Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Rokinon Introduces More Cine Lenses

Rokinon has announced that they are bring out 2 new cine style lenses : a 24mm T1.5 and a 14mm T3.1 ! Available in september.

If these have more solid builds than the still versions even by a bit, they are both total no brainers to get. They will simply smack Ziess and their way overpriced snot glass silly. This is the glass we have all been waiting for...reasonable price, excellent performance, cine style construction.

So for slacking off a bit last week, I hope I made up for it by bringing you this tasty bit of welcome news.

rokinon 24 1.5

rokinon cine 14 3.1

DaVinci Resolve V9 Beta Released - First Look

davinci resolve 9 black magic design

 

Black Magic Design release version 9 of Davinci Resolve today. New UI, lots of new features including what looks like extensive AAF support for Avid users. Its available here.

Just scanning the new manual its much improved. Its more tutorial like and less formal which makes it MUCH more useful. A big personal thanks to the person(s) who spend a lot of time updating it. Its got lots of practical comments on the hows and whys of what things do. Its got lots of color, lots of examples... and I see in one screen shot showing how to log in, Mr. VanHurkman's name and picture shows up. Looks a hint who helped in redoing the docs. 

I'm off to install it and take it for a test drive !

WARNING  :  ONE WAY TRIP !

After installing the beta I looked into my apps folder... oh no... all I see is ONE copy of the app. I should of renamed it Resolve 822 or something. The installer removes 8.x and installs 9. When you start the app up, it has to update the database. Thats a one way trip it seems. So word to  the wise : only install the beta on a system that is not mission critical until you are satisfied it works.

Ok, I'm in.

The UI has really been worked on. Nice splashes of color, a new open project window, scrubbable icons with a CTI, pop out info window, 8 tracks of audio playback for clips with audio meters,  a more sensible media pool is more like bins in your NLE, ability to set where thumbnails are cached, additional video transitions have been added, if you adjust the width of a window column in list view, change panels and go back its still the same width ! lots of tasty UI improves that make you say GREAT ! for example in the main color panel the various old tabs are now accessed via a row of buttons. this saves a set in that you don't have to go to the main tab, then sub tab. you just go to what you want. In the window tab / panel / whatever you want to call it there is now a large preview of the matte being generated taking some of the guess work out of what is going on.

This is a great update so far. Old projects opened up ok, Can't wait to play with it tomorrow ! 

Back To Work

60D + Vivitar / Tokina 400 5.6 at EAA AirVenture 2012

I spent a week working hard and all sorts of stuff happens. Canon releases a mirrorless camera that could of and should of put them back in the game. Instead what they release is a stripped down t4i with a new lens mount. I mean please, this is lame. This was Canon's chance to tease us with a new sensor with no aliasing and moire problems that was actually SHARP in video mode... unlike the 5D m3. Speaking of which, I spent several days working with a 5D m3. We fed audio directly into it and it was ok. Note I didn't say great, but ok and it got the job done for what we where doing. At least you could monitor sound at the camera. This worked fine for needing to work fast and light for days on end.

 

I do have some things I'm working on which in part revolves around waiting for Santa UPS to bring me a box of new toys to do reviews on smiley !

So since I did take a day off, I'll leave you with this tasty video I first saw on NoFilmSchool . Sure its shot on some large sensor camera but - its got lots of cool graphics in its augmented reality views, some decent writing with a clear concept and a clear ending that commits, and ok acting. All the elements you need to have something watchable.... and in this youtube world its down right very well done.

Friday, July 27, 2012

B-25 Anyone ?

My day today - rigging a new GoPro 2 inside the cockpit of a B-25. The camera rolled to capture the navigator of the Enola Gay getting a ride at EAA 2012. More soon. GoPro is here getting amazing stuff too.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Long Week of Work

I've got a long week of work doing mainly audio and some B roll shooting on my GoPro's. I picked up a new one yeasterday and like it so far.... and remember just try to have fun on long jobs like this !

