Upcoming Reviews After a Short Break

After five years of producing a new video nearly every week, I need a short break just to catch up on a ton of things that have been neglected and recharge a bit. We've got a bunch of interesting reviews coming up after the break:

Sony ECM-674 Shotgun Microphone

Centrance MixerFace R4 - 4 channel XLR/3.5mm TRS Mixer/USB Audio Interface. Great for mobile recording

JK Mic-J Headset Microphone

Moza Air II - Coming soon

Scotty Makes Stuff Glider Pro 3 Duo - 4th Axis Stabilizer for motorized gimbals (like the Zhiyun Crane 2)

Aputure Light Dome II - Softbox for the Aputure COB series of lights or any light with a Bowens mount

Aputure Light Dome Mini II - Smaller softbox for the Aputure COB series of lights or any light with a Bowens mount

Portkeys HS7T On Camera Monitor - HD high brightness screen with HDMI and SDI inputs. Can read 4K signal via HDMI - Coming soon

Accusonus ERA D

Copyright 2018 by Curtis Judd

Music Copyright 2018 by Cary Judd. Used with permission.

Audio Normalization: Make Your Video Consistently Loud

What is audio normalization? What does it actually do to your sound clip or file? In this episode we cover the two main ways to normalize your audio and why you should use loudness normalization rather than peak normalization to get consistently loud videos.

Links to gear some of my favorite gear:

Zoom F8n - The audio for this episode was recorded with the F8n

Panasonic GH5s Camera - my favorite small camera for video

Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 OIS Lens - this is the the lens I use more than any other on the GH5s

Sennheiser MKH 8050 Boom Microphone

Copyright 2018 by Curtis Judd 

Music - MzA - Copyright 2017 by Cary Judd, used with permission

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.

**Update: Several astute viewers have pointed out that you can set the loudness target (LUFS) in the settings. That's great news! It still is not an offline process - still need to play through the entire piece - but it is a step in the right direction.

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.

ProRes Raw

Today Apple announced a new version of their ProRes video codecs: ProRes Raw (and Raw HQ). The reason this is significant is that capturing raw footage on cinema cameras poses two main problems: 1) Massive, massive file sizes that can only be captured to the fastest cards and drives which are, of course, quite expensive and 2) Cannot generally be played back without first de-bayering or rendering in post (before you edit).

Of course there have been proxy workflows for a long time to get around this where the camera records raw plus a much lower quality proxy file at the same time. You do your edit with the proxy files and then once you've completed your edit, you swap out the proxies for the de-bayered raw files. It's a workable, but less than ideal workflow.

Since I bought my first ATOMOS recorder in about 2012, I've appreciated the benefits of working with a ProRes workflow (my Ninja II recorder took an HDMI feed from my DSLR and recorded a ProRes file to an SSD drive). This was a nice compromise solution because it captured slightly higher quality footage, but could still be edited without re-rendering the files. It wasn't raw, but it was pretty darn good in terms of quality.

Now, we can have the best of both worlds. And Apple also has a new update of Final Cut Pro X that plays back ProRes Raw footage in real time!

But then there's the problem of how to record ProRes Raw. This is where ATOMOS delivers. Their Sumo19 and Shogun Inferno can both record ProRes Raw with the new firmware update which will be released on Monday, April 9th, 2018.

Of course you'll also need a camera capable of sending a raw signal to the ATOMOS recorder. Out of the gate, the Sumo and Shogun Inferno will have support for the following cinema cameras:

  • Canon C300mkII, C500
  • Panasonic EVA1, Varicam LT
  • Sony FS5, FS7

I haven't shot a lot of raw simply because the workflow was too heavy for most of my work, with an occasion exception for "beauty shots" - e.g., an outdoor landscape with plenty of sky, deep shadows, and incredibly wide dynamic range. That may just change here really soon. I'm looking forward to seeing how the new workflow pans out.

Now what we need is an affordable playback device for HDR so we can use that Sumo as an HDR grading monitor (at least roughly decent HDR monitoring). AJA's monitoring converter box comes in at $2500 USD presently. I'm hoping for something in the sub $1000 range soon so I can put this Sumo to work in post.

See Apple's white paper on ProRes Raw here.

See see the details on ATOMOS's ProRes implementation on the Shogun Inferno and Sumo here

Sound for Video Session: Order of Operations - Processing Dialogue Audio

In this week's sound for video session, we cover my thoughts on which order I apply each effect or process when cleaning and sweetening dialogue audio.

This episode shot/recorded with:

Sennheiser EW112 G3 Wireless Microphone Kit (be sure to check which frequencies you are legally allowed to use in your country)

Voice Technologies VT Duplex Headset Microphone

Panasonic GH5 Camera

Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 Lens

Copyright 2017 by Curtis Judd

How to Remove a Boom Microphone from a Wide Shot

There are a variety of ways to capture dialogue sound from your talent in a wide shot. The most obvious choice is to use a lavalier microphone or plant (hide) a microphone in the shot near the actors. But another option that may give you better sound is to use a boom or shotgun microphone in the frame and then composite the microphone out for the final shot. Here’s one way to do that using Premiere Pro CC 2015.

If you are using an earlier version of Premiere Pro, you can do the exact same thing using a Garbage Matte effect instead of the Opacity effect we show here. The only difference is that the Opacity effect gives you a few more options such as feathering the edge of the mask/matte to make the effect even smoother.

Izotope RX5 Advanced Audio Editor: Why I Upgraded

As you probably already know, I'm on a mission to learn the fine art of dialogue audio post processing. And on that mission, I've found myself using Izotope RX4 Advanced and Ozone 6 more and more often. I still use Audition as my digital audio workstation app, the hub if you will, but much of the heavy lifting is done by RX and Ozone. By heavy lifting, I mean noise reduction, compression, and loudness normalizing. But why, you may ask?

