Recently, I was asked to record a live event in a corporate cafeteria. The plan was to edit the footage in post-production for future use, but about 30 minutes before the event was to begin, I was asked if I could run the video out of one of my cameras into the cafeteria’s A/V system. Needless to say, my team and I had not set up or tested a live-feed for this event. With the clock ticking, I asked to see the interface to the A/V system (see photo below) and crossed my fingers that I could MacGyver a solution together.
When I looked at the A/V system’s ports I found both SVGA and HDMI inputs. This made sense because the A/V system was set-up to make it as easy as possible for employees with laptops to connect to the cafeteria’s overhead displays and TV screens. The HDMI input was my gateway into the A/V system. The problem was, a professional-level rather than consumer-level HDMI solution would be required to pull this last-minute request together.
While no maximum length for an HDMI cable is specified in the HDMI standard, signal attenuation (dependent on the cable’s construction quality and conducting materials) limits usable cable lengths to about 15’. Depending on the quality of your cable it is possible to have success with longer cables.
The solution I needed would require a cable run of at least 100 feet—well beyond the realm of possibility with any HDMI cable. However, a solution for this event was still within reach: my cameras, the Canon XF105, had both HDMI and HD-SDI outputs.
This was key, since HD-SDI cables don’t typically have attenuation issues until the cable reaches distances of 300 feet or more.
In the case of the cafeteria job I had well over 100 feet of unused HD-SDI cable sitting on one of my camera carts. This is where the Blackmagic Design Battery Converter HD-SDI to HDMI came into play: I ran the HD-SDI cable from the camera over to the A/V port, plugged it into the converter, and plugged the converter into the A/V system’s HDMI port. The video instantly appeared on the overhead projector and LCD displays throughout the cafeteria.
I am a fan of Blackmagic Design products. That being said, their gear often takes a lot of testing and setup before it will work the way you may want it to. What you gain using their lower-priced gear is offset by additional training or testing.
The Blackmagic Design Battery Converter SDI to HDMI is a tool that you will want to keep on hand if you find yourself doing live corporate video events. This is a no-nonsense converter that worked for me right out of the box. It is small. It does the job. And it has a built-in battery for locations without easily accessible power-outlets. I highly recommend the Blackmagic Design Battery Converter SDI to HDMI.
Blackmagic Design also makes a Battery Converter HDMI to HD-SDI box as well as two similar “Mini Converters” and two similar “Heavy Duty Converters.” An additional option is the ATEM Camera Converter, which allows you to send two-way video and talk-back if you are using optical cable rather than HD-SDI.
|SDI Video Input||Switchable between SD, HD and 3 Gb/s SDI|
|SDI Video Output||1x SD/HD-SDI loop output|
|HDMI||HDMI type A out|
|Multi Rate Support||Auto detection of HD or standard definition SDI inputs.|
|Software Updates||Via USB 2.0 high speed. (480 Mb/s)|
|SD Format Support||525/29.97 NTSC, 625/25 PAL|
|HD Format Support||720p50, 720p59.94, 720p60, 1080i50, 1080i59.94, 1080i60, 1080p23.98, 1080PsF23.98, 1080p24, 1080PsF24, 1080p25, 1080p29.97, 1080p30, 1080p50, 1080p59.94, 1080p60|
|SDI Compliance||SMPTE 292M, SMPTE 259M, SMPTE 296M, ITU-R BT.656 and ITU-R BT.601.|
|SDI Video Rates||SDI video connections are switchable between standard definition and high definition.|
|SDI Video Sampling||4:2:2|
|SDI Audio Sampling||Television standard sample rate of 48 kHz and 24 bit.|
|SDI Color Precision||4:2:2|
|SDI Color Space||YUV|
|SDI Auto Switching||Automatically selects between SD SDI, HD-SDI and 3 Gb/s SDI.|
|HDMI Format Support||525/29.97 NTSC, 625/25 PAL, 720p50, 720p59.94, 720p60, 1080i50, 1080i59.94, 1080i60, 1080p23.98, 1080p24, 1080p25, 1080p29.97, 1080p30, 1080p50, 1080p59.94 and 1080p60.|
|HDMI Color Space||YUV and RGB|
|HDMI Color Precision||4:2:2|
|Video Lock Indicator||LED indicates input video signal lock|
|Internal Software Upgrade||Via included software updater application.|
|Power Supply||Integrated Lithium-ion Polymer rechargeable battery.
12V-31V DC port for external battery power or use included 12V AC adapter with international socket adapters for all countries. Cable tie point.
|Battery Information||Over 2 hours battery life. Battery charge indicator with On/Off switch to preserve battery life.|
|Power Consumption||Typically 2.2 Watts|
|Operational Voltage Range||12 – 31 Vdc|
|Product Warranty||12 Months Limited Manufacturer’s Warranty.|
I purchased the Blackmagic Design Battery Converter SDI to HDMI prior to writing this article. The product specs are from Blackmagic Design as of 2/16/2014.