge Pro are way easier to install and much
lower cost than the mish-mash of brick converters I’ve had to use in
the past. Connecting to older analog decks such as a Beta SP is easy.
The bi-directional SDI to analog and analog to SDI connections allow
you to connect to and from the deck simultaneously. And with XLR-based
pro analog audio, you can connect direct to your analog deck without
using multiple converters. For the widest compatibility, SDI, HDMI and
analog component connections switch instantly between SD and HD.
Multibridge Pro supports eight channels of AES/EBU digital audio on a
multi-pin DB-25 connector, as well as two channels of pro balanced
analog audio on XLR connectors, and all models include two-channel RCA
audio outputs for low-cost HiFi monitoring.
NEW 3 GIGABIT SDI CONNECTIONS
Multibridge Pro includes high-speed 3Gb/s SDI connections. 3Gb/s SDI is
the latest version of the SDI video standard that allows 4:4:4 RGB and
2K film connection over a single BNC connection. 3Gb/s SDI runs twice
the data rate of normal HD-SDI video, however instantly switches to
traditional SD and HD SDI. 3Gb/s SDI allows 4:4:4 RGB workflow or full
resolution 2K feature film quality 24fps 2048x1556 capture and
playback. 2K via SDI creates some exciting possibilities for feature
film workflow, especially in the smaller boutique post houses, a.k.a.,
I am McLoving the full resolution HDMI output on this baby. I use the
HDMI output for confidence monitoring to my plasma display for full HD
rez at a much lower cost than a dedicated HD broadcast monitor. My
preference? Glad you asked: the Panasonic Pro line of plasmas,
specifically, the TH-65PF10UK — 65 awesome inches of stunning 1080p
resolution. And folks, these aren’t the Panasonic’s you’ll find at
Circuit City and Best Buy.
I’m told one might also use the built-in HDMI input for capturing from
cameras with HDMI outputs. I haven’t done this, but it sounds like a
great idea. The advantage being, unlike FireWire capture, using the
HDMI output of consumer cameras means you get the highest quality
uncompressed video from the camera, and your video files can use the
native compression of your editing software, such as uncompressed,
JPEG, DVCPRO HD and ProRes. Unlike FireWire compression, the native
compression of your editing software lets you use realtime effects and
realtime playback direct to large screen displays and broadcast
Multibridge Pro is fully compatible with Adobe’s After Effects, Eyeon
Fusion and Autodesk Combustion. Multibridge also includes an RGB
QuickTime preview output for After Effects and Combustion. And, you can
preview on the DeckLink video-out interactively as you work, then play
pre-renders using realtime RAM preview. When doing final rendering of
your work, processing quality using the Blackmagic codec is full
16-bit, so you always get the best darn looking SDI video there is to
be had from here to Sadr City.
Multibridge comes in two models to suit your workflow, or in my case,
wallet. The Multibridge Pro ($1,595) described above, and the
Multibridge Eclipse ($3,495), which features a two-rack unit for a
massive 12 channels of AES/EBU, four channels of balanced audio, HDMI
in and out, Dual Link 3Gb/s SDI in and out, and a front panel design
with a load of LED status lights and 32 audio level meters.