Sound for Video Session: Fairlight Audio First Impressions

In this week’s Sound for Video Session, we take a first look at DaVinci Resolve 15 Beta’s Fairlight audio panel. This is a full-fledged digital audio workstation (DAW) within a comprehensive video editing, compositing, grading, and finishing application. We aren’t going to dig into all the details, but try to answer the question about whether one can now switch to DaVinci Resolve for audio mixing? The answer is different for everyone, but I hope you find this helpful in making the decision for yourself.

Gear and links discussed/used to record this episode: 

DaVinci Resolve with Fairlight Audio (beta or production and free or Studio versions)

Electrovoice RE20 Dynamic Broadcast Microphone

Allen & Heath SQ5 Digital Mixer/Audio Interface - This is my first time using this to record a Sound for Video Session. Seems like it worked nicely.

Copyright 2018 by Curtis Judd

Outro music licensed from Artlist: Keep an Eye by Back to Dream. Artlist provides high quality music tracks for your film and video projects. You can receive two months off an Artlist account by using our link.

Ethics statement: Some of the links above are affiliate links which means that if you click on them and buy, I get a small commission. You don't pay more by clicking these links than if you just went to the retailer’s web site on your own. I use the proceeds to buy additional gear to review and help you improve your sound, lighting, and video. Thanks for your support!

5.7" Flippable HDMI Monitor: AndyCine A6 Review

When shooting video, I find it much easier to compose great shots, hit focus, and correctly expose when I have a monitor a little larger than most cameras with some tools to help. The AndyCine 5.7” monitor is a budget monitor with a unique cold/hotshoe mount which allows you to flip it to the front of the camera when shooting selfie/vlog style. What’s more, is that it can also power several Panasonic and Sony mirrorless cameras with an add-on dummy battery so you can use larger capacity Sony NP-F style batteries for longer battery life.

Links to gear discussed and used to shoot this episode:

AndyCine A6 5.7” Flippable HDMI Monitor

Amazon US Amazon UK  Amazon DE Amazon FR  Amazon IT Amazon ES  Amazon CA

AndyCine Dummy Battery for Panasonic GH Series Cameras

AndyCine Dummy Battery for Sony a6xxx Series Cameras

AndyCine Dummy Battery for Sony a7III, a7RIII, and A9 Series Cameras

AndyCine Dummy Battery for Canon DSLR 5D, 6D, 7D, and 80D Series Cameras

Sony NP-F Style Batteries to power the A6 and your camera

NP-F Battery Charger

Sennheiser MKH8050 Boom Microphone - this is the microphone I used

Aputure COB 120t - This is the light I used as a key in the talking head clips

Aputure Light Dome Soft Box - Used to soften the key light

Lupo DayLED Fresnel Light with Barn Doors - Used for the “rim/hair” light

Blackmagic design Ursa Mini Pro Cinema Camera - used for some of the product shots

Sigma ART 24-70mm f/2.8 OS Lens (Canon EF Mount)

Panasonic GH5 - Used for some of the product shots

Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 OIS Lens - incredibly versatile lens that is on the GH5 most of the time

Copyright 2018 by Curtis Judd 

Music - MzA by Cary Judd, used with permission

Ethics statement: Some of the links above are Amazon.com or B&H Photo affiliate links which means that if you click on them and buy, I get a small commission. You don't pay more by clicking these links than if you just went to the retailer’s web site on your own. I use the proceeds to buy additional gear to review and help you improve your sound, lighting, and video. Thanks for your support!

Zoom F8n Audio Recorder: Initial Impressions

At the National Association of Broadcasters meeting earlier this year, Zoom announced their update to the F8 audio field recorder - the F8n. The focus of this update was to address many of the things that users complained about on the original - hybrid limiters that were ok, but not perfect, line inputs only on 1/4”, mediocre headphone amp, and consumer line level output among others. I had a chance to work with the F8n for a few hours. Let’s see how they did addressing these items. From my point of view, it looks like the F8n is a very nice step up from the original F8.

