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Blackmagic’s DeckLink Speeds Production at DigitalFilm Tree

Guillaume AubuchonLOS ANGELES—Weekly television dramas and sitcom deadlines wait for no one. They also don’t wait for editors who can’t work with different footage formats or accurately display their work on any given monitor. Accuracy and efficiency are expected by broadcasters from their editorial staff, whether in-house or at an outside post facility.

DigitalFilm Tree is a post-production, creative, consulting, and software development company, and designs post and IT workflows for media and entertainment. We handle a great deal of broadcast television programming, as well as independent films and commercial work. We use a number of different editing systems and technologies, and all of our editors have to be comfortable jumping from Avid to Final Cut Pro to Premiere, as well as move from editing to other services such as color correction.

We are currently working on a couple of popular shows, “NCIS:LA” and “Cougar Town,” as well as several new television pilots for the fall season. In connection with these shows we’re using Avid Media Composer 6.0.1 on both Windows and Mac, and take care of color correction as well as editing functions.

One technology that we employ—no matter what the system or service—is the Blackmagic Design DeckLink line of capture and playback cards. These have become the primary capture and playback devices for our entire facility.

With “NCIS:LA” we get file and tape-based footage for every episode, often shot with different cameras and formats. It’s not unusual to have to go from file-based footage of an interrogation room shot on an Alexis to shaky handheld footage of a chase captured with a very different camera.

If it helps build the creative vision that has made the show so popular, then it will be shot that way, and the expectation from the producers and DP is that we will be able to handle anything they throw at us.

The Blackmagic DeckLink handles SDI, HDMI, component analog, NTSC/PAL and S-Video formats and allows us to switch instantly between SD, HD and 2K. We can basically work with anything a client gives us, no matter the format and on any system, and that flexibility is crucial in helping us meet very tight deadlines. As the DeckLink supports Mac and Windows, we can move from one editing system to another without worrying about cross-platform compatibility.


In evaluating our product, we use a mix of professional and consumer monitors with the DeckLink very much involved. While a lot of capture and playback cards work fine with most professional monitors, many of them have problems with consumer monitors that require a true progressive signal. The DeckLink has no problem with progressive and this has been a real life saver when we’ve had to use different monitors in our facility or at a client’s site.

Having capture and playback that we can trust to be accurate and function with any workflow is really a huge benefit when you’re editing for broadcast.

Guillaume Aubuchon is senior post consultant at DigitalFilm Tree. He may be contacted

For additional information, contact Blackmagic Design at 408-954-0500 or