Video Capture with SDI Capture Card PE4 Active Silicon

lightmagic's picture

Hey there,

i have a problem getting a SDI Capture Card (Active Silicon PE4) to work with Quartz Composer. Driver is installed (there is only a CDA driver available, no Quicktime driver), in Catalyst (Media Server Software) it works. With the video input coming with Quartz Composer it shows only my iSight.

Is there any chance to embed the driver to Quartz Composer? Or is there any other video input patch around?



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gtoledo3's picture
Re: Video Capture with SDI Capture Card PE4 Active Silicon

Marc, try to see if shutting off Quartz Composer and restarting it will get the Video Input patch to register the SDI Capture Card in the Settings panel. If QC is open first, it won't recognize updates with attached devices with video (for the most part).

Does that CDA driver allow the card to integrate with anything else besides the CAT typically? I notice that the Video Input patch puts out a Core Video image, not Quicktime, so maybe you may luck out on the restart of QC.

Some more thoughts:

-Another thing worth trying; the driver may be running only in 32 bit compatibility (?). Go to the QC icon in your Developer folder ( /Developer/Applications/Quartz ), highlight it, Control+Left Click to perform a "Get Info" on it. Check off "Open in 32-bit mode". Close QC, reopen.

-What OS version are you using? It seems there may have been some issues with specific SL versions and interfacing with Active Silicon cards (

-If all else fails, there may be an alternate approach to writing a patch specifically to interface the driver with QC. There is now an alpha technology (Syphon) to allow images to get shuttled around from app to app on the GPU, which may make for a scenario where if you can't get the interfacing going any other way, and the CAT will always be running the feed you want to put into QC anyway, this may be the most expedient route. Support for integration between stuff like QC, Processing, MaxMSP, Unity, etc., works with pretty much nil latency.

Nice to see you here, too bad it's for a problem! After some coffee I may have some more ideas! It's hard to troubleshoot from afar.

lightmagic's picture
Re: Video Capture with SDI Capture Card PE4 Active Silicon

Unfortunately I don't have any SDI device around. So I couldn't dry shutting down and start again.

I tried if Final Cut or Modul8 sees the card. But no luck. I asked the support from Active Silicon and they said there is no Quciktime driver. Just the CDA for Catalyst, whatever CDA means ;-)

I tried the 32-bit Mode. But i don't have the option when I open the window. Or maybe again German OS, is Rosetta the same? When I check the System-Profiler it says:

64-Bit Kernel and Extensions: Off (translated from German OS) i think in the english version it is a Little different.

Unfortunately the Cat won't be running all the time, i would need to get another dongle.... Thats a little to expensive just for capturing the SDI Signal

thanks a lot for the help so far. If I can provide more infos let me Know


I use 10.6.4 on a MacPro 4.1 But for the show i will have a MacPro 5.1 (actual Version)

gtoledo3's picture
Re: Video Capture with SDI Capture Card PE4 Active Silicon

"whatever CDA means"...

Yeah, exactly! There is seriously lacking info about it. It almost seems to be proprietary to keep the capture card and Catalyst always having to work together (?), or maybe Catalyst has been the only one to dig in and get a driver going for it.

The Rosetta/32bit vs 64 bit kernel "OS" running stuff is entirely separate from running QC in 32 bit or not....not really worth getting into, as it gets deep, and off topic.

On files, you can do a "Get Info" on most files, to do things like write in little metadata tags, lock files, or in some cases (like apps), check a box to make it actually run in a 32 bit mode. In Snow Leopard, QC has this option, and sometimes opening it up in 32 bit mode makes it work with old 32 bit plugins or other apps/drivers that are still running as 32 bit. It was a real stab in the dark to think that might get it going, but it was worth trying.

Maybe some other people have some thoughts, but offhand, I can't think of many (maybe one or two?) people that would be familiar with these issues. Active Silicon's page says that one has to contact their sales department to get the SDK to allow you to interface with the card (which would be necessary for someone to develop a QC plugin).

lightmagic's picture
Re: Video Capture with SDI Capture Card PE4 Active Silicon

I think it is Catalyst/Richard who made a driver.

I tried again but can´t see the checkbox (see screenshot attached) Maybe my Quartz Composer is too old (version 3.1)?


I saw that remark about the SDK.

But as always time is short... Already thinking of some alternatives... Changing to analog video inputs, change to other SDI capture card etc...

Also kind of wierd: Blackmagic Studio Capturecard has the same problem, and this card is supported by Quicktime, Final Cut, Modul8 etc...

Is there only the original video-input patch from Apple around?

One hint I got from a friend of mine: He said that the driver fpr the card must be embeded into Quartz, but he doesnt knwo how to do this or if this is even possible I searched the Apple forums as well... No Luck...

So if anyone has an idea or knows a good SDI capture card that works with Quartz...- ;-)



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lightmagic's picture
Re: Video Capture with SDI Capture Card PE4 Active Silicon

Ok some news.

The Driver for all Active Silicon Cards is loaded by the application which uses the card. Thats the reason why Quartz cant find it. The only way to make it work is to programm a plugin specially designed for that card. But I'm Not a Software developer :-( Thats why it is so fast in combination with Catalyst. All other cards like Aja, BMD or so create a "videostream" which then can be used by all apps. Thats the reason why they have higher latency.

In Catalyst the PE4 has a latency from 1-2 frames, while all other system/quicktime based cards have 4-5 frames, with FireWire 7 frames

So I have to get a new Card... matrox Mxo2 or AJA LHe.... they should work

gtoledo3's picture
Re: Video Capture with SDI Capture Card PE4 Active Silicon

That's why I was referring to having to get access to the SDK in order to program a plugin for it.

The Firewire video plugin of Kineme's bypasses Quicktime, by the way, for interfacing firewire devices.

It totally makes sense that if it doesn't have to deal with QT that it could be faster.

lightmagic's picture
Re: Video Capture with SDI Capture Card PE4 Active Silicon


some late updates. I swopped to AJA LHi Capture Cards. They work very good with QC. A little slower than the Active Silicon but still ok

There wasn´t the time to find a programmer who could have build a custom Plugin for the PE4. But maybe in the future.

Thanks for all the help and tips.