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Which usb capture cards to purchase for Macbook Pro 2017

Hi all,

I'm very new to all of this and am currently trying to create a two camera setup in a studio I record with bands in.

I'll be mixing the audio through a desk (Behringer x32 recording to a second laptop), and taking the main outputs from the desk to a usb interface and in to my laptop for the stream.

My question is about which capture cards I could use for two cameras with Hdmi out. I want to use my Macbook Pro 2017, which only has two USB-c ports. I have a hub that plugs in to both, that provides me with three USB 3.0 ports, a usb-c passthrough charge port, and a HDMI output.

I'm guessing I should look at USB capture cards like the Black Magic Intensity Shuttle? However i've read online that I can't use two of these on the same laptop? I'm worried about the setup as I'll be using an audio interface, and two black magic shuttles all through the same hub.

Will this be an issue? Will there be enough power provided from the two ports to power all three USB 3.0 ports on the adapter at once?

Thanks in advance for any help,

Comments

  • Sounds like you have a 13inch MBP? If so, that is probably going to be a no go unfortunately. It doesn't have dedicated graphics VRAM (it's shared with the system) & is probably only 1 GB or so. USB capture is very heavy on the machine. You'd be better off using a external Thunderbolt chassis and capture cards from either Blackmagic Design or Magewell. But, even then, I don't believe you have enough machine to do it still. You might get away with using the Spark NDI boxes from NewTek. NDI is a network based encoding & transport solution. It doesn't seem so heavy on the system resources like USB or even a PCIe card.

    https://docs.mimo.live/docs/nditm-video-source

    https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1348898-REG/newtek_fg_001775_r001_connect_spark_hdmi.html

    https://docs.mimo.live/docs/ndi-settings

  • Also, are you wanting to live stream the bands? If not, it would probably be cheaper to record on the cameras and then pull it together in iMovie, Final Cut Pro, Premiere, etc.

  • @kmac1036 It makes total sense to do live editing even if you do not live stream because you save a lot of time on post production.

  • @kmac1036

    Yes, it's just the entry level Macbook pro, 13" with the following specs:

    Processor - 2.3 GHz Intel Core i5
    Memory - 8 GB 2133 MHz LPDDR3
    Graphics - Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640 1536 MB

  • edited March 12

    "Also, are you wanting to live stream the bands? If not, it would probably be cheaper to record on the cameras and then pull it together in iMovie, Final Cut Pro, Premiere, etc."

    Yep, I want to literally have two cameras set up, to switch between a wide shot of myself talking to the band before and after songs, and the other camera is set facing them during their performance.

    As Oliver has said, I want to avoid having to edit and spend hours bouncing out videos in post.

  • If it's not possible for the mac to handle the audio interface and the two cameras/Shuttles, I could use the other laptop for the job, however it's a Windows PC. It does have much higher specification though, it has 32gb of ram and an Intel Core i7 6700?

    I'm not sure what graphics card is in it, or if it's just using the onboard graphics though...

  • @Paddy Here is what I think should work with your MacBook Pro:

    • Use 720p (both for the document and for all the cameras)
    • Use the built-in Camera to capture yourself giving the introduction
    • Use a Blackmagic Ultrastudio mini Recorder connected via the Thunderbolt adapter to capture the second camera (but make sure the camera is set to output 720p)

    Then you should be able to use mimoLive to switch between the cameras, add a logo to your video and record the video to disk.

    However, I can make no guarantees as we do not have this Mac available for testing. You can download and test mimoLive free of charge before you purchase.

    mimoLive is exclusively available for macOS so you can't use the Windows laptop.

  • @Paddy @"Oliver (Boinx)" Oh I totally get the editing part, I used BoinxTV and ML for several years without streaming.

    I need to do a writeup on some of the tricks I do with mine to save system resources. One of them is not using h.264 to record to. I typically use the Pro Res 422 LT format, the files are bigger but seems a good balance between file size, quality & system resources. Close all other open programs on the Mac, I wouldn't have anything else open. I'm usually working from a fresh reboot of the machine too. If you're still hurting for resources & you're using any of the blackmagic capture devices, download Black Syphon https://vdmx.vidvox.net/blog/black-syphon & capture the syphon feed of the camera in ML instead of directly. I found this takes some pressure off the system too.

  • @kmac1036 @Paddy Thank you for engaging in this discussion.

    I usually also recommend using ProRes422LT as a recording format, primarily because if you want to edit it in Final Cut Pro or iMovie it won't need re-encoding. However, if your machine has hardware H.264 encoders and you're on Mojave, recording to H.264 might actually be less resource intensive because the amount of data that's written to disk is much less, using less bus bandwidth. Also, as far as we know, ProRes 422 is encoded in software, so h.264 hardware encoding might be cheaper on CPU cycles.

    It is a bit puzzling to hear that the Black Syphon solution should use less resources. We are talking directly with the Blackmagic SDK, just like the Black Syphon component would. So, I guess, while this makes mimoLive use less of the CPU, this should be offset by the CPU usage of Black Syphon. The transfer from Black Syphon to mimoLive should cost almost no resources because that's how Syphon is designed.

  • @"Oliver (Boinx)"

    Thanks for your advice, i'm curious as to what the limitation is exactly? Would it be the hardware/spec within this Macbook? I've seen some people online using the two thunderbolt 3 ports it comes with, with two capture cards at once, so i'm not really sure where it's falling down.

