It’s the fucking cable

Buying cables from Monoprice has always been a no-brainer for me and they have all have worked pretty much flawlessly. So naturally when we wanted to try using SDI (with our Canon XF105) I ordered some BNC terminated cables off of Monoprice (back in Jan 2013) which I assume would work for HD-SDI (seems like a common assumption if you read the reviews) but we never could get it to work.

Come a year later, we get a Matrox VS4 which automatically selects the resolution and frame rate and we revisited SDI and happen to discover that it worked when we tried sending an SD signal. After that discovery I started digging into it deeper and there is a nice specification for SDI cables called SMPTE and we needed an SMPTE 292M compliant cable. Searching online for these kind of cables I found one from B&H. I quickly ordered a few of them and I was super excited and relieved when they worked flawlessly on the first try. They are definitely worth the price. The cables arrived the day before our AGM and were extremely useful because the tech area was about 70 feet from our camera and 120 feet from the presenter TV at the stage. So we were nice and out of the way instead of having to move into the range of HDMI.

Matrox Mojito Max and Matrox VS4 are not compatible

One would think that similar products from the same company would be compatible but with Matrox, that is woefully wrong. A few months ago we bought 2 Matrox Mojito MAX cards because I had assumed the BlackMagic Intensity Pro cards we were using were bad (turns out it was the motherboard). They worked great for capturing HDMI except we could never get it to capture the HD-SDI signal from our Canon XF105. My desire to use the BNC connector drove me to buying the Matrox VS4 because it claimed it did resolution and frame rate detection and it did in fact deliver on that promise. When plugging in the camera with HD-SDI we found that it did indeed work which was relieving and we quickly identified the cable as the problem. However there was a huge snag, we were forced to uninstall the Mojito MAX drivers to use the card and when trying to reinstall them, we were forced to uninstall the VS4 drivers. A quick call to Matrox customer support confirmed that the cards are not compatible and attempting to manually install the drivers caused BSoD on our livestreaming rig. The return process was pretty painfree.

I’m planning on doing a bunch of posts about what I’ve learned does and does not work for livestreaming company events in the coming weeks. So stay tuned.