Links to gear discussed and used to shoot this episode:

Zoom F8n Audio Field Recorder

Zoom F4 Audio Field Recorder (similar but with 4 microphone inputs, monochrome screen, no app control)

Zoom F-Control surface with linear faders - my favorite way to mix when working from a table or cart.

Juicebox V-Mount Cine Battery - good way to power the F8n, F4, F8 all day long

D-tap to 4 pin Hirose Cable - to feed power from cine battery to F8n, F8, F4

Remote Audio BDS V4 Battery Distribution System

Remote Audio Hi-Q Battery (98 watt-hours) - this is a battery that is better suited for use in a sound bag, smaller than most cine batteries but still lots of capacity

Sennheiser MKH8050 Boom Microphone - this is the microphone I used

Schoeps CMC641 - this is the microphone my daughter used

Aputure COB 120t - This is the light I used as a key in the talking head clips

Aputure Light Dome Soft Box - Used to soften the key light

Lupo DayLED Fresnel Light with Barn Doors - Used for the “rim/hair” light

Blackmagic design Ursa Mini Pro Cinema Camera - used for the talking head clips and some of the product shots

Sigma ART 24-70mm f/2.8 OS Lens (Canon EF Mount)

Panasonic GH5 - Used for some of the product shots, the crispier shots

Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 OIS Lens - incredibly versatile lens that is on the GH5 most of the time

Copyright 2018 by Curtis Judd 

Music - MzA by Cary Judd, used with permission

Ethics statement: Some of the links above are Amazon.com or B&H Photo affiliate links which means that if you click on them and buy, I get a small commission. You don't pay more by clicking these links than if you just went to the retailer’s web site on your own. I use the proceeds to buy additional gear to review and help you improve your sound, lighting, and video. Thanks for your support!

Thoughts on DaVinci Resolve and Fairlight (V14 and V15 beta 4)

DaVinci Resolve Screen Shot.png

I want to first say that I'm a fan and supporter of Blackmagic design and their products. I see and appreciate the direction that they're headed. I own several of their products which I purchased with my own money - the Ursa Mini Pro along with the viewfinder and shoulder mount kit, the Ultrastudio Mini Monitor and Mini Recorder. I have the Pocket Cinema Camera 4K on pre-order. I've also been a long-time user of Resolve.

I recently decided to try to use Resolve for my entire post workflow on my YouTube videos. I have attempted to go in with an open mind. For the last three years, I've done most of my video editing in Final Cut Pro X and mixing audio in Adobe Audition and with Izotope RX. There is potential that Resolve could greatly simplify my workflow by obviating the process of moving between applications for different parts of post processing.

Using Resolve V14 and 15 (beta), the potential looks good, but the current experience is still a little rocky.

For example, in version 14.2, I ran into a bunch of issues getting automation to work consistently in the Fairlight panel. I couldn't overwrite existing automation of faders at the start of a timeline (the piece starts with a loud blast of music which should have been faded to sit behind dialogue). 60 minutes of trying to get it to work didn't work out. I may well be missing something, I'm not sure. But for sure, the UI was not working in an intuitive manner for someone who is not a stranger to working with DAWs.

Interestingly, Fairlight works much better in the current beta version of Resolve (V15 beta 4). In fact, automation of faders worked so nicely I started feeling much more confident and started pushing Resolve to do other interesting things. I added a Fusion lower third to one of my videos, then popped over into the Fusion panel to edit some of the parameters for the lower third. Once things were set up, I waited for a bit while Resolve happily started chugging away at rendering the lower third. But then about 60 seconds later, I noticed that the little bar above the clip was still about 30% red and hadn't progressed in a while. When I went to move the mouse, I found the macOS spinning beach ball. After about 10 minutes of beach ball, I force quit and sent a bug report to Blackmagic.

Now I want to say something very clearly; I know I am working with beta software, and I am not complaining that I lost about 30 minutes worth of work. That's the risk one takes using beta software. With my background in software, I also understand and appreciate the idea of iterative development and taking an agile approach to software.

So here's my personal assessment of the situation: It seems to take about two full releases before a new panel in Resolve becomes usable for semi-serious work - a tool that you can generally depend upon. This seems to be the case with Fairlight. Also, with Fusion in it's first iteration as a panel in Resolve, that seems to be the case so far as well - not quite reliable just yet. The editing panel also took about the same amount of time/releases before it became reliable. Color seems rock solid in my experience, and of course, it's been around the longest.

