iZotope RX 6 Demo by Sweetwater Sound

The Post audio guys I know say they couldn’t do their job without the software tools provided by iZotope.  For those of you who don’t know, their software visualizes audio as a “spectrogram”.  Rather than just a loudness waveform, a spectrogram looks at frequencies and loudness over time.  The upshot of this is that problem audio can be visually isolated.  What’s that mean?  You can see a visual representation of the audio, and edit it visually.  Even simpler?  Draw a circle around the problem audio in the visual realm, and RX 6 will cut that specific part out of the audio realm while leaving the rest of the signal pretty much untouched.  It’s magical to watch in action and has saved editors countless hours.  Up until now it’s been fairly tailored to video professionals (that’s a broad statement I know, anybody can use any software for anything) but in this latest release, they are throwing in a few music related features.  Canadian (yay!) Geoff Manchester demos the latest changes for Sweetwater Sound.

So, let’s recap.  A solution that is essential to anybody serious about doing audio for Pro video.  Blackmagic Design has decided to get serious about audio for Pro video in their latest Resolve release by integrating their Fairchild purchase.  BMD virtually took over the color timing world by making Resolve free.  How long do you think it will be before BMD buys iZotope, integrates it into Resolve and “forces” everyone to give up Pro Tools?  I could see such a move taking them to the top of the audio for video market virtually overnight, especially considering the collaboration and editing tools they’re building into the latest Resolve.

I have zero inside knowledge, I’m simply speculating.  But I could see it happening…..

A behind the scenes tour of Really Right Stuff

A week ago, I happened to be in San Luis Obispo, California.  I was happily surprised to find out that SLO is home to Photo & Video accessory maker Really Right Stuff.  I had a contact from NAB, called them up, and they were nice enough to invite me down to have a look at their facility.

RRS is very well known in the Photographic world, but they’ve been making Video specific products for a few years now too.  As you’ll see in the video, they are now expanding into the Cinema accessories world.  They are making a “mini dovetail” system that builds on their Photographic mounts and clamps.  Does the world need another standard to join the ARRI dovetail and 3 different rod standards?  I think there is a possible niche there for smaller rigs, and they undeniably make beautiful gear stuff.  I’ll let you be the judge.

On a side note, these are the kind of reports that I hope to do more of for this blog.  I thank Holly, Joe and the rest of the crew at RRS for the access.

Sony NAB 2017: Professional Audio

Aside from the A9 still camera, no ground shaking announcements from Sony at NAB this year….or so I thought.  Just watched their own highlight reel of their pro audio devices.  They talk about their wirelesses (all of my videos this year used a UWP wireless, with not one problem in the polluted spectrum of the LVCC), a couple of their small audio recorders (including one that can be remotely controlled by a smartphone app after you place it), but the coolest item (pun intended) was their microphone featured at 9:52 into the video.  It’s a tube microphone called the C-800G.  Tube mics give the best sound, but they are affected by heat.  So, Sony built a cooling system, complete with radiator fins, out the back of the mic.  Pretty impressive technology, check out the video.

P.S.  Nice as it sounds, you won’t be using it on your podcast.  It costs $10,000 U.S.

A Feature Interview With Blackmagic Design’s Bob Caniglia

It may not be an accurate measure, but the size of a company’s booth at NAB is some indicator of their size and position in the video production industry.  Using that metric, I think it’s safe to say that Blackmagic Design’s influence now ranks up there with some of the biggest companies in the industry.

They launch interesting products every year, and their aggressive pricing has forced competitors to adapt (or fall by the wayside).  I didn’t cover this year’s releases.  There’s a hundred sites that are, and you can watch Blackmagic’s own press conference here.

Instead, I asked to sit down with a corporate representative to talk about their growth, how they view themselves, and possible future directions.

One reason for their success is their open corporate structure, openness that allowed a small blog access to a corporate officer.  I thank them.

NAB 2017 – Unity Intercom

Kind of a unique idea.  This company is using iPhones to make ad hoc intercom systems.  This all happens over Wifi, and in fact you could use much cheaper iPods for that scenario.  Where it really gets cool is you can also do intercom over cellular data.

Say you’re doing a small mobile at a basketball game.  Everybody is on a wifi network in the gym, but you have an outside cameraperson shooting live scenics leading into commercial breaks.  That outside cameraperson can be cued with the same intercom, over cellular.  Essentially, that outside cameraperson could be in the capital of Mongolia and still be on intercom (although I’m not sure what the LTE signal is like in Ulaanbaatar).

The system scales, and can be tied into traditional intercom systems too.

NAB 2017 – Persistent Systems LLC

I think it’s fair to say that in just a few years, bonded cellular transmission systems have revolutionized live news gathering.  If you don’t know, these are battery powered devices which take an uncompressed feed from your news camera, heavily compress it while still retaining acceptable “news” quality, encode it, and then send it back to the station or a central data hub over the internet.  How do they get to the internet?  Well by using ethernet or Wifi if you’re near a high speed tap, but usually by combining multiple LTE cellular modems.

That last method has changed the news landscape.  No longer do stations need to have a $100,000 microwave truck to report from the field.  No longer do you have to book a fiber or satellite window for $1000 and ensure that every link in the chain is passing your signal.  With bonding systems, you pull up to live news happening anywhere there is a cell signal, and you are on the air in seconds.  A miracle.

But the problem now is that every station has multiple units of these systems.  And all of the stations, by the nature of news, all gather and want to go live from the same place.  The cell towers have limited bandwidth, and everybody is trying to use it at the same time, so two things happen.  Either they simply can’t get a signal through, or the quality is so low and has so much lag that it is unusable.

This is where Persistent Systems has been positioning their new product, the MPU5.  They establish a wireless data network over much wider areas than say, a Paralinx unit or some equivalent like that.  This network is very resistant to interference and obstacles.  A transceiver on the camera can then access that network and roam all over a live news scene.  The camera is received by another radio, and then this signal can be transmitted back to the station using traditional microwave or satellite links.  Essentially it is removing the fiber optic cable that traditionally joins the cameraman to the satellite truck.  The other interesting part of their system is that each radio is a two way transceiver of data.  The truck could conceivably send pan and tilt signals to a remote camera.  A reporter could get an “ethernet signal” while away from the truck.

I get the impression the system was developed from a military predecessor.  They told me the everything is built to “mil spec” and you could go SCUBA diving with the radio even.  I’m guessing that makes it hard to get a signal though…..😁


Full disclosure: the Persistent Systems folks gave me some booth swag as I was leaving.  They did not contact me for this video, and I’ve received no payment for this (or any) of my NAB videos.