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Andrew Rowe

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About Andrew Rowe

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  • Birthday 12/01/1976

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  • Location
    UK
  • About
    UK-based Recordist (TV docs, commercials and corporates) and Boom Op (features and TV drama).
  1. 50mW for Camera Car

    This isn't true. I don't know about the rest of Europe, but in the UK you can pay to licence radio mics with an output of up to 1000mW (i.e. 1W). The 50mW maximum is often quoted, verbally and online, but you can find out the real rules from the horse's mouth on Arqiva's website (they're the ones who issue UK licences): https://www.pmse.co.uk/equipment/wireless-microphones-and-monitors.aspx The cheapest licence, which most recordists pay for annually, restricts you to 50mW for UHF body-worn transmitters - hence the widespread belief in a 50mW maximum - but you can pay more to use 100mW, 250mW or, indeed, 1000mW transmitters on a per channel, per location basis, and at Arqiva's discretion. It's a question of money and availability, rather than legality. So, if Chris wants to use a 100mW transmitter in his car setup, then - with Arqiva's permission and a suitable bill to production - he can do so with a clean conscience.
  2. Are pro wireless mics too expensive in 2014? Your thoughts?

    Except that London, for example, is awash with tiny production companies (such as those set up for a single project) and shooter-directors (i.e. sole traders) who may well hire a "jobbing sound recordist", as Malcolm put it, to work alongside them. Partly because the compulsory registration threshold is relatively high (£81k turnover), many of these will not be VAT-registered themselves, and there may be difficulty charging them VAT. If the maximum they are willing to pay after hard fought negotiation is, say, £400 per day including basic kit, they are not going to be too pleased when you tell them there will be an extra 20% on top. In fact, you will end up absorbing the tax yourself rather than lose the client. So, when you start out (or if you work for other freelancers), there is some risk to immediately volunteering for VAT registration: how many days work you may lose v. the VAT saved on expenses. As the clients get bigger, the problem shrinks, and the balance tips in favour of registration. The much lower threshold that you say applies for Germany makes much more sense - everyone involved in business basically HAS to deal with VAT, and is familiar with the concept, whereas in the UK there is a sizeable grey area.
  3. Alexa Blinking/Flashing Timecode

    The Alexa manual is actually reassuringly thorough in its explanation of jamming: have you looked at the section titled 'Using Timecode' (under 'Operation of the Camera'), or are you just looking at the section that covers the Timecode menu...? The TC flashes while the camera is jamming. It stops flashing when it is jammed. If it flashes again, that is because it is attempting to rejam (for various reasons, e.g. an external source is connected or the camera has lost sync). When the TC stops flashing, you should remove the external source. If it flashes after that, there is a problem. There's normally extra information available on the Info screen - press the Info button during the process and the camera will tell you if it's jamming, jammed etc. When people say that a jammed Alexa will drift 1 frame in 8 hours (as per the manual), it needs to be borne in mind that this inaccuracy is in addition to the inaccuracy of the sync box or audio recorder. E.g. if a Nomad (1 frame in 6 hours) and an Alexa (1 frame in 8 hours) are jammed, then the 'drift' could clearly be over 2 frames in 8 hours (if they drift in the opposite direction from one another!). So if you want to stay within a frame, you should plan on a mid-morning and mid-afternoon jam as well as post-breakfast, post-lunch (at least every 3-4 hours with the equipment in this example). In actual use, most people get away with jamming less often than that with no ill consequences since the maximum specified drift on both units in opposite directions will only happen occasionally. There's already a degree of innacuracy implicit in feeding external TC without Genlock, but if you want to be as tightly sunk as possible (and depending on the manufacturer, the 1 frame in x hours spec might be a best case scenario rather than a worst case scenario), one jam after breakfast, one after lunch is inadequate.
  4. Minimum distance of two SMDB/E01.

    It's certainly true that having two transmitters on a single actor/presenter works and is standard practice on some productions. Nevertheless, having transmitters in close physical proximity to one another will exacerbate intermodulation between the two frequencies. Each transmitter will pick up the other's signal, and will retransmit the resultant intermodulation products - for example, take a read of this (old) Sennheiser document: http://en-uk.sennheiser.com/downloads/download/file/2066/User_Manual_pro_US.pdf (which also backs up Jason's point about keeping transmitters a few metres from receivers). Consequently, Lectrosonics recommends keeping transmitters 3-5 feet apart when testing frequency plans (as per the Venue manual). Of course, this is with the transmitters in free space, which increases the effective power output significantly compared to a body worn transmitter (by about a factor of 5). Taking this into account, it's beneficial to keep body worn transmitters at least 1 foot apart - as will usually be the case. A decrease in the power of both transmitters (e.g. from 250mW to 50mW) may also help when they are side by side. This problem normally doesn't manifest itself in practice, since actors usually face one another with their bodies between the transmitters. And, when it does manifest itself, it will usually do so as a slight reduction in range, which people might put down to other factors if they notice it at all. If you are getting actual splats and audible interference at 5m though, there is probably some problem in the choice of frequencies in the first place, which may only become apparent when the transmitters come into close proximity. It is easy enough to test when you get chance.
  5. Confusing Zaxcom Nomad issue

    I believe Rado is pointing out that, if you go to your Settings in the Zaxcom forum, you can subscribe to the Nomad and/or Downloads forums and will receive a single daily email bulletin of any new posts from then on. There is no need to check the forum "every day, every hour": currently, if Howie puts up new firmware then you'll know about it the following morning.
  6. Timecode discrepancy

