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Capturing HDMI with Ubuntu: Finding a Video4Linux Compatible Device

Ubuntu 10

In the world of video capturing and streaming, finding a compatible device that works seamlessly with your operating system is crucial. This article will guide you through the process of capturing HDMI content using Ubuntu, focusing on finding a Video4Linux (V4L) compatible device.

Quick Answer

To capture HDMI with Ubuntu, you can use HDMI capture USB boxes like the Magewell XI100DUSB-HDMI or HDMI PCI cards such as the Blackmagic Intensity Pro. Alternatively, you can explore Linux-centric video solutions like ShotCut. Ensure that your HDMI content is in unprotected mode (non-HDCP) for successful capture.

What is Video4Linux (V4L)?

Video4Linux, often abbreviated as V4L, is a collection of device drivers and an API for supporting real-time video capture on Linux systems. It supports many USB webcams, TV tuners, and related devices, providing a uniform API for applications to interact with these devices.

HDMI Capture Options for Ubuntu

There are several options available for capturing HDMI content in Ubuntu. Let’s explore them one by one.

HDMI Capture USB Boxes

One of the most common options is to use HDMI capture USB boxes like the Magewell XI100DUSB-HDMI. These devices can be connected to your computer via USB and allow you to capture HDMI content.

HDMI PCI Cards

Another option is to use HDMI PCI cards such as the Blackmagic Intensity Pro. These cards can be installed directly into your computer and provide HDMI capture capabilities.

Linux-Centric Video Solutions

If you encounter any compatibility issues with the above-mentioned cards, you may need to use a Linux-centric video solution like ShotCut. ShotCut is a video editing software that is designed to work well with Linux and may help in making these cards function properly.

Using Video4Linux with HDMI Capture Devices

For live streaming video, the above-mentioned cards might work, but you will need to use gstreamer in-between to make the Intensity Pro’s inputs available in Video4Linux (V4L or V4L2).

gstreamer is a pipeline-based multimedia framework that links together a wide variety of media processing systems to complete complex workflows.

Here is a basic command to use gstreamer:

gst-launch-1.0 -v v4l2src ! videoconvert ! autovideosink

In this command:

  • gst-launch-1.0 is the command-line tool to build and run basic gstreamer pipelines.
  • -v is the option for verbose output, printing a line to the console for each message.
  • v4l2src is the V4L2 source element, which reads data from a V4L2 device.
  • videoconvert is a video converter that converts video frames between a great variety of video formats.
  • autovideosink is a video output sink that automatically detects the best video sink to use.

V4L2-Compatible Devices

There is another V4L2-compatible device called the Avermedia LiveGamerPortable2, which works well on Ubuntu 16.04. It can be connected via USB and is compatible with OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) out of the box.

HDCP Protected Content

It is important to note that for any of these solutions to work, your HDMI video source must be in unprotected mode (non-HDCP). If the video is protected by HDCP, you will not be able to capture it.

If you want to capture HDCP protected content, there are hardware options available that can strip HDCP before inputting it into your capture card. For example, a SCART to HDMI converter with an HDMI input that passes through without HDCP.

Conclusion

In summary, there are multiple options to capture HDMI content in Ubuntu. These include HDMI capture USB boxes, HDMI PCI cards, Linux-centric video solutions like ShotCut, and V4L2-compatible devices like the Avermedia LiveGamerPortable2. It is important to ensure that the HDMI content is in unprotected mode (non-HDCP) for successful capture. With the right tools and a bit of patience, you can set up a reliable and efficient HDMI capture system on your Ubuntu machine.

What is the difference between HDMI capture USB boxes and HDMI PCI cards?

HDMI capture USB boxes are external devices that can be connected to your computer via USB, while HDMI PCI cards are internal cards that need to be installed directly into your computer.

Can I use any HDMI capture USB box or HDMI PCI card with Ubuntu?

Not all HDMI capture devices are compatible with Ubuntu. It is important to check the device’s specifications and compatibility with Linux systems before purchasing.

Can I use HDMI capture devices with other Linux distributions besides Ubuntu?

Yes, most HDMI capture devices that are compatible with Ubuntu should also work with other Linux distributions. However, it is always recommended to check the device’s compatibility with your specific Linux distribution.

Do I need any additional software or drivers to use HDMI capture devices with Ubuntu?

In most cases, Ubuntu should have the necessary drivers built-in to support HDMI capture devices. However, you may need to install additional software or drivers depending on the specific device you are using. It is always recommended to consult the device’s documentation or manufacturer’s website for any additional requirements.

Can I capture HDCP protected content with HDMI capture devices?

No, HDMI capture devices cannot capture HDCP protected content. HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection) is a form of digital copy protection that prevents unauthorized copying of protected content. If the HDMI video source is protected by HDCP, you will not be able to capture it using these devices.

Are there any workarounds to capture HDCP protected content?

Yes, there are hardware options available that can strip HDCP before inputting it into your capture card. For example, a SCART to HDMI converter with an HDMI input that passes through without HDCP can be used. However, it is important to note that capturing HDCP protected content may be illegal in some jurisdictions, so it is always recommended to check the applicable laws and regulations before attempting to capture such content.

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