I'm also working with a pile of new Sennhieser wireless and their new amazing lav mic thats super tiny and sounds great. More on this next week

 

grabbing shots of planes arriving at EAA Oshkosh's week long airshow and plane meet ! The next time you are out on a shoot complaining a plane made some noise in your outdoor interview shot, just try it with nearly 1000 planes around !

Friday, July 20, 2012

Rokinon / Samyang / Vivitar 14mm 2.8 Lens Review and Test

I don't think I've ever met a lens that was too wide for me. My current widest lens is 17-50 2.8 Tamron and that had me looking for a wider lens. I decided to check out the Rokinon 14mm 2.8 after having a positive experience with another one of their lenses, the 35 1.4.

 
 
I took this lens out for some tests at first, then it went out on a trip to Pearl Harbor documenting a bunch of WW2 vets. They were visiting the places they had been when the attack occurred. On this shoot we had several cameras including a full size panasonic HPX500 P2 camera, a AF100 with 14-24 Nikon, a couple of GoPros, D800 and my 60D with 2 lenses. I brought the Rokinon 14 2.8 and a vintage OM 50 1.4 because I had to travel light. I was doing a mix of B camera and audio with full gear. 
 

 
In practice I used the 14 2.8 for just about everything I shot. It was the widest lens we had on the shoot and it came in handy for getting wide shots everywhere from planes to buses to wide scenic shots. I also found that with a Letus LCD loupe on the camera, I could easily hand hold this barebones setup just fine. I had steady shots without too much effort and without any bug bulky shoulder rig. This proved invaluable for shooting discreetly in one or two places where it was required. It also made shooting in tight places like planes and busses much easier.
 
Since this is a pretty wide lens even on a APS-C camera, you have to get close. This is not a lens for the timid that want to hold back and have distance. Its a lens for getting into the middle of it and seeing the big picture up close.
 
The Good
 
The Rokinon 14mm 2.8 has a built in lens shade as one might expect with this sort of a lens and it seems to work fine. The lens cap is a cup style one that covers the entire shade. Its overall size is compact within reason but still big enough you can focus or mount a gear on the focus ring.
 

Build Quality

Plastic outer barrel with aluminum internals. Unlike the 35 1.4, when you shake this lens nothing moves around. It seems like a very solid build overall. The Canon EF mount though has no contacts or chip in the mount. While this might seem ok for a manual lens, they should put in a chip that tells the body the focal length and wide open apeture of the lens. Total cost would be a dollar or two for them and it should be there. As note, they do have some other mounts like Nikon that do have contacts and some basic info is sent to the body.
 
The iris does have click stops because its a still lens. However, they aren't nearly as stiff or distinct as other lenses. With some practice you can get some almost smooth iris changes while shooting that shouldn't be too noticeable.
 

Focus

The focus ring has a nice 270 deg spin. Thats just like a real cine lens and I wish more lenses would do this. This allows the lens to focus to just under 1ft which in a practical sense is about 6" from the front of the lens. Just for kicks I tried my shortest extension tube to see if I could go closer. Using a 7mm extension I found my close focus was literally the front of the lens's front element. Guess an extension tube is useless. That said, stopping down a bit should get you that last bit of close focus if you need it.
 
Now the weird part, the lens focuses past infinity. It has an infinity mark on the barrel, then a hard stop about another 4 or 5 deg further past it. While focus past infinity is common with really long lenses, I'm not sure why this lens can focus past infinity for any practical real reason.
 
 
rokinon samyang 14mm 2.8 lens barrel

No Depth of Field Markings

Speechless. Why ? It wouldn't of cost them anything to do. There is other printing on the ring where the markings would of gone. Depth of field markings are critical when looking to easily find your hyper focal length or to have a quick reference to if you can hold critical depth of focus. No IR focus mark either. 
 

