To Convert or not to Convert – A Guide to Video Mini-Converters. (Part 1 of 2)

There are many tools available to assist with viewing, processing, or converting digital video, but few have the versatility or reliability of the AJA line of mini-converters.  This usage guide isn’t a comprehensive list of features and capabilities of all the AJA converters.  However, I will be presenting some commonly confronted video conundrums and how to solve them with the proper AJA converter.

1. My camera has only an HD-SDI output, but my monitors only have a standard definition (SD) “VIDEO” input.






































This is probably the most common video problem heard on a production set when dealing with some of the newer professional video cameras such as the RED ONE or ARRI Alexa.  Neither of these cameras provides a Standard Definition (SD) monitor out port.  With these cameras, it’s HD or nothing at all.  Well, the AJA Model HD10MD3 HD to SD Digital Downconverter solves this problem with a simple and flexible device.  Plug your camera into the HD-SDI IN port (marked in BLUE), and your SD monitor into the COMPOSITE port (marked in GOLD).  The AJA Downconverter also gives two “pass-through” HD-SDI ports (marked in GREEN), add this to the SD composite output, and that’s a total of three monitors you can connect to this one device.  Another common usage for this device is to broadcast a wireless SD signal from an HD camera.  A handy way to power this converter is to use the Nebtek Battery Adapter and you can power this device for on-camera rigging with your transmitter without draining the camera battery!

2. How do I make my consumer HDMI TV or computer monitor work with my HD camera?





































Production monitors can get expensive, and for good reason.  They have nice features like a Waveform, or 4:3 markers, or Timecode display.  But what if you don’t need all those things, and you just need a clear picture.  Most consumer grade HDMI TVs can do that, at a fraction of the price!  The Viewsonic VX2429wm 24” HDMI  TV is one such device and can be purchased for about $200.  HDMI, like HD-SDI, can carry audio and video over a single wire, so wouldn’t it be nice if you could use the benefits of the HDMI interface, without the drawbacks of a fragile connector or the distance limitations of HDMI cabling.  Well, you can, just use the AJA Model Hi5 HD-SDI/SDI to HDMI Converter to allow you to use standard HD-SDI cabling throughout your production set, then convert the signal to HDMI at the monitor.  Just Velcro this converter to the back of the monitor and use a 1ft HDMI cable to the TV for crystal clear HD video monitoring, that wont break the bank.  Its likely the cost of the converter is equal to or more than the cost of the monitor you are using it on, but its still a cheaper solution than full scale production monitors than can be $3000-$4000 or more!

Another thing worth noting about this solution, this AJA converter model DOES NOT support 1080Psf signal that is output by some camera and deck recorder systems.  It will, however, display standard 1080p and 1080i that is output by the majority of the camera systems in use today. The more expensive AJA Model Hi5 3G SDI to HDMI Converter addresses this issue and provides some additional functionality, such as the ability to connect to 3G (Dual-Link) HD-SDI video signals.

These mini converters and more can be rented from Moving Picture.  The next time you’re in Miami renting gear, give us a call, and let us help you with your production technical challenges.  Contact us at or 800-800-1361.  Serving Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and the rest of South Florida.

Come back next week for the continuation of this series of articles.  I’ll be covering HD video distribution and HDSLR monitoring solutions.

View the conclusion of this article, Part 2 of 2.

Josh Baker
IT Manager / Video Engineer