In Broadcast - June 2013 - 44


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N E W S

WWW.INBROADCAST.COM | ISSUE 20 - JUNE 2013

InFOCUS

Sound Devices PIX 240 Sprints Ahead
W

44

hen National Geographic
magazine challenged Director
of Photography Greg Wilson to
create a shot tracking a sprinting
cheetah – in the spirit of Eadweard
Muybridge’s 1878 image of a
running horse – he turned to the
Sound Devices PIX 240 Production
Video Recorder for the shoot’s
dailies, monitoring and backup.
Combining the resources of
National Geographic and the
Cincinnati Zoo, and drawing on the
skills of an incredible crew, Wilson
and his team were responsible for
simultaneously capturing motion
picture images as well as highresolution stills of the cheetah for
use in the magazine. Employing a
Phantom Flex high-speed camera
filming at 1200 to 1600fps, the team
zoomed alongside the sprinting
cheetah, capturing every nuance of
the animal’s movement as it reached
speeds of more than 60mph. For
the still images, the crew used three
Canon EOS-1D X digital cameras,
shooting at its fastest speed, at
full resolution.
“We wanted to create beautiful
images of the world’s fastest land
animal using the most sophisticated
technology of our day,” says Wilson.
“To do so, I needed to move a
camera system, configured with
the Phantom camera and the three
Canon 1D X cameras, all at the
same speed. When in action, we
needed to reach 65 mph in 40 feet,
hold that speed for 300 feet and
then decelerate safely back to a
complete stop.” Wilson and his
crew teamed up with Doggicam
Systems in Los Angeles to design
and build the custom dolly system
that would move the camera along
the 410-foot track.
Using a modified version of its
Super Slider System and a Sparrow
200 remote head, along with highpowered motion control motors
provided by Romano Stunts, the
camera was able to reach a speed of
more than 65 mph in less than three
seconds and then return back to a
resting position accurately and safely.
Wilson’s first AC and Phantom
technician Edward Richardson built
a control unit for the DSLRs. “This
allowed them to run in sequence
at 14 fps with zero overlap of the
images and a perfect cadence,
allowing us to capture, effectively,
42 fps at 18.1 megapixels per frame,”
notes Wilson. “We were operating
with a very small crew and didn’t
have the resources for a standard
video tape recorder in the field, so
we used the Sound Devices PIX 240.”
Richardson says that he and the
crew wanted the ability to reference
any shot over the entire three-day
job. “With the Phantom Flex, we

The high-speed dolly system ready to roll

aren’t able to review that footage
without transcoding dailies. With
the PIX 240, however, we had an
ongoing library of all the takes.”
As is often the case when working
with wild animals, Wilson and his
crew faced several environmental
challenges. One major concern was
that the cheetahs might be afraid of
all the gear, and wouldn’t run. “The
cats were a bit unsure around the
camera once a run was over, so we
couldn’t move the camera from the
end of the track until the cheetah
was relaxed, which sometimes took
up to an hour,” adds Richardson.
“This presented a problem with
saving the take. If the Phantom loses
power before a take is saved, the
footage is lost.”
To resolve this, Richardson used
the battery-powered PIX 240 not
just as a recorder, but as a portable
monitor as well. After each take,
Richardson walked to the end of
the field with the PIX 240 and used
the on-camera controls to save the
take. He then recorded the shot into
the PIX and brought it back to the
main monitoring area for everyone to
view. “Another bonus is that we then
had another backup of the footage,”
he says. “The PIX 240 performed
flawlessly. I wish every piece of gear
was this easy to prep and use. If we
didn’t have the PIX, we wouldn’t
have gotten the shots we did.”
Another major challenge was
syncing the dolly system with a
wild animal like the cheetah. The