Optical Performance

This lens offered very nice optical performance. 5K stills from my 60D that I used to shoot a bunch of time-lapse shots where great, even at 2.8. For video purposes this lens also performed very well. An interesting note is that when shooting video I was often stopped down to F11 or F16. This seems to of slightly softened the image a bit but that was ok. The resulted in rarely seeing any aliasing or moire. I mean in maybe 100 plus shots I saw something once or twice that was generally minor.
 
In this video I used the lens to shoot all the timelapse / light writing shots. It worked very very well for this.
 

 
This lens does cover full frame sensors, but I don't have a full frame camera to test with. All my shots where done on a APS-C sized camera and my out to the corners results where good.
 
One word of caution : I've heard that the overall QA on these lenses can vary quite a bit. If you buy one and its not sharp or seems to have another odd optical problem like one side of the image is soft, simply return it for another copy. This is based on some comments I found that where 2 years old. Its entirely possibly that Samyang / Rokinon has gotten their QA act together and its a problem of the past.
 

Linearity

There are a couple of image samples on the web where somebody shoots dead square on something like closet door which shows up some pin cushion distortions on this lens. If you need to shoot with a pure rectilinear lens, this may not be your lens of choice. In the real world however, I know I don't take shots like this. In the sample video I included a couple of shots showing ceiling girders in an aircraft hanger. I didn't see anything out of place that would of made me unhappy at all. I think the conclusion here is that most real world shots won't show the problem. Overall the rectilinear nature of this lens at APS-C size is perfectly fine especially considering the price.
 

The Bad

No drop in filter slot. Why would you care ? well just try putting a filter on the front of the lens - you basically can't unless it involves gaffer tape. You also have to have a large filter as well. Typically with really wide angle lenses there would be a drop in filter slot on the lens, or even a thin gel filter holder on the back of the lens mount. For video of course you would want an ND filter. Shooting with a APS-C sensor you could probably put a  filter right on the inside of the lens shade. However you would need to be careful about reflections from the filter and flare bouncing around from the open edges. 
 
I really tried to shoot more towards 5.6 or 8, but I was usually at F11 or F16 and turning the shutter speed up to get good exposure outside. So in the sample video I was shooting at 250th to 600th shutter. While 250th makes for the music video effect going higher is generally not so nice.  What I didn't have time to do is apply something like ReelSmart Motion Blur to the clip to try and add motion blur back in. This of course exposes a general dslr problem, lack of low ISO's like 64 or 25 for these sorts of situations. I was at 160 most of the time when shooting under normal outside light.
 
What I was able to do was mount the 14mm up with my matte box. I have a large "wide angle safe" swing away setup. With some fiddling around I was able to push the lens into the matte box a bit and be safe on the sides. I think I still had room to drop in one filter. thankfully my matte box can take 4X5.65 wide filters so I at least had a shot of NDing this lens down for setups where I had the full rig. However when going hand held bare bones, I would of been looking for a 82mm ND 1.2 to tape onto the front of the lens which I didn't happen to have.
 

Conclusion

The Rokinon 14mm 2.8 a great lens. Solid build, good optical performance, compact size, full frame coverage and reasonable price with very minor compromises. The camera brand lenses are 3X the price so I can easily live with the minor compromises.

This is also a great timelapse lens. I shot some stars at night and the down town city shots with it. Its wide enough to get a big chunk of the sky in, or tall buildings across the street. 

Its a fun lens to shoot with when you need to be minimal. Put on your LCD VF and get your shots.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

New Lens Review Friday

Friday I'll have a new lens review on the very tasty Samyang / Rokinon 14mm 2.8 lens including sample video I shot while on a shoot in Pearl Harbor. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

One of My Projects

Sometimes your best work gets done under crazy deadlines and unrealistic budgets. I think this qualifies as one. Its a promo video for the regional United Way Charities. Special thanks to Pam Rucinski of Rucinski & Reetz Communications who wrote and produced this.  Another special thanks to Colleen Parquette who did a lot of shooting on this and about half of the editing. 

