Top Reasons to use BlackMagic Design Intensity Extreme Macbook as HDMI Preview Monitor

Here's a tip on a small tool that offers huge production value in a variety of ways, but it will require you to have a Mac system with a thunderbolt connection. The Blackmagic Design Intensity Extreme is an HDMI / Analog Capture and Playback Device. In this video (below) i'll run through just a few examples of how I personally find value in this product.

First, the Intensity Extreme offers 10-bit capture from your HDMI. It's definitely not as portable or as convenient as an Atomos Ninja, but if you already have a Macbook this is a great entry level way to start capturing higher quality HD out of your camera - including the Canon 5D Mark III.

BlackMagic Design Intensity Extreme
Blackmagic Design Media Express Capture Software

Second use for me is as an interface for my camera(s) to Live Streaming services. We've actually used this feature to send a wireless HD signal from a mobile camera. The camera is free to move around, and the wireless HD video (connected to Intensity Extreme via Thunderbolt) streams live out to the internet. We've also connected our HDMI 'Program feed' out from a switch to the Internet.

YouTube WireCast Live Stream BlackMagic Design Thunderbolt Intensity Extreme
WireCast Live Streaming for YouTube

My favorite use for the BlackMagic Intensity Extreme is to use my Macbook as a professional HDMI Preview Monitor. While you can see a live video feed through other software, ScopeBox by Divergent Media takes this feed and applies professional overlays and scopes. The interface is extremely flexible so you can add remove scopes, resize windows, or even go solo full screen. The image from my MBR (retina) has colors that I expect to see when it's time to edit. The resolution and pixel density allow you see your images clear and sharp.

cheesycam use macbook laptop as hdmi video monitor camera blackmagic intensity scopebox dslr video
Using Macbook as HDMI Video Preview Monitor with ScopeBox Software

Even if you can find another large 1080p lcd screen (television), you will need a portable power source and a way to transport the screen. Not to mention the problems you'll run into when working with various resolutions and framerates. If you've got a MacBook available, there's no simpler way to have yourself a professional portable battery powered monitor that's easy to transport by purchasing an Intensity Extreme for less than $290 dollars. Keep in mind that you don't need a beastly Macbook. The Intensity Extreme does all the hard work and can be used with even a lightweight Macbook Air which has amazing battery life.

You can find additional information about the tools mentioned in this article through the links below.

BlackMagic Intensity Extreme Thunderbolt Capture Cheesycam
find-price-button BlackMagic Intensity Extreme Thunderbolt HD/SD Capture

scopebox_logoscopebox scopelink rgb paradescopebox macbook display monitor
find-price-button ScopeBox high quality highly flexible preview monitor

laptop macbook scopebox hdmi video monitor sun shade travel bag caseseaport digital i-visor ivisor sunshade hood monitor display
find-price-button Seaport Digital i-Visor Cases

[Note:] As pointed out by a commenter, you can get most of this functionality with a cheaper BlackMagic Design UltraStudio Mini Recorder Capture Device. The reason I went with the Intensity Extreme is for the additional features it offers including an HDMI output which I use for my various setups. If all you need is to input your feed to your computer, check out the BlackMagic Design UltraStudio Mini Recorder Capture Device (here)

BlackMagic Design UltraStudio Mini Recorder Capture
find-price-button BlackMagic Design UltraStudio Mini Recorder Capture Device

47 thoughts on “Top Reasons to use BlackMagic Design Intensity Extreme Macbook as HDMI Preview Monitor

  1. Emm

    Post author

    @walt - That is weird. I'm not that familiar with the C100MKII, but is there another setting you can choose for the HDMI out?

  2. walt

    I am using a Canon C100 Mark 2. While in Wirecast while under source settings it is giving me a frame rate of 59.94 which is the system frequency of the camera. The framerate that I am set to is 29.97. For some reason the program is pulling the system frequency information from the camera and placing it where the frame rate information is. It could be a bug in the UltraStudio Mini Recorder as well. I am not sure where the error is coming from but it is from one of the two.

  3. Hello, my question is, will this software work with Black Magic Pocket Camera as well as Black Magic Cinema Cameras? Obviously you are using a Black Magic Device but I just wanted to make sure. Also, My black magic pocket cinema camera has a micro HDMI I still need to purchase the black magic intensity extreme?

