4K Monitoring Options: BMD or AJA

August 22, 2014 Tags: , , ,
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Sam here… finishing up 4K week on FCPWORKS Workflow Central with one more post.

So… BMD or AJA… the eternal debate. Right now, we’re centering this around the 4K monitoring & I/O products, AJA’s IO 4K or the BMD Ultrastudio 4K. Basically, it comes down to this… Do you use DaVinci Resolve for Color Correction? If the answer is yes, you’re going to need to go with Blackmagic. Case closed. Blackmagic Devices are the only ones that will work with Resolve.

However, If the answer to that question is no, and you’re doing your color work primarily in FCPX or another program that isn’t Resolve (Scratch, Baselight, Smoke to name a few) the discussion becomes a lot more complicated. Additionally, in the case of the BMD Ultrastudio 4K… it’s can be loud. The AJA IO 4K is quiet and considerably smaller. If you’re keeping the product in a room with a new Mac Pro as your primary computer, you really start to hear the Ultrastudio 4K when it’s on…. and if you’re doing serious sound mixing, the noise makes a big difference.

Additionally, and this is a little known fact, but the AJA cards support more monitoring formats for FCPX as well. For whatever reason, your monitoring formats in the Blackmagic preferences (system settings on the Mac) are more limited and considerably smaller than when you’re using your Ultrastudio 4K in Resolve.

HOWEVER, at the end of the day, price is also a factor and the AJA products are almost universally more expensive than their BMD counterparts. So price vs. performance is definitely a consideration. In my opinion, if you’re more interested in specific features, go AJA. If you’re budget conscious or a heavy Resolve user, go BMD.

p.s – little known fact, but the HDMI out on the back for the New Mac Pro can be used as an 8-bit A/V out in FCPX, and it is FAR more configurable for video I/O if you’re using weird sequence settings and just need to send out a 1:1 output over HDMI than what’s available through your BMD or AJA device.


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