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Blackmagic finally removes (part of) the Band-Aid!

After several years + 241 electronic signatures, some DreamColor Monitor users can rejoice and sell their Band-Aid, but not all

By Allan Tépper | June 15, 2014

A few days ago, I received a cryptic message from an Australian reader (a countryman of Blackmagic, but apparently not a Blackmagic Design employee). It said: “Looks like Blackmagic have removed the Band-Aid. Latest software supports RGB 10bit on HDMI!”. I immediately downloaded the ReadMe for the latest update to Blackmagic’s Desktop Video Software, which also automatically updates firmware when appropriate. I had a couple of questions and contacted Blackmagic PR. Ahead are the critical details you need to know.

What’s a “Band-Aid” in this case?

As covered in many prior articles, a “Band-Aid” in this case is the requirement for a device called the HDLink Pro 3D DisplayPort from Blackmagic in order to fulfill the original DreamColor Monitor’s DreamColor Engine to work, since that Engine demands pure progressive (no interlaced or PsF video) and RGB only (no YUV). Although not required to function, it is still better to send RGB even to the new DreamColor Monitors if possible. That way (in the case of use with a project or timeline that is already RGB), less processing will take place, as long as the interface allows for pure RGB from the source on the project or timeline to HDMI.

image

Background of the issue, from prior articles

Relevant quote from the Desktop Video Software ReadMe

The original ReadMe from June 6, 2014 stated:

10-bit RGB support on HDMI in all HD modes.

Unfortunately, this line wasn’t totally true for all current Blackmagic products, as you’ll see ahead.

 

Official statement

I requested an official statement from Blackmagic public relations department in the U.S. They responded with:

We are always working to improve our hardware and have our products reach their full potential. Full support for HDMI RGB displays such as the HP DreamColor monitors is an important addition.

Dan May
President
Blackmagic Design

My additional question, and the response

I asked:

With a device like the UltraStudio Mini Monitor when used with DaVinci Resolve (where the material is already RGB/4:4:4), will the path from DaVinci Resolve to the UltraStudio Mini Monitor's HDMI port now remain as pure RGB/4:4:4... or does the hardware design of the UltraStudio Mini Monitor still force a conversion from RGB/4:4:4 to YUV 4:2:2 and back again to RGB/4:4:4?

The sad response was:

The UltraStudio Mini Monitor does not have the capability to support 10-bit RGB over HDMI. The feature was only included on the Desktop Video 10 devices (4K products). It will still do the conversion to YUV.

 

I asked for verification, given the way the ReadMe was written. The PR contact double-checked and said that the lack of RGB over HDMI on the UltraStudio Mini Monitor was indeed true, and that the documentation would be corrected to reflect this.

Conclusions

I am delighted to know that after several years and 241 electronic signatures (and counting), some DreamColor Monitor users can now rejoice and sell their Band-Aid and simplify their system. However, I wish the update covered all Blackmagic products with HDMI output, the way many of AJA’s, Matrox’s, and MOTU’s products that include HDMI have already done for many years. However, if you are going to use DaVinci Resolve either for video grading (or with recent versions, even to edit video), then the only way to see your program out on a program monitor correctly will be via a Blackmagic interface, not one of any of the competitors. So those who have a DreamColor Monitor with one of the “chosen” Blackmagic interfaces will now be able to remove their Band-Aid, sell it, and simplify their system. Those who have the other, “non-chosen” interfaces must keep the Band-Aid, at least for now. Purchasers of new interfaces for new systems will now have a greater incentive to purchase a higher-end Blackmagic interface model that now supports RGB over HDMI directly (aka the UltraStudio 4K), rather than a lower priced one like the UltraStudio Mini Monitor together with a Band-Aid. In fact, some users who currently use an UltraStudio Mini Monitor together with a Band-Aid may be tempted to sell both, and replace them with a single interface that handles everything for that. If Blackmagic ever adds RGB over HDMI on the UltraStudio Mini Monitor, I’ll be letting you know on this same channel!

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Comments

cuervo: | June, 16, 2014

Great to hear this update. Wouldn’t it be nice, also, if BMD opened DaVinci Resolve to other interfaces that already provide RGB 10b? Like AJA’s io4K? And, at twice the price, the io4K can hardly be considered a competitor to the BMD Ultrastidio 4K.

Lydia Robertson: | June, 16, 2014

Hi Allan,
I just went onto the Blackmagic website to see what software will work with my Intensity Shuttle for Thundebolt. The software to download is the Desktop Video 10.1.1 for Macintosh.  In theory I should be able to finally use my Dream Color.  I have NEVER been able to set the color or use it in any useful way.  It is so frustrating! I do not have the budget for the band-aid or the 4K models. I do not use Davinci at all, I use Final Cut Pro X.  What are my options? The Dreamcolor does not work with the Dream color calibrator, it crashes the software. So I have a very expensive, very purple monitor.

cuervo: | June, 16, 2014

Lydia,
I picked up a used Gefen HDSDI to HDMI adapter on eBay pretty inexpensively. It will feed 10b-RGB to that Dreamcolor so you can use the REC709 color engine.

Allan Tépper: | June, 17, 2014

Lydia,
According to Blackmagic’s response (as I quoted in the article): “The UltraStudio Mini Monitor does not have the capability to support 10-bit RGB over HDMI. The feature was only included on the Desktop Video 10 devices (4K products).” Apparently your Intensity Shuttle for Thundebolt is not a 4K product, but you have nothing to lose buy updating it and trying.

Cuervo,
I believe that the Intensity Shuttle for Thunderbolt doesn’t have HD-SDI or SDI at allo, so that Gefen converter wouldn’t connect to the Intensity Shuttle for Thunderbolt directly. It would first need to be converted from HDMI to HD-SDI in order to connect to the Gefen.

It seems to me that Blackmagic’s reasons for offering a free light version of DaVinci Resolve, charging US$995 for the pro version, and giving away the pro version with many of its cameras is to specifically designed keep buyers exclusively into the Blackmagic ecosystem. I doubt that they would do what you ask, unless they offer a separate version like “DaVinci Resolve Pro Universal”, and if they eventually do, they’ll probably sell it for a much higher price.

Allan Tépper

phfinn: | June, 17, 2014

Hi Alan
Thanks for your all of the info you continually help us with. Unfortunately, this firmware update does not allow 10 bit RGB output over legacy cards. I have the Decklink HD Extreme 3DPCIE card and ran the upgrade on the desk link software. Lo and behold the Dreamcolor engine remained inactive. When I called Blackmagic to verify, I got the following dispapointing response.

Hello Customer,

Spoke to one of the senior techs, and they expressed that unfortunately, the Decklink card that you have would not support 10bit RGB output.

Kind Regards,

Gabriel Galaza
Tech Support Agent
Blackmagic Design Inc.


Ticket History
Customer wanted to know if the 10.1.1 update for 10bit RGB output applied to older decklink cards. Told him I’d get back to him with that info.

I guess this is only good on 4k cards

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