    Hi, Simon, Was the Alexa jammed momentarily from the Deva? If you are jamming TC rather than genlocking with a sync box, there will alway be a possible frame discrepancy of up to 1 frame, and this will also be true of the relationship between the Deva and a TC slate jammed from the Deva. The discrepancy between the Alexa and the TC slate is the sum of these other two discrepancies, which - though less than a frame - may add up to more than a frame. (This is a possible explanation, not the explanation.) As it's the relationship between the Alexa and Deva that matters, rather than that between the Alexa and TC slate, there's nothing especially wrong. This is inevitable, as I understand it, and the only true solution - if it matters to the editor - is to use genlocked sync boxes. Of course, the Alexa is unusual in not having a standard genlock input, so this problem (or non-problem) is something that may be a 'feature' of the camera. To try and explain (again as I understand it), a camera and audio recorder both have sync generators. When you jam, these sync generators are not in step with one another. The TC information is passed on from the recorder to the camera and used to label the current frame - but we don't know how long ago that frame actually started (up to 1 frame ago / 2000* samples ago). Consequently the video frame with a given TC label will not start exactly when the audio 'frame' starts, and this may be exacerbated or corrected by drift between the two generators as the day progresses. It should still be less than a frame if you rejam after lunch, but when you add an additional unit such as a 2nd camera or TC slate, possibly drifting in the opposite direction, then these minor inaccuracies start to reveal themselves. It is, at any rate, no worse than clapper board sync on a film shoot, where - because a frame only happens every 1/24th of a second and is motion blurred - you can't ever know exactly when in the frame the clap occurred... Best wishes, Andrew *48000Hz divided by 24fps
  7. Wired lapel mics you guys still use them?

    I generally use hard wired personals for seated interviews that aren't suitable for a hypercardioid, as well as for panel discussions. In the latter case, I wouldn't choose (say) 8 radios, with associated intermodulation and compansion, when everyone can just come in, sit down and plug in - it's far less work for me, less gear intensive, and more civilized for the participants. Not to mention the fact that I can hire 8 hard-wired Lavaliers for under $40 - something like a tenth of the price of hiring radios but with a (fractionally) higher quality result! For seated interviewees, I might use a boom or hardwired personals, but very rarely a radio mic. Nevertheless, there are a lot of other factors in this decision, and I wouldn't turn up without all three options available. I use P48 adapters rather than personals terminated in XLR's, so swapping between wired and wireless isn't an issue and wouldn't require me to remike the interviewee. As someone else mentioned, P48 adapters are also very useful for car interiors on drama, as a cheaper, lower profile alternative to CCM41's, knuckled MK41's or Sanken CUB's. Hard-wired DPA's on a car roof or visor sound great.
  8. 25 fps

    PAL is always 25fps, but bear in mind that 24fps is standard all over the world, including PAL countries. When a US production would shoot 24fps (e.g. for cinema release), so too would a UK production. There are some low-budget productions that choose to shoot at 24fps for shorts, virals, corporates and other straight-to-web videos, in the belief that it makes their video look more "filmic" (true enough when you're talking about 23.976 v. 29.97; less so when it's 24 v 25). You have to watch out for this in a PAL country because some prosumer cameras such as 5DMk2's say "24fps" but mean 23.976fps (even on the PAL model), and such productions are inevitably unaware of this. Whether flicker free is required is as dependent on shutter speed as it is on frame rate, i.e. the frame rate doesn't matter as long as the shutter speed is 1/50th (UK) or 1/60th (USA) or some multiple thereof. We (UK) shoot both 25fps and 24fps at 1/50th in the normal scheme of things, so no flicker to worry about, and I imagine that's the same with 1/60th in the States. This doesn't however stop every ballast on every set being turned to flicker free until you request otherwise!
  9. Film is dead?

    All four of the non-digital nominees are period dramas set in the 19th Century, which probably isn't a coincidence. Perhaps, going back to the OP, film will live on as long as we're still shooting horses and buggies! (OK, this doesn't apply to Star Trek...).
  10. Nomad Lite

    I think Zaxcom may have just shot themselves in the foot. I have both Zaxcom and SD gear, and wouldn't exchange a Nomad for a 664. But people who have in the past steered clear of Zaxcom have often done so because they were wary of the software, its apparent complexity and the constant firmware updates, new features etc. Reading a Zaxcom forum can put you off Zaxcom gear straight away, even though most Deva and Nomad owners find their machines completely robust and reliable. Many of those who prefer the SD route prefer the apparent simplicity and lack of complication of SD equipment, and by changing so much so fast - Nomad 4, 6, 8, 12, Maxx, Nomad Lite, 10, new 12 - Zaxcom are adding to some people's view that Zaxcom tend to overcomplicate things. Now the choice is 10,10, or 12 tracks... Hmmm.... 4,6,8,12 at least had the benefit of clarity!
  11. Nomad Lite

    The Nomad 6 already had ZaxNet, so the difference is the track count.
  12. Nomad users: What are the specs on your Breakaway Cable?

    I notice Vincent R's lemo breakaway seems to carry TC - a potential use for the 10th pin of a Hirose. Is anyone else sending/receiving TC to cameras through their umbilical? And doesn't this carry a high risk of crosstalk? I used to use a 7-pin XLR with my SD302, but with a Nomad you would lose the potential of the balanced return (9 pins, minimum). Can't remember the last time I cabled to a camera with a balanced output though - maybe more than a decade! Have to say, I'd have preferred a minijack return on the Nomad, even though the TA5 is 'better' and can add a couple of inputs (guess that's more important to Nomad 8 or 12 users; I'm on a 6, so a mere 16 inputs would have been fine!).
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