Capturing iPad video on a Mac is still problematic

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Capturing iPad video on a Mac is still problematic

When TUAW blogger Erica Sadun and I found out that the iPad 2 was going to feature video mirroring through the various adapters that Apple and others sell, we were ecstatic. For Erica, this would hopefully provide a quick way to capture movies of demonstrations of some of her software solutions, while I was hoping to be able to grab iPad video on my Mac for the many app demos that I do on TUAW TV Live.

Regretfully, our joy was short-lived. We've both tried with various cables and adapters, and to this point, have had no luck. Both Erica and I own inexpensive video input devices for our Macs; she has the Elgato Video Capture (US$99.95) while I have the functionally equivalent Geniatech iGrabber ($34.99). Both devices take composite video signals from a device -- usually an old VHS videocassette recorder or camcorder -- and capture the resulting video using proprietary software on the Mac.

Since Apple sells a Composite AV Cable for iOS devices, we both thought that it would be possible to blast video out from the iPad 2 through that cable to the Mac composite video capture tools, which would let us achieve our respective goals for capturing iPad 2 videos. Unfortunately, neither of us was able to get this to work, and we're not exactly sure why. Apple's spec page indicates the composite output isn't supported for mirroring.

What we found is that it doesn't appear that mirroring works with the Composite AV Cable. iPad apps that support video out, such as Sadun's Whiteboard ($2.99, and it was written by Erica) and Keynote, do seem to work properly with the Composite AV Cable. I was able to use my cheap iGrabber to capture a Keynote presentation running on the iPad onto my Mac, as well as record some scrawling on Sadun's Whiteboard. But if I popped out of the video out mode for either of those apps and tried to get the mirrored video to appear on the Mac, it didn't work. That blank green screen in the image accompanying this post? That's all I got when trying to capture mirrored video. Erica also verified the same thing.

So why doesn't this work? We're wondering if there's an issue with taking the 1024 x 768 video image on the iPad and scaling it down to the 480i composite video resolution. But if that's the case, the iPad apps that use video out shouldn't work either. [From a helpful commenter who quotes Apple: "Video mirroring and video out support: Up to 1080p with Apple Digital AV Adapter or Apple VGA Adapter (cables sold separately)" - Ed.]

Neither of us is about to give up on this, which is why I wrote this post. If anyone out there has had success recording iPad video on a Mac without an HDMI capture board like the Blackmagic Design Intensity (which works only in the Mac Pro), we'd like to hear from you in the comments. I'm personally thinking of trying the Apple Component AV Cable and the Blackmagic Video Recorder, but I'd like to hear from our clever readers before I spend money on a solution that might not work.

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