When Patrick Longman, cinematographer and aerial specialist at Active Camera Systems, an aerial cinematography and rental company based in Florida, was looking for a portable recorder that would fit into his helicopter’s aerial photography system and provide the high-quality recording and monitoring capabilities he was looking for, he turned to Sound Devices’ PIX 240 recorder.
Longman first saw Sound Devices PIX 240 at the 2012 NAB show. At the time, the recorders he was using had limited feature sets, along with separate monitors and tape decks. “I wasn’t happy with my existing recording equipment and felt it was time for an upgrade,” said Longman. “All of the sound recording specialists and industry experts that I have spoken with told me that Sound Devices equipment was high quality, packed with features and that their support was top notch, so I decided NAB would be an excellent opportunity to check out their products. The PIX 240 made an immediate impression on me at the show and I decided to try one out. It worked out great and I have subsequently purchased several more of them.”
Longman, who was able to mount the PIX 240 directly into the console of the helicopter, used the recorder for the recently concluded season of the hit HBO football reality show Hard Knocks, along with his Sony Cineflex camera system. This upgraded rig was used to record all of the aerial footage for the show. Longman’s aerial system soared above South Florida as it followed the NFL’s Miami Dolphins during training camp. Longman’s gear was used to shoot the opening montage, which highlights the Miami coastline and skyline. Longman also captured all the aerial footage while flying over the Dolphins’ practice field.
“In addition to its compact size, one of the features that I really like about the PIX 240 is that it has a built-in monitor, so you know that once you plug in your feed from the camera to the recorder, you got your picture,” said Longman. “With other recorders, I would plug into the recorder and then out of the recorder to the monitor. It’s nice to just have PIX 240 directly plugged into my camera.”
Sound Devices PIX 240 is an ideal companion to a wide range of professional cameras used for feature films, such as ARRI and RED, as well as small-format HD cameras from Sony and Canon. PIX 240 connects to cameras with HDMI or SDI and records directly to QuickTime using Apple’s ProRes or Avid’s DNxHD codec.
“Another feature that I really like about PIX 240 is that it allows you to record both Apple ProRes and Avid DNxHD codecs,” added Longman. “Since these are the two most common native files that editors are looking for, I am able to accommodate either request depending on the editor’s editing software choice. Being able to immediately monitor these files is also really helpful, as is the PIX 240’s ability to generate time code.”
In addition to his work on Hard Knocks, Longman’s aerial photography has been used on numerous projects, including the USA Network hit show Burn Notice, as well as Charlie’s Angels and various commercials, including those for AT&T, BMW and Rolex.
Sound Devices recently announced that it has upgraded its PIX 220 and 240 recorders. The PIX 220i and PIX 240i feature five-inch IPS-based LCD panels, with accurate color rendition and consistent off-axis viewing response. The new recorders’ high-performance, five-inch, IPS-based LCD displays provide users with immediate confirmation of framing, exposure, focus, audio metering and setup menu selections. The new IPS-based displays also offer higher contrast and better off-axis viewing.