Australia's largest and busiest performing arts centre uses multiple PIX-E5s and Sound Devices 688 mixer/recorder for video TVCs, promotional films, interview, and more.

Camera Operator Realm Choong manning a Sony FS5 with PIX-E5
Camera Operator Realm Choong manning a Sony FS5 with PIX-E5

There’s more to the Arts Centre Melbourne than meets the eye. With performing arts being its main priority, the institute also has an increasingly-involved Broadcast and Media team that recently acquired a slick video recording rig for shooting TVCs, promotional films, artist interviews, and, in the future, more narrative film-type media. The new kit includes two Sony FS5 cameras, a Freefly Movi M5 stabiliser system, various prime lenses by Samyang, two Video Devices PIX-E5 five-inch monitor/recorders, and the Sound Devices 688 mixer/recorder.

Together, the two Sony FS5s and PIX-E5s form inseparable pairs for field recording duties. The production team underwent a thorough search for the right monitoring and recording tool before arriving at the Pix E5 for its ruggedness and feature set.

The Video Devices PIX-E Series of recorders all feature touchscreen HD monitors which accept signal via HDMI or HD-SDI (HDMI only for the PIX-E5H). All models feature ample ‘desert island’ tools for cinematographers, including focus peaking, exposure meters (false colour, zebras, histograms or waveform monitors), and tap-to-zoom.

PIX-E5 at the Arts Centre Melbourne

Ben Coe, Supervisor, Broadcast & Multimedia at Arts Centre Melbourne, says, “We tried a whole bunch of different field recorders. The things that we really liked about the E5 was the actual housing — how physically strong and robust it feels. We’re thrown into totally different shooting scenarios every day of the week. Sometimes we’ll be hanging out of a car, sometimes we’ll be hanging out in a field, sometimes there might be a little bit of moisture, other times we’ll be out in broad daylight, but it’s really robust.

“Another reason the Video Devices PIX-E5 is great is its integration with LUTs. We shoot S-Log to gain more dynamic range, but the picture doesn’t look great to work with on set, so being able to load individual LUTs to change the way you view the picture on set gives you the confidence you’re shooting what you think you’re shooting.

“So really the monitor, more than anything, gives you the confidence on set that you’re shooting what you think you’re shooting, without having to rely on the cheap monitor attached to the side of the camera” — which is now used only to display camera settings.

“The E5 also has a really great design with its storage,” Ben Coe continues. “It’s a USB stick in itself, so once you remove it from the PIX-E, you don’t need a mounting drive. It plugs straight into a computer. So it’s really run ’n’ gun in that way, you don’t need extra accessories to put the data into your computer. And the drives are affordable — other brands make you purchase their own SSDs, but you can use third-party SSDs with the PIX-E recorders.”

PIX-E5 in action at Arts Centre Melbourne

Alison Murphy, Manager of Broadcast & Multimedia, observes, “I think Video Devices really nailed these products. We looked at every single recorder I reckon, and even though it’s a little heavy and a bit hot, all the other benefits outweigh those two little things.”

The crew are also singing the praises of the Sound Devices 688 audio mixer with integrated recorder designed for location work.

Coe: “The 688 allows us to simultaneously record to two different card formats so we’ve got a high-quality and a backup, or we can have a high-quality and a lower quality on two separate cards if we have two different destinations, or two people want different file types.

Sound Recordist Emma Burt using a 688 mixer/recorder at Arts Centre Melbourne
Sound Recordist Emma Burt using a 688 mixer/recorder at Arts Centre Melbourne

“The 688 is actually advertised as a mixer with a recorder, even though the recorder is off-the-charts good. But because of that, its mixing and monitoring capabilities are awesome — it couldn’t be easier to monitor audio, and it gives you the confidence you’re capturing what you think you’re capturing. And at the end of the day, that’s worth more than anything. To see and hear what you’re seeing and hearing and knowing that’s how it’s going to look and sound later.”

Arts Centre Melbourne: www.artscentremelbourne.com.au

Australian Distribution: corsairsolutions.com.au

Story was first published in AV Asia Pacific Magazine of alchemedia.