I have talked about the Canon XC-10 Before

And I said , that or at least alluded to , A Tool in the hands of someone who knows how to use it , will get results . The XC-10 has been bashed and some very harsh things said across the web , Some of it deserved but I think a Lot of Parroting is happening wherein the person speaking has never even seen or used the camera . Oh well.

I found this video today , Completely shot on the XC-10 from a Young film guy I believe in South Africa ?? Not sure , but will investigate more . THIS is what Shooting For the Edit or with a View to the edit looks like .

Have a Story in your head , Somewhat Already mapped out , and Gathering footage to match the storyline Almost already halfway Developed before it even gets to the computer for editing . I suggest watching it several times because there are Timing Details that you WILL miss the first time around , Matching the beat and structure of the music , In very minute details ( Song already in head probably ) The use of C-log , and very personal taste in the final image . I have to say . This was very well done . Slick doesn’t quite cut it , Sick would go there for those with that lingo , Straight DOPE , auuuummmmm Hard to actually find words , so here , just watch it .(Full Screen is real nice)

Sony ECM-680S Stereo Shotgun Review

Have you ever had a friend , that you had to figuratively walk on eggshells to be around ?

You had to really careful about what you said and HOW you said it ?

But You admired the other qualities enough to stick around ?

We all know that kind of friend isn’t easy , and there are many situations where being together in public might just simply not work . But other intimate situations are just darn near spectacular . Edifying even.

Stereo Shotgun mics , have a Very peculiar place in location sound , They allow the directionality of a regular MONO Gun Mic , which means what you point it at , is what it catches . But the point of the Mono gun mic is to REJECT all other sounds Sides , Rear , etc, and to ONLY catch exactly what it is pointed at .

Conversely the Stereo Gun mic ,  is to Catch like the above , exactly what it is pointed at , but ADD some of the Left/Right Natural ambience to the Centre Sound in such a way as to make things more interesting to the Viewer of the Video or Listener of the Audio Track .

The Sony ECM-680s , does indeed do those things and quite well . But with very Hard Caveats to deal with as well .

Like the above “Friend ”  , it is hard to handle …. VERY Hard to handle . Handling noise makes this mic almost impossible to use on a Boom . Which just so Happens to be its main purpose . Caveat Emptor … ….. Unless you are a Spectacularly good Boom Operator , I do not recommend this mic . Every vibration , touch of the hand to the boom pole , movement of cable . Gloves or not …. You hear it loud and clear. Low frequency rumble from even slight movements of your boom . But once you’re still and not moving it sounds great .

So ,  The Good shots , the In Motion Shots , Follow shots , Walking Narration shots , Documentary style stuff , Forget it . Do NOT buy this mic , you will be fighting it the whole time , and that takes your mind off of what you’re supposed to be doing ,like keeping out of frame , watching shadows from the boom pole ,or blimp from the mic end , and keeping pace with the camera guy . Your footsteps , will be tiny low frequency explosions in your sound file ( Boom Boom Boom Boom Boom Boom Boom )  because the vibrations of even a good walker , cat feet ,  will probably come thru . If I take the Boom pole off and just go handheld with the Pistol Grip on the Blimp Different story .I Quite LIKE what I get there , and there isn’t any hand movement once you grip so no noise . I can use this mic as a sound gathering tool of great quality like that . But the Boom Pole on ? Tape everything down really well , and make absolutely sure there are no vibrations in joints or anything . Blimp in Hand , No Noise really , nowhere near what you get with the pole on .

Walking .

I am good , You don’t hear me walk even when your right beside me . I am careful about my steps , so My Mic doesn’t get any distractions from what it is pointed at . The Protagonists footfall yes , Boom guy , NO !  you shouldn’t be heard . ( If only more Camera guys thought about that . Man they can be noisy .

The Rant part ,…… In Motion = Not Likely , Really Windy ( Even in the Blimp with Furry ) NOPE , This Mic is a pain in the ass . Sony you seriously could have done better there.


Sound Quality ,  Ok Hear is where I forgive ( see what I did there ?)

