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July 2014
Issue: April 1, 2012

Review: AJA's Io XT

By: Jim Geduldick
Haven't you always wanted to be able to take your AJA Kona card wrap it up and put it in your pocket and be off jet- setting around with your MacBook Pro and your camera of choice? 

I know I have been wishing that for a while now, and with AJA shipping the Io XT I get both the desktop power and versatility of my Kona card as well the portable connectivity of a Thunderbolt-enabled device.

Let’s talk about Thunderbolt for a moment, considering it’s a really big feature of the Io XT allowing us to connect to two Thunderbolt ports, which means I can have multiple devices that support Thunderbolt. While using the Io XT I was able to have my set-up of a MacBook Pro, the Io XT, a Thunderbolt RAID and an Apple Thunderbolt monitor. You can add more devices as well, given you have two ports  and the Io XT does not have to be at the end of your I/O chain of devices.

At the heart of the Io XT you have the AJA software and support allowing you to work with your supported software of choice whether it be Adobe Premiere Pro, Final Cut X or Avid. AJA Control Room is simple and powerful set of preference controls for the Io XT. You can set up your Io XT whether your back at the studio or in the mobile edit room (like your hotel room) for video/audio,conversion, playback and output as you see fit.  

I work with file format sources with everything from Red Epic/Scarlet,Phantom,DSLR's to GoPros, and the Io XT works with a wide variety of video, stills and audio codecs. While we are talking about different file formats, it’s a good point to bring up with all cameras and devices having different inputs and outputs, and the Io XT covers it all with 3G/HD/SD -SDI, HDMI, component, composite, LTC (I/O) and 8 channels of embedded digital audio and 8 channels analog audio output. If you happen to still be using tape (tape what’s tape!!!!?) you have tried and true 9-pin RS422 for your deck control.

When shooting or doing post/VFX work with media from digital cinema cameras like Red, Arri and other systems capable of delivering 4:4:4, the Io XT handles it easily with the single and dual-link 4:4:4 HD-SDI with full bandwidth 4:4:4 RGB at 10 bits for 1080 (PsF,i,p) and 720p formats.

A lot of my shoots lately have had me on the road with some mixed set-ups, and being away from general power sources for given times I like being able to use the 4-pin XLR connection with some V-mount batteries to power the Io XT on the go and in remote areas.

If your post work calls for some quick video conversion, you can use the Io XT to convert video on the fly. If you shot 1080 but the producer is asking for 720p you can use the Io XT to cross convert as well as convert video up and down.

When you can pack one bag and have the ability to have a mobile post station at your beck and call, and you have more time to catch reruns of The Greatest American Hero on TV. The size, speed, connectivity and support of the Io XT makes it a key essential piece of gear in my quiver of tools. A side note for fellow stereoscopic professionals, the Io XT allows you to work with HDMI 1.4 and HD-SDI for output to whichever stereo output monitor you maybe using.

Pair the Io XT on set with a Thunderbolt RAID and thanks to its stereoscopic support, you will have some happy stereographers, DITs and visual effects supervisors. 

Jim Geduldick is a filmmaker and visual effects artist based in New York. He can be reached at: filmbot@mac.com.