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Moving on from Matrox TH2G


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So, as video playback increases on shows and people's wishes get more and more unrealistic in relation to their budgets, I'm looking around for where to go next on the visual media output front.


The current system of iMac / Qlab / Analogue Matrox TH2G was good for a while but a new 1080p main projector has put a spanner in the works as the res from the Matrox won't cut it (and is in 4:3 anyway.) In addition, three distinct video outputs is looking meagre compared to some of the whims being dreamed up in Luvvieland and at least four would be ideal including the "Main". If not more ** laughs out loud **


I've looked at the Datapath X4 and see that it might do useful things, including edging etc. and not sure of the price at the moment, punting around online.


Where else should I be looking? Some kind of Quad graphics cards for Mac? Switcher/Scaler with many, many outputs? Funny thing is, input wise, would rather use Qlab and a few cameras, so the usual video switcher isn't the issue - it's the outputs.


I've heard that the DP Matrox isn't all that, but wondered if some form of "stacking" such things to achieve more outputs would be feasible, if not a nightmare to administer.


Where do people without vast budgets turn after the TripleHead? Short of going back to multiple Macbooks lined up along the operators table...

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The "Chinese to Takeaway" products from Mviewer are worth a look http://www.mviewtech.com/index_en.asp I have one of their triple head boxes and prefer it to the matrox versions.


I'm going to get an X4 next though - it's WAY more configurable and can do nice touches like the screen rotation and overlapping. With it's configurablity you should be able to do things like hang a TH2go off one of its outputs giving you 6 outputs in total. (not tested but should work fine)


The real issue rapidly becomes trying to play good looking video smoothly at resolutions beyond 2k.

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A quick glance at the X4 user manual suggests that it would be possible to have all outputs at different resolutions/aspect ratios. I can see it being deployed in situations where 1 output would be to a 1920 x 1080, three others may be to VGA or XGA mini projectors.


To hang the TH2G off one output would involve part of the quad being 2400 x 600 or more - sounds like a big ask, huh. The end res doesn't need to be stellar, as expectations are pretty low on that front and 480 is fine for most of the small scale applications (think small bits of set, actors bodys etc) plus a single decent larger format 16:9. Guess then we are into the territory of if the Mac can take all those vids then.


In that case, we are back to multiple hardware (several Macbooks) and some system for centralising the control. It's funny, as soon as people see a good number of projectors in the stock room, they start having grand ideas and about how they could be used.

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THe datapath x4 is the next step up from the Matrox Product, its the right side of four figures and it is a really usefull unit. We use these all the time and ive got a fair about of actual experience as its not all in the manual... The unit takes a Strictly D or digital only DVI input at resolutions up to 4kallthough the frame rate drops to 25hz at such a high res and outputs on 4 DVI I connectors so you can do DVI, HDMI or Good olf VGA with the right adaptors, the outputs also fine at driving long vga runs with decent cable. You can sent up the input resolution and then take any portion of that and scale it and rotate it, all four outlets can overlap and if you wanted you could set them all the same to use as a DA. You then take the input windows and set up the outputs to match the displays. These can all be different.You can take a 800 /600 portion starting 100 pixels in, 400 down of the display, turn it upside down and scale to to wxga for output, the unit I sent out today was to run 3 projectors side by side from a standard 1080p input. so 3 windows 640 / 480 starting 0/0, 640/0, 1280/0 scaled up to XGA , The forthoutput was a copy of the input for a local monitor without a DA. Another use is to feed the do the splis and overlaps required to make use of the onboard blending on a lot of projectors another to have a random array of Lcds and calculate the gap/ bezel compensation with rotation for portrait units etc. Try 3 50" plasmas butted together on their end as a single large screen ... the point is once you have the datapath setup, it doesnt matter what you plug in, so you can use a switcher to change sources whatever.




the caveats are that if you cant write display settings ie know your total dots from your front porch, you may struggle to programme it. the trick is to connect up a monitor or display to out 1 and detect the resolution, then you can copy that to all with a keystroke if required. However once its set it stays set. Its also unsirprisingly not HDCP complient which will be a pain if its on a DA with complient devices and your a MAC user, but thats a whole different problem... Also you may struggle to get more than 1920 out of your MaC We use the active MDP - DVI Dongle rather than the cheap passive one which gives higher resolutions, You also need to Use Dual link DVI cables, but it works. Ive not tried 4k but a good number of pixels to play with is apples own 2560/1440 cinema display resultion. Some people

find it impossible to get the thing working, and whilst I dont have any problems, its one of these things thats possibly a steep learning curve, we therefor tend to send these out programmed and if nothing elkse its a starting point for tweaking. The interface is fine, but you cant programme offline, you need a unit connected via usb and the software is PC only so the Mac users need to unvest in a netbook or similar...



In the interest of full disclosure and continued child nourishment we sell these units, and wilst im not claiming to be an expert, ive done a fair bit of varied stuff with these and they are impressive...

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Yee haa! I gotta thank Messrs AHYoung for their excellent review of the X4.


As a Dataton Watchout 5.1 freelance user we now have multiple output from one license(USB Dongle). Up to 6 displays per key (graphics card dependent) which whilst not in the realms of the budget Matrox range it does mean Dataton Watchout are addressing the desire to cut the cost of ownership. At 1460 Euros a USB key they're not cheap. What you do get with Watchout is a very sophisticated timeline based system which monkeys (me!) can learn to program and operate. The software is free - that's how I learnt how to use it.


What I don't understand is this... if you've the fancy Datapath X4 or Matrox TH2G what application will you use to run the content out through it? Just a PowerPoint Loop? or what sequencer would you use?




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  • 2 months later...

To add to this I have just bought the Matrox M1948 card which support resolutions up to 2560 x 1600 per output ,of which there are 4. As a contender to the X4 I cannot comment but the attraction of these cards is the new feature 'Edge Overlap', which was sadly missing from the Dual and Triple Head range.

I havent been able to test yet but when I do I shall report here.Price wise you can get them for around £300.

Neil Stratton

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