cheetahs would
chase a lure/
bait attached
to a long line,
using a hand
controlled on/
off
switch
held by one of
the cheetah
handlers. At the
speeds the cats
were travelling,
a quarter of a
second or a few The camera setup for recording ‘Cheetahs on the Edge’
feet per second
off and the gear could result in a
immediate confirmation of framing,
hundred feet off by the time the cat
exposure, focus, audio metering and
hit the lit area of the track. Working
setup menu selections.
with five cheetahs, it was also very
It offers excellent colour accuracy
difficult to anticipate how fast they
and contrast, great off-axis visibility
would come out of the gate and
and accurate motion tracking. PIX
what their top speed would be,
240 and 240i users have the ability to
among other parameters. “It was a
record in Apple ProRes 4444, which
learning process the entire time, but
offers impressive quality with 4:4:4
in working with the cheetah handlers,
sources and workflows involving
we were able to experiment with the
alpha channel transparency. With
speeds and timing,” says Wilson.
its 12-bit, 4:4:4 capability, the PIX
He concludes: “I don’t like to
240 and 240i can record 330-Mbps
have many monitors on set, so
Apple ProRes 4444 files that are
the PIX 240 was perfect because
perceptually indistinguishable from
I could have it around my neck or
the original source material.
on the cart and show the people not
Additional new features available
working by the main monitors what
in the latest v3.0 firmware include
we had captured.”
time-code and recording status
Sound Devices’ PIX 240 is the
displays on the SDI and HDMI
perfect companion to a wide
outputs, up to 500 ms of audio delay
range of professional cameras. Its
to compensate for multi-device
high-performance, five-inch, IPSpicture delay and selectable 4:4:4
based LCD display is an accurate
or 4:2:2 video output independent
field monitor, providing users with
from the source material.


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of In Broadcast - June 2013

In Broadcast - June 2013
Contents
InNews: Rogers Opts for Quantel at City Montreal
InNews: Vizrt and Mosart Enter Newsroom Partnership
InForm: Istreamplanet Live-Video Workflow
InReply: BSI Wireless Camera Captures the Action
InFocus: Sound Devices Pix 240 Sprints Ahead
InView: Bradley Engineering Focuses on Remote Camera Control Systems
InView: Government Tax Breaks: The Devil Is in the Detail
InMedia: In Demand Uses Aja to Create Promotional Content
InMedia: Ihse Draco Kvm-Matrix Switchers Support Broadcast It Workflow
InMedia: Media Production - the Next Generation
In Broadcast - June 2013 - Intro
In Broadcast - June 2013 - In Broadcast - June 2013
In Broadcast - June 2013 - Cover2
In Broadcast - June 2013 - Contents
In Broadcast - June 2013 - InNews: Rogers Opts for Quantel at City Montreal
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 5
In Broadcast - June 2013 - InNews: Vizrt and Mosart Enter Newsroom Partnership
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 7
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 8
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 9
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 10
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 11
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 12
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 13
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 14
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 15
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 16
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 17
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 18
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 19
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 20
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 21
In Broadcast - June 2013 - InForm: Istreamplanet Live-Video Workflow
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 23
In Broadcast - June 2013 - InReply: BSI Wireless Camera Captures the Action
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 25
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 26
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 27
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 28
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 29
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 30
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 31
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 32
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 33
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 34
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 35
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 36
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 37
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 38
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 39
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 40
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 41
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 42
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 43
In Broadcast - June 2013 - InFocus: Sound Devices Pix 240 Sprints Ahead
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 45
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 46
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 47
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 48
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 49
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 50
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 51
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 52
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 53
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 54
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 55
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 56
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 57
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 58
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 59
In Broadcast - June 2013 - InView: Bradley Engineering Focuses on Remote Camera Control Systems
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 61
In Broadcast - June 2013 - InView: Government Tax Breaks: The Devil Is in the Detail
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 63
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 64
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 65
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 66
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 67
In Broadcast - June 2013 - InMedia: In Demand Uses Aja to Create Promotional Content
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 69
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 70
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 71
In Broadcast - June 2013 - InMedia: Ihse Draco Kvm-Matrix Switchers Support Broadcast It Workflow
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 73
In Broadcast - June 2013 - InMedia: Media Production - the Next Generation
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 75
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 76
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 77
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 78
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 79
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 80
In Broadcast - June 2013 - 81
In Broadcast - June 2013 - Cover3
In Broadcast - June 2013 - Cover4
In Broadcast - June 2013 - S1
In Broadcast - June 2013 - S2
In Broadcast - June 2013 - S3
In Broadcast - June 2013 - S4
In Broadcast - June 2013 - S5
In Broadcast - June 2013 - S6
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