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i am interested in boomrecorder setups. i will be doing a show soon and am thinking of this for main recorder. If you use a macbook(not the pro) what is the setup since i think there is only the 1 firewire port( do you use a usb harddrive for backup?). i know that firewire external drive takes the load off the computer, but how are you plugging in the mixer?

Also, whats the benefit of a mixer to something like a motu traveler as opposed to a mixer with firewire like the mackie onyx series, if there is a benefit. I will not have the budget for a cooper or any other top end mixer.

How reliable is the system if you use the computer as dedicated recorder? any crashes? is a backup needed?

I will typically need 3-5 isos but occasionally i might have to do 16 tracks for a live band.

Is there much difference between a mackie onyx or a yamaha digital( o1v or 03d) for firewire to mac?

I will also need to go into the back of a van for some parts. how do you power the mixer? is there a conversion cable for a BDS system using np1?

thx in advance.

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Someone else with more experience will have to answer some of these things --- you have asked a whole lot of questions! I will weigh in on some of this. A MacBook will work just fine and you can deal with the 1 Firewire port either with a powered Firewire hub or loop through external drive / device that has multiple ports. You will need some sort of digital hardware interface (MOTU Traveler, RME, Metric Halo, etc.) to be able to do anything. This interface may or may not also be able to serve dual function --- as the interface to the MacBook and BoomRecorder, AND possibly your mixer as well. The Mackie Onyx - Firewire, for example, would provide both functions. If you were to choose the MOTU Traveler you might discover that it does not have adequate functionality as your mixer. If you want to use an analog mixer like the Cooper or Sound Devices (without any Firewire capability) you will need both the mixer and the digital hardware interface you choose.

As for the reliability of "recording straight to computer" this has been debated for quite some time but the reality is that many people have recorded lots of projects directly to the computer, reliably, predictably and without major incidents.

If the job will include situations where you need to record many sources (like the 16 track band recordings you mention) I would think that the Mackie mixer with Firewire would be a good choice. The Yamaha O1v is completely different animal to the Mackie and really it is not possible to compare the two.

Let's see what others have to say about this.

Regards,  Jeff Wexler

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Jeff covered a lot of ground in answering some of the basic questions.  I'll try to fill in some holes, offer some opinions and emphasize some important points.

First, record to an external firewire drive.  USB (even USB 2.0) is not a good option for recording, though it can be effective (and usually cheaper) as a storage and backup device.  As Jeff said, you can loop through your interface or use a hub.  There are a number of us who use Boom Recorder on a Mini, which also has only one FW port....no problems.

Personally, I like having an analog front end (mixer), instead of an all-in-one package (like an ONYX) because it isolates any potential problems.  A problem with your mixer means you fix your mixer, instead of taking down your mixer and your A/D interface.  And vice versa.

The "top end mixers" (cooper, sonosax, etc.) have one main advantage over the Mackie boards:  DC powering options, which it sounds like could be an issue for your back-of-the-van shooting.  A BDS system won't power an AC-based ONYX.  You'd have to mod the ONYX to run from DC.

Many computer-based production sound mixers are using inverters.  They run a 12V gel cel battery through an inverter to provide AC to computers, mixers, interfaces, etc.  I think most people would agree that you should use a pure sine-wave inverter for pro audio, as opposed to a modified sine wave inverter.

In a portable situation, you could also use an alternate recording device if you have enough lead time to arrange that.  I have done free-drive car scenes with an R-09, and then burned the files later.  No TC, but that was all known in advance, and approved.

Reliability and computers is, indeed, an age-old question.  I've done 2 features straight to Boom Recorder, the first with a DAT backup running.  It was an earlier version of Boom Recorder, and it did seize up once during a take, so I was happy to have had the backup running, tho it was never necessary to use the DAT tapes in post.  Besides that, everything has been smooth sailing on set.  It's worth mentioning that the Mini that's on my cart is devoted to recording.  There are very few other applications besides the OS and Boom Recorder, I don't connect it to the internet, and I only run BR during recording.  It's probably overkill, as I could probably check my email, download YouTube movies, and record 8 tracks at the same time, but I want to know that if something goes awry, there are a minimum of variables to troubleshoot.