  4. Ivan

    Can any of this software (Media Express, ScopeBox) embed timecode overlay in captured video? Tnx

  5. Emm

    Post author

    @Rod Parmenter - You can download the software from their website, but I don't know if you'll see anything in FCPX. I think Adobe Premiere supports capture, but not sure about FCPX.

  6. Emm

    Post author

    @Mark - When you read articles about how people are leaving Canon and how smaller cheaper cameras offer more features that's just one of the reasons. When you plug something into the HDMI of a 60D the rear lcd goes off. Aside from that the 60D can't send a clean 1080p output from the hdmi. If you want to send video to a switch or stream on the internet the GH4 would be a better camera than most Canon DSLRs. The framerate and output is proper (not a weird 1080i signal) and is clean (no overlays, text displays, red recording button, etc). I was frustrated by soo many other cameras when the GH4 was announced i bought 3 immediately. For the price and features this is a perfect camera for what you are looking to do.

  7. Mark

    Hi Emm, im a newbie to this things, and need to do some research to purchase a good camera/video camera for church use. Im thinking of going for the Canon 70D, on special occasions we need live feed to the overflow room and on other occasions a live streaming to ustream as such. Does plugging this blackmagic intensity extreme from a Canon 70D to a macbook and then from a macbook hdmi to a projector at the overflow room helps minimize the issue of video quality and no preview screen on the Canon 60d lcd?

  8. Emm

    Post author

    @JohnA - I don't know what settings you have, but the 5DMark III may be set to 23.98 not true 24p. Or it may be 24p and not 23.98 which has to be selected in the software and which some software does not support.

  9. JohnA

    Question about the live streaming with Intensity Extreme. I only see a black frame from my Intensity Extreme. I can see the camera feed from 5DM2 in the BM Media Express. But when I look in WireCast, Google Hangout, or Flash Media Encoder Live I see no video stream. (Using free version of WireCast). I've tried all video input options displayed in those apps but no video is displayed. Any thoughts? Do I need to purchased version of WireCast.

  10. alex

    Hi !
    thanks for this really helpful review.
    One question: do you know a "cheap" solution to get a "connection" without cable ? a kind of emitter / receptor device. I want to have a live video monitor for the shooting of a short movie.

  11. Emm

    Post author

    @pierre - Yes it's possible to make your own battery for a MacBook. One person just used a standard V-Mount battery, but you can do the same with RC type LiPos if you can get the correct Voltage and Amperage.

  12. Emm

    Post author

    @ED S - Yes your computer can record uncompressed from the HDMI of your Nikon in the same Prores formats as an Atomos Ninja.

  13. Ed S

    If I use this with a Nikon D800 will it give a clean uncompressed 10bit file like the atomos?

  14. For Windows based users I would recommend the Matrox Mx02 mini and if you have an old version of Adobe Onlocation kicking around that would be a very helpful tool. Matrox has also got some plugins that will allow you to do realtime Chrome keying for After Effects.

  15. Emm

    Post author

    @Jeremy - You can find better information about that tripod in this article: httpss://

  16. Jeremy

    A bit off topic, but I was curious about the tripod that you have your GH4 on in the background and which model it was? Thanks in advance!

  17. Nak

    Great post Emm. Nothing like NOT having to carry a big monitor into the field although its sometimes good for clients. Know if the intensity extreme can capture 10bit like the Atomos? Looked on the BM site with no clear info. Also how does Scopebox work with just HDMI in from lets say an Ninjablade 2?

    TX, Nak

  18. Emm

    Post author

    @Ben - Take a look at this monitor. It can display the 2:35 aspect. httpss://

    I know it's not cropping it, but maybe once it's in the aspect the image can be further stretched using some type of horizontal or vertical adjustments. I would have to try this out.

  19. Martin

    Hi all,
    I've used this method with a ultrastudio mini recorder and a Weisscam recording playback from camera at 2000fps in a 25p stream- so you can record the slow motion playback, but can't record it live. It may still work for your purposes even though it slows down production.

    Also, I've tested it with a black magic pocket camera, which also works. Ordered a hdmi to SDI converter to get longer cable runs. Also thinking of getting this: does anyone have any experience with it? As you can see in their video at the bottom of the page, you can attach it to a baby pin adapter or hang it off your camera tripod (though it may be cumbersome to view from that angle).

    With scopebox, it becomes an affordable client/director monitoring/video village tool (no loop through though). It also says it can record 4K, would it work with the BMD 4K ultrastudio? And does scopebox work with the ultra mini?


