Highly-anticipated PIX-E5 provides reliability and streamlined monitoring/recording needed for China-based production company's challenging video projects.

PIX-E5 at the Great Wall

BEIJING, CHINA — Growing up, Stone Johnston always had a passion for music and photography. Johnston found that he could best combine these two through filmmaking. Along with his brother Adrian, he started KMOV Studios as a global production company. Today, Johnston lives and works in Beijing where he gravitates mostly toward documentary work.

With a busy and challenging production schedule that includes traveling through extreme cold and hot, dusty deserts, on trains and buses, and to locations in remote areas, Stone’s gear needs to be tough and dependable. When he was looking for an on-camera recording monitor that could keep up with his needs, he turned to Video Devices’ PIX-E5.

“I had been debating whether or not to buy a competitor’s product for almost a year. I really didn’t like the size, build quality and integration of the cheap-looking SSD docks sticking out the back,” says Johnston. “I read about the PIX-E5 and was lucky enough to be able to reserve one. I usually let everybody else try products out first and then decide based on the various feedback that shows up online. But the PIX-E5 size and design seemed like a perfect fit, solving all the things that were keeping me from purchasing another monitor. I went ahead and made the purchase, and have been happy ever since.”

Johnston has been particularly pleased with the recording monitor’s ease of use. “The PIX-E5 is very solid as a recorder. I appreciate that it is streamlined and not overloaded with menus,” adds Johnston. “The codec selections are good and the monitor is the perfect size and quality for me—really sharp and bright enough even for use out in strong sunlight. The monitoring tools’ display has been great for correcting exposure, nailing focus, and seeing any issues right away. Being able to load LUTs are also great when working with Blackmagic cameras or with Sony S-Log profiles.”

PIX-E5 and a7S

Johnston incorporates the PIX-E5 into his lightweight Sony, Canon, and Blackmagic camera rigs. Most often he uses his PIX-E5 on his Sony a7S as a monitor and 4K recorder, especially when he’s using a gimbal or slider. In general, he likes to keep his gear as simple and flexible as possible to match well with the smaller, mirrorless cameras he prefers.

Johnston mounts the PIX-E5 right on top of the camera or somewhere on a cage. Audio is very important in his documentary work and he will often run an extra mic into the PIX-E5. When he shoots with a gimbal, Johnston mounts the RØDE VideoMic Pro right on top of the PIX-E5. This allows him to monitor his audio while directing the mic separately from the camera angle, an especially useful workflow with wide lenses. When using a tripod or slider, Johnston typically puts the PIX-E5 on top of the camera.

Johnston credits a recent project’s success to the PIX-E5’s rugged and reliable design. According to Johnston, “There was a one-day shoot with one character that involved improvised running through a city in south China. I was chasing him through back alleys, jumping over and off of things, avoiding people, and making sure I didn't run into anything. I shot the whole thing with the Sony a7S on a single handheld gimbal with the PIX-E5 fixed to the base of the handle, and attached with a ribbon HDMI cable. If I ran into a wall or dropped the rig, I knew the PIX-E5 would probably hold up better than any of the other equipment.

“I use the PIX-E5 all the time,” continues Johnston. “I always use it for interviews where I need to make sure the color, focus, lighting, and audio are all perfect. It's also great for macro studio shots where I'm doing detailed stock footage. I can play with lighting and different elements, while having the screen in any angle to keep working fluidly. And of course, I like being able to add it to the camera at any time for quick shots. The PIX-E5 is more affordable, durable and stable than its competitors. It is a strong tool and I really love it.”

PIX-E5 at studio shot