Recommendations on using AJA devices with MovieRecorder and our ingest applications

Softron ingest applications are able to address the multiple ports on AJA devices (when available) in order to input up to 4 different channels using an AJA Io 4K or a Kona 4. And since each port can be used either as an input or an output, it provides great I/O flexibility.

But there are some caveats and very specific things to AJA devices that need to be understood.

 

About the AJA Control Panel

Most of the time, we won't use the AJA Control Panel settings, and the settings of the Softron application will be used. But it is a good idea anyway to already configure the card with your settings here.

The only settings that will be used by your Softron application is the source of the genlock.

 

Which AJA devices can handle multiple input channels ?

Video Card (& Firmware loaded) Maximum number of channels Support different formats simultaneously Support Up/downscaling 
Io 4K (with Ufc Firmware) 2 No Yes
Io 4K (with 4K Firmware) 4 Yes (with drivers 12.3 or later) No
Io XT 2 No Yes
Kona 3G (with Standard Firmware) 2 No Yes
Kona 3G (with Quad Firmware) 4 No No
Kona 4 (with Ufc Firmware) 2 No Yes
Kona 4 (with 4K Firmware) 4 Yes (with drivers 12.3 or later) No

Note that on those devices you can have multiple combinations.

For example, on an AJA Io 4K with the 4K firmware, you can work with any of these combinations:

  • 4 inputs
  • 4 outputs
  • 2 inputs / 2 outputs
  • 3 inputs / 1 output
  • 1 input / 3 outputs

For example, on an AJA Io 4K with the Ufc firmware loaded, you can work with any of these combinations:

  • 2 inputs
  • 2 outputs
  • 1 input / 1 output

The number of inputs and outputs is not the only thing that changes with the Firmware. In the table above, you will see that for example the Io 4K with the 4K firmware can support different formats simultaneously (see below), but will not support up and downscaling.

 

Can the different inputs use different formats?

Most of the AJA devices model above can only be used in one single format. This means that even if you can use 4 different outputs or inputs, they must all use in the same format. You can't have one source in 1080i59.94 and another one in 720p59.94.

Be extra careful with this, and this is a major caveat of the AJA devices. You can really screw up other inputs if you are selecting a different format for 2 different inputs. It can even create AV sync issues which will require you to disable and reenable the sources. We would recommend setting it once and for all and not to touch any of the source settings while an ingest is taking place.

With the Io 4K and Kona 4, loaded with the 4K Firmware, starting with drivers 12.3, you can use different formats for the different in and out. 

 

 

General recommendations

1. Disable the "Automatically Detect Input Format" option

Because of the issue above (where in some cases AJA devices don't handle correctly the ability to have one input or output in a format and another one using another format), if you have one input that receives a different signal than the others, it may create issues on your different inputs. This is why, we recommend to disable the "auto-detect" feature with AJA devices if you don't need it (if you don't change format frequently). And if you need it, make sure that all inputs continue to have matching formats.

 

2. If possible, do not use the AJA as a system audio

A few users have reported that when using the AJA as a system audio there were possible audio distortion. See the following article: https://softron.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/207696067-AJA-possible-audio-distortion-issues

 

3. Acquire the card

The "Acquire card" option is there only for AJA devices.

MR3_AJAIo4K_UfcMode_SourceSettings_AcquireCard.png

What does the "Acquire card" option do ?

  • When the option is enabled, the application will have an exclusive use of the whole card (and not only the connector that it uses) and will not let other applications use it.
  • When the option is disabled, the application will only use the connector that it needs, so other applications can use the card too.

When should you enable or disable it ?

  • Enable it if you need only one application to use the card, and no other. This is the safest mode as well because it means that no other application can mess with your configurations and the card will be properly released when the application quits.
  • Disable it ONLY if you want the card to be used by multiple Softron applications, which is the case with our playout applications (OnTheAir Video DUAL or QUAD). But be aware that when we don't acquire the card, it means that other applications can use it, which is fine, except that it also means that other applications can mess with the signal. For example another application could change the format of the frame buffer (which remember should be unique). Or it could also try to use the same connector that we use.
  • It is NOT recommended to disable that option and use the card with applications others than from Softron, such as Premiere or Final Cut Pro. The reason is that the other applications will not consider that some applications may already use the card (they were made in times when there were only one input or one output on the device), so they will configure it for their own use, and thus screw up the card for our applications.

In order to be able to use the card with multiple applications (for example use MovieRecorder to record on one channel and OnTheAir Video to play on anothert), you will have to disable that option, and thus make sure to understand the following things when the card is not acquired :

  • if a different application tries to use the card, it will cancel our application.
  • some applications will "lock" the whole card and all its in/out, canceling all the applications that were using it (this is the case of OnTheAir Video 2, and MovieRecorder 2 for example, and is true for all application using the QuickTime APIs)
  • if a different application (another OnTheAir Video 3 for example) configures the card to a different format, it will also modify the whole format of the card and thus impact all other applications.

 

How to use the HDMI input ?

Some AJA devices have an HDMI input. If you want MovieRecorder to record from the HDMI input instead of the SDI input you will have to enable this checkbox:

MR3_AJAIo4K_UfcMode_SourceSettings_HDMIinput.png

 

Note that

  • this will be instead of one SDI input, we are limited to the number of frame buffers on the card,  so it won't be an additional input.
  • you have to make sure to enable the HDMI option for only one input

 

About Analog Video input

Unfortunately Analog Video input is not supported with AJA devices. You can only use SDI or HDMI in.

 

How to configure the Up/Down conversion

Some cards can do Up/Down conversion. To enable it, you should enable this checkbox:

MR3_AJAIo4K_UfcMode_SourceSettings_UpDownConversion.png

 

Then setup to which format you want to down/up scale, and how you want the resize to be done (Anamorphic, Letterbox,...)

Again a few caveats here:

  • On some cards the up and down conversions are only available with some Firmware loaded. For example it will only work with the Io 4K and Kona 4, it will only work with the Ufc Firmware.
  • There is only one down/upscaler on the cards, so you won't be able to ingest multiple channels at once. The reason is, as said above, that most AJA devices can only be set to one mode for the whole device. You can not mix multiple formats. So be aware that if you enable the Up/down conversion on one input, it will screw up all your other inputs and/or outputs if you use them.

 

Using the AES audio input instead of the embedded SDI

In the Audio settings:

MR3_AJAIo4K_UfcMode_SourceSettings_AudioSource.png

You will need to select the source to be "AES" instead of "Embedded".

Note that there is only one AES input of the AJA cards that support it. And you can use that AES input for all the sources that you use, there is no problem with that. If you need to assign specific channels of the AES to some of your sources (for example to assign channels 1 & 2 to the source "Io4K- 1 - 1" and channels 2 & 4 to the source "Io4K- 1 -2"), you will need to create specific AVpresets as in the screenshot below and use them for each source.

MR3_AJAIo4K_UfcMode_SourceSettings_AudioSource_AVPreset.png

 

 

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