I got an AJA Io LA the other day and hooked it up to my 10.6 Snow Leopard Mac Mini.
My experience was pretty darn good with this device. It has a TBC (sure its debatable.. whats a TBC to you?).
The drivers install cleanly and Quicktime 7 works with the Profiles to capture Uncompressed 10 or 8 bit to files.
It uses an AJA proprietary transfer protocol over the firewire, its not DV and its not any kind of PC recognized compression format. You could write a Windows driver for it as a DV device but none was ever written by AJA.
AJA partnered with Apple to design this to work with Final Cut Pro 2 as a logging and capture device. The parent product was the ('Io') a play on words for Input/Output. It was a rack mount device. The prosumer lower cost version was the LA and LD, a play on words for "Lowcost Analog" and "Lowcost Digital (SDI)" capture devices.
When Apple effectively pulled out of the Final Cut Pro "business" and relabeled iMovie as Final Cut Pro X they stopped development on the Io line and focused on the KONA lines which also supported the PC.
iMovie does not work with this device since it expects a DV camera interface on an import device. Re-labeling it Final Cut Pro X also did away with the log and capture tool from Final Cut Pro 7.. but AJA did commission a "free" standalone capture application called the AJA VTR Exchanger.. its a native OSX app and works very well.. you don't need to use Quicktime 7 or Final Cut Pro to capture video. Its very slick.
As far as I know with the Uncompressed 10-bit its recommended to use a SCSI array with striped SATA drives for sustained capture. Use Uncompressed 8-bit with single SATA drives. And use the 4:2:2 Panasonic DVPRO50 with anything lighter.. the norm in those days was 5400 rpm PATA with SATA just becoming available.. and SSD effectively "Clarke Tech"
Today I used a single un-RAID 7200 rpm SATA in my 2010 mac mini and it had no problem keeping up with Uncompressed 10-bit. The mac mini was using 5 years newer tech than what was the norm for the AJA IoLA from 2004.. things improve and get faster.
Apple refused to support the DVPRO50 preferring their Apple Prores422 even though AJA made it available. The next generation IoHD embedded direct to Apple ProRes422 encoding over firewire.
The real problem is you have to use the AJA proprietary drivers which stopped being updated with 10.6.8 OSX effectively 2010-2011 (when most SD capture tech was at its peak for the PC and Apple).
The AJA VTR application still holds up today, its very nice for free software.
Preview of: Compression, Vectorscope, Waveform, Histogram, RGB Parade or RGB Waveform
It was Applescript controllable, meaning you can automate captures and possible playback of VCR edit decision lists.
One stipulation is the firewire port for this device has to be dedicated, it can't share bandwidth with any other protocol or you will get dropped frames. (And) it has sweet and very thorough reporting of dropped frames. Abort on dropped frames could be enabled or disabled with a checkbox.
Conceptually: the capture chain used software compression after the Uncompressed video arrived at the Mac firewire port to pre-process it into the storage format for the file. This was true for the DV25, DVPRO50, H.264 or whatever other types of compression a user wanted to use as an intermediate or distribution format for storage -- but -- this required a co-processor board, or a fast enough processor, CPU or GPU.. if you didn't have a beefy enough machine.. it starts dropping frames.
The easiest thing to do is (pass the buck) to a fast RAID array or fast hard drive, as an uncompressed stream and shrink it down "later" to avoid dropped frames. But (I did) try encoding to H.264 using the Quicktime codec registered in the Quicktime registry.. during capture.
The results were It could not keep up with Uncompressed 10 bit using a Core2Duo and H.264 software compression. But it (could) keep up when using Uncompressed 8 bit using a Core2Duo and H.264 compression.. at least for a while.. I did not make a long capture session. It was more a proof of concept.
I tried DVPRO50 which is 4:2:2 YUV and sent that to the hard disk. It worked beautifully.. and its a very small stream compared to Uncompressed 10 or 8 bit.
I would say the First Generation Io products, the Io, IoLA, IoLD were all optimized for DVDPRO50 "practically" even if Apple preferred you used their software codecs exclusively. AJA did a good job here making other options available, even after Apple left the collaboration.
AJA did continue to partner with Apple however and the IoHD (Second Generation Io products) and beyond seems to favor the Apple ProRes422 codec.. I "think" its hardware compression.. it was designed for laptops capturing in the field.
The KONA seemed to diversify and whatever they made for Apple they also made available for the PC in some fashion.. hedging perhaps against a repeat?
[old BHPhoto page for the AJA Io LA] here
This is not that different from having to decide if the hardware being used for capture should dictate the Operating System (if you can get a machine to run it). Or deciding the Operating system and the current hardware it runs on dictate the choice of capture hardware.
For a PC user with no Mac skills, its probably more trouble than its worth.. even if very cheap.