RX4 has some things that Audition doesn't have that I find important, maybe even critical to my workflow.

The first thing I'll typically do, if the particular clip needs it, is noise reduction. I like to keep it pretty light so that the audio doesn't start sounding robotic or evil which is often what happens when applied too aggressively. The dialogue denoiser is usually my go-to tool for this - only two settings to bother with and I often leave the threshold at its default and decrease the Reduction setting to about 5. If the clip is particularly noisy, I may do a second pass.

Yes, Audition has a good de-noise plugin as well but it isn't as quick and easy.

Asymmetric waveforms are the next problem I address and this is one that Audition doesn't have a solution for, at least not in its included effects.

Asymmetric waveforms have more amplitude (are bigger) above the - infinity center line than below. By itself, this is not really a problem and it sounds just fine. And it generally only occurs with male voice.

Asymmetric waveforms are really only a problem because they rob you of headroom. The peaks on one side are closer to 0dB than on the other. And this is problematic when you want to loudness normalize because you can only increase the amplitude so much before that one side is close to the 0dB limit. So you can't get all the loudness you may want. RX4s Channel Ops module has a phase rotation option that fixes this quickly and easily without messing with the quality of the audio.

Once I've run the clip through the phase rotator, I'm all set to use a compressor to manage the transient peaks - the peaks that stick out well above the body of the waveform.

I could just use one of the compressors included with Audition and sometimes I do. But if I'm already in RX, I pull up the Ozone Dynamics plugin which is a very nice compressor. It has three different threshold modes (peak, envelope, and RMS) as well as a soft knee and adaptive release options. These make dialing in a fairly transparent compression easier because I don't want the dialogue to sound compressed, just more consistent.

And then I finish that off with the loudness plugin that will put that clip at the exact standard loudness level I need (usually -19LUFS for mono dialogue, -16LUFS for stereo) and also ensures that any peaks stay below -1.5dB True Peak.

Audition has a loudness normalization feature they call "Match Volume" which works nicely but it is missing the critical True Peak Limiter that is critical to prevent clipping distortion after you export your final video. That will be coming, according to Adobe, in the 2015.1 release in the next few weeks.

So why did I upgrade for a hefty $299 USD?

The loudness plugin is now much, much faster than the older one. Also, Audition still does not have a way to manage asymmetric waveforms.

Is all that really worth $299? That completely depends on you and what you need to deliver to your clients. In my case, I don't want ANY clipping distortion and I want the dialogue to sound great because I truly believe that audio is incredibly important to telling stories effectively. Possibly, audio is a little more important than visuals.

Oh, and by the way, I paid for the upgrade and Izotope has never paid me anything.

Back from NAB 2015

Whew! This year was my first at NAB and I'm pretty overwhelmed right now. For my first visit I decided to start off slow and will be creating a set of short videos over the next few days highlighting some of the more interesting things I saw and learned while on the show floor. For now, there are a couple of special deals going that are pretty nice if you're in the market for these particular items:

Nikon D750

Nikon D750 Camera Body for under $2000. That's an amazing deal for anyone looking for a nice full frame camera. I own this and can vouch that it is an amazing stills camera and surprisingly good at video despite is relatively low bitrate. I record to an Atomos recorder and it produces fantastic footage that way and works around the limited bitrate.


I also dropped by a session hosted by FCPWorks which is a consulting group for Final Cut Pro X users - especially larger productions. But they're obviously big on FCPX and brought in Denver Riddle from Color Grading Central to demo his new professional color grading plugin for FCPX called Color Finale. Right now there's a 30% off special (bringing the price to right around $70 with coupon code "NAB2015"). I've been super impressed playing around with it today and it is a huge time saver. I may not have to round trip to Resolve nearly as often now because this has an impressive feature set including color wheels, curves, LUT support, vector secondaries, and layer opacity. Definitely worth a look if you use FCPX for editing and want to save some time round tripping to color correct or aren't a fan of FCPX's color boards (I'm not a huge fan).

I have lots more to tell you about, especially on the audio and lighting fronts, and will get started posting over the next few days.

Oh, and my RØDE NTG4+ should arrive tomorrow so I'll begin tests with that as well for the upcoming review!

Audio Hiss Noise Reduction Sometimes I find that my audio has audible hiss in the background. This is often what is described as a noise floor and is the hiss produced by your microphone, preamplifier, cable, or possibly other things. In any case, it isn’t an awesome sound.

In this episode we look at one way to reduce that hiss in your dialogue audio without affecting the dialogue and we’ll use Adobe Audition CC (2014) to show you how.

The clip with the hiss was recorded with a RØDE NTG-2 shotgun microphone, compressed and loudness normalized to -19 LUFS (since it was a mono file, this is the perceptual equivalent of -16 LUFS for stereo files). I hadn't really noticed this much noise in this mic in the past. And this was all recored as I'm starting to evaluate the new RØDE NTG4+ which I received a few days ago. So far, I'm wondering if maybe there's something wrong with my copy of the NTG4+. RØDE is arranging for an engineer to contact me so we can figure out what's going on with this new mic so it may be a few more weeks before we can publish that review.

Export From Premiere Pro for YouTube: CS5 - CC 2014

When I first started making videos, one of the biggest hurdles was to figure out which settings to use when exporting my video for YouTube. So hopefully you can learn from my mistakes and this will help you export your videos for YouTube with a minimum of frustration. Happy YouTubing! Since we posted the video, several people have already made suggestions--thanks for that! Check out the comment over on YouTube.