Coming Back From the Dead - Night of the Living HD Mixers

Just when you thought it was safe to drag out your old analog MX50s again...

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A little while back (okay, a big while back), we posted about the current state of affordable HD mixing using the TVOne box. At the time of writing, only one of those projects was in an actual released state. The iMixHD is a great piece of software, not in the least because it's free and open source. But deep inside, the idea of a physical standalone mixer with a T-Bar was still nagging.

Flash forward to a year later, all of a sudden there's not one but two such projects that are both finished and actually in production!

First off, there is of course Toby's Spark d-Fuser. The d-Fuser is an elegant piece of kit, both the functionality as well as the box itself are amazing. It is a clutter free interface that does what it needs to do: mix between two sources. Being fans of intuitive design that doesn't get in the way of your creativity ourselves, we have to tip our hats to Toby on this one. Currently the first run is sold out, and the latest news is that the casings have arrived and look beautiful.

Then, out of the blue, the boys from CarrotVideo come with their own take on the TV-One, the tentatively titled 'HD Rabbit'. Focussing more on giving you access to everything the TV-One has to offer (it actually does a lot more than fade or key between two sources), they've made what Edirol should have done a long time ago: an HD V4.

In their own words:
The HD Rabbit is a HD mixer and controller based on the TV-One 750.

We know what you're thinking now: 'Really? Another TV-One based mixer project? Really?'.

And we feel you on that one. There have been some awesome projects based on that little gadget, some of which turned into very well designed, thought out, and most importantly, very real products. So who are we to come up with yet another one?

Truth be told, we feel that you can do a lot with the TV-One. The AB mixer and keyer are its primary functions, but it has some very powerful scaler and image adjustment functions as well. It's just that its interface is so ridiculously clunky.

So we designed a more user friendly interface. All the useful functions of the TV-One are accessible in a more human way. Having grown up bashing our V4s to bits back in the 90s, all we really wanted was a similar experience, but not limited to crappy PAL resolutions. Let's face it, there was something innately satisfying about spamming those cut buttons, or strobing the output until the light engineer gave you the evil eye.

So we were dragging this piece of kit with us to shows, where it took up valuable space on our already crammed table. It did the job, but it was lacking something. Then it hit us. Why not make it a software controller at the same time? Besides OSC input for the main TV-One functions, we added fully customizable OSC and DMX output from the buttons and rotaries. Basically we made one big box with the flexibility to mix and control our favorite applications.

No more eighties looking hardware effects, instead we're controlling realtime effects in glorious HD at 60fps. No more overtaxed CPUs, instead we're cutting back and forth between two HD sources like it's going out of fashion. What more could you ask for?

We don't know either.

That's why the HD Rabbit is currently being produced in its 0-series run, contact us at for more info.

Especially interesting for Resolume users is the customizable OSC output. As you can see in the video, the HD Rabbit is preconfigured to send BPM info to Resolume already, but all its other knobs and buttons can be assigned OSC commands as well. This could very well be the next step in hardware controllerism.

We've actually been lucky enough to see this gizmo in action, and have pounded those cut buttons to see if it they held up. We were pleasantly surprised so rest assured that we'll be following this one with great interest.

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VJ Review of the New Retina MacBook Pro

We were amazed at how many reactions a single Facebook picture with Resolume running on the new retina MacBookPro could get. In that post, we promised everyone with a full review, so brace yourself for some serious number crunching!

Overall impression: For a laptop, it's pretty darn amazing!

Compared to setting up with a triple head, it's smooth sailing. Each screen is recognized as an individual display, making screen arrangment and assigning via the advanced output a piece of cake. The choice to use only HDMI for the third connection is a little unfortunate, since you're forced to use a consumer connection. We had to fiddle quite a bit with our projectors before we had all three outputs recognized correctly. In all fairness that has more to do with the HDMI input on the projectors than the MBP, but it would have been better if three DVI or component connections had been available. Connecting to the computer monitors worked immediately.

Performance wise, it's quite astounding to see the amount of pixels that are being pushed without the computer complaining. Of course better performance can be gotten on high end media servers, but we're talking about a 15" laptop here. 6 layers of 1080p at 43 fps, across three monitors, while fitting in a backpack? Everyone who ever had to haul a server case across a muddy festival field or into a elevated FOH booth will recognize how awesome that is.