And the old Apple hardware would probably never satisfy a person who prefers editing on a PC.. so if you went that way.. Instead dump the capture to a hard drive and plug that into a PC and process the resulting Uncompressed, or Compressed capture files however you like.
The quality appears better than what you can get with most consumer gear from the same era.. though it needs a lot of disk space. Since the SD capture was a "feature" and not an afterthought in the Io designs from back then, handling unstable source was more of a given than an exception. This gear was also broadcast and prosumer.. so it did regularly deal with VCR input.
One warning though: this gear is tough, and heavy.. even the "smallish?" IoLA takes up a good deal of desk space on its rubber feet. Its silent since it has no fan, but does warm up. And the cabling in the back has S-Video, BNC and AES/XLR audio connectors.. so its not exactly "tidy and neat".
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Last edited by jwillis84; 24th May 2019 at 12:14.
Thanks Jwillis84 for the thorough review of the Aja Io LA, It is indeed a rock solid device with rock solid performance I wish I have a Mac but I'm a PC guy so I will be letting this baby go to a better home.
Yeah.. if your not a Mac guy.. and don't have 10.6.8 hardware.. then this gear is not for you.. its just not an option.
Last edited by jwillis84; 25th May 2019 at 04:29.
I got an ATI TV Wonder HD 600 USB years ago to use with VirtualDub my on Windows 7 laptop, but I think my tapes were recorded in PAL by default because the camcorder was bought in a PAL region and we live in the U.S. where we bought and used NTSC tapes, so the audio was comically high pitched, but it always played back normally on the camcorder. I never had the chance to get a TBC because I don't know where to start. I gave up after that, but now I'm trying to give it another go.
Now, I have a MacBook Pro 2015 with a Thunderbolt to Firewire adapter and I've seen a video on YouTube where all you had to do was to get a get a Digital8 camcorder that supports 8mm/Hi8 and capture it directly from the camcorder, but I have my doubts on the quality based on the advice people have given here on analog to DV capture.
Basically, I want a lossless, high quality possible solution without having to pay more than $200-$300 (I'm strapped for cash at the moment). Should I bootcamp Windows and try again with the ATI or is the AJA Io LA a better and higher quality solution?
The video you linked is misleading due to the lack of knowledge of the poster, You can't extract digital data from a VHS tape, And yes DV capture is lossy, The Aja is the only Mac lossless capture alternative to PC, Will it work with your setup? I think Jwillis could answer that.
I can answer that: No.
The drivers (c.2004) would not work with that era of Mac (c.2015). Completely different architecture.
I see. My camcorder is a Sony CCD-TRV45E (PAL) from 1998. It says Video8 XR on it, but it has no Firewire out. I was thinking the easiest way would be to get a Sony Video8 camcorder with Firewire that's compatible with 8mm and Hi8 and just capture directly that way. I want the best quality I can get, but if that's not a good option, then I'll try again with my ATI TV Wonder HD 600 USB in Windows. I quoted the main thread I'm getting help in below.
If your tapes are NTSC you definitely need a NTSC camcorder preferably with S-Video out and internal TBC and XR capability if your tapes are indeed XR. Use your ATI TV Wonder HD 600 USB in Windows and capture lossless, It has a learning curve but once you master it it becomes routine.
VirtualDub to AVI on Windows 7 and it worked pretty well. Here's the thread. If only Digital8/DV camcorders were more affordable for us back in 1998, then I wouldn't be having such a headache right now.
There you have it, Capture away. As to which model of camcorder, I'm not aware of such list of Hi8/8mm camcorders with TBC and S-Video out, Basically You would check ebay/craigslist for your range of prices and google the user manual to find out what features it has. That's what I did when I was looking for the exact same thing and ended up getting the CCD-TRV66 for $40 from craigslist.
VirtualDub when I first tried capturing my tapes five years ago. I wonder if I switch to a NTSC camcorder, will I get normal audio, or is it the tape itself? Some of them were bought in North America and some might be from overseas.
Yes a digital8 camcorder can output 8mm and Hi8 through S-Video and can have a TBC but for analog tapes only, I do have one Sony DCC-TRV720, Digital8 tapes don't need TBC and those can be transferred to computer via firewire with direct transfer no capturing needed. I honestly don't know about your playback problem, Usually you get high pitched audio when playing back a PAL tape in NTSC player with no picture, not the other way around.
Either way a camcorder with S-Video output and TBC is preferred so using the camcorder you have now serves no purpose.
I finally settled on a Sony CCD-TR840E camcorder. It comes with an S-Video cable and a bunch of extras I don't need, including SCART adapters and tapes. I probably paid way more than I should have. However, there is also a CCD-TRV66E available from France as well for about the same price. I wish I had waited on that instead, but I'll see how this one goes.