NEW YORK, NY — Freelance Sound Mixer Matt Sonnenfeld has been using Sound Devices equipment, such as the 633 and 688 field production mixers, for more than three years. Along with his brother Adam, Sonnenfeld co-owns Four B Productions, Inc., a full-service production company based in Brooklyn, NY. Sonnenfeld has worked on notable television shows, including Made From America on The Travel Channel and Catching Odell, an NFL special.
Currently, Sonnenfeld is working on an upcoming documentary about veterans and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a personal subject for him as he lost his cousin to PTSD in 2013. The documentary will explore what PTSD is, what treatments are available and evolving, and how the conversation about PTSD is changing. The project is being shot in multiple locations, ranging from hospitals and government buildings, to small law offices. It often involves Sonnenfeld, as a one person crew, conducting interviews within small spaces.
Sonnenfeld has come to rely on his Video Devices PIX-E7 4K recording field monitor and PIX-LR audio interface accessory to provide a hassle-free workflow in every situation. He chose the PIX-E7 and PIX-LR when he saw how they could improve the way he works. “I’ve been looking for ways to be smaller, lighter, and faster on these shoots,” said Sonnenfeld. “When I saw this equipment come out, I immediately thought of this project and knew this could change the way that I work. I’ve gone through several different workflows and the amount of gear that I can bring with me can really make or break the shoot.”
The way that Sonnenfeld has captured content for the documentary has evolved since the project began. Whether shooting with a RED® camera or a SONY® a7S, Sonnenfeld’s PIX-E7 has now become the project workhorse. It serves as recorder as well as his confidence and focus monitor. The PIX-LR, with its high-performance mic preamps, brings professional audio to the monitor via two full sized, low noise, wide gain XLR inputs.
“There are other monitors out there that are ProRes-capable recorders, but this is the only one that really pairs the high-quality sound,” says Sonnenfeld. “The PIX-E7 is a really solid, bright 1920 x 1200 monitor. It’s sharp and the colors are great. Also, especially for me as a sound mixer, having the PIX-LR can make things really easy when it comes to these one person kind of interviews where I am insistent on both high-quality audio and video.”
In the past, Sonnenfeld would have brought a RED camera, a ProRes video recorder, a small audio mixer/recorder, and more on location with him. “Now I can just bring the PIX-E7 and PIX-LR, and I can plug the shotgun mic directly into that. It streamlines everything for me. It’s less I have to bring and worry about.”
Another PIX-E accessory that is proving its worth on Sonnenfeld’s shoots is the SpeedDrive™ recording and file-delivery enclosure. The SpeedDrive looks like a thumb drive but houses a non-proprietary mSATA SSD—readily available at various retailers and online stores in sizes up to 1TB. While plugged into the back of any PIX-E monitor, the SpeedDrive uses a SATA interface, which is perfect for high-capacity 4K recording. Remove it from the monitor, and the SpeedDrive streamlines the file-delivery process by eliminating the need for special card readers, cables, or docking stations. Just plug it into any USB 3.0 port on a Mac or PC to quickly transfer data.
“The SpeedDrive is great,” adds Sonnenfeld. “When I’m on my own, it’s another thing I don’t have to worry about. It’s very easy to forget something small like a card reader, but that’s no problem with the PIX-E7 when I’m using the SpeedDrive.”
Sonnenfeld recently used his PIX-E7 monitor and accessories for a series of back-to-back brief interviews with doctors at a renowned New York medical center. “We only had a few minutes with each doctor, and it was really about being fast and light, and less about setup. I was on my own and I don’t think I would have been as comfortable or as confident with the equipment I’ve had in the past. The ability to just plug the mic into the monitor and know it was going to sound great and do all of the things I needed it to do was really critical.”
Sonnenfeld also praised the PIX-E7 for a feature that allows him to delay the input audio, which helps correct possible sync issues. “My PIX-E lets me adjust an input delay on the audio so I can make it match the video,” said Sonnenfeld. “This allows me to compensate for all of the possible processing delays through the camera, over the SDI, into the monitor, etc. That’s unique as far as I know, and that means I can take the SpeedDrive, put it in my computer and I’m done. No work has to be done afterward.”
Sonnenfeld added that his PIX-E7 has been getting use on a variety of jobs beyond the documentary project. “I’ll bring it on any shoot, really just because it’s a good recorder. And I have a RED, so being able to get good ProRes off of the RED is really important because it can open up what kind of jobs I can take on. Not every client is going to want RED RAW. Being able to get the quality of a RED image with ProRes is really great.”
Sonnenfeld, who has used a variety of Sound Devices products, in addition to his Video Devices equipment, credits the feature-rich product lines, but also the company -- Sound Devices, LLC -- for why he keeps coming back. “Sound Devices [LLC] has always just been really receptive as a company to their users. They’re really open to user feedback, and it gives you a lot of confidence knowing that the company that you’re supporting when you buy their product supports you back.”
Visit Four B Production's website at www.fourb.tv.