 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Post #400

Has it been that long ? I have no idea how I got here, but here is post #400. Thats a very respectable 2 posts a week every week. I know there have been days when I've had 2 or 3 things out, then let most of the week go by. There are times when I wonder what I want to post about, and then there are times when I have a few things in the works. Like right now I have yet another lens review I'm finishing up. Mostly written, product shots done and this time I have some sample video shot in Hawaii.... yes I'm upping the production value a little smiley !

Also please don't forget, thank you for a few minutes of your time to stop by and listen to what I have to say on any given day ! I appreciate it very much that you consider this site worth stopping by on a regular basis. The traffic here as steadily grown and I'm thrilled it has. Its NOT easy to post, be relevant and have something worth saying that people hopefully dig and find relevant. 

Stay tuned, more good stuff to come as we all ride some of the most changing times in production that has ever seen since motion pictures where first created over 100 years ago.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Vintage VS New Lens Shoot Out !

YES ! This is a first of its kind lens shoot out pairing 2 new lenses against 3 vintage lenses. Lens charts, real world shots, different apertures, different lighting. This is a really comprehensive set of tests that just get right into it in making side by side comparisons of all this glass. 

In this shoot out I've got :

Rokinon 35 1.4

Tamron 17-50 2.8

VS

Vivitar 28 1.9

Vivitar 24 2

Kiron 28 2

 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Zaxwerks Releases V6 of ProAnimator

 

 

No sooner did I finish the last post and this one pops up seconds later : Zaxwerks has released V6 of ProAnimator. ProAnimator has been here for a while to turn out certain 3D bits when I need them. 

__________________Official Announcement____________________

Our new Ray Trace renderer produces ultra-cool pictures, with reflections of objects in other objects, smooth realistic shadows, and glass refractions. Mmmmm. Sweet, sweet pictures.

New workflow features include the ability to trace pictures then map the picture back onto the object with one click; the ability to turn whole folders of images into 3D objects; and the ability to collect all project related files if you have to move the project from one computer to another. If you’re not a 3D-techie this means it’s now easier than ever to turn client artwork into flying 3D objects.

Best of all in version 6 are the new Object Fragmentation features. This set of features lets you slice, chop or crack your 3D objects into little fragments. Big deal, most 3D programs can do this, right? Not even close. What ProAnimator does is to turn fragmentation into a design tool where you can change your mind as the design evolves. Slice your logos into planks, strips, cubes, chips, chunks or shards. No pre-planning required. Change the fragmentation, change the text getting fragmented, change the bevels, change the color, change anything at anytime for the greatest flexibility imaginable.

ProAnimator 6 has also added more animation controls especially designed to take advantage of the thousands of pieces generated by the fragmentation features. So now you can take your thousands of fragments and spin, tumble, whip and cascade them in cooler, fresher and more eye-catching ways than before. Spill the fragments into the screen and watch them assemble into your logo. Drop the fragments and watch one word turn into another. This can be done with any text, logo or imported 3D object.

Stop for a moment and realize that now you can design on the fly with fragments as easily as full objects. It’s like a particle system that’s easy and fun to control and completely real-time and interactive. It’s all waiting at your fingertips to give your work an exciting edge over your competition.
-------------------

Black Magic Design Releases Resolve V8.2.2 Today

Black Magic Design released V8.2.2 of Resolve today. This update includes :

FCP X support for XMLs with multi-cam and compound clips
RedGamma3 and RedColor3 support for R3D files
• RED HDRx Magic Motion support
• Sony F65 Raw options for S-Log, P3, Rec.709, 2.4 and 2.6 gamma
CinemaDNG options for Rec.709, 2.4 and 2.6 gamma, color temperature and ISO
• Mac OS X Lion 10.7.4 support
• Mac OS X Mountain Lion 10.8 support
• General performance and stability improvements

Nice to see they are continuing some updates on V8 while we all know V9 is coming soon... very soon I hope !

