Yes, You read that right, Aja back in the day made an analog video capture device, The AJA Io LA that can capture 10/8 bit uncompressed video and 24 bit audio in addition to DV25 and DV50 from composite/S-Video/component using a firewire connection between the capture box and a Mac computer.
Here is direct quotes from the devices's manual:
"Many people associate FireWire with DV (Digital Video); unfortunately this has led some to believe that it only works with compressed video. The AJA Io family of products do not compress video or audio—they simply uses the impressive bandwidth of FireWire as a conduit to send A/V data to and from the Power Mac."
"FireWire is a cross-platform implementation of the high-speed serial data bus defined by IEEE Standard 1394-1995. It can be used to move large amounts of data between computers and peripheral devices—any type of data. It features simplified cabling, hot swapping, and transfer speeds of up to 400 megabits per second (FireWire 400). A new 800 megabit per second implementation (FireWire 800) is also available on many current Apple computers. AJA has co-developed the Io family of products with Apple to use FireWire for transferring 10-bit uncompressed video and 24-bit audio to and from an Apple Power Mac or Xserve"
I bought one very cheap from ebay to test it on a PC platform since I have a laptop with firewire, I will report back if it works with the common Windows capture software when I get it.
They are still available on ebay, I got the cheapest off the list already sorry.
Here is some online pictures of the capture box:
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Last edited by dellsam34; 3rd May 2019 at 01:57.
Good luck with that.
I see nothing in the manual about Windows support and the drivers are only for Mac OS.
The manual also goes on to say that uncompressed capture requires a raid array since although the interface can support the data a single hdd will not.
At Firewire's 400 Mb/s (50 MB/s) modern drives can probably keep up, at least on the outer cylinders. Certainly SSDs can. But who cares about a 15 year old niche capture device that requires specialized drivers? IEEE 1394 is just a physical connection -- it could be used to transfer any type of digital data.
Might still be a good buy if one were using a Mac (with FW ports), AND if needed capture of analog component/S/composite, AND if those A/D electronics are good quality. Aja usually makes good stuff, but that's still a lot of ifs.
It makes little sense to me but for some reason, dellsam34 seems to enjoy collecting unusual video devices and consumer electronics which never quite became mainstream, which he then tries to use even though there may be easier and better ways to accomplish that same purpose today. As an example, see his thread on converting video for playback with a DVHS recorder.Ignore list: hello_hello, tried, TechLord
I like capturing old video formats including the pro ones but nothing comes close in quality than an old professional capture device that was made for that purpose.
Oh, FFS, that's from 2004. So unless they had the foresight to create Universal code, or they subsequently updated it (nope, last update was 05), there wouldn't be Intel chip compatibility. Also, it's based on QT 6.x/7.x architecture, not AVFoundation.
Well, if you intend to go legacy like this, you'd need to go legacy all the way!
Lossless SD @ 10bit is around 270Mbps so modern computers and hard drives are not the problem. Now drivers could be an issue since there is no external buttons to control the box and tel it at what mode to capture, a software such as Final Cut Pro could be required (It originally shiped with the box), I will try Premiere on the PC to extract 8 or 10 bit videos and from there use ffmpeg to compress to modern codecs, Too bad it doesn't have a frame sync/TBC like my BrightEye 75, But $17 was worth a try.
It didn't turn out so well, My Windows 7 couldn't find a generic driver for it, It just displays 4 unknown new devices, So a Mac is a must, I will install four 3.5mm audio jacks (2 INs, 2 OUTs) on the back after removing the DB connector and put it back on eBay someone may find it useful for lossless capture on a Mac platform.
I will post pictures of the Mod.
Quick question, I'm going from balanced to unbalanced audio, Is it ok to ground the cold pins, Some advice against this because of ground loop, Some manufacturers recommend this for converting to unbalanced. Any audio expert here?
Not surprised it does not work.
But why go to the trouble of modifying it ?. Surely any available drivers require the box 'as is' or is that connector so legacy that it is not available anymore ?
It is too expensive and hard to find, bulky dangling XLR plugs that are not used in the consumer environment, Consumers are more familiar with RCA or 3.5mm jack, RCA takes up space so I opted for 3.5mm jacks. Plus the little fun that goes with it and it will increase the sale price on eBay, Enough reasons?