One thing I haven't figure out in Fairlight just yet is the Loudness meters in the meters panel. This isn't showing LUFS or LKFS. It doesn't appear to be RMS levels either. The version 14 manual says this:

Farther to the right of these, a set of Control Room meters show you the monitored output and loudness meters for a precise analysis of your mix’s perceived loudness.

The version 15 beta new features manual doesn't mention loudness at all. I'll need to spend more time here, but for now, Blackmagic Design, may we please have LUFS/LKFS loudness meters, please?

So for me, the upshot appears to be that once 15 is out of beta, I think I can rely on it for editing, coloring, and audio finishing except for loudness normalization. That will require bouncing the mix to a new file, taking that into RX for loudness normalization, and then bouncing that back to a wav file and bringing it back to Resolve.

Looking forward to a bright future with Resolve for post!

Sound Bag Tour

Let’s take a look at my sound bag setup. If you’ve never used a sound bag for your audio recorder/mixer, my hope is that this will give you some ideas on how to set yours up so that you’re comfortable and able to record some great sound for your film project.

Links to gear discussed and used to shoot this episode:

Orca OR-30 Audio Mixer Bag

Sound Devices 633 Audio Recorder/Mixer

Audio Limited A10 Dual Channel Receiver - with pro wireless systems, you buy each piece separately

Audio Limited A10 Transmitter (version for bag use)

DPA 4160 Lavalier Microphone - Great lavalier microphone but a little too sensitive to my sibilance. Will need to bury it under more clothes next time. You will also need the microdot adapter for your particular wireless system.

Remote Audio BDS V4 Battery Distribution System - you'll also need cables for the battery and each device that you're going to power.

Remote Audio Hi-Q Battery (98 watt-hours)

Sony MDR7506 Headphones - a little on the bass heavy side, but very comfortable and they fold when transporting so these are usually what I use on production days (but not for mixing in post)

Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro (80 ohm) Headphones - also very good, even more comfortable and better outside sound isolation, not as bass heavy, but they don't fold. Sometimes I just want the greater comfort these have to offer.

Aputure COB 120t LED Light - still my go-to key light

Aputure Light Dome Soft Box - Used to soften the key light

Lupo DayLED Fresnel Light with Barn Doors - Used to light the battery charger, for a focused, moody look

Blackmagic design Ursa Mini Pro Cinema Camera - used for some of the product shots

Sigma ART 24-70mm f/2.8 OS Lens (Canon EF Mount)

Panasonic GH5 - Used for some of the product shots

Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 OIS Lens - incredibly versatile lens that is on the GH5 most of the time

Copyright 2018 by Curtis Judd 

Music - MzA by Cary Judd, used with permission

Ethics statement: Some of the links above are Amazon.com or B&H Photo affiliate links which means that if you click on them and buy, I get a small commission. You don't pay more by clicking these links than if you just went to the retailer’s web site on your own. I use the proceeds to buy additional gear to review and help you improve your sound, lighting, and video. Thanks for your support!

Consumer vs Pro Wireless Microphone Systems

Why do professional level wireless microphone systems cost so much? Do they just have audio quality that is that much better? Or are there other features that pros need that enthusiast filmmakers don’t need? What am I missing if I go for one of the consumer/prosumer wireless systems?

In this episode we explore these questions by talking about 3 wireless microphone systems I use: RODELink, Sennheiser G3 (and now G4), and the Audio Limited A10 system.  We clarify the important differences so you can understand when a consumer grade wireless system is everything you need for your projects and when it might make sense to rent or buy a pro-level wireless system.

Links to gear discussed and used to shoot this episode:

RODELink Filmmaker Kit - Good digital wireless consumer/prosumer system - Been a useful part of my kit for 3 years.

