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Can I use a laptop as a large portable HDMI monitor?


kye
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Can I use a laptop as a large portable HDMI monitor, presumably via some kind of USB HDMI in type adapter/dongle and some software that allows viewing (and maybe some cool features like LUTs, false colour, focus peaking etc).

It seems ridiculous to suggest that I have to buy a HDMI monitor when that means I have to re-buy the screen, buttons, battery etc that are already in a laptop.  Surely there's an adapter that's cheaper than a monitor with focus peaking and various features?

I'd be looking to use it with my GH5 for critical focus when I'm either too far from the camera to see the floppy screen, or when I can't check focus well enough using the (rather mediocre) focus peaking that it delivers.

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I don't know much about the hardware, but you could get the Blackmagic Intensity Shuttle second hand. They're pretty cheap now and give you HDMI in and out via USB3.0 or Thunderbolt (depending on which model you buy). I'm not sure how LUTs and focus peaking thing, but at least this way you can monitor through any NLE's capture process.

To be honest though, the original 5 inch Video Assist would fit the bill pretty well for your needs. It is very cheap second hand, and will come down more when the new models are readily available. It's a much smaller footprint than a laptop and you can mount it on the camera for the shoots where you are near the camera, but want a better view of your shots.

I don't think the price difference between the VA and the Intensity Shuttle is all that much. 

I'm sure there are also other options available to you, but these ones spring to mind as affordable options.

 

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2 hours ago, kye said:

Can I use a laptop as a large portable HDMI monitor, presumably via some kind of USB HDMI in type adapter/dongle and some software that allows viewing (and maybe some cool features like LUTs, false colour, focus peaking etc).

It seems ridiculous to suggest that I have to buy a HDMI monitor when that means I have to re-buy the screen, buttons, battery etc that are already in a laptop.  Surely there's an adapter that's cheaper than a monitor with focus peaking and various features?

I'd be looking to use it with my GH5 for critical focus when I'm either too far from the camera to see the floppy screen, or when I can't check focus well enough using the (rather mediocre) focus peaking that it delivers.

You can buy a Blackmagic UltraStudio Mini Recorder which is HDMI/SDI to Thunderbolt which is about £100.

Then you can use ScopeBox which will turn it into a fully fledged monitoring solution with scopes, LUTs and focus peaking.

https://www.divergentmedia.com/scopebox

ScopeBox is $149 for the first year and $99 to renew although you don't have to continue and get to keep the latest version. So if it does all you need then consider it a one off purchase of $149.

There is a free trial to let you decide if its right for you.

However.....

You do know that for exactly the same as that combined price I'm just going to tell you to get the Acsoon CineEye system again don't you ? ;)

Its just a far more versatile option and gives you all of those same facilities but does it wireless.

If you don't have an iPad then there are a ton of 10" Android tablets on Amazon for well under £100 that it will run on that, combined with the tools it has, will give you more than enough screen size to get the job done.

If you yourself are going to be the subject that you are trying to nail focus on, its a lot easier to be doing that holding a tablet than it is juggling a laptop on your knee.

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Thanks all.  I was really hoping for a link to an $30 ebay USB dongle.  

I was kind of thinking of a laptop as kind of a half-way measure between having an on-camera monitor and having a huge TV/monitor on set like is common on big productions.

I wouldn't carry around a laptop for my run-n-gun shooting, but if you're shooting in a single location then I don't see why a larger screen wouldn't be useful.  I've had heaps of things that I shot on the GH5 and they looked fine on the monitor (or the viewfinder which is higher resolution) but were completely fubar when I saw them on my 32" display, and I'm not sure that a 7" display is really large enough to be a perfect proxy for a 32" 4K display, let alone a 65" 4K TV or a projector setup.  And before anyone tells me that big productions use 7" monitors just fine let me say that I watch Netflix / Prime on my 32" 4K display and I see out-of-focus shots all the time....

There should be a chip that is HMDI to USB and there should be a factory in China just pumping out the standard implementation circuit from the spec sheet at a very small markup to the parts cost.  Surely?