  20. David

    awfull is relative. being in a pal country having 50p/i instead of 60 is a must have. also blackmagic switchers (on 4k) have 1080i/50 as maximum input quality in pal countrys.

    i started filming on dslr but changed to camcorders when it came to live production. i would love to get the step back to dslr like cameras couse the quality of entry professional camcorders is way behind each dslr i worked with. so flexible output settings are a key to my workflow. the same "mistake" is made on gopros where you don't really have the possibiltiy to set your outputsetting individually.

  21. Ben

    Hi Emm, I wanted to ask you a question for a while : I'm looking for a cheap monitor for my BMCC that will give me the 2:35 bars so I can frame for 2:35. Do you have any idea which monitor will do it ? Thanks !!!

  22. Emm

    Post author

    @david - Panasonic finally fixed the HDMI out in the GH4. Now if you record at 24fps, the HDMI outputs 24fps. If you record 30fps, the GH4 outputs 30fps. It will not do every framerate available in the camera like 60fps, but it doesn't do that awful 50i/50p stuff.

  23. Emm

    Post author

    @Simon - Hmm, had that laying around for a while (generic), but compared to the other ones i've seen this gave me the most height, had a wider base to support the lens. I forgot how much I paid, but it's exactly like this one: Lens Support for 15mm Rails

    You really need something like this when working with longer lenses. Prevents any movement as you zoom or focus. From my video you can tell there's not a lot of shake and i'm zoomed all the way in on this Sigma 18-35mm shooting at 4K which is like at 90mm (equiv).

  24. Emm

    Post author

    @Darren - I believe the 5D Mark III 'cannot' output RAW from HDMI even with Magic Lantern installed. With the latest firmware you can only output uncompressed HDMI and I think it's still 8bit.

  25. Darren

    Could you output raw video from a 5D Mark iii and Magic Lantern onto the MBP with this thing?

  26. Marc B

    This reminds me of the wonderful DV Rack software from years ago. It's a no brainer to use this when shooting under controlled environments. Glad to have access to this with newer cameras with HDMI out.

  27. Emm

    Post author

    @Chris - There is no lag when using as a monitor. It's pretty awesome stuff, if that's all you need is a monitor, go for the UltraStudio Mini (found here).

    Even if you don't have clean HDMI out, you can still use this method. I would caution though that some cameras change the output once you hit the record button. The software has to match the output feed from the camera. So if you're idling at 1080p 23.98 then you would configure the software with those settings. Once you hit record, many times the older Canon DSLRs will drop the output to 480p and then your screen will most likely go blank.

  28. Chris

    Great tip!

    Two questions:

    1. Is there any lag when using the computer as a monitor?

    2. If your camera does not have a clean HDMI out (like a canon 60d) can you still use this method just for monitoring purposes?


  29. Emm

    Post author

    @Miguel - Oh sorry, i'm using a Radian Pro wireless HD Video kit from Camera Motion Research. That's an additional bit of kit: httpss://

    There are other ways to use products designed for the home. I used to use the Nyrius kit also seen at the bottom of this article: httpss://

  30. Miguel

    Emm, can you explain how do you "send a wireless HD signal from a mobile camera" with this? I couldn't find any wireless connection on this thing.


  31. Brian S

    Is there an equivalent for PC if your goal is live streaming? Black Magic's site has some products for USB 3.0, but it isn't clear that they are optimized for streaming.


  32. Emm

    Post author

    @Nate - No everything is controlled on the computer. Whoa I don't think 240fps is an option in the Media Express software. The intensity extreme is an interface, so if you can find other software that has these options, there's a good chance it will see the intensity extreme (just like wirecast can). I haven't really looked into that much, but I haven't found anything to capture slow motion to my laptop.

  33. Nate

    When capturing video onto the mac, does it automatically start capturing when you press record on the device or do you need to press record on both devices? I am trying to record 240fps from the FS700 onto a mac but when you press record it "captures" the image and when you press record again, it actually records to the card. Trying to see how this device would work?

  34. Emm

    Post author

    @Vladbox - The Aputure V-Converter is definitely NOT the same thing.

    The V-converter is a box that takes an HDMI feed in and provides overlays out, but it still needs an HDMI Monitor to work with. You can probably get a cheap television, but you'll need to find a way to power that TV out in the field. Not to mention most television or inexpensive monitors can't see certain framerates.

    The Aputure also does not allow you to capture from the camera (record the HDMI feed), nor does it allow you to connect the camera to live streaming software for the internet.

Comments are closed.