Hands on Sony F65 review

A nice hands on review by Martin Chab who spent 9 days with a Sony F65. Its not a rehash of the manual but real world experience. 

Vintage Lens Video Shoot Out Review Thursday !

Ya I know I've been a bit disgraceful in not getting this done. Its been a long daunting project and I sat on it for 2 months because I expected to have a 24 1.4 lens in my paws to add to the testing collection. Well that part didn't work out, but the rest of the review did. I finished my edit on it today and want to sit on it for a day for final clean ups before letting out.  Some surprising results, at least for some as 30 year old vintage glass goes against modern multicoated ashperics  ! Stay tuned.

Adobe Releases New Beta Avid AAF Importer

Adobe labs released a new Avid formatt AAF importer. AAF was a great idea that never really took off, and when it was implemented.... UGH ! The great thing about standards is you can implement 51% and call it compatible, then add your own bits to it which makes it work for you and no one else. Well thanks to Adobe's acquisition of Automatic Duck they gained an AAF importer and are now rolling out support for this format. CS6 required of course ! PLEASE follow the installation instructions !

Monday, July 09, 2012

Using the MXO2 LE + MAX For Live Field Recording and Webcasting

This cool article popped up over at the Cow on how some folks are using a MXO2 LE to capture a switcher feed live into a laptop, quick edit and output to web. All running off a mobile cart no less at trade shows. Pretty cool stuff that can be done with today's modern small gear. 

Red Giant acquires all of SIngular Software's products and technology

This press release was put out today - interesting news. I'm sure this helps Singular in their marketing efforts and in sustaining better product development since they don't have to do everything at once - develop their product, sales, marketing and support.

______________________________________

Our products are now part of the Red Giant family

We're excited to announce that Red Giant has acquired all Singular Software products. You probably know Red Giant as a company famous for developing great video products for filmmakers, with the Magic Bullet product line leading the way for color correction and visual storytelling.

This partnership is a perfect fit for two companies with a similar vision and culture. Singular Software products are an exciting opportunity for Red Giant customers who want professional syncing for their audio and video. And Singular Software technology is an important part of Red Giant’s plans for new filmmaking and workflow products.

So, what next? The Singular Software development team will continue full steam ahead with product development, including PluralEyes 3. While the transition to Red Giant is under way, you can continue to use the Singular Software website to buy products and use support@singularsoftware.com for support.

Thanks for being part of the journey so far, and we look forward to continuing to support you even better in the future, together with Red Giant.

The Singular Software Team

Friday, July 06, 2012

Don't Work For Free

It should of course go without saying you should get  paid for your work. Yet when it comes to creative services : shooting, editing, design, writing there are "clients" out there that think you should not get paid for your work. Antispec.com is a great starting place, and they have this great video up on the topic. It also talks about crowdsourcing which is yet another exploit to get people to work for free in mass. Just don't do it. 

One site specific to video it PopTent. National ads being done for less than what any director or DP would be paid never mind the rest the people involved. 

 

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Tascam DR-40 Recorder Review

Tascam DR-40 Audio Recorder

 
The Tascam DR-40 is another entry into the basic audio recorder category. It can record up to 4 tracks at once - the two internal mics and / or the two external outputs. While you can record 96khz 24bit thats probably a bit of a waste and 48K 24bit is all you'll really need. My main interest in this unit was to add it to my sound bag when working with my mixer to add on board recording. While I do have a DR-680 that I really like, its big in comparison and I was looking for a small light solution. I normally either have the mixer or DR-680 in the bag at any given time, not both.
 
