Convergent Design Odyssey7Q Review



The Odyssey7Q combines a high quality 7.7 OLED monitor with an SSD based recorder to allow the capture of high bit rate quality codecs such as ProRes, DNxHD, Sony FS700 Raw, Canonc500 4K Raw and other options available via pay firmware upgrades. We used it with the Sony FS700 to capture ProRes HQ at 220Mbps.

The file based workflow is all about flash memory. On our shoot we utilized a variety of flash memory. The Odyssey7Q requires Convergent's branded SSD. We also recorded the native FS700 files to an SD card inside the Sony, glad we did and more on that shortly. The DLSR and Sound Devices recorder used compact flash.

The OLED display on the Odyssey is very nice. It's large enough Before we go any further we have one work of advice for any file based acquisition day, redundancy. We recorded audio to both cameras and the Odyssey7Q as well as the Sound Devices Mixer. We recorded video to both cameras natively and Odyssey7Q.

Our shoot was a series of sit down interviews. Pretty straightforward. Once we were setup we let it rip and then it became more about data management. The Odyssey7Q recorded in chunks of 3.94GB for every 2:45 worth of roll. So after each interview we'd have about 8 files to assemble and cut. The 7D records in 3.99GB chunks for every 13:05. So a couple of files per interview and we'd interrupt the flow periodically to reslate.  With a couple of SSDs it's easy to keep rolling while transferring files.  We highly advise having a system with USB 3.0 to transfer the files and we're looking forward to Thunderbolt in the future.  After a full day of shooting on the two cameras plus redundant files we had 600GB of data to manage.      

The Odyssey7Q was easy to figure out and worked seamlessly for the most part. The 7.7 inch OLED makes for a good size touch screen. However, all is not sweetness and light. We encountered corrupted files for a portion of two of the interviews. Just flat out corrupt files. This is the gotcha in the file based workflow. When it goes bad it's just gone. It's not a few hits in an analog tape. The good news is we had the second camera and the native codec from the FS700 as a backup. However, for a field recorder that's approaching $3K in cost this is not acceptable. It's been years and years of SxS and P2 with and we've never lost a file to corruption. Devices like the Odyssey7Q need to be just as robust. And from our initial field test it appears they're not.

Our advice isn't to shy away from the Oddyssey7Q. This is where things are headed and we expect the folks at Convergent and industry as a whole to make these types of external recorder/displays as rock solid as P2 and SxS. For now remember our keyword for the day, redundancy. As you embrace new technologies that enable you to capture the most brilliant images possible, have a plan in place to capture at least an image, in case you happen to lose a few a long the way.

For more information and all the specs on the Odyssey 7Q visit Convergent Design. 

Pixelan DissolveMaster Review

Pixelan Software’s DissolveMaster provides endless options for creating compelling dissolves that can add production value in subtle ways or be pushed to create interesting effects. We tested DissolveMaster in Sony Vegas Pro 12. The brief 30 second clip above was made by dropping in presets before playing with settings. It comes with myriad presets that can be adjusted with intuitive controls, like shape, glow, color, and percentage of effect. It’s a clean and easy to use plug-in that also makes it easy to save your favorite presets with a simple right mouse click.
It the video above we used the same seqence and tweaked the settings to create new looks. It's easy to see how quickly you can create your own looks with the presets provided in DissolveMaster. You can spend hours and hours experimenting with DissolveMaster to create your own presents. The plug-in is hardware accelerated and worked fine on our 2 year old workstation with a Quadro 4000 inside. We tend to primarily use cuts and dissolves in our edits and not a lot of special effects. DissolveMaster gives the dissolves a little something extra. DissolveMaster includes film dissolves, soft directional dissolves, blur dissolves, glow/flash dissolves and endless ways to tweak all the settings. So you can keep it clean and simple or experiment with color changes and visual effects made possible as DissolveMaster organically animates the video. A well-crafted dissolve can certainly have an impact on the overall quality of your edit and effective story telling. On the flip side it can be a noticeable distraction which is always a pitfall of a new toy. Experimentation and restraint when necessary will lead to success with DissolveMaster. Dissolve Master offers good value at $50 and will get more useful over time as you create your own presets to complement your content. Visit Pixelan Software to find out more and test it with your NLE of choice.