It sounds good , quite good in fact , Strong Centre image like a Boom Mic should have . And Blends in a proper amount of ambient left/right information or at least feels like it . Which means if your protagonist is standing still , YES by all means this mic . In Close proximity it will act as 3 mics . Proper placement would let you  capture 3 people at once Cleanly and by using the Pan controls on your recorder you could adjust their positions in the stereo field . At proximity , the Left/Right Separation of the Side Capsules are ok , Usable indeed , so the Centre and Left /Right makes 3 sources that could make for very interesting dialogue settings if you watch you mic position very carefully . ( But how often do you get that privilege ? )

At a Distance the Left/Right relationship becomes ambiguous at best , It is Stereo , it is ambient but you can’t quite tell where things are coming from . It just is widened out . I don’t know how else to describe that . Close up , It is Stereo , Back away it loses clear directions . But that is mainly because it is what is called a Mid/Side or MS Microphone .

Mid Side recording is about Phase relationships not Left/Right  Your MID , is your Centre , Side becomes Left/Right by means of a Phase Relationship , The Side Capsules signal , goes thru a process of taking the 2 sides of 1 capsule summing the DIFFERENCES of the two sides and throwing one side out of Phase with the other , then spitting it back out . The result now is you hear the differences of the two sides of 1 capsule as a stereo image .

(The Difference is the ECM-680s actually has 3 capsules , 1 mid and 2 sides . )

But for M/S – In simpler terms , You take a Mono signal , Split it into 2 , slap the piss out of 1 of them , and make it walk beside the other one backwards . So their footsteps don’t combine .

That is Mid Side recording . Sort of .

This mic is almost good at that .

But it isn’t Good at what it was designed for , Being a Boom mic . On Camera Ok , That would be a good mount up , just don’t be rough with the Camera , the Mic WILL pickup the vibrations . I do mean a REALLY good suspension system is needed .

I am thinking about taking it back actually ,( I Did take it back )  I have other stereo mics . . A Fair chunk of money ( That I had to borrow ) to get this . Is it really worth the effort it will take to pay back that fund age ?

Not sure yet .

( Update :  I took it back , Just Way too much Handling noise , No Damping in the mic whatsoever . To thinly built )

Sony you blew it here . No Damping the mic whatsoever ,in a mic that is to be used in a Film/Video/Broadcast/Documentary/Whatever environment , an didnt dampen the internals of that mic ???? WTF  I actually took the mic back thinking it was damaged or something the handling noise was so bad ,( This was a USED mic by the way )  But here is the Kicker , They had a NEW ONE in the store and let me try it , The sound of the one I brought back was so bad they were willing to offer me a trade for the display model they had , It wasn’t AS bad , but still , Booming would be impossible for the most part if you had ANY motion involved .

Verdict =  If you put this mic on a stand or Mounted on a Heavy body Camera GOOD no Problem ( No Handling noise either )

If – IF you’re going to use this mic as an active part of your Location Sound rig , DON’T , You will be frustrated and fighting the mic the whole time . Boom is out of the realistic question . I have read on someone else blog the Audio Technica AT-BP4029 is the same way . Unforgiving .


SD Card Advice ……

The Ability to trust your gear , is directly in correlation of the ability to do a good job .

I use Pro SD cards , Period . But THAT ALONE does not guarantee a perfect outcome , case in point being Yesterday .  I did sound for a VERY Brief shoot and 1 of my takes were missing from the SD Card , I was Shocked . 1 hour shooting , not many takes , and I had a file missing ( This is the proverbial “Oh Shit ” moment )

But I had the Brains to have had an Extra mic on the Camera itself that probably came out pretty good . ( Sony EXC-680S Shotgun)

But that doesn’t satisfy , the fact that a file was missing , In Pro work , That is a serious No No .

So this morning I salvaged what I could from the card , then ran the card thru a rescue program that does some forensics on the SD Cards architecture to see what remains , and there were 185 Pictures and Video files  partial or complete remaining even after I had deep formatted the Card in my Recording machine .

Most of the video files rescued wold no longer play , but the Pictures were brought back in almost perfect clarity . Pretty damn amazing if you ask me .

But Herein lies the Advice and Warning .

Don’t Sell your SD Cards , or HDD’s for that matter ,  Destroy them .

When your done with a Hard Drive , or maybe you upgrade your SD Card from a small size to a Larger Card , and you think ” Oh I will just throw this up on Craigs or some Recycle store that buys gadgets etc.

Dont ……..

I have a program that lets me rescue stuff from a corrupted card and repairs files. I NEED this program as a Just in Case …. But not everyone NEEDS this Program and mine isn’t even all that great , The Higher level programs can get to data years old and erased several times over . That DATA is not safe .