Sennheiser G4 112P - Good analogue prosumer wireless system (If you buy this, be sure to choose the block that is legal to use in your locality. Buy through a dealer that can help you if you’re not sure. Also, it does not appear that the older G3 is retailing for less at this point. I’d go for the G4. The technical differences are negligible):

Audio Limited A10 Dual Channel Receiver - Pro level all-digital wireless system for lavalier and boom microphones. This receiver supports two channels (i.e., two separate transmitters can transmit to this receiver which then sends two separate audio channels to your audio mixer/recorder).

Audio Limited A10 Transmitter - body pack transmitter for the all-digital A10 wireless microphone system. This supports lavalier microphones plus boom microphones, even those needing phantom power (via 3-pin lemo to XLR adapter cable)

Sennheiser MKH 8050 Microphone - used to record this entire episode

Aputure COB 120t - This is the light I used as a key in the talking head clips

Aputure Light Dome Soft Box - Used to soften the key light

Lupo DayLED Fresnel Light with Barn Doors - Used for the “rim/hair” light

650, 1000, & 2000 in daylight, tungsten, or bi-color

Blackmagic design Ursa Mini Pro Cinema Camera - used for the talking head shots in this episode

Sigma ART 24-70mm f/2.8 OS Lens (Canon EF Mount)

Panasonic GH5 - Used for some of the product shots

Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 OIS Lens - incredibly versatile lens that is on the GH5 most of the time

Copyright 2018 by Curtis Judd 

Music - MzA by Cary Judd, used with permission

Ethics statement: Some of the links above are Amazon.com or B&H Photo affiliate links which means that if you click on them and buy, I get a small commission. You don't pay more by clicking these links than if you just went to the retailer’s web site on your own. I use the proceeds to buy additional gear to review and help you improve your sound, lighting, and video. Thanks for your support!

Timecode Systems Demo: Pulse, UltraSync One, SyncBac Pro

In this week’s Sound for Video Session, we demonstrate how timecode works with the Timecode Systems series of timecode generators and wireless sync devices: Pulse, UltraSync One, and SyncBac Pro. In addition to wireless syncing which keeps all of the timecode generators for each cinema, DSLR, or mirrorless camera and audio recorder perfectly in sync, the SyncBac Pro also allows you to use GoPros to perfectly sync the footage and audio from all of your cameras. With reality shoots being so common these days, having a good option for automated synchronization is something I wanted to show you.

Gear and links discussed/used to record this episode: 

UltraSync One Wireless Timecode Generator for cinema, DSLR, and mirrorless hybrid cameras

SyncBac Pro Wireless Timecode Generator for GoPro Cameras

SyncBac Pro for Hero 4
SyncBac Pro for Hero 6

:pulse wireless basestation - Transmit timecode from your bag or cart to all of the Timecode Systems devices on set & control your Sound Devices 6xx series mixer/recorder (with ethernet ports to hardwire connect to your Mac, and soon, PC)

:wave wireless basestation - Transmit timecode from your bag or cart to all of the Timecode Systems devices on set & control your Sound Devices 6xx series mixer/recorder (without ethernet ports)

Sound Devices 633 Mixer/Recorder - My main production audio recorder/mixer

Sennheiser MKH 8050 - This is the microphone I used to record this session

Copyright 2018 by Curtis Judd

Outro music licensed from Artlist: Keep an Eye by Back to Dream. Artlist provides high quality music tracks for your film and video projects. You can receive two months off an Artlist account by using our link: https://artlist.io/artlist-70446/?a_aid=Curtis_Judd_99&utm_source=affiliate_p&utm_medium=Curtis_Judd_99&utm_campaign=Curtis_Judd_99

Ethics statement: Some of the links above are affiliate links which means that if you click on them and buy, I get a small commission. You don't pay more by clicking these links than if you just went to the retailer’s web site on your own. I use the proceeds to buy additional gear to review and help you improve your sound, lighting, and video. Thanks for your support!

Sound for Video Session: Microphone Preamp Self-Noise

In this week’s Sound for Video Session, Julian Krause joins us to talk about pre-amplifier self-noise and other places in the audio signal chain where self-noise can be generated. My hope is that this will help inform where you may want to invest in your audio gear to solve any self-noise issues you’re experiencing.