iZotope RX3 Advanced Review



Izotope RX3 Advanced is an elegantly designed suite of audio restoration tools with a beautiful and intuitive interface that delivers transparent and effective results when used judiciously. We used it both in standalone mode and as a plug-in with Sony Vegas Pro 12. Most tools in the suite worked as a plug-in except for Spectral Repair which had to be run in standalone mode.

Izotope RX3 has become an essential part of our post production workflow.  When shooting video we encounter a variety of audio challenges related to the environment, equipment or the performance. Plus there's the crew. We have an awesome network of audio engineers but no one's perfect and audio levels can be too weak or too hot in dynamic situations. So that's a lot of variables to deal with.

The end result of this imperfect sonic wonderland is unwanted hum and noise, rumble, occasional distortion, unwanted reverb and more. It all has to be addressed in post so we can deliver a pristine audio mix with our final video.

In the past we've had mixed results using noise reduction and audio restoration tools because of the artifacts introduced by the algorithms, mainly the phasing and thinning of the sound. The harder the tool was pushed the worse the artifacts got. The results were never really transparent enough to our liking.

Izotope RX3 is a smart prescription for post because it allows you to fix complex problems without introducing artifacts. Yes, if pushed too hard it's easy to do more harm than good, but we generally were able to improve the quality of the audio before introducing unwanted sonic garbage.

We've now used RX3 Advanced on multiple video projects to remove rumble, reverb, HVAC noise..etc.  The more we use it the more we appreciate what a powerful tool it is for making our dialogue pop through the mix.  The cleaner we can get it the better we're able to sweeten it.  

The RX3 noise reduction module does an excellent job removing unwanted hum and white noise from the HVAC.  We got excellent results with 10 seconds of room tone as our noise profile.  About 6dB of reduction was ideal for removing most of the unwanted noise with minimal artifacts.  This was more than enough for projects where a music bed would help mask any remaining noise.  We also tested it with shorter noise profile and it worked very well. 

In most cases, we were able to use RX3 to improve the audio in a transparent way. Removing reverb from a recording is still very challenging to do and takes more time to dial in. Luckily, the intuitive controls make it easy to simply experiment until you get the desired results.

In general we got the best results by pushing the software until we would start to hear unwanted artifacts and then dialing back a bit, and then maybe a bit more. Interestingly, with the declipper we tended to push it a little harder for the best results. We even ran the audio through a UAD plug-in before the declipper and that yielded good results.  So experimentation is very important.  

The folks at iZotope have optimized RX3 to take advantage of multicore systems.  Our 12 core Xeon test system was pushed to the max and yielded very good performance.  Nice to see software like RX3 putting all those cores to work.  What use to be an arduous task of cleaning up audio is now a simple batch process that can be done in minutes.  It's also been very stable and has not crashed in standalone mode.   It did cause occasional problems in plugin mode.  We recommend working in standalone mode for most work.  Little fixes are fine in plugin mode.

Izotope RX3 Advanced is one of those tools that is best used sparingly with the goal of improving the quality of the audio without giving it an overly processed sound, unless you're going for some sort of effect of course.  Super clean is not better than what we would call sonically authentic. For example, we still prefer the sound of a clean FM radio signal to XM radio because of the compression used by XM. To our ears it just sounds bad. It's sterile, compressed and sad. With Izotope RX3 you can make your mixes cleaner but still happy and bright. Taking the time to clean up your mix with a tool like Izotope RX3 is well worth the effort.  It's an essential tool for post. 

Here you can listen to a sample with and without using the RX3 noise reduction.

Visit Izotope to download a trial version or RX3 Advanced and test it in your post production workflow.  

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