BlackMagic Design Intensity Shuttle review: Capture compressed or uncompressed video from consumer devices
The Intensity Shuttle video converter from BlackMagic Design is scarcely longer than a consumer camcorder. It’s also lightweight and, with Thunderbolt providing the power, has no need for a hefty power brick and plug lead to cart around. The connection also provides data transfer rates of 10GB/s, One downside to this efficiency is that you need to buy a Thunderbolt cable to do anything with the Intensity Shuttle, as there isn’t one supplied. There are however ports on both sides: input connections for HDMI, S-Video, Composite video and Component analogue are on one side, mirrored by their output connections on the other.
The Shuttle thus provides you with the ability to capture compressed or uncompressed HD video from a variety of sources that normally wouldn’t provide such capabilities, such as prosumer/consumer camcorders or games consoles (though ingest from copy-protected sources is prohibited over HDMI). So if you have a prosumer AVCHD camcorder that normally records video using a compression codec such as MPEG-4 AVC/H.264, you now have the option of capturing that data as 8-bit or 10-bit uncompressed QuickTime video, as well as four flavours of the postproduction-friendly Apple ProRes codec. It can also capture to the Digital Picture Exchange (DPX) file format.
A Desktop Video software bundle is supplied, which features the capture, logging and playback tool, BlackMagic Media Express, as well as disk utilities and a dedicated control panel for System Preferences. You need to take care that the ingest settings in the Control Panel and Preferences for BlackMagic Media Express match exactly, or nothing will work. The device integrates nicely into the capture workflow of Adobe Premiere Pro, though using it for the same purpose in Avid Media Composer proved more problematic. In the latter case it’s simpler, as we did with a Final Cut Pro X workflow, to capture using Media Express and import the resulting footage. It was also useful to connect the Shuttle via HMDI output to a HD TV, to use it as a playback monitor for real time previews in After Effects.
This is a compact, well-specified solution for delivering professional video quality from lower-end equipment. Adobe video products enjoy the most integrated workflow, though using Media Express for ingest isn’t bad. Making sure that all settings in the BlackMagic Control Panel and editing applications match can be a real pain however.