I can't tell you anything about Yamaha vs Mackie.

Cheers,

Brian

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Graham,

I answered most of your questions over on DVXUser, but to add to the answers from Jeff and Brian, another option for the van shoot is to get a smaller interface that can be powered by FW - I picked up a Mackie Onyx Satellite to use for simple situations where I don't need more than two mics.  You can also look at the SD USBPre, I bet that will also work with Boom Recorder without too much problem.

Phil

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Thanks for the info and thx phil for your double answering :)

I was considering a backup, and knowing that i will need to lay down TC, im leaning towards a fostex fr 2, which will also give me the vehicle recording.

I had no clue that there was a firewire hub. good to know.

My questions regarding reliability... well.. um... I'm a PC guy at the moment(but certainly dont use it for field recording). enough said. will be making the switch for this show.

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The two things that haven't been mentioned so far here that are frequent concerns of mine are computer powering for long periods of time and a stable clock + TC source for the interface (if it doesn't have one of its own).  Most interfaces do not have stable enough internal clocks to keep long takes in sync, and there needs to be some way of aligning the clock with incoming TC (as well as bringing in the TC in such a way that the app can use it to time-stamp the files).  There are many ways to skin this cat, but I urge you to think this all through before you buy anything.  The FR2 you mention is a good stable source of TC, and some interfaces will allow you to clock their convertors to the incoming TC.  For working in a van, I guess you'd need to decide how much time they will give you to setup and tear down, and how many inputs/tracks you'll need.  On car rigs it is very easy to get caught in a serious time bind with setup, since the camera can be pulled off fairly quickly to go back to normal shooting.  I generally find that it is a good idea to have two setups on those days, so we aren't having constantly pull gear off the car rig to shoot normally and then re-rig it.  There are a lot of ways to power your setup, but in my experience a Mac laptop used for recording only gets about 1 "%" of its onboard battery per minute--an external power source is really needed.  Outboard batteries w/ invertors, a small Honda generator or making sure the electric dept has AC for you where ever you shoot are all possibilities.

Philip Perkins

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I run boomrecorder on a laptop and have put it through hell recently. very high temperatures, dust storms, rain...you name it. It's been running almost perfectly now for 146 long shooting days. Rest easy about the reliability of computer recording, it works.

I do agree though , that clocking and timecode need to be done properly and running boomrecorder with a traveler alone is not going to cut it, close, but no cigar!

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The two things that haven't been mentioned so far here that are frequent concerns of mine are computer powering for long periods of time and a stable clock + TC source for the interface

There are a lot of ways to power your setup, but in my experience a Mac laptop used for recording only gets about 1 "%" of its onboard battery per minute--an external power source is really needed.  Outboard batteries w/ invertors, a small Honda generator or making sure the electric dept has AC for you where ever you shoot are all possibilities.

Philip Perkins

Excellent advice here from Philip who has actually had the experience. The clock / TC issues are very important. The power issues are important as well but if you are able to make good choices for all the gear, powering does not need to be any more complex than traditional location production gear. The best thing, of course, is to keep evereything directly DC powerable if at all possible. So, if you use a Macbook or Macbook Pro (laptop) instead of a Mini, powering is not a problem. There are a host of power adapters designed to run the Mac laptops directly from 12 vdc so a simple block battery can reliably power your computer all day long. The other items can be quite tricky, particularly if you decide to go with AC only devices (like the Mackie, the Yamaha, etc.). I know there are a lot of people out there running inverters and such but I am still NOT a big fan of that route. I have managed to keep everything on my cart powered directly from 12 vdc.