Julian’s videos on self-noise:

How to measure preamp self noise
Preamplifier noise explained
Comparison of self noise on 4 preamps

Gear and links discussed/used to record this episode: 

Zoom H5 Audio Recorder
Sound Devices MixPre-6
Sound Devices MixPre-3
Zoom F8
Zoom F4
Electrovoice RE20 Dynamic Microphone - used to record this session

Copyright 2018 by Curtis Judd

Outro music licensed from Artlist: Keep an Eye by Back to Dream. Artlist provides high quality music tracks for your film and video projects. You can receive two months off an Artlist account by using our link.

Ethics statement: Some of the links above are affiliate links which means that if you click on them and buy, I get a small commission. You don't pay more by clicking these links than if you just went to the retailer’s web site on your own. I use the proceeds to buy additional gear to review and help you improve your sound, lighting, and video. Thanks for your support!

Zhiyun Smooth 4 Smartphone Gimbal Stabilizer

Zhiyun-Tech released their latest generation gimbal for smartphones - the Smooth 4. The headline feature on this new stabilizer is a big, nicely damped zoom/focus knob that allows you to zoom and focus your phone’s camera without touching the phone! There are several other really nice features including manual exposure mode, standby mode, motion timelapse, and the kit comes with a tripod. I have to confess that the Smooth 4 makes shooting video with my phone a lot of fun!

All of the gimbal shots in this video were shot with the iPhone 7+.

Check to see if your phone is supported at Zhiyun's site under downloads.

Links to gear discussed and used to shoot this episode:

Zhiyun Smooth 4 Stabilizer Gimbal for Smartphones

Aputure COB 120d - This is one of my main workhorse lights. Not a week passes where I don’t use it for at least one shoot

Aputure COB 120t - When I don’t have to match existing light, I prefer to use this as my key light. Really nice, warm skin tones

Aputure Light Dome Soft Box - When I need a nice, soft light on the face of the talent in an interview or talking head video, this goes on the COB120 key light

Lupo DayLED Fresnel Light with Barn Doors - These are useful when I need hard light as well. I don’t have soft boxes for them so they’re not quite as versatile as the Aputure COBs, but really great lights with a super durable build. 650, 1000, & 2000 in daylight, tungsten, or bi-color

Blackmagic design Ursa Mini Pro Cinema Camera - used for the talking head shots in this episode

Sigma ART 24-70mm f/2.8 OS Lens (Canon EF Mount) - this lens is almost always on my Ursa Mini Pro

Panasonic GH5 - Used for some of the product shots

Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 OIS Lens - incredibly versatile lens that is on the GH5 most of the time

Copyright 2018 by Curtis Judd 

Music - MzA by Cary Judd, used with permission

Ethics statement: Some of the links above are Amazon.com or B&H Photo affiliate links which means that if you click on them and buy, I get a small commission. You don't pay more by clicking these links than if you just went to the retailer’s web site on your own. I use the proceeds to buy additional gear to review and help you improve your sound, lighting, and video. Thanks for your support!

Sound for Video Session: Q&A Stretch Time & Pitch, Poly Wav, Balanced vs Unbalanced, Zoom F4n

In this week’s Sound for Video Session, we cover the following topics:

0:11 Retime & Pitch Shift to fix an old recording

1:35 Resompling

3:00 Poly Wav Files

6:40 Unbalanced vs Balanced Cables/Interconnects

9:03 Zoom F4n?

Gear and links discussed/used to record this episode: 

Difference between balanced and unbalanced cables/interconnects

Wave Agent application from Sound Devices:

Zoom F8 Audio Recorder

Zoom F4 Audio Recorder

Electrovoice RE20 Dynamic Microphone - used to record this session

Copyright 2018 by Curtis Judd

Outro music licensed from Artlist: Keep an Eye by Back to Dream. Artlist provides high quality music tracks for your film and video projects. You can receive two months off an Artlist account by using our link.

Ethics statement: Some of the links above are affiliate links which means that if you click on them and buy, I get a small commission. You don't pay more by clicking these links than if you just went to the retailer’s web site on your own. I use the proceeds to buy additional gear to review and help you improve your sound, lighting, and video. Thanks for your support!