Saturday, November 24, 2012

RODE Reporter Interview Microphone

Update Oct 1, 2013: Street price is now $129 from the original $199!
Update April 2013: RODE has updated the Reporter to have less handling noise!

The RODE Reporter mic has landed. My first impression was, "Hey this thing is too skinny and long." It's definitely not as physically "beefy"in build as the Sennheiser MD46 handheld that we're used to using. For the past 8 years, we've been using the Sennheiser, which is a cardioid interview mic, with great success. As you'll hear in the video, it has a clarity that is hard to beat. Now there are both pros and cons to using an omni-directional handheld microphone versus a cardioid microphone in a typical outdoor interview.

The omni has the edge in:
Lower handling noise
No need to "Cue" or point the mic at the subject
Better wind protection

The cardioid has the edge in:
Side rejection
Loud environments (also with sound reinforcement - loud speakers, stage monitors)

Now where the RODE Reporter really comes in to shine is in the wind tests and forgiving pick-up pattern. We were shocked at how our beloved MD46 was just pummeled with a household fan blowing. It's just the nature of a cardioid rather than an omni. Keep in mind that both of these microphones have a similar double basket grille to the eye, but I'd have to image that there is a lot more science to the design that what we see.

You'll also see in our video, how during a live interview that I forgot to "cue" the mic towards the talent.  It's easy to do without an In Ear Monitor. You really can get absorbed in the discussion and forget that you're recording/live and that the mic is the viewers only chance at hearing clear audio. The omni pattern of the RODE Reporter certainly makes it more forgiving in this regard. Take a listen:

Now Sennheiser also makes an Omni directional interview mic called the Sennheiser MD42. Their description is The MD 42 is a high-quality reporters microphone with omni-directional pick-up pattern. It has been specially optimized for rough use in live reporting and broadcasting environments. The MD 42 is a very "good-natured" microphone that avoids wind and handling noise problems

Tip: After reading a few posts on handheld mics over at, one great tip from John Willett was to create a loop of the mic cable and hold the loop against the body of the mic.

We're seeing some folks on the Planet5d blog, including our friend Steve Oakley joking about how the included mic flag might poke someone. What are your thoughts?

Monday, March 19, 2012

DVI to HD-SDI converter Options

With more and more HD mixer switchers becoming affordable, we're seeing the question pop up and more, "How can I convert DVI to HD-SDI?"

One of our first clients to ask this had just purchased a Newtek Tricaster TCXD300. The Tricaster has an app called "iVGA" to bring screen sharing over ethernet. As cool as this sounds, the drawback is that it would involve having the presenter install an app on their laptop. This is simply not possible for a lot of folks. The client did not want to spend the money at the time on a converter and was met with their worst fears - incompatible laptop and "AV malfunction" resulting in a battered reputation. iVGA did not work flawlessly and the live production suffered immensely.

Now with the new Blackmagic ATEM Television Studio and 1M/E mixer switchers we're seeing the DVI to HD-SDI question again and again, "How can I get a laptop, MacBook or PC into our HD switcher at 1080i or 720p?" So our company DVeStore, actually acquired and tested all of the options we could.

Here are a few of the solutions we came up with:

Grass Valley ADVC G1 approximately $1199
Manufacturer link
Pros: Affordable, handles HDMI, DVI, RGB, component, composite, S-Video, analog audio, AES/EBU, reference. Stable, best value. Can handle VGA with an inexpensive VGA to DVI adapter.

Cons: Dip switches

Gefen DVI to HDSDI Scaler approximately $1299
Manufacturer link

Pros: Straight forward with one in and one out.

Cons: We had trouble syncing at a client's live seminar. The device did not work out of the box and autodetect. Trying to use the remote control to adjust the settings was near impossible when the HDSDI signal could not even be handled by the monitor.

Blackmagic DVI Extender $375.25 Manufacturer link

Pro: Inexpensive, simple, also carries audio
Con: DVI-D only - no VGA

AJA FS2 $4995 Manufacturer link
"Summer release" of firmware update to provide scan conversion. Currently does not support DVI to HDSDI conversion. We ordered one for testing only to find out that the firmware was not yet finished.