Regards,  Jeff Wexler

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Excellent advice here from Philip who has actually had the experience. The clock / TC issues are very important. The power issues are important as well but if you are able to make good choices for all the gear, powering does not need to be any more complex than traditional location production gear. The best thing, of course, is to keep evereything directly DC powerable if at all possible. So, if you use a Macbook or Macbook Pro (laptop) instead of a Mini, powering is not a problem. There are a host of power adapters designed to run the Mac laptops directly from 12 vdc so a simple block battery can reliably power your computer all day long. The other items can be quite tricky, particularly if you decide to go with AC only devices (like the Mackie, the Yamaha, etc.). I know there are a lot of people out there running inverters and such but I am still NOT a big fan of that route. I have managed to keep everything on my cart powered directly from 12 vdc.

Regards,  Jeff Wexler

Which 12v adapter do you like?

Philip Perkins

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Which 12v adapter do you like?

Philip Perkins

I haven't purchased any new adapters (and I have not had to deal with the new Mag-Safe connector since I do not use my MacBook for work, only my older PowerBook) but the last one I purchased was from LIND. It is called the LIND Automobile/Airline Laptop Power Adapter. It is larger and more cumbersome than one might want but it is very stable and very versatile, supplied with a variety of cables and accepts input of 11 to 18 vdc. There have been some postings elsewhere about how to deal with the Mag-Safe connector since Apple has been very slow to come out with anything other than an airline adapter (which I do not know very much about except that it has the Mag-Safe connector on one end and the industry standard airline connector on the other.

-  Jeff Wexler

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The Mag-Safe connector seems to be quite an obstacle for external DC power. There is a fairly extensive article that appeared on Macworld website which delves into this whole problem. The bottom line is that any solution is going to be expensive for something which is technically quite simple.

Read the article here:  http://www.macworld.com/weblogs/mobile/2007/06/mctmagsafe/index.php

-  Jeff Wexler

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Guest afewmoreyears

Graham,

  I use an FR-2 all the time as an "on the fly" doc style deck..... Works GREAT..... good size, great support, Great second deck or file based option.

  I would get one (the FR-2), with the TC,  set your code and user bits on the FR-2...  and use a Denecke sync box  to jam into.... take the sync box and put it in the input on the Traveler as your code....  Good code and your ready to go....

  The only thing I don't care for on the FR-2 is the no false start option.... other than that.....  for anything other than recording iso tracks more than 2......

I would record most of the stuff on the Fostex.... but thats me.... 

  As I have stated....  for a few reasons, at this period of time in our industry, I will continue to favor decks and stand alone recorders over the computer.... Just working on a bright Downtown street can cause problems just seeing your screen for instance.... even with a hoodman.... pain in the ass to me....

  But anyhow,  thats one option for you....

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I haven't purchased any new adapters (and I have not had to deal with the new Mag-Safe connector since I do not use my MacBook for work, only my older PowerBook) but the last one I purchased was from LIND. It is called the LIND Automobile/Airline Laptop Power Adapter. It is larger and more cumbersome than one might want but it is very stable and very versatile, supplied with a variety of cables and accepts input of 11 to 18 vdc. There have been some postings elsewhere about how to deal with the Mag-Safe connector since Apple has been very slow to come out with anything other than an airline adapter (which I do not know very much about except that it has the Mag-Safe connector on one end and the industry standard airline connector on the other.

-  Jeff Wexler

Thanks--I'm going to try the Lind w/my G4 PB.

Philip Perkins

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  • 1 month later...

Hi,

I have a question, I am building my camera system and would like to know what kind of battery systems you are using, I need 12 V DC. And something that is small but has a lot of Ah, maybe enough for a whole day.

I need to run:

    the camera head, which uses 6.25 Watt.

    A Peltier element including controller probably something like 8 Watt.

    An accurate clock for the camera head.

    Maybe a small LCD panel.

I probably need two batteries to make sure the camera is isolated from any electrical interference, the camera is also connected using fiber optics to the computer.

