First Look at the New Avid Artist | DNxIO Interface—Now Shipping

By in Video Editing

For over half a decade Mojo DX and Nitris DX have been the go-to I/O solution for many Media Composer users across the world. With the move into High-Resolution projects and the advent of the DNxHR codec it was clear that a new breakout solution was necessary moving forward. Whilst users have been taking advantage of third-party open I/O boxes, feedback suggested that an Avid branded, tested and supported solution is desired. But in a world with a rich creative toolset from Media Composer, Pro Tools to DaVinci Resolve (to name a few) an I/O solution that only services one tool was not an option.

So let’s welcome the Avid Artist | DNxIO!

I was fortunate enough to get my hands on a pre-release version this summer and my first impressions are very positive. The 2U rack mountable box can be connected via Thunderbolt or PCIe. The front houses an HD LCD display for confidence check, quick input selection buttons, Mic In and Headphones.

The back is far less understated with all the I/O connectivity neatly arranged from Optical 12 Gbs, HDMI in & out, 3/6/12 Gbs SDI, Analogue & AES audio to name a few.

The Artist | DNxIO has been designed in partnership with Blackmagic Design and apart from the purple Avid logo in the top left of the DNxIO there is no doubt it bears an uncanny resemblance to the Blackmagic UltraStudio series. But aesthetics aside, there are some differences between the two solutions.

 

DNxHR Hardware Acceleration

Avid’s powerful DNxHR codec is becoming a crucial component in many High-Resolution workflows, and the Avid Artist | DNxIO will be the only I/O solution that provides real-time DNxHR encoding. This way you can quickly convert media and color spaces, and capture to Avid DNxHR with the onboard hardware processor. This hardware acceleration in the box is coming soon as a future no-cost software upgrade for DNxIO owners.
Besides this DNxHR hardware acceleration, more exciting new features such as Ancillary data and Timecode I/O will be added to the Artist | DNxIO in the near future, so stay tuned!

 

Fusion plug-in

Together with a free version of Fusion, an additional Fusion Connect effects compositing plug-in comes bundled with each DNxIO unit. Fusion has been used on thousands of blockbuster movies over the years and is an incredibly versatile compositing solution, allowing you to create complex visual effects with ease.

Beauty in. Brilliance out. Well, I have been throwing all types of formats and raster sizes at it without any issue. Here is the current list of supported resolutions:

SD HD HI-RES
PAL (625, 50i, 576p)

NTSC (525, 29.97i, 480p)

720p (50, 59.94, 60),

1080i (50, 59.94, 60),

1080PsF (23.976, 24, 25, 29.97, 30),

1080p (23.976, 24, 25, 29.97, 30, 50, 59.94, 60)

2K (23.98PsF, 24PsF, 25PsF, 23.976p, 24p, 25p)

4K (23.976p, 24p, 25p (SDI only))

Ultra HD (23.976p, 24p, 25p, 29.97p, 30p, 50p, 59.94p, 60p)

I would also like to point out that Media Composer now supports, in addition to 8-bit and 10-bit, 12-bit media I/O with the Artist | DNxIO attached to your system.

 

Hardware Conversion

Of course supporting resolutions is one thing but what about converting them? Many demos of the unit involved showing both UHD and HD simultaneously and with the DNxIO’s 3/6/12 Gbs SDI connectors we can do this with ease. One of the features I found most useful is using a single 12G or dual link 6G SDI feeding my 4K monitor on output 1 & 2 and then down-converted HD 1080p gets automatically pumped out on SDI outputs 3 & 4. Apart from that, if I also wanted to feed another destination with the same content I have the outputs repeated on a second set of 4 mirrored SDI ports. For those looking for the full list of current cross/up/down conversions see below:

Down Conversion Up Conversion Cross Conversion
Ultra HD to 1080 HD, or HD to SD on SDI B, or SD on Component and NTSC/PAL selectable between letterbox, anamorphic 16:9, and center cut 4:3 styles SD to 720 HD or 1080 HD on playback and on capture; selectable between 4:3 pillarbox, 14:9 pillarbox, and 16:9 zoom; HD outputs via HD-SDI, HDMI, and component analog 720p to 1080i and 1080i to 720p on playback

Multiple Application Support

One of the great things about the Artist | DNxIO has been being able to seamlessly close one application and then open another with continued use of the unit. I could easily jump from Media Composer over Adobe Premiere to Final Cut Pro to show their support on our new ISIS |1000 storage. Even when I was performing a round trip between Media Composer and DaVinci Resolve on the same machine, I didn’t drop a frame.

One thing to make sure of is to install the Media Composer or other host software before you install the DNxIO driver, as it will install the plugins based on what software is on your computer at the time.

All in all, the Artist | DNxIO looks set to continue in the vein of its predecessors and expand upon them with its versatility and wide array of third party support. For those fortunate enough to come to IBC this year make sure you come and check it out for yourselves on the Avid booth.

On our dedicated DNxIO FAQ page we try to answer all of your questions, but also make sure to pay a visit to the new DNxIO forum on the Avid Video Community, the DNxIO Documentation Knowledge Base article and the DNxIO Support Page.

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I am a video solutions specialist at Avid and all round technology enthusiast. For more insights and tech talk follow me on Twitter @dannyavid.