The DR-40 is compact enough for the job running on 3 internal AA batteries for hours. It uses standard SD cards for recording that easily go in and out of the side of the unit. It comes in fact with batteries and a 2gb card to get you recording as soon as you open the box. While 2gb is ok, I had a 8gb card I used instead. I formatted the card in the recorder before using it for the first time as the DR-40 does want to have its own folder. It records standard  WAV, BWAV and MP3 files. The DR-40 will function as a USB SD card reader so you can directly access the SD card and dump the sound files onto your mac or pc.
 
 
Out of the box you'll note the 2 built-in mics have wire metal bumper guards. With the mics facing in they will do the job as I carried this unit around for a couple of days in my pocket and all was well. 
 
There are several side switches and buttons on the front. If you have worked with other Tascam products the menus will be familiar. They are simple and easy to figure out without reading the manual for the most part. Even just playing around with the unit for a few minutes I ran thru all the options and pretty much figured out what I needed to get the unit setup the way I wanted. The actual LCD display itself is reasonably contrasty and has a backlight with programable stay on time. Also of note is that the REC button has a nice plastic ring around it lit by a LED that makes it easy to see you are ready to record or all ready rolling.  Getting into record is basically instant and there is a pre-record feature if you need or want it.
 
The manual is available here http://tascam.com/content/downloads/products/706/e_dr-40_om_va.pdf and I'd suggest taking a few minutes to go through it. 
 
Phantom Power : Yes this unit has phantom power which is selectable for either 48V or 24V. When you turn phantom power on via the side switch the unit will prompt you on the front display to enable it. This is both a safety precaution and to prevent higher power consumption on the unit by accident. Running phantom power tends to use up a lot of battery power. This is true on ANY device that must convert 4-12V up to 48V, not just the Tascam
 
 
The HOLD Switch : Located on the side of the unit is a hold switch. Its a good idea when you are in record, moving around and want to be sure you stay in record. The problem is if you move the switch, by accident of course, into the hold position with the power off.  The unit will not come on if the hold switch is on. It will act like its dead or your batteries are. It took me several minutes to catch this one and get the DR-40 to turn on after changing the batteries twice. I suppose one might be able to argue this feature could save an accidental power on and your batteries. 
 
 
Sound Quality
 
I put a Schoeps CMC-64 into the inputs direct using 48V phantom power. It worked, it sounded pretty good. You could record dialog and be happy for a lot of work.  I'd best describe it as having more bottom end and less high end. Less detail in comparison to feeding it with my mixer. 
 
The preamps have a very low noise floor and the mic itself is pretty quite. So if your main criteria is noise levels, these preamps pass with flying colors. 
 
So note this : I screwed up these tests a bit. I recorded low levels because the meters in the unit ( see below ) are really kind of deceptive. Literally 80% of the meters are dedicated to what looks like the area below -18db. The last 20% is the range  you really care about, the range of  -18db to 0db. What looked like good healthy levels was in fact recorded by me low. Live and burn sometimes, that's why you do tests ! That said, my error wasn't the worst. In fact I'd say in all fairness it represents the sort of error I think a lot of people could of made using the unit for the first time. Know your gear, right ? 
 
Putting my mess up aside, boosting the low recording levels with 18-24db of gain was still very clean compared to some other recorders I've used. If I had to test how quiet the preamps really are, this was a great test… I just hadn't intended to do smiley. Please keep this in mind when listening to the recording samples.
 
 
 In comparison, using my FP33 to feed line level into the DR-40  had a more accurate sound. It had more detail in the upper end. I'm pretty sure I had the low cuts on the mixer turned on so I probably biased the recording samples a bit in them having less bottom end. 
 
 
 Line level sounded cleaner which is almost to be expected. My mixer has transformer isolated inputs and outputs along with a lot of head room if properly powered. So using this unit with an external mixer or pre map and feeding it line level is probably the best thing to do for best sound quality. If you are using this for recoding podcasts or news a mic on the direct input will be fine. I"m being critically picky here and in reality most folks will probably be happy with the built in pre maps for everyday recording.
 