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The Anton Bauer and Sony lithium ion batteries made for high-end, hi-def camcorders seem like they are the smallest/densest most powerful batteries for their size that are generally available.  They are very expensive though, and require an expensive charger.  And, as has been pointed out today, large lithium batteries have just become an issue for air travel, in the US anyhow.  Do you really need 12 volts exactly, or will 13 or even 14 v be ok?  Many rechargeable batteries start out at those voltages.

Philip Perkins

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I guess I will only need a single battery for the camera head, all the other power can be supplied on the umbilical.

So the camera head will stay quite light.

BTW, I figured out a way for shilling the camera below room temperature, without making any noise, which from the discussions I see hear will be a plus.

Basically the Peltier element is a heat pump that moves heat between the two plates and because it is active it can lower the temperature below room temperature, provided that you cool the other side of the peltier element. Normally one would use heat sink fan combination to cool the peltier element. But luckily today heat pipe / heat sink combination are used very often now, heat pipes (used the be in audio amplifiers) are also heat pumps and therefor can move a lot of heat in a short amount of time. Except heat pipes are passive and will not be able to cool below room temperature.

The Peltier together with heat pipe / heat sink combination I hope will cool the camera without sound.

Cheers,

  Take

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I guess I will only need a single battery for the camera head, all the other power can be supplied on the umbilical.

So the camera head will stay quite light.

BTW, I figured out a way for shilling the camera below room temperature, without making any noise, which from the discussions I see hear will be a plus.

Basically the Peltier element is a heat pump that moves heat between the two plates and because it is active it can lower the temperature below room temperature, provided that you cool the other side of the peltier element. Normally one would use heat sink fan combination to cool the peltier element. But luckily today heat pipe / heat sink combination are used very often now, heat pipes (used the be in audio amplifiers) are also heat pumps and therefor can move a lot of heat in a short amount of time. Except heat pipes are passive and will not be able to cool below room temperature.

The Peltier together with heat pipe / heat sink combination I hope will cool the camera without sound.

Cheers,

  Take

From what I've heard of the RED and dealt with with F900s etc, that would be a great idea.

Philip Perkins

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  • 7 months later...

Graham,

  I use an FR-2 all the time as an "on the fly" doc style deck..... Works GREAT..... good size, great support, Great second deck or file based option.

  I would get one (the FR-2), with the TC,  set your code and user bits on the FR-2...  and use a Denecke sync box  to jam into.... take the sync box and put it in the input on the Traveler as your code....  Good code and your ready to go....

  The only thing I don't care for on the FR-2 is the no false start option.... other than that.....  for anything other than recording iso tracks more than 2......

I would record most of the stuff on the Fostex.... but thats me.... 

  As I have stated....  for a few reasons, at this period of time in our industry, I will continue to favor decks and stand alone recorders over the computer.... Just working on a bright Downtown street can cause problems just seeing your screen for instance.... even with a hoodman.... pain in the ass to me....

  But anyhow,  thats one option for you....

The FR-2 does have a great false start provision, it's called the 10 second pre-roll. I never hit the actual record switch until I've heard the clap of the slate, this has saved me an uncountable amount of time because of a last second "hold on" from the camera guys, when they discover that their battery is going dead or they don't have enough time left for the take on their tape/drive/whatever.

   Of course, your mileage may vary, double your money back if this doesn't work for you.

Best regards,

Jerry

http://boskolives.wordpress.com/

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I never hit the actual record switch until I've heard the clap of the slate, this has saved me an uncountable amount of time because of a last second "hold on" from the camera guys, when they discover that their battery is going dead or they don't have enough time left for the take on their tape/drive/whatever.

Jerry

http://boskolives.wordpress.com/

I have heard many people speak of using pre-record (which incidentally ALL the machines have starting with the very first Deva) to avoid false starts --- just as you say, don't hit record until they have actually clapped the slate. This is similar to what I heard a sound effects mixer tell me while trying to record a huge thunderclap with the original Deva --- just wait until you hear the thunder then press record.

