youtube channel for steve oakley
Facebook logo for steve oakley

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Zoom About To Release 8 track Field Recorder

Zoom is about to release what amounts to a mini SD 788T. Retail $999 and Pre Orders as  being taken. Specs are impressive:

  • 8-channel/10-track field audio recorder/mixer
  • 8 discrete inputs with locking Neutrik XLR/TRS combo connectors
  • Compact and lightweight aluminum chassis, weighing just 2 pounds (without batteries)
  • High quality mic preamps with up to 75 dB gain, less than -127 dBu EIN, and +4 dB line inputs
  • Support for up to 24-bit/192 kHz recording as well as 96 kHz, 88.2 kHz, 48 kHz, and 44.1 kHz, plus 47.952 kHz/48.048 kHz for HD video compatibility; 16-/24-bit resolution
  • Accurate Time Code (0.2 ppm) I/O on standard BNC connectors; dropframe/non-drop formats with Jam Sync
  • Three different power supply options: 8x AA batteries, external DC battery pack with Hirose connector, or 12V AC adapter (AA’s and DC battery pack not included)
  • Automatic switching of power source from DC to batteries at user-defined voltage levels
  • Dedicated gain control knob, 6-segment LED level meter, and PFL/Solo switch for each channel
  • Phantom power (+48V/+24V) on every input
  • Advanced onboard limiters for input and output
  • High pass filter, phase invert, and Mid-Side decoder
  • Input delay of up to 30 msec per channel / output delay of up to 10 frames per output
  • Compatible with Zoom microphone capsules; optional extender cable enables remote positioning
  • Dual mini-XLR (TA3) balanced Main Outs plus ⅛" stereo mini-jack Sub Out
  • Dedicated headphone output (100mW) with front panel volume control
  • 2.4" full-color backlit LCD with monochrome mode
  • Dedicated PFL display with viewable trim settings
  • Dual SD/SDHC/SDXC card slots, up to 512 GB each
  • Records in BWF-compliant WAV or MP3 file formats
  • Support for extensive metadata (BWF and iXML); input time, date, project, scene number, etc.
  • Built-in slate mic/slate tone with front panel switch
  • Built-in tripod mount; camera mount adapter also included
  • Use as an 8-in/4-out USB audio interface (@ 96 kHz)
  • Free Zoom F8 Control App for iOS allows wireless remote control, file renaming, and metadata entry
  • Aluminum case, 2.1 lbs 

All that said, its REALLY small. No way one could actively mix with those tiny knobs with much accuracy. However, The solution is to use your iPad. Thats right - using the BT connection and app on iDevice you can use an iPad as a control surface. Thats pretty crazy. With an iDevce this might work surprisingly well. Did I say this  is all in a product selling for $999. Sound Devices just got competition for sure. While busy working pro's, especially when doing live TV will want the SD mixer controls, for less demanding work this new unit may do the job well. In fact you could pair it as an ISO recorder to your 552 and use the TC out to lock the 552 to this unit. Its quite surprising to find TC on anything that doesn't cost a couple grand.So I think this little unit might shake the world up a little !


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Codec Shoot Out !

A look at the native C100 vs C300 cvs Ninja DNxHD codecs. Youtube lost a lot of the detail in their recompression of my upload. Hate to say, trust me, but DNxHD really preserved the detail aka noise and sharpness in the image best. However you still have to do these test to really know because... isn't h.246 twice as efficient as Mpeg2 ? Take a look...wish I could easily share the raw comparisons with you for your own eyes. Sorry you have to trust mine, but I'm being reasonably critical here and its not the subtle difference youtube makes it out to be.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Film Grain Vs Video Noise

This may be my first post in a while related to work things and making images or sound, but its worthwhile. In tests done by KODAK of all sources. The PDF I grabbed this from can be had by clicking on the image above or where its about 2/3's of the way through. In the tests kodak did, they wanted to equate film grain to video noise in some meaningful way. So suprise of suprises just how noisy film is. 5245 ( replaced by newer stocks which have better grain characteristics ) ISO 50 was the video equivalent 26db of gain or ISO 12,800 on the canon C series cameras. Look at where one of the most commonly shot films stocks is at ISO 500. 

In my personal and more subjective view, its probably not quite that far apart and I'd be tempted to place to place film at more ISO 5000 on the C cameras, simply taking into account newer film emulsions. However it also ends any argument of 35mm film having these crazy resolutions I heard people arguing - 4K to 6K because the grain structure itself simply obliterates. My personal experience when doing film transfers is that 35mm, ISO 250 was my pref in film speeds was around 1920  or 2K in resolution depending on processing, exposure and glass.  

Why am I bringing this up ? well because I'm  upping my game and bought a C300 this week. Thats right, I sort of cross graded in cameras. Mainly it was because of network approval. Even though the C100 makes the same image, and when you go to an external recorder its the same compression - better than either the 24mb h.264 or 50mbit Mpeg2.  In fact I plan to do very interesting test - I'm going to shoot both cameras side by side using the internal codecs and the ninja. My expectation is that the internal codecs are going to be very close in image quality and artifacts simply taking into mind that h.264 is roughly 2X more efficient than Mpeg2. In fact the Mpeg2 signal is probably a bit _more_ compressed because its 4:2:2 instead of 4:2:0 meaning its compressing that extra color info harder. So it will be an interesting test.

Of course I do plan on doing the C300 mk2 upgrade down the road too... 15 stops of dynamic range plus all the other improvements in the camera means it should have a decent long work life ahead of itself. I've only worked on one show so far that was shooting 4K. It looked great but so far there just isn't much demand for 4K for most projects. However I fully expect that to change over the next year. When I've had conversations with non-production people about 4K, they been interested in it. So the demand is there, its just a matter of time before it takes off.