The fact that it includes a SSD by default makes the interface feel incredibly snappy.Triggering a column of 30 clips is gaspingly instantaneous. Deck switching is a fraction of the time as with moving drives. Also it finally has USB 3.0 ports so you can plug in your Intensity Shuttle and make this a full mobile server laptop. Turns out Apple didn't use a USB3.0 chipset supported by BlackMagic. Perhaps BM will update their hardware, but currently the USB equipped Shuttle does *not* work (the Thunderbolt equipped Shuttle however, does). All in all, it has a bunch of features that make it a very appetizing box for mobile VJs, albeit one with a hefty price tag.

Check below for all the facts and figures of this fanboy extravaganza!

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One cheeseburger, please.
  • 640x480 composition, 640x480 DXV content. Sent to three monitors, 2xMiniDP to DVI, 1xHDMI, 1920x1200 each. Layer 1 and 2 each get their own screen via layer routing, entire composition is sent to screen 3.
    3 layers 58 fps, 34(!) layers 34-38 fps. At this point screen 3 was a big white soup and we stopped adding layers.
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Wait! Make that a Big Mac, actually:
  • 1920x1200 composition, 1920x1080 DXV content. Sent to three monitors, 2xMiniDP to DVI, 1xHDMI, 1920x1200 each. Same output routing as above.
    2 layers 58 fps, 3 layers 55 fps, 6 layers 43 fps, 12 layers 25-27 fps, 17 layers 20-22 fps
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Supersize me!
  • 5760x1200 composition, 5760x1200 DXV content. Sent to three monitors, 2xMiniDP to DVI, 1xHDMI, 1920x1200 each, one continuous image.
    1 layer 49-52 fps, 2 layers 30-35 fps, 3 layers 22 fps.
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But will it blend?
  • 5760x1080 composition, 5760x1080 DXV content. Sent to three 1080p projectors, 2xMiniDP to DVI to HDMI (!), 1 x HDMI, 1920x1080 each. Edge blended to form one continuous screen with about 15% overlap between each projector.
    1 layer 58 fps, 2 layers 39-41 fps, 3 layers 32-34 fps, 4 layers 20 fps. (The kids that are paying attention will have noticed that the test with edge blending actually ran faster than the test without. This can be accounted for by the fact that two edge blends of 15%, results in 30% less horizontal pixels that need to be calculated. Effectively this test was running at around 4000 by 1080.)
Would you like fries with that?
  • Effects, sources, Quartz Composer patches and Flash content run fine, fps hits vary with the actual file or effect used, as is to be expected.

All tests ran for about two hours, GPU temperature stayed steady at 68-71ยบ. The body gets hot in the usual places, but not much hotter than a late 2011 MBP with one monitor connected.

For the super wide content, the limiting factor for the fps was the disk access. When the framerate drops below 30, it was maxing out at 90%. GPU load never came above 80%. For the 480p and 1080p content, the GPU was the limiting factor, and it was maxing out at 95% when dropping below 30 fps. Disk access in these cases was not even touching 1%.

In general we felt that when the fps dropped below 30, it would start affecting performance. The output was still fluent, but the interface became more sluggish. We were pushing things quite a bit in these cases, and bringing things back to 'only' 6 layers of 1080p content brought the snappy feeling right back.

Overall CPU never strayed too far from 15%.

We used both graphic as well as photographic content. Performance was overall better when using graphic content, since DXV can compress this more efficiently, so disk access is less. One of the super wide edge blend test files can be downloaded here.

The main monitor was running at retina recommend size, which is the middle one of the scaling options (resolutions apparently are handled differently on retina MBPs). So we could have gone with a larger interface screen, but we were more interested in output performance than screen real estate on this test. This also was a comfortable viewing size for a live performance, without having to hunch over the screen more than we already would.

For temp and performance monitoring, we used atMonitor.

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*Spark D-Fuser DVI Mixer Official Announcement Video

Checkout this video where Toby presents the DIY DVI Mixer he is working on. He tells the tale of it's creation and then spills all the details: Two channel DVI mixing up to 1080p including "odd" TrippleHead resolutions like 1920x480. We can't wait to get our hands on this, it looks like a perfect mixer for VJ's. As more and more laptops are not equipped with analog TV-out anymore, DVI mixing becomes more and more a necessity.

Checkout all the details on

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