2 Thuderbolt ports needed, only 1 available. Anyone has had this problem before?

  • We're running a show with one of the newest Macbook Pro which come with two thunderbolt ports. We're using a Blackmagic Intensity Shuttle (Thunderbolt) for capturing one live camera into Isadora, and the other thunderbolt port is connected to a Matrox, since we're projecting to two separate screens. The problem is that we are forced to change the current setup and use an older Macbook Pro... which comes with only 1 thunderbolt port.

    I've researched for adapters (thunderbolt-displayport, thunderbolt-firewire, displayport-hdmi, etc.) but they all seem to be unidirectional and won't work for connecting either the matrox nor the BM via firewire. Also, we haven't been able to , say, output the video through the BM HDMI output and convert that into displayport for going into the matrox.

    I'm wondering if anyone has had a similar problem before and how is the best way to solve it. Any idea is welcomed. Thanks in advance.

  • Tech Staff

    I have seen a TB dock, that offered TB thru and a mini displayport. But its not common, and I don't remember which one.


  • your macbook may only have displayport capability, but no thunderbolt support. If so, you won't be able to connect anything other than display devices to it. Thunderbolt came out later and it looks and acts the same with addition of the some PCI-E i/O capabilities

  • @LPmode Actually, it does have a thunderbolt. Both devices (BM and Matrox) work fine when connected, the problem is we can't connect both at once.

    @DusX We tried a multidock which offered 2x Thunderbolt, but much to our surprise, it must be plugged to the computer thru 1 of those two TB ports, so we ended having only one free. The other docks I've seen have also 2 TB ports, and I suspect they work the same way. So far I haven't found any docks that offer more than 2 TB ports. This TB thru port you mention sounds interesting but I haven't found such a dock yet.

  • _"We tried a multidock which offered 2x Thunderbolt, but much to our surprise, it must be plugged to the computer thru 1 of those two TB port__"_ there is no way around this, thunderbolt needs to be chained so you will **never** find a hub with more than two ports (one to connect to the host and another for a device). This is a documented part of the standard and should not be a surprise at all. 
    _"connecting either the matrox nor the BM via firewire"_ will never be possible, firewire has only a tiny portion of the bandwidth (800 Mbps vs 10Gbps) needed to pass this kind of data and is a very old and outdated standard, you could of course switch to a canopus firewire capture box if you want to grab through the firewire port.
    There are some expensive matrox capture cards with pass through, ie they don't have to be the end of the chain but you are looking at around 1000 bucks.
    The connection from display port will run large resolutions needed to give enough pixels to a matrox (even 3x 1920*1080), the HDMI output of the blackmagic intensity shuttle is (as stated in the specs and the control panel) SMPTE standards, ie PAL, NTSC, 1080i, 720p only, and will not run any matrox or multi display options.
    Here is a solution, most of the thunderbolt docks have a USB3.0 port, the cheapest way around (apart from getting a new laptop with the required ports) is to use a thunderbolt dock and buy a USB3.0  blackmagic intensity shuttle capture card and plug it into the thunderbolt box (the old macs with one thunderbolt did not have USB3.0 as far as I know.
    However after you pay 200 for a new capture card and at least 200 for a thunderbolt dock you may well be getting close to selling the old laptop and buying a second hand retina model with 2 thunderbolt ports- the gfx card (and cpu) in these old machines is pretty poor and may not perform well grabbing all that capture data and running several external displays.

  • Hello,

    Personally I have a 2012 MBP with 1 thunderbolt, I buyed 1 caldigit box with IN/out thunderbolt and a HDMI output. You can put the matrox on the hdmi and the BM on thunderbolt.
    More precisely I have
    MBP TB–caldigit(ethernet, Hdmi-HD display, USB-motu soundcard)–laCie(2 eSata docks)–BM UltraStudi MiniMonitor with HD color grading display attached.
    All works perfectly since 3 years

  • Hi,

    I have a mid2012 macbook pro with only one TB port, but I have 2 USB3.0 ports.
    I use TB for my tripplehead and USB3.0 for my Intensity Shuttle. It works well..
    Since 2 years.

    You have to check the speed of  your macbook's USB ports and maybe buy an Intensity Shuttle USB3.0.


  • Looking at it from the wrong end possibly - don’t try changing the static piece of hardware that you find yourself stuck with (the Macbook) - change what you’re attaching to it.

    What video format are you capturing, or more specifically, what’s the capture source?

    HDMI, Composite, SVHS? 
    You may find using the analogue outs of a digital video camera, and adding a [£20 eBay bargain composite > USB capture stick compatible with VideoGlide](http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Genuine-USB-2-0-Video-Capture-for-Windows-8-8-1-10-Mac-OSX-to-10-11-El-Capitan-/161177975453?hash=item2586f4ba9d:g:qusAAOSwNphWZAqv) is the cheapest, quickest and easiest solution (I’ve been using that exact one for about 2 years now without any problems). 
    Either that, or switch to / find an old DV or HD-DV video camera that has native firewire output and thus needs no capture solution. 
    Leaves the Thunderbolt-I port free for the Matrox.

  • Thanks everyone for your responses. We are currently looking for a USB Blackmagic, it seems to be the easiest solution.

    @Fred We are now beginning to understand how thunderbolt works, we just didn't two weeks ago, but it's clear it's just like you said it, there are no docks with more than two thunderbolt ports.

    @jhoepffner Do you use some particular kind of adapter after the Caldigit? The matrox has a displayport input, so we would need to convert HDMI to DP. This is right now our only alternative, so I'd like to know if you use some brand in particular.

    @Marci We have a DV camera with FW output, which we can use with no problems, but the difference between capturing in HD and SD is like night and day, that's why we're trying so hard to make this setup work.

    Again, thanks everybody. Cheers.

  • @haradan

    I use a matrox DE with a DVI input, very easy to find hdmi to dvi converter.
    I don't know for DP…

  • I am pretty sure you need to use the HDMI edition, but you can try something like this

    Note the max resolution, there are models with higher resolution but they will cost a lot more (there is nothing simple and passive to do this), you may well be better off just buying the USB3 version of the capture box.

  • Caution: USB BlackMagic hardware tends to be USB3. MacBooks with single Thunderbolt-I port tend to be USB2... and the BlackMagic isn't backwards compatible. Be certain you have USB3 ports...!

  • With the caldigit thunderbolt expansion he will get a usb3.0 port, bm usb capture devices are only usb3.0