First Part of Rant over , now on to Second

First was DATA issues and your safety , Second is the AUDIO Guy’s perspective .

WhY Didn’t my Recorder Properly Format the SD Card ??? Here comes the Point , When You buy a Nice SD Card for your gear , DON’T SWAP IT between devices  . As it is this  that I think is what Happened in this case , I needed some space to run 2 Cameras on a Video shoot I did for a Vocalist who was performing at a Bar / Nightclub in Tokyo . and I didnt have an extra SD Card to grab at the moment or couldn’t find one in my stash , SO , I grabbed my Recorders SD card 32 Gb , and Stuck it in the Camera and formatted it , went and shot my Vid, All worked great …Vid done , Data imported , movie made , on with business

Deleted files from the card using the Computer , Trash emptied then put the Card back in the recorder , Formatted it DEEP format , and thought that all was well.

Until this morning …… When I came back to find that a File was actually missing from the Shoot I just did the Night before …..Oh My God ……. WTF ????

This hasn’t happened to me before , and I KNOW that I recorded it , So this morning I ran a Diagnostic on the Card . And Found ALL that DATA from a Video shoot I did almost 8 months ago Buried in the Card and Corrupted DATA all over the place .

Even after DEEP formatting it .

Moral of the Story , Buy a Card , Put it in the Machine your going to use it in ……AND LEAVE IT THERE !!!! Don’t swap cards .

I won’t ever do that again .  As soon as I get Paid , a new fleet of SD Card is in order .

Dedicated to each machine . Screen Shot 2016-03-20 at 9.14.08 AM.png

Off to an Audition today

Will I get the Part ? Who knows , Auditions are like that , First a Photo selection goes thru the rounds , and your Photo gets the first stage , but then You have to Audition , If the Image Matches the Idea , and The Presence Matches the Idea , You get the part .

So many Images , So many different personalities , a producers job and directors job really isn’t all that easy . Make the wrong choices Your presentation fails , Mismatch different choices of personalities , Project loses power , Get just the right combination of people working together the energy is 10 times more powerful and then your project has impact .

Clients like Impact , Stories Need it to keep you the viewer interested and wrapped in it .

I think maybe many Actors/Actresses struggle with that , I am just going to be myself with maybe a little extra Salt and Pepper , maybe some Basil , or Garlic . But basically just be me.

But then , I won’t actually be Acting then would I ?


Pocket Recorder Principles

I have had MANY recorders , over the years tried just about everything .

Tascam DR-1 , I was one of the first to get it , It sounded Ok, for what it was , but the Mic Input was about -27db of the Internal Mics even at Highest GAIN ( Which you simply didnt want to use {noisy}  I built a preamp to run stereo sets of balanced mics or one stereo mic into the DR-1 , Sounded much better . Battery Life …meh…

Zoom H-1 ,  What do you expect from it ?  Don’t try handling it while recording thats for sure .  Cheap device , cheap sound .

Zoom H2 , Looked like an electric Shaver , But actually was kinda useful , Sounded OK for the price point , But for the Basic podcaster or Idea catcher , great machine . Had a Few minor problems . Similar to the DR-1

Zoom H2n  ( N =NEXT)  This was indeed an Upgrade , It was now not Just a Shaver , it was Darth Vaders Shaver ,  and it sounded much better , with Mid Side recording that actually worked , and 4 ISO track ability that you could separate in your DAW , and Better Display features , Zoom H2n is actually kind of a Must have for sound gathering . Using an oversized Furry on it design for a Studio Condenser Microphone made it a great outside machine to set and forget while doing other things .

Tascam DR-7 , Improved much on the DR-1 , Better form  factor better sound . Still needed work . But Battery was good enough , and sound was much better , Input was still weak though.

Tascam DR2D , It is an acquired taste , The Dual Recording feature implemented on it , I really never use as I don’t try pushing my Levels so hard that I am going to clip every other peak.  But It does sound good and the Inputs are much better than the previous versions , what I like is the LINE input separated from the Mic input , instead of using the same Jack and relay switching circuitry or Padding the signal , They are actually separated . Which Means I can set it in my Audio Bag and run a stereo Mixdown track to it , while recording ISO’s on my Main recorder . Bingo , a Safe track with all the ISO on their own for later editing . I think This is where Tascam began to step up the game , but no one noticed , I like the DR2D , just saying .  Internal Mics are sensitive enough , you don’t need to use all of your gain to record a room , Easy enough.