    It's becoming a bit of a headache which is a shame as I've used Mimolive on my friends macbook - (it's an older model that had two dedicated thunderbolt ports among the other ports they used to come with). And we streamed two cameras using two Blackmagic Ultrastudio Minis and Mimolive and it worked brilliantly.

    If it's not possible, I think i'll have to just go with the windows laptop and something like OBS, which I'd rather not to, as Mimolive is far better software!

  • Also, as a side note, I have no issue with streaming at 720p on two cameras for the first year or so anyway, not sure if that makes any difference...?

  • @Paddy did you stream with your notebook or just the other one you mentioned? I guess if you streamed with your MBP in the past what was the setup? If it worked fine then, you should be able to just record with it now... The downside is the video card and vram on your Macbook Pro, the integrated graphics isn't very strong and the shared vram with the system is only 1-1.5GB or so. I got an old 2011 MBP but it has the AMD dedicated graphics, but only 1GB of ram. when I run out of vram, ML drops frames and studders.

    @"Oliver (Boinx)" unless there was an optimization or change somewhere else that actually did it, I found not using USB devices and using Black Syphon seemed to allow me to do more with less, in a way. The vram utilization doesn't seem nearly as high to me using black syphon. I was able to use a 3rd source in my show a month or so ago, which hasn't been possible in the past (720p30), on the same computer.

  • @kmac1036 Nope, sorry, I should have explained it clearer, I was streaming an event with a company using a friend's Macbook Pro which is an older model with all of the outputs they used to come with, including two thunderbolt 2 ports.

    We ran two blackmagic ultrastudio minis, and even used the HDMI port on the laptop all at the same time to stream two cameras online and send signal to a large screen in a conference hall.

  • ah, ok @Paddy yeah it sounds like you had access to a Retina MBP, if it was a 15" then it could have also had the dedicated graphics card. When it comes to ML, those Macs are more capable, even though they are older than your 2017 because they really handicapped the 13s by putting in only a dual core processor and no dedicated video card. Intel really didn't have any upgrades for a few years until they finally got to 8/9th gen processors, both processor and video wise. Apple also held off putting in the quad core chips they were using in the 15s for reasons unknown publicly (rumored due to heat and power). do you have an external webcam by chance? You could run a test with your current setup, use the built in iSight and then plug a 2nd webcam in to do a stress test. You could also use desktop capture on something like a youtube video, etc. if you're not getting any dropped frames, studdering or beach balls, then I'd say you'd be ok to buy the capture hardware (thunderbolt based) to set up your studio. @"Oliver (Boinx)" is correct, your machine is newer than the 2011 Mac I use for ML production, so it should be much better at h.264 encoding, so using that format to record with should be ok.

  • edited March 16

    @"Oliver (Boinx)" I usually also recommend using ProRes422LT as a recording format, primarily because if you want to edit it in Final Cut Pro or iMovie it won't need re-encoding. However, if your machine has hardware H.264 encoders and you're on Mojave, recording to H.264 might actually be less resource intensive because the amount of data that's written to disk is much less, using less bus bandwidth. Also, as far as we know, ProRes 422 is encoded in software, so h.264 hardware encoding might be cheaper on CPU cycles.

    Thanks for this. I did some snooping and can't find out, at least directly, which Macs have hardware encoding.

    We produce and encode using H.264 and then livestream as 720p, post-edit in FCP, and then upload to the cloud for serving as 720p. 2017 15" MBP 3.1GHz/16GB with Radeon Pro 560 4096MB/Intel HD Graphics 630/1536MB

    All of our work is conferences so not much motion or precise graphics is required, but we want the videos to look good.

    Would you suggest we use H.265 (HEVC) or ProRes422LT in our case instead of H>264?

  • @mimolive@deansuhr.us ProRes 422 gives you the best video quality.

  • @"Oliver (Boinx)" Thanks for the quick reply!

    In our case "good enough" at 720p is OK ... what about system resource usage (GPU/CPU/RAM/disk I/O)? You mentioned hardware H.264 encoder - that would seem to be the best in terms of overall load.

  • @mimolive@deansuhr.us The 2017 MBP definitely has a number of h.264 hardware encoders and since Mojave you can also use more than one, for example for streaming and recording. This is the most CPU efficient way to record as the hardware encoder does all the encoding work.

  • edited March 17

    @Paddy

    Thanks for your advice, i'm curious as to what the limitation is exactly? Would it be the hardware/spec within this Macbook? I've seen some people online using the two thunderbolt 3 ports it comes with, with two capture cards at once, so i'm not really sure where it's falling down.

    We work hard at making sure that mimoLive doesn't consume more resources than needed. The MacBook Pro has some specs that are disadvantageous: The Core i5 processor is relatively slow, it doesn't have a lot of cores to work with (although the benefit is that it doesn't get as hot and is therefore not likely to be throttled) and the graphics card shares the RAM, slowing it down when a lot of bus access is happening.

    It's becoming a bit of a headache which is a shame as I've used Mimolive on my friends macbook - (it's an older model that had two dedicated thunderbolt ports among the other ports they used to come with). And we streamed two cameras using two Blackmagic Ultrastudio Minis and Mimolive and it worked brilliantly.

    This is good to hear. Unfortunately, in some respects, the newer MacBooks are a step back. Personally, I'm now experimenting with a Mac mini for mobile use. I'm waiting for my mobile display to be delivered and will report once I get that.

    If it's not possible, I think i'll have to just go with the windows laptop and something like OBS, which I'd rather not to, as Mimolive is far better software!

    This would indeed be a shame. Can you somehow do a test?

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