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STRUCTURE Video Format Conversion

There are some situations and workflows where you might want to bring in video to STRUCTURE that is not CVBS (RCA plug) or output to a different format or capture card. Here are some devices we’ve tried.

STRUCTURE -> HDMI/DVI
HDMI/DVI -> STRUCTURE
STRUCTURE -> Mac (Thunderbolt/USB3)
Mac (USB-C/Thunderbolt) -> STRUCTURE
STRUCTURE -> LZX

STRUCTURE -> HDMI/DVI

Purpose: Output conversion for use with certain monitors/projectors

The easiest thing to use here is a format converter. There are a variety of units we’ve tried that have a variety of quality. Lower quality converters might have artifacts if it is scaling up to higher frame sizes. Some units will allow you to do 480p in HDMI, however, the end destination of the signal may or may not support that. Further, the end source then might scale up from 480p to the native resolution with an inferior scaling algorithm as well. We are using the more expensive option below now and are very happy with the results.

Note that HDMI and DVI (digital) are the same signals in different housings, so you can purchase a cheap adapter to convert in either direction. However, not all resolutions are likely supported so make sure the DVI input can accept HD digital resolutions you might use.

CHEAPER OPTION:

There seems to be many of the same units with just different housings, we’ve used this one specifically. Some also power with USB only. Some have settings to switch between 1080p/720p output, but don’t seem to offer any other resolutions.

BETTER OPTION:

This format converter has a lot of settings and can be used to go in/out for different purposes as well, like a Swiss army knife. This is the one we’ve been using and have had good success with it. Make sure you get the right direction as these units are sold going in both directions and can be easily mixed up.


DVI/HDMI -> STRUCTURE

Purpose: Input conversion to use different source types

We bring DVI/HDMI signals into structure using the CVBS (Composite) input. We’ve only used an inexpensive converter at this time and it has worked decent enough for us. Like all scaling operations, how the image is reduced can make a huge difference in how aliased the final image is. If you are using sources that are a lot of fine lines, you will likely get a lot of aliasing. In this case you will want to find a better down converter. Of course, a better down converter in this case will make the image softer, but that is unavoidable since you are dropping in resolution.  

Also note, DVI (digital) and HDMI are basically the same exact signal in different housings. However, not all HDMI to CVBS converters can handle all the resolutions that DVI can carry. Be sure your DVI source can do a format the HDMI converter can use (like 1080p or 720p). We typically will select 720p output if a device supports it so less down sampling is required. 

CHEAP OPTION:

Like the CVBS->Composite cheap solution above, these units are sold that almost look identical, but go in either direction. Make sure you purchase the correct conversion direction


STRUCTURE -> Mac (Thunderbolt/USB3)

Purpose: For capture of STRUCTURE into a Mac for recording, or post processing with other applications

We’ve tried a lot of cheaper options and have never been satisfied with the results. At this time, we absolutely recommend using different Black Magic products because they give you the most flexibility. 

EXPENSIVE OPTION: 

This model comes in either thunderbolt or USB3 (they are different units). All of our captures are with this device using the composite input. Black Magic had other units that also did this as well but they seem to have End-of-Lifed all their other units. 

https://www.blackmagicdesign.com/products/intensity


Mac (USB-C/Thunderbolt) -> STRUCTURE

Purpose: For using STRUCTURE to process video from the output of a Mac

For this path, we’ve always had to chain a few options together to get this to work. Years ago Mac had a dongle that would do NTSC out, however, they stopped supporting that for digital rights protections.  

The biggest problem you deal with with Mac output is the rights management. Many devices will refuse to record or translate the output due to that. (This is the problem that Black Magic Intensity can have when trying to record HDMI out of a Mac).

The HDMI->STRUCTURE option above is the second part you’ll need to purchase. In this section, we just want to talk about generating HDMI.

If you have an older Mac with HDMI out, you do not need to purchase anything extra.

If you have an older Mac with DVI out, you’ll just need a DVI to HDMI converter adapter.

CHEAP OPTION (USB-C/DisplayPort):

We’ve not tested this cable, but we don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t work. The USB-C port is actually a combo port that is USB-C/DisplayPort/Thunderbolt. (Make sure you have a model that supports this, like a recent Mac Book Pro).

OPTION (USB-C/DisplayPort):

We’ve tried a few of these options, although success was not always positive. The HyperDock HDMI had issues so stopped using that. The Belkin model we used for a few shows required a driver to be installed, but it worked great. We’ve not used this model specifically, but given we have had success with Belkin, we think it should work without issue. Also note, many of these have USB3/2 connectors as well which will help reduce the number of dongles you need with your setup.

EXPENSIVE OPTION (USB-C/DisplayPort):

While being a bit more pricey than the other options, our experience has been there are usually very robust from a mechanical perspective. A lot of cheaper units tend to break from too much strain on the connectors. (Let’s face it, a thick HDMI cable can be unwieldy). This unit also gives you ONE USB port and provides a USB-C port passthrough as well. 

https://www.apple.com/shop/product/MJ1K2AM/A/usb-c-digital-av-multiport-adapter?afid=p238%7CsEct1vn1X-dc_mtid_1870765e38482_pcrid_246386725857_pgrid_14874603490_&cid=aos-us-kwgo-pla-btb–slid—–product-MJ1K2AM/A

STRUCTURE -> LZX

Purpose: Taking the output of STRUCTURE and using with an LZX Eurorack setup

There are a variety of ways that you can get the output of STRUCTURE into LZX land, including upcoming options that will be available soon.  

MONOCHROME INPUT OPTION USING VISUAL CORTEX:

Connecting a CVBS (Composite) output from STRUCTURE directly into the GREEN (Y) RCA input will generate a LUMA output only. This is how the Y (Green colored) input is intended to be used. While you lose out on all the wonderful color, while getting your conversions worked out, you can at least get something into LZX with this method

Visual Cortex

YCrCb (COMPONENT) CONVERSION OPTION:

This method requires both a Visual Cortex and a converter box to take CVBS (Composite) and make into a YCrCb video signal (3 RCA connections). Note that some YCrCb converters do not have very good timing, so how well this method works really depends on the quality of the converter. Doing a straight conversion is likely not possible as we’ve not found any decent priced units. The unit below gets good reviews and takes HDM -> YCrCb, so you’ll need to also pick up from above the CVBS(composite) -> HDMI and chain them together.

LZX 1V Dual-TBC CONVERSION OPTION :

This is the method we are waiting for, as this module should be released soon from LZX. The beauty of this module is you get two converters in one unit which allow for a LOT of conversion options. Our plan is to use one of these with two STRUCTURES and use a Visual Cortex to mix between them! So you could use one channel for STRUCTURE, then one channel for any other source.

Link to LZX Industries TBC2

If you don’t want to wait for the TBC2 to be released, you can find a TBC1 (pictured below) on the used market. They are very deep modules so make sure you have a case that can support them. They also require the ribbon cable type sync as well to the Visual Cortex.

LZX Industries TBC1 (discontinued)

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