Monitoring of Video and Audio levels is a critical part of any video production and Blackmagic have now combined two 8" monitors with video and audio measurement tools into a small, low cost package
The Blackmagic Smartscope Duo essentially combines two of their previous products into one: the SmartView Duo twin 8" monitors and the Ultrascope Video and Audio measurement tools.
In doing so Blackmagic have created a small, lightweight and easy to operate unit that might justify a place ineveryones toolkit. Whether you are on location, editing or grading this package is intended to give you a set of tools that you need to be sure that you are getting the best out of your material.
Two 8" screens
The Smartscope Duo is a 19" 3 Rackunit panel with two 8" LCD screens. It has SDI/HD-SDI/3G-SDI inputs with loop-through for each screen, Ethernet in and out for control, a USB connection for control and firmware upgrades, 12-15v power connection and a 9 pin serial port for controlling the tally functions of the screens. There are no controls on the unit itself - all settings are controlled by the SmartView Utility Software either over USB or Ethernet.
Each of the screens can display Video from SD, HD or even 2K resolution or can show Waveform, Vectorscope, RGB Parade, YUV Parade, Histogram or Audio phase and levels. By looping the input from one screen to the other you can see Video and measurements for the same signal.
The Smartscope Duo comes with a universal power supply and a disc with the control software and drivers. Like many of Blackmagic's products the Smartscope Duo is firmware upgradeable, so when they release new firmware or control software you can download it from their website and connect the unit to your computer via USB to flash the new firmware. I was a little surprised that there was no USB cable in the package but I suppose these are considered common enough for everyone to have one. It uses a USB type A to type B cable, the sort of cable usually used for printers.
The control software runs on PC or Mac and allows you to control the Smartscope either over USB for a single unit or by using Ethernet you can control multiple Smartview models based on their IP addresses. You can even identify which unit you are controlling by toggling a white border around the screen.
As you can see the software is very clearly laid out and gives easy access to the various options. You can select the mode for each screen and can also adjust Brightness, Contrast and Saturation for the screens independently or together. Display settings can be copied and pasted so it is easy to make sure that all your screens have the same settings and because there are no physical controls on the panels it is impossible for anyone to mess with the settings.
An inch thick
The Smartscope Duo is only an inch thick and weighs just over 3lbs so it is very portable. It runs on 12-15v DC power so it is perfect for use on location or in an Outside Broadcast Truck. Having said that it looks smart enough to be an excellent addition to any Edit Suite, Grading Suite or Machine Room. Of course as it can take a 3G-SDI signal it is also a perfect partner for the Blackmagic Cinema Camera when shooting on location.
The Smartview Duo is available for $995 and when you consider that you are getting two 8" monitors with up to 2K capability plus Video and Audio monitoring for two signals it seems remarkable value for money.
More information and where to buy is available on the Blackmagic design website here