Blackmagic Design’s acquisition of Teranex in 2011 has led to considerable handwringing in the tech community—as reflected on the Internet—over the direction that one of the market’s most popular one-box converters would take.
There were concerns that Teranex—the company that producers have turned to for a multitude of products—would be gone forever. The worries were baseless. Tests show the newest Teranex solution, the Teranex 2D Processor, produces the same lightsout results as previous versions of the device.
It also shows that the folks at BMD have figured out how to take a device that costs tens of thousands of dollars at one point and shrink it to $1,995.
BMD, headquartered in Melbourne, Australia, with its U.S. base in Fremont, Calif., describes the Teranex 2D Processor as an “advanced-standards converter,” with up/down/cross-conversion and noise reduction. The Teranex 2D Processor is exceptionally useful in digitizing film and video, reducing noise, sharpening images and improving the overall quality of the footage.
To say that setting up the Teranex 2D Processor was a snap is a massive understatement. This truly is a plug-and-get-going device. The unit was placed in a rack; plugged it into a power source; two video cables were attached; and the converter was ready to deliver. It has auto-sensing technology that detects the input video, whether it is SD or HD.
Blackmagic Design’s Teranex 2D Processor It is a standalone device that needs no computer assistance to make the conversions happen. Other converters must be attached to a computer, and they usually have to go through a routine of software and firmware updates before they can be used. It would be appropriate to say the Teranex 2D comes packaged with its sleeves already rolled up, ready for work.
The Teranex 2D Processor was tested at Capital Audio Post, a state-of-the-art, post-production studio located in Fairfax, Va.
Buster Pulley, CAP’s chief engineer, is familiar with Teranex processors and remembers when they were huge, weighing more than 70 pounds and taking up numerous slots on the broadcast chassis. The Teranex 2D is a one-rack unit and is diminutive by comparison. However, it is equipped with a front panel full of illuminated buttons. The panel is intuitive, laid out from left to right. Pulley was able to start the unit by just plugging it in and following the unit’s prompts without ever seeing a manual.
Pulley selected an active input using the “IN” button and the device instantly recognized frame size and frame rate. Hitting the “OUT” button, (just below “IN”), allows the user to select any or all outputs simultaneously, along with frame size, frame rate, aspect ratio and even time-code conversions.
The first test of the Teranex was to have it convert various types of video footage from projects that Capital Audio has worked on. The Teranex’s performance was compared to the performance of a long-time competitor and all tests were done digitally over SDI, despite the many analog connections available on the Teranex.
The first footage used was shot at Standard Def. NTSC 29.97 and combined many different scenes, including images of a rocket, an interview with a man inside an office and something that looked like the Mars Rover. The video was up-converted to 1080i 59.94 with no visible changes in the output. The setting was then moved to 1080i 50, which is the setting used for international deliveries. Again, there were no visible changes in the video. The images looked good with none of the motion artifacts typically associated with this type of conversion. The struts on the Mars Rover-type vehicle were carefully examined for jagged lines, but none could be found even during a frame-by-frame evaluation.
Using race footage taken at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, the second test involved downconverting that video from 1080i 59.94 to SD. The HD-SD conversion controls are easily found on the box, including the most common “center crop,” letterbox and anamorphic options.
The Teranex was tested to determine if it could accurately reproduce the images while down-converting. Most startling were the images of a motorcycle parked in the middle of the desert. The images produced exacting details of the motorbike, including the foot pegs and the brake lever on the handlebars, compared to a mushed-up image produced by the competitor.
The third test was a cross-conversion using the same salt-flats footage, converting from 1080i 59.94 to 1080i 50. That had the result of reducing the frame rate, but nailing the audio tracks to the video. Non-synched audio/video has been a problem with other frame-reduction applications. It also faithfully reproduced the colors from the original feed. Interestingly, the colors on the competitor did shift a bit, with the yellows losing their vibrancy and the reds becoming a bit brown.
The box, through a Thunderbolt connection, also operates as a video and audio input/output for Apple Final Cut Pro, Avid Media Composer and Adobe Premiere Pro. However, because the studio where the tests were conducted did not have Thunderbolt connectivity at the time, that aspect of the Teranex 2D Processor could not be tested.
The box wowed Pulley, who noted that just a few years ago a producer would have to invest upwards of $70,000 for a device that would not do half of what the Teranex 2D now does. The converter gets high marks for being small, affordable and easy to use.