We still live in a world where Video I/O boxes are necessary (although… we’ll see how long that is once HDMI 2.0 or the next Displayport rolls out). The bottom line is that if you want to work in 10 bit HDMI or use HD-SDI/quad SDI, there’s no way around working without a video I/O solution right now (the Mac Pro HDMI port is only 8-bit).
Now, while all of these boxes work just fine with FCPX, there’s one small problem. What if you want to watch the signal through your I/O box and have it be completely in sync with desktop viewer?
The short answer is that you can’t really do it currently without a complicated, clunky workaround. No matter what you do, FCPX running through Thunderbolt/Displayport/HDMI is going to be slightly ahead of what you’re seeing through your AJA/Blackmagic Box.
Now, while you can run multiple signals out through these boxes, and have a client monitor/2nd display be in sync out of your I/O box… I mean… wouldn’t it be nice if everything was running at the same speed… especially if you’re running your audio through an interface like the Apogee Quartet as I do most of the time?
Additionally, if you’re running your Mac Pro to a monitor over HDMI through the A/V out setting, you’ll probably end up being a frame off with that display as well, which can drive you a bit crazy until you realize what’s going on.
It’s why I’d love Apple add a frame offset either into FCPX or into the Mac OS X in general. While I’d love to live in a world where the Mac is driving everything, the truth is that we’re just not there yet… I can’t run three displays through the Mac Pro and have them all be completely in sync (or have any of it be 10 bit), and until I can get there, a frame offset is going to be something I want.
To complicate matters further, though, even if you are running your sound out of an I/O box, well, depending on which one you have, you might not be able to do certain things.
FCPX can monitor surround sound. This works great with the Apogee Quartet without an I/O box. If you have something from AJA, you’ll be in good shape too, as it has 6 analog outs that you can monitor from.
The problem you’re going to run into is if you’re a Resolve colorist and you have something like the Ultrastudio 4k, which only has a stereo analog out. Because of this, if you want to work with your BMD box and monitor surround in FCPX… you’re pretty much out of luck if you want things to be in sync.
While the Ultrastudio can feed out a digital audio surround signal through HDMI or HD-SDI, that signal is going to need to be de-embedded somewhere, so keeping that in sync with your 4k display connected directly to the the Ultrastudio becomes EXTREMELY difficult.
So… anyway, if you’re a day to day editor who doesn’t have a degree in physics, and you want to work in 4k in FCPX, monitor in surround sound, and have a color accurate image you can color correct, I recommend you do either of the following:
– Run a dual monitor setup (see my Eizo blog from the other day for some good recommendations on this) with your viewer on a second monitor, monitoring surround sound through the Apogee Quartet, and then running your client monitor through FCPX’s A/V out, and just be okay with being a frame off sync-wise.
– Run a single monitor setup, buy the AJA IO 4k, running your surround sound through the analog outs, and your video outs powering both your second display and client monitor… and you’ll need to be okay with your desktop being between 1-4 frames out of sync.
Sadly… there is not a good scenario that I can recommend that will run with the BMD Ultrastudio 4k at the moment for playing back 4k and monitoring in surround with FCPX… but you can certainly get away with the AJA scenario if you just need stereo.
And while I’m certainly able to get done what I need to get done with any of the above, none of this would be necessary if I just had a frame offset in FCPX or in Mac OS X.