The problem that I have, personally, with this method in relation to the clap slate, is that I still use the old tried and true procedure of voice identifying the take which is then followed by, hopefully, the assistant saying "marker" and the clap. This procedure, when it really gets into the proper rhythm, is appreciated by all (including the people in telecine and assistant editors). The really old way, pre-identifying the take and then rolling again when the camera rolls, went out a long time ago when we moved to DAT --- which, although a linear tape media like 1/4", had the annoying 9 second PNO to deal with every time you roll. Of course with file based recording you can never pre-announce because that would be a very brief orphaned file all its own, certainly not connected to the take in any way other than proximity.

Regards,  Jeff Wexler

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I just roll when I think we are close and identify the take in the preroll--it helps me find the take if want to play it back if nothing else.  If the roll was a "false alarm" it is easy enough to delete it, at least on SD machines.  On Metacorder you can force a rename of the next take, and the app will rename the false start and take it out of the take sequence.

Philip Perkins

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I, too, have become accustomed to hitting the record button just after the clapper goes clap.

I have, however, found that I have a big problem when the camera folk go for end slates. I have to really concentrate on making sure that I run when the 1st calls 'Action', otherwise I go to push the stop button on 'cut' and discover to my horror that I wasnt running in the first place. This is made worse if I am distracted right at the beginning of the take - its usually one of the execs ttapping me on the shoulder to tell me that their IEM isnt working. Why do they ONLY check them at the very beginning of a take!!!

Kindest regards,

Simon B

<<<The FR-2 does have a great false start provision, it's called the 10 second pre-roll. |>>>

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I have heard many people speak of using pre-record (which incidentally ALL the machines have starting with the very first Deva) to avoid false starts --- just as you say, don't hit record until they have actually clapped the slate. This is similar to what I heard a sound effects mixer tell me while trying to record a huge thunderclap with the original Deva --- just wait until you hear the thunder then press record.

The problem that I have, personally, with this method in relation to the clap slate, is that I still use the old tried and true procedure of voice identifying the take which is then followed by, hopefully, the assistant saying "marker" and the clap. This procedure, when it really gets into the proper rhythm, is appreciated by all (including the people in telecine and assistant editors). The really old way, pre-identifying the take and then rolling again when the camera rolls, went out a long time ago when we moved to DAT --- which, although a linear tape media like 1/4", had the annoying 9 second PNO to deal with every time you roll. Of course with file based recording you can never pre-announce because that would be a very brief orphaned file all its own, certainly not connected to the take in any way other than proximity.

I've gotten around this by calling out the info immediately AFTER the clap rather than before on those instances where the 2nd AC doesn't do it (or doesn't do it intelligibly, etc).  There's almost always time between the clap and camera calling "set" and then the director calling "action", and it adds the benefit that your voice slate goes to the dailies as well, which can be helpful (especially in situations where the visual slate is not really legible).

I don't think I could go back to the old way of really rolling before the clap and then being annoyed about continuing to roll endlessly while camera or someone else was still making preparations to shoot.

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I have, however, found that I have a big problem when the camera folk go for end slates. I have to really concentrate on making sure that I run when the 1st calls 'Action', otherwise I go to push the stop button on 'cut' and discover to my horror that I wasnt running in the first place.

I ran into this same problem once too when starting to work this way -- it wasn't a tail slate but it was a situation where we called "speed" and then five or ten minutes went by while camera and others took measurements and had discussions.  I got distracted in the interim and then realized when I eventually went to cut the take that I never had rolled.  I since now sit there after calling "speed" and hold my finger on the button until the slate claps to ensure I don't get distracted and fail to do the most elementary part of my job!

This is made worse if I am distracted right at the beginning of the take - its usually one of the execs ttapping me on the shoulder to tell me that their IEM isnt working. Why do they ONLY check them at the very beginning of a take!!!

Because that's when they put them on for the first time.

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