The built in mics are also ok. They seem to have a lot of gain which makes them seem more sensitive than I think they really are. The built in mics sound decent. They are good enough for quick ambient recording or typical news gathering, especially if kept close enough. Of course keeping a mic close enough is important no matter what mic you have. Good mic placement is 50% of the game at least !
 
 
 
 There are furry wind covers you get get if you want to use the DR-40 outside. Tascam does not provide any basic foam windscreen though I'm sure some foam is inside the head of each mic. If wind rumble is a problem you can engage the low cut filter with 3 different cut in points as a starting point. 
 
With the 2 built in mics you can record with them facing each other at 90 degs or flip them to face out. The unit will detect this and ask you to change from XY to AB recording modes. The DR-40 also supports MS recording and playback. I could easily picture facing them outwards for hand held interview recording.
 
The one down side is that the built in mics will pick up handing noise. So if you hand hold the unit don't be rubbing your fingers on it or otherwise messing with it. Perhaps a pair of thin gloves might help if you really have to. I did use the unit a couple of times to get some ambient material with out a problem.
 
 
Recording modes 
 
The DR-40 can record in a variety of modes including :  X/Y or A/B stereo, MS stereo, Ch3/4 dual (linked), CH3/4 separate, any combination of 1/2 internal mics and or 3/4 external inputs, and can even record in a basic overdub mode playing 2 channels while recording. You can record 44.1, 48 and 96khz in 16 or 24 bits to various file formats. 
 
The DR-40 also has a built in safety recording feature. You can record from any input pair and then record 2 more channels from the same source with some level of input reduction. This is the sort of split level records I'll manually do sometimes when things are very unpredictable and you expect you may have hot levels you aren't ready for. Safety is good !
 
Another very cool feature is the ability to add delay in ms to the external inputs. This is to compensate for delay when using external mics ( or board feed ) far away in comparison the internal mics so sound is in sync. 
 
Here is a sample of the MP3 192kbits recording from the unit. I'm not thrilled with compression quality at all. Also consider I did boost the levels up which is aggravating, but if you did this on your job - MP3 recording format and levels a bit low you may not be happy with this.
 
 
 
 
Input Processing
 
There several compression / limiting modes on the inputs. The manual is really a bit fuzzy on these, but they sound like none, hard peak limiting, auto levels and "limiting" thats more like soft compression. I didn't have a lot of time to mess with these so you'll want to try them on your own. I went with the hard peak limiting as I was usually using a mixer in front of the DR-40 and letting its limiters do the real work when needed.
 
There is a peak LED indicator on the front of the unit which is a nice help. As long as you don't see it more than flash once in a while you should be good.
 
 
Input Levels
 
Every recorder seems to be a bit different. When working with my FP33 I set tone to +4db analog and then set the DR-40 to what I thought was -18db. This gives me about 14db of headroom before the FP33 limiters kick in and a couple more db before hitting digital 0. This seems to get reasonably good levels for me. The DR-40 seems to have a bit more gain on the inputs at line level as I set its internal input levels all the way down. Perhaps its set up for -20db consumer line level, or the Tascam engineers found that people tend to record levels that are a bit too low ( like I did the first time around ) and always want more gain. I didn't have that problem with my mixer feeding the unit line level. Given how clean the preamps are this is a reasonable plan to give the user more gain when they could use it. 
 
The meters on the DR-40 seemed pretty responsive and well tuned. Interesting side note :  buried in a menu  there is  a tuner function in the DR-40 !
 
What was strange though was that the actual recording levels of the 48K 16bit wav files seem to be a lot lower than what the meters where telling me. This was true in both direct feed and mixer feed. I found myself applying 18-24db of gain in premiere pro to the clips to get them into the -18db to -12db range for normal dialog and what I thought I had been recording. 
 
As I noted, this was my mistake by misreading the meters. Dear Tascam, please change the meter markings. Make the left 30% -128db to about -24db and use the rest of the meter space for -24db to 0. That would be a lot more useful !
 