Roland/Edirol VC-300HD $10495 Manufacturer link
Pro: Everything in everything out including DVI-D and DVI analog 1024x768/60 Hz, 800x600/60/75 Hz, 640x480/60/75 Hz
Cons: Expensive

Update: We're now seeing the Edirol VC-300HD being blown out on eBay and Amazon under $4,000

Matrox Convert DVI and Convert DVI Plus $995 and $1495 Manufacturer link

Pro: The new firmware on the Convert DVI Plus now does auto-detect. Also provides region of interest support
Con: The regular Matrox Convert DVI must have settings adjusted via a Mac or PC prior to deployment. Not good if you will be having a variety of presenters with different laptops arriving at your live seminar. Does not convert analog VGA - read how Matrox suggests using a DualHead2Go to scan convert VGA to DVI.

Also, one more to note that works rather well if you can handle DVI to HDMI, is the GefenTV High-Defintion Scaler $349 Manufacturer link

Pro: Great value - simply add a DVI to HDMI cable. The digital ports on the back are DVI In and DVI Out.
Cons: We have had a remarkable number of these fail. It could be that they were not meant to be rack mounted and moved around.

Not tested:

Ensemble Designs BrightEye Mitto

Now with many of the new laptops we're seeing HDMI output ports built-in as well as Thunderbolt ports on the new MacBook line. You can use a simple Mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapter to get HDMI out. Remember HDMI is not as good as HD-SDI for long runs. Also, remember to set the System Preferences>Displays to an NTSC/PAL format for video. For some folks with short runs a DVI to HD-SDI converter may not even be necessary. However for those of us that have the need, it's nice to see all of the options out there.

Updated 2/26/2016

There may be more so feel free to add any we missed in the comments below.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sorenson Squeeze 7 races forward

For those of us that go way back, we remember Sorenson as being the CODEC to use. It was what the Starwars Trailer for "The Phantom Menace" was encoded with in 1999. I remember going to Apple and talking with Doug, the guy that did the encode using Media Cleaner Pro. We aptly nicknamed him "Captain Crunch". Back in those days encoding took so long that we had to do something. We actually invested in a Blue ICE card - with 8 processors! This card cost thousands of dollars and it was indeed fast. Well, enter 2011 and Sorenson is still in the Video Compression game. The ante has be upped. Well, Media Cleaner Pro is no longer the standard, Telestream's Episode is in the game and we're back to seeing fast acceleration cards to speed things up.

Any of the Nvidia cards with CUDA can now help speed up H.264 Sorenson encodes. However, the results seen in Jan Ozer's sample images show something only a third grader would be proud of. We've been using the Matrox CompressHD H.264 acceleration card and it works amazingly well. Any of the videos that I have compressed for ourselves have all used this card. See a sample.

The iPad

At a business meeting recently, we all sat down and quickly noticed that everyone had an iPad on the table. The folks in the meeting were some of the top gurus in the industry. Wow. Game changer. Encoding iPad compatible video is now more important than ever. Sorenson Squeeze 7 makes it easy, not just for iPad, but by offering simple Presets for WebM. If the stats in the meeting are in fact true, 1 out of every 5 videos is being viewed on a mobile device. We'll need to change our approach, acknowledge these viewers and quickly adopt a new workflow standard. Adobe is also one to watch with Scene7 and Brightcove is coming back all guns blazing. You'll notice that Sorenson is offering Sorenson360 as well.

This is one of the biggest timesavers for us, I love being able to publish to "the cloud" directly. We have been using Amazon Web Services to host our videos with perfect delivery and huge cost savings. Previously when we left the office for the evening with videos encoding, we would have to Remote Access in later that evening to check the files and manually move them to AWS. Not anymore, just enter in your login/secret key and let them upload as the encoding is complete.

Overall it looks like a few features are going to make Sorenson Squeeze 7 a must have. Everything else is just icing on the cake. Jump over to the Sorenson page and read up a bit. Download the free trial

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Reflecmedia with Canon 5D Mark II HDSLR

We tested the Reflecmedia Green Screen system with the Canon 5D Mark II. With the H.264 files, we thought the key was going to be unusable. To our pleasant surprise - it works great!

Friday, January 21, 2011

RODE VideoMic Pro

Take a look at the size difference between the new RODE VideoMic Pro, the original RODE VideoMic and the ultra tiny Sennheiser MKE400.

Want to hear what it sounds like? Take a listen