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There are plenty of cheap HDMI>USB3 capture devices around that people use for games console capture.

This one is currently on offer from Aliexpress for £30

https://a.aliexpress.com/o0rZGAIYT

You need to do some research with these type of units though to make sure they will accept the format you are using as some of them will have issues with 4K or even 1080 if its 24p.

Panasonic cameras are usually no problem at providing an output that capture devices accept but its worth checking.

In this case, checking might actually involve buying one blind as you'll probably find lots of comments about using it with an Xbox but few about using it with a GH5 in the specific format that you use.

As for quality and latency, these things are generally good enough for what it is you will be using it for as a focus monitor for a locked off camera as that task is likely to only create very small differences between frames so won't be taxing the compression too much.

 

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5 hours ago, BTM_Pix said:

There are plenty of cheap HDMI>USB3 capture devices around that people use for games console capture.

This one is currently on offer from Aliexpress for £30

https://a.aliexpress.com/o0rZGAIYT

You need to do some research with these type of units though to make sure they will accept the format you are using as some of them will have issues with 4K or even 1080 if its 24p.

Panasonic cameras are usually no problem at providing an output that capture devices accept but its worth checking.

In this case, checking might actually involve buying one blind as you'll probably find lots of comments about using it with an Xbox but few about using it with a GH5 in the specific format that you use.

As for quality and latency, these things are generally good enough for what it is you will be using it for as a focus monitor for a locked off camera as that task is likely to only create very small differences between frames so won't be taxing the compression too much.

 

Be careful with these cheap recorders. I wanted to do the same, monitoring on a laptop, with some scopes. I wanted to do it as cheap as possible, so I ordered this device: https://www.fasttech.com/p/9677213
I also prepared some pretty complex ffplay scripts that capture the stream and add a scopes realtime, like rgb parade, vectorscope, because I couldn't afford scopebox.
The device worked but the quality was pretty bad. It has an mjpeg compressed output and an uncompressed output. Even the uncompressed output suffered from resolution loss, it modified the gamma of the source (not a video range/full range issue), and there was a very noticable color shift as well. And it took me 3 months of discussion (in which I had to make videos too) with the support to get a refund! I even got a response from the manufacturer and they told me my results are fine, the captured image is good. It was unbelievable really. My point is that these cheap capture devices might be fine for gamers, but they are absolutely useless when it comes to monitoring. Of course my opinion is based on this device alone.
 

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30 minutes ago, Attila Bakos said:

Be careful with these cheap recorders. I wanted to do the same, monitoring on a laptop, with some scopes. I wanted to do it as cheap as possible, so I ordered this device: https://www.fasttech.com/p/9677213
I also prepared some pretty complex ffplay scripts that capture the stream and add a scopes realtime, like rgb parade, vectorscope, because I couldn't afford scopebox.
The device worked but the quality was pretty bad. It has an mjpeg compressed output and an uncompressed output. Even the uncompressed output suffered from resolution loss, it modified the gamma of the source (not a video range/full range issue), and there was a very noticable color shift as well. And it took me 3 months of discussion (in which I had to make videos too) with the support to get a refund! I even got a response from the manufacturer and they told me my results are fine, the captured image is good. It was unbelievable really. My point is that these cheap capture devices might be fine for gamers, but they are absolutely useless when it comes to monitoring. Of course my opinion is based on this device alone.
 

Yep, thats the rub with them if you go for the really cheap ones.

For what @kye is looking to do with it (just a big monitor to do focusing on a locked off camera) then it might be OK but for anything beyond that its a crapshoot.

Literally ;) 

If you can't find someone who has used the exact one with your exact camera config then it comes down to being a £30 gamble versus a £120 certainty of the BM UltraStudioMini.

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Thanks all..  

Looks like it's either a "real" video capture solution from BM or equivalent, a "real" monitor that I could also use for shooting, or a mains powered TV or monitor of some kind.  I wouldn't use a monitor that much in my normal shooting but I would use it for shooting my kids sports games, although how many more seasons he sticks with that is uncertain.

 

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