When I did bring the levels up they where clean thanks in part to Premiere Pro's high quality audio handling. Usable for most work but I should of gotten better levels in the files. Next time !
 
Output
 
The DR-40 pretty much does everything  you'd want - playback 2 or 4 mix down channels with mix level and pan, M/S decode, delay effects and even variable speed playback. The only down side ? the only output is the 3.5mm headphone jack. There is a small speaker on the back of the unit for quick checks though.
 
Power
 
The unit runs for several hours on 3 internal AA batteries. I never managed to drain my rechargeables during testing of several  hours on and off. I did watch the battery meter and it seemed accurate so I changed out on one bar rather than taking it all the way down.  Tascam sells an external battery pack if you need extended recording time.
 
As for external power connector, there is none. OK, not the usual coaxial power connector just about everything has including other small Tascam recorders. Instead the choice was to use the USB port. I think this is a poor choice on every level. While you can power it from your laptop, or use a 12V->5V USB power adapter or wall power to USB adapter its far from being the ideal power connector. I'd tried it and it does work, but it won't charge the internal batteries if you are using recharables and you should be. I'd recommend finding a right angle mini USB cable if you are regularly going to power this unit externally.
 
Sync
 
If you shoot dslr's that's about a 12 minute take per roll. Sync in my tests at 70deg F was 3500 samples or so off. At 24 fps its 2000 samples per frame or 2002.02 samples @ 23.976 but I like easy math. My measured distance was 3571 samples or nearly 2 frames difference at 12 minutes. Bummer because thats a noticeable sync difference. On the other hand, what do you expect for $150 or so? My DR-680 which costs 5X more does hold sync out to 12 minutes with a drift of about a 1/2 frame. What can I say, you get what you pay for ! Just be glad you're not schlepping a Nagra around with its 10 D cells. So the bottom line is this recorder won't hold usable sync for more than about 6 minutes at 24fps. At 30fps this would be 20% shorter before hitting 1 frames. 
 
You could use this for sync sound, but you would be cutting your clip every 5 to 6 minus to slip it forwards a frame and then patch the gap. While this is possible to deal with it would not be my personal choice. Its also possible Plural Eyes can deal with the sync slippage too but I'm not sure this. If it can, or FCP X can the DR-40 may be very workable and affordable for you.
 
Conclusion
 
Its a great little recorder thats very affordable. Its perfect for simple recording work like taking a board feed of your band or news gathering. Its small size lets it fit in your pocket. Where the  unit falls down is for sync sound over a few minutes. Its possible that with  some variance in manufacturing you might get a unit that holds sync tighter or not. I don't know. Either way the Tascam DR-40 should meet a lot of people's needs for a small high quality inexpensive audio recorder.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Avid Sells Consumer A/V for $17 Million and Cuts 365 Jobs

 

Avid sold off its Pinacle line of products today for a paltry $17M after having paid $462M for the company back in 2005. They also cut loose 365 employees or about 15% of their workforce. Some of those employees will move with the Pinnacle products and the others are on the street. 

“It’s never easy to make these changes, but we believe it will make Avid a stronger...  more agile company,” Greenfield said. “As a small company, we’ve had to make some hard decisions.”

So Avid is trying to hang on to the more profitable pro / broadcast products while cutting loose their consumer products. They are raising some cash which will get written down aginst other losses for near break even. Cutting their workforce also helps their bottom line  but overall its stil not encouraging news. More Info HERE with more details.

One has to question why selling a division that generates $91M in revenues for $17M is a smart move... my guess is that $17M represents about the same profit that division would of made for the year except they have in as cash in hand. This gives them about $67M in the bank which could keep them limping along for a while. They have chosen to now just be professional products and we'll see how that plays out. In the end, I would not be surprised to see them also sell off their NLE product. Their real income and profit is in shared storage and the software and support it requires. Time will tell, and it will probably be sooner rather than later.