Jesus Box: Book of Revelations

I know. I know. It’s been more than a month since the Divine Arrival, and you’re desperate for my review of The Jesus Box.

Bottom line: it’s only human after all.

Need a refresher? Okay. I bought the Blackmagic Design Intensity Shuttle with Thunderbolt. It’s a digital converter that allows me to digitize any kind of video source and translate it into any other kind of digital source.

I bought it (and waited MONTHS for delivery), because I needed to digitize a bunch of vintage film-to-tape transfers that were entombed on Betacam SP tapes. The Thunderbolt connection to my computer made this small box peg the Awesomometer, because it guaranteed fast throughput. Video files can be huge. You either have to have a huge pipe to shove all of that data through, or the pipe has to be very fast. Thunderbolt ensures that it’s fast.

Another benefit was composite video inputs. You get the highest color quality possible off of these old analog machines if you can jack into the best features they offered at the time.

So I rented a BetaSP deck for a week and started digitizing like I was shuttling tape on fast forward. I used the Blackmagic Media Express software to digitize the video. Then I used Final Cut Pro 7.0 to edit color bars and a slate to each of my old film transfers. The whole process worked great.

Mission: accomplished! And here’s what I can tell you about working with the Intensity Shuttle. For digitizing professional analog video, this box works miracles. It makes the process easy! (I didn’t use the Media Express batch digitizing features. They seemed clunky, and I didn’t have an RS-422 connection plugged into the Intensity box.)

But there’s a dark side. A week after finishing that job, I tried to digitize some old VHS footage, and the Jesus Box proved to be fallible. No sync. No time code. No joy in Mudville. The Mighty Jesus Box had struck out.

I’ve encountered this problem before. I remembered that I solved it by digitizing VHS footage with my Panasonic HVX-200 camera. It has composite inputs and outputs. It stabilizes vintage, craptastic VHS tapes. If you choose the “Noncontrollable Device” setting while digitizing with Final Cut Pro, you’ll have few problems. But if you try to use The Jesus Box, the Tape Gods will smite you.

Last thing, hesitant shoppers: buy a Thunderbolt cable first! This box DOES NOT include any cables. If you want the benefits of Thunderbolt, you’ll have to buy the cable separately!

Thus endeth my limited experience with The Jesus Box. Yea, verily, I will share with you more when I work with it again. Thus did I spake.
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