Kong MR2 = Expensive –    Again dedicated Line Input proper Buffered. It sounds fantastic like that , The Internal Mic structure is Curiously weak , not in sound quality but sensitivity . The Korg MR2 Likes a Really Hot signal . and it has an ANALOGUE Limiter not a Digital limiter that comes after the A/D converter . One of the Main reasons it was so expensive . And I can tell you ,…it works .  The Caveats though are that it is setup to work really with the AudioGate software , as the File structure is 1 file 1 folder and in each folder is the .proj file that goes with the Wav file ( Markers , Meta , BWF data etc is contained in the .proj instead of the wav ) So working with the MR-2 on its own without the Audio Gate , is a PITA ( “Pain In The Ass”- for those that don’t know) .  I use this machine as a Backing Track , or Preamp Based recording device . But say if you ran into a Taiko Drum group , You could definitely capture it without distortion and solid level control . Soft delicate crystal wind chimes ?  They will still be soft and delicate , your not going to get any levels out of that , even at high gain . There won’t be very much Noise per se , But there won’t be much level either .  Summary , Korg MR-2 , Loud is Good .

The Handheld recorders run the gamut of styles and configurations , What do you need to accomplish is the first question you should ask yourself , then find the recorder that Matches that objective .

Dependability is another factor . In example , How many times do you need to reset a Machine ? or How does it handle different SD Cards , Card errors Formatting etc .

As well , Software Glitches , All these things will affect your workflow . For example The Korg MR2 , No matter how much I like the Sound of the Machine ( which is a Pro Sound quality , it really is if you know what Pro means ) . It has though , Software issues , and File Structure Issues that make it less than Pleasant to work with in some situations . Sad but true . It Sounds Way better that all the above recorders IF , again IF you use it in the right setup . If you Mismatch the Use to the Recorder , you don’t get the results you’re after.

Just a Brief Blurb on my thoughts about Pocket Recorders , Hope it helps .

TAXES ,…are done !

I spent ALLL DAYYYYY at the Yokohama Tax centre , mostly standing in Line ( God there were so many people there ) Tax deadline is actually tomorrow , so no wonder . I mean there were a LOT of people there .

I was surprised at the number of OLD people though to tell the truth , I mean after retirement I thought Taxes were done if you were not an Investor or Business person , etc . I was standing right behind this rather young 91 years old lady , spritely indeed , but knees and lower back reminding her that it is the Autumn of life . Sweet lady though .

And Yep ,….she was filing Taxes ……

The Saying goes , Only two sure things in life , Death and Taxes , But she seemed to be staving off one side of that statement quite well .

But yes , For the first time since I have been in Japan , I filed Taxes , I registered the Name Tiny Bird Productions  early in the fiscal year , So Taxes then become a responsibility I cannot avoid .

And to tell you the truth , even though it was quite troublesome to do . When I dropped the folder into the Bin for the finished paperwork . It felt good .  I mean my spirits lifted a bit and my self esteem got a slight boost . My Business just felt that much more legitimate .

It was raining cats and dogs outside , and maybe even a few large mice to boot , and I didnt care , I was in a great mood when I left there , ( quite possibly the fact that I may have something coming back to me out of it all might have helped that mood !!)

But it was a tiny adventure in a Country not my own . But feeling more like home in some ways as it goes along .

“All good things must end”

Well that is the old saying , But technologically I sure wish it wasn’t so .

You see , Today March 14 , 2016 , My Trusty old Sony MZ-R50 Minidisc Recorder , Has begun to suffer the stutters , A Failure sign . It means the Read Head circuit is dying , and replacing it for me isn’t an option that I know of , I don’t know anyone in Japan left doing repairs on MD’s   ( I need an MD for my MD ….. ) pun intended .

I have some really great music on Minidisc as a Medium . about 400 discs worth . So you can see this is no small investment for me .

The MZ-R50 was IMHO  , the best ever made , Rugged durable , Excellent inputs and outputs , Multiple power sources , I loved this machine .


1997 – 2016  You made it ALMOST Twenty Years !   R.I.P. My Little Audio Friend .