That is fine but when you have no way to test that the mod will work.........
No need to test the mod, I have the pinout and know what are the inputs and outputs. It's just a soldering job.
All what's needed is a WORKING, OLD Mac computer with enough working old storage, and an appropriate OLD version of FCP.
If the point is actually to transfer important DV footage, rather than go tweakhappy on nostalgic machinery, it is foolhardy to go down this road rather than get decent used PC-compatible equipment, refurbish an XP or Win7 era desktop, get a firewire port, free software, and go. Much more expensive your way as well.
But if that's how you get your kicks, it's your dime & your time.
Along those lines I recently acquired a Promax Promedia Converter (was gonna be tossed, I snagged it) that, theoretically, was designed to transfer uncompressed analog video/audio over a DV connection, but the supporting documentation is a bit fuzzy (literally, like scanned printed pages) and it looks like it was upgradeable, via firmware, to support uncompressed video transfer to different editors (Premiere, Avid, etc) but they had to work out the drivers for this so it was shipped with this option "greyed out." Bummer. This was made in 2004 and I can't find any later support docs on this beast so I don't know if there's any upgrade ever available for DV uncompressed, but there's also maybe an analog to SDI internal converter that might allow for at least 4:2:2 transfer, anyway ... having fun playing with it, anyway.
One thing in reading about video transfer after all these years (I dabble a bit today but just for fun, not profit), I love how nothing ever really changes, whatever it is you want to do isn't possible with whatever equipment you can get your hands on unless you spend $$$; in the old days you had to buy new equipment that cost $$$ and today you have to buy old equipment that now costs $$$, and if you buy a "pro" VCR it's probably not the right pro VCR, plus whatever TBC you manage to find isn't recommended because it's either a professional model that was never made for VHS, or a consumer model that was never made for professional work, or if you do find the magic TBC that is recommended, you could get the one model/version that has known issues, plus whatever capture card you can find either runs on XP, which you can't install on any new machine, or if it works on a newer machine is has the wrong chipset to capture whatever quality level that you need from your pro/am VCR, which may or may not have a TBC which may or may not work with the TBC you managed to find, plus of course once you capture your video losslessly (maybe two copies, so you can overlay them when you're editing to do some noise-reduction work), then you have to create an avisynth script to clean up whatever you managed to capture, so you can play it on a TV that may or may not have the right aspect ratio and/or deinterlacing hardware to make your project look like crap anyway.
SDI connection from its SD days to nowadays HD and even 4K kept a friendly relationship with all operating systems throughout the years when using the appropriate interface (SDI/SCSI, SDI/Firewire, SDI/USB), For today's systems all what is needed is a SDI USB 3.0 dongle that connects your weird pro analog video capture device to a modern computer and you are ready to capture 10 bit or 8 bit 4:2:2 from any analog source with pretty much any software including Vdub on any version of OS.
Although SDI USB dongles do nothing to the video they just act as a communication gate between the analog capture device and the USB port they are still expensive due to the demand from the pro community to connect the modern pro gear to computer. But they serve another purpose which justifies the price, You can connect them to any video player with SDI out such as Betacam for transferring the content without having to rely on the analog outputs of the player, Hence a lot of people call those dongles SDI capture devices but in reality they are not, They just transfer the raw uncompressed digital video as it is to the computer kind of like transferring D8 or DV to computer (except they are compressed streams).
An analog video capture system based on SDI would look like below in the stack, I know ugly but works with no problems, No frames dropped, no audio sync problems, no blue screen issues for loosing the signal, It just works:
Last edited by dellsam34; 8th May 2019 at 13:32.
Thanks for the SDI info, that gives me hope that my Promax Promedia Converter may just work as an analog/SDI capture/converter device box thing. I'll have to get an SDI input card/dongle and see if I can get my own stack of stuff to all work.
it can works in a modern mac?
side note i been collecting stuff too for transfer old tapes, i broke my pig and i get one tapechek , very cheap but still expensive. this machine works amazingly. deserve a wow!
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".
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.