Video I/O (input / output) is a hardware device, which acts as an interface between camera, PC and monitor for video capture and playback. But it can do so much more.
Manufacturers such as AJA, Blackmagic Design and Matrox all produce specialist digital glue products, but in a world of myriad video standards, I/O devices are the multi-tool workhorse that bridge production and post, offering versatility and a cost-effective ability to integrate digital and analogue signals in to a single workflow.
One of the key benefits of video I/O is hardware-based up/cross/down-conversion and transcoding, which takes the processing load off the CPU, and allows for the creation of high quality, lower resolution deliverables without the need to recapture or re-edit. It isn’t all about the pictures, though. I/O devices work with audio too, capable of capturing multiple audio inputs.
The ‘O’ in the I/O relates to an editor’s need to view full-screen full resolution playback of the working NLE timeline. A dedicated reference monitor or client screen is not connected via the graphics card, but via the I/O device, which has the ability to drive 10-bit Professional Graphics Monitors.
For gaming, education, house of worship, sporting events or live performances, in a live broadcast or live-stream environment the ability to ingest multiple high quality video and audio feeds and simultaneously transcode an output of the programme in stream-ready H.264/5 means that every production team can access affordable ‘studio-in-a-box’ functionality from a PC or Laptop, and share content online with a global audience.
Multiple camera setups are notoriously difficult to manage in post, but I/O allows the simultaneous capture of multiple video feeds directly to a recorder, all in perfect timecode sync and immediately ready for the editorial team to process. This represents a significant productivity boost when turnaround times are tight. Furthermore, files can be saved in professional compressed formats, such as ProRes and DNxHD, or as fully uncompressed 10-bit video for further processing, such as VFX compositing or colour grading.
Which device is right for me? There are many models to choose from depending on your requirements, such as connectivity, signal conversion and resolution. HDMI and HD-SDI are the two common digital connection types found on video I/O, but legacy analogue connections are fully supported; creating digital archives of old VHS tapes or DVDs is a simple operation.
I/O is available in two form factors; PCI-E add-in-card (with an optional rackmounted breakout box or cable for added analogue I/O functionality), or, if you don’t have a spare slot on the motherboard, there’s an optional small-footprint standalone unit - ideal on set or in the field - or industry standard rackmount unit for studio based workflow. Blackmagic Design Resolve users require hardware support, such as the DeckLink Studio 4K, for external full screen monitoring, but a simple cost-effective solution is the UltraStudio Mini Monitor, available in PCI-E or Thunderbolt versions.
Whatever your workflow, from simple one camera ingest, capture of high frame rate gameplay or reference monitor output to complex multi camera/audio studio environments, there’s an I/O device for you, available across the range of 3XS NLE workstations.