Multimedia storyteller Vancrafted Studios uses workhorse PIX-E5H recording monitor to capture video for a variety of productions.

Brendan Banks with PIX-E5H

WESTERLY, RHODE ISLAND — Brendan Banks has had a passion for moving images ever since he learned how to turn on a camera. After graduating from college, Banks, along with girlfriend Kelly Shea, took a leap of faith and launched Vancrafted Studios, a boutique creative agency specializing in multimedia storytelling. Their goal is to find inspiration in unfamiliar places and tell original stories through video. Banks’ fresh approach to capturing the visual story has helped build his business. Whether he is exploring nature’s wonders in the wilderness with nothing but a camera, managing video crews on small film productions, or shooting interviews with national political figures, Banks always aims to capture what best tells the story. For all of his varied production needs, Banks relies on Video Devices equipment, a brand of Sound Devices, LLC.

Banks’ first encounter with Video Devices was the PIX 240i, a professional-grade, camera-mount video recorder with monitoring tools. Since the PIX 240i records edit-ready files in the most popular Apple® ProRes and Avid DNxHD® codecs, it was the perfect tool for Banks, who wanted something to make the path from capture to post-production quicker. “I was shooting Apple ProRes on the PIX 240i, and it was a great workflow. I had used similar products previously and none proved to be as reliable as Video Devices.” Banks particularly liked the solid construction and tactile design of the on-camera recorder. “I don’t like working on a device that only uses a touchscreen interface; I need physical buttons. I often shoot in subfreezing temperatures, which requires me to wear gloves. The inconvenience of having to take your gloves off in order to operate a touchscreen-only device can be really difficult, so that was a huge feature for me. I also liked how bulletproof the product physically felt.”

Banks recently added Video Devices’ PIX-E5H recording monitor to his kit. A lighter, HDMI-only, camera-mount device, the PIX-E5H has a full suite of monitoring tools plus an integrated video recorder that can capture 4K video, using ProRes codecs from proxy up to 422HQ.

“Video Devices has made my setup more efficient,” adds Banks. “As a director of photography (DP), one of my must-have features is being able to shoot to a variety of different codecs. I typically shoot with a Panasonic GH4, so being able to get 10-bit straight out of the camera and have that record to ProRes saves time. The edit team or the digital imaging technician (DIT) doesn’t have to do anything to it. It not only saves them time, but ensures the quality that I’m hoping to keep.

Brendan Banks with the PIX-E5H on a boat

“Another big thing is if I hand off media [on the SpeedDrive], anybody can just plug it into a USB input, which ends up saving a ton of headaches for everyone…and I like being able to label A Cam versus B Cam in the file names and metadata. All of those options are really helpful for editing.”

Like the PIX 240i, the PIX-E5H recording monitor was built for rugged durability with its die-cast metal chassis and LCD-protecting Gorilla Glass 2. Inside, as part of the firmware, FileSafe™ protects vital recordings from loss. It’s one of the many features Banks appreciates.

“The first thing I shot with the PIX-E5H was a narrative short film. It was amazing,” says Banks. “The PIX-E5H has been my workhorse ever since. I haven’t had any corrupt files.” That peace of mind is something Banks admits he has come to depend upon. “We actually had an issue on set where the HDMI port on one of our cameras went down while we were setting up, so we had to record internally. Everything ended up being fine, but I guess I hadn’t realized how comfortable I had gotten [with the PIX-E5H]. It’s going to record, it can record for however long, and I don’t have to worry about it. But when you have to shoot internal on another camera, you start to worry about something going wrong, like a file potentially going corrupt,” Banks adds. “I know I am able to depend on my PIX-E5H to get the job done.”

Since acquiring the PIX-E5H, Banks’ various projects have included interviews with Vice President Joe Biden for the social media site Now This. He has also worked on a short narrative thriller/horror film and completed an in-depth case study video project for an architectural company.

Brendan Banks with the Vice President Joe Biden

“For a lot of my projects, I’ll shoot and edit myself,” Banks says. “And then on a bunch of other projects, like the Vice President interviews, I am the DP, and I hand everything off to a team. What’s really great [about the PIX-E5H] is that when you offload it, it includes the LUTs that you were shooting with on your memory card, so the team can just take that, drop it in, and all of the cameras match right away. I think just being able to load a variety of custom LUTs is extremely helpful.”

He also touts the monitoring tools, and counts the PIX-E5H’s four-way view (that displays the video image along with a vectorscope, waveform, and histogram) as one of his favorite features. “I check that all the time. I love it because we’re always shooting outside, and you can’t always see everything perfectly, so being able to take a quick look and know my image is exactly what I’m looking for is great. I love that.”

Visit Vancrafted Studios' web site at www.vancraftedstudios.com to learn more.

Photo(s) Credit Suzanne Pressman