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Blackmagic's affordable Intensity Extreme capture unit sports a Thunderbolt port


September 12, 2011

The Thunderbolt port-packing Intensity Extreme video capture device from Blackmagic Design

The Thunderbolt port-packing Intensity Extreme video capture device from Blackmagic Design

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Aside from moving around large backup files in a spritely fashion, one of the areas most likely to benefit from the new Thunderbolt interface is video editing. Which is why it's not all that surprising to see that one of the first Thunderbolt-equipped peripherals to appear following a number of external HDDs that have started to trickle onto the market is the EUR209 Intensity Extreme video capture and playback device. The unit from Blackmagic Design offers 10-bit HDMI and analog video editing in SD and HD, with its 10 Gb/s Thunderbolt port providing data transfer speeds up to 20 times faster than USB 2.0 and up to 11.5 times faster than FireWire 800.

Macs have long been favored by many professional videographers who have previously relied on FireWire to connect their digital video equipment. Apple was a driving force behind the FireWire standard but has steadily been phasing out FireWire ports on its devices over the past few years, starting with the iPod and following with its MacBooks. Apple is now pushing its next generation interface and Thunderbolt-based devices are (slowly) starting to appear on the market.

The Intensity Extreme is the first such device to combine HDMI capture and playback capabilities with analog component, NTSC, PAL, S-Video and analog audio capture and playback in a compact unit that features a Mac-matching enclosure machined out of a solid block of aluminum. It is powered by the computer's Thunderbolt connection, which Blackmagic says makes it a perfect solution for adding video to laptop computers away from a power outlet but, although Blackmagic claims the device is power efficient, this will obviously put extra strain on the laptop's battery.

Alongside the Thunderbolt port, the unit features an HDMI input port for capturing footage from an unprotected HDMI source, an HDMI output port for edit monitoring, and a breakout cable connector that adds component video in/out, a coaxial S/PDIF/AES out and stereo RCA input/output connections. Blackmagic says it also offers true uncompressed video quality with the ability to bypass a HD camera's video compression chip to capture video directly from the camera's image sensor.

The device can switch instantly between 1080, 720, NTSC and PAL video and is fully compatible with Adobe Premiere, Apple Final Cut Pro 7, Adobe After Effects, Adobe Photoshop and any Quicktime-based software application.

"We think the combination of HDMI and analog on an extremely compact Thunderbolt bus powered design combined with an affordable price will change the lives of thousands of professional videographers," said Grant Petty, CEO, Blackmagic Design Inc. "Only Intensity Extreme gives you compact size, power efficient design, high quality and incredible strength, that is simply perfect as the ultimate portable video solution."

Blackmagic Design will begin offering the Intensity Extreme in Q4 2011 for EUR209 (approx. US$285).

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag. All articles by Darren Quick


Kevin Bayer

I thought I wanted three for HD multi-camera webcasts but since they don\'t have the daisy chain Thunderbolt port I don\'t think I want even one.

Monica Anderson

HDMI does 10.2Gb, which is more the enough. Most computers have a HDMI port, and if they do not, most Graphics cards do. Thunder Bolt is expensive, not widely used, and is slower then HDMI. I see no other motive for putting a thunderbolt port on this other then if apple is paying a fair share.

Joe Cumbo

@Joe: The primary benefit is the ability to get HDMI (and analog sources) into a Macbook Pro, to allow video editors to be mobile. Soon, editors will be able to hook up an external hard drive, full-size display monitor and an SD/HDMI input device into a single tiny jack on their notebook computer. I think that\'s pretty cool. In time, when more products hit the market, the price will come down.

For an editor who only works at a desktop workstation, I agree, this solution is impractical and expensive.

@ Monica: I know! I\'ve been waiting for this product for the same reason! Will someone come out with such a product? Can the 1.25 gigabyte transfer capabilities of thunderbolt handle 3 or more uncompressed video streams at once? Or would they need to be compressed?

Chris Love
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