PRODUCT: Sound Devices Pix 240 portable video recorder
- ProRes & DNxHD codec support with realtime hardware conversions
- Build quality is solid, with
pro I/O via BNC/HDMI/XLR
- Numerous recording options, including SSD and CF cards
Sound Devices has long been known for its quality audio products for pros, and when I got to see the Pix 240 portable video recorder at NAB last year, I was eager to find out how it would handle a real-world shoot.
After using most other field recorder options on previous jobs, I was excited when I finally got my hands on the Pix 240 recorder and put it to use on location. One of the first things you notice about the Pix 240 is that while the size is on par with most of its competitors, it’s a little bit bulkier… but with good cause. The Pix 240 is like a mini tank, which I need since I tend to beat up on my equipment traveling and shooting in harsh environments.
THE INS AND OUTS
I shoot with all camera systems, but lean heavily on Red Epic/Scarlet. One of the great features of the Pix 240 is the metadata, and SDI start-stop flags are supported when recording with the Pix.
When shooting, you have option to record to Apple’s ProRes formats (Proxy, LT, 422 and 422 HQ) as well as Avid’s DNxHD (36,145, 220 Mb/s) with some options giving you different bit-depth choices. ProRes is 10-bit, while DNxHD can be 8- or 10-bit depending on the Mb/s choice. These files are wrapped in a standard Movie QuickTime wrapper, making it easy to deal with once you bring the dailies/digi mags to your post app of choice.
The Pix records media to super fast 1/4-inch tape. Kidding! Just making sure you are paying attention. You will be relieved to hear that the Pix 240 has a plethora of options, starting with the ability to record to SSD drives via the optional Drive Caddy, CF cards and eSATA enclosures. Sound Devices has a list of supported third-party SSD, CF and eSATA enclosures listed on its support site.
For my shoots with the Pix, I used both CF and SSD, with the bulk of the recording going to the SSD because of the speed factor. I shot with the Red Epic via ProRes 422 HQ for high-res editorial proxies that I then synced up with the R3Ds later with a RedCine-X Pro and Premiere Pro workflow.
Navigating the Pix 240 is pretty straight forward — the menus are laid out logically, allowing you to access settings for all aspects of the recorder, like Video, System, Storage and Audio. Transport controls via the large illuminated buttons on the front of the system let you start, stop, record and jog for playback.
It has rock solid sync capabilities with its internal timecode generator that can be set up for free run, record run, 24-hours or external. This will also allow you to sync with other devices like switchers, sound devices, etc.
The Pix’s five-inch 800-by-480 screen allows you to view what’s coming in — live — and also play back. You have the option of using the HD-SDI or HDMI for video and balanced XLR. One thing the 240 can do over its little brother, the 220, is the 240 has the ability to use the HDMI and HD-SDI simultaneously for output.
Powering the system can be done with standard L-series batteries, the 10-18 VDC and four-pin connector to Dtap for V-mount or Anton Bauer batteries.
Post or on-set workflow is supported via the options of eSATA, FireWire and USB 3.0 to any Mac or PC with supported options. You can hook up the SSD Caddy to your MacBook Pro or put the SSD in a supported enclosure you might have.
Overall the Pix 240 is a fast, reliable and solid piece of gear any DIT, cinematographer or rental house would look to add to its portable recording arsenal. The video I/O and audio options rival a lot of its competitors with quality and the ability to record to both ProRes and DNxHD formats. This is a professional piece of kit, and you would be hard pressed to find its equal in the current market. My only suggestion would be to have more options for the screen, with higher resolution, focus-assist, waveform and scopes.
Jim Geduldick is a DP/Editor/VFX Artist based in New York. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.