Geoff Poister /
04.10.2013 11:00 AM
Sound Devices PIX 240 Production Video Recorder
The Sound Devices PIX 240 production video recorder stores video directly to memory media as QuickTime files in either Apple ProRes or Avid DNxHD codecs. It can connect to any video camera with an HDMI or HD-SDI output. The PIX 240 also provides high quality audio recording with XLR analog and AES3 digital inputs, and automatically syncs the audio to the incoming video signal.

And Sound Devices has recently introduced the upgraded PIX 240i model, which features an IPS-based LCD panel with accurate color rendition, higher contrast and improved off-axis viewing capability, along with several other new features.

FEATURES

The Sound Devices PIX 240 records video and audio through HDMI or HD-SDI connections. The files are stored on Compact Flash cards, or on removable 2.5-inch solid-state hard drives with an optional caddy. Video files are encoded in either Apple ProRes or Avid DNxHD formats with video signals up to 1080i/p. It includes a timecode generator with genlock output. This unit is also a professional grade audio recorder, that includes such niceties as a limiter, highpass filter and phantom power. The files are compatible with either Windows or Mac operating systems.

The PIX 240 recorder has hardware-based video scalers that perform real-time conversion of most video formats. It can upconvert from 480i and crossconvert between all high-definition resolutions. It also does frame rate conversions with no loss of quality, as well as performing 3:2 pulldown removal to record 24p from 60i signals.

The PIX 240 is distinctive in its extensive audio-for-video capabilities. It supports AES3 digital audio using two XLR connectors, which are capable of accepting up to four digital audio inputs. And it can be connected to an external audio mixer to expand its capabilities. Audio is automatically synced to the video signal, representing a huge time saver in post.

The PIX 240 and 240i provide a 5-inch LCD display with 800 x 480 resolution for monitoring, playback, audio metering, and menu access. Large, illuminated controls make it easy to use in all kinds of lighting. The 240i includes improvements in monitoring by employing an IPS-based LCD panel and a firmware upgrade.

The PIX 240i includes an exposure assist feature with that uses false colors or multilevel zebra-stripes. There’s also a focus assist, which includes a peaking filter and pixel zoom.

Monitor brightness, contrast and chroma adjustments are also now available on this unit. The PIX 240i also has a built-in Ambient Clockit time-code generator/ reader with genlock output for use in multicamera and double-system sound applications. The new version also offers HD-to-SD and SD-to-HD aspect ratio conversion with selectable letter boxing, cropping and support for anamorphic workflows.

The optional PIX-CADDY includes FireWire 800, USB 3.0/2.0 and eSATAp connections with drive powering and 3 Gbps transfer rate over a single cable.

IN USE

I tested the PIX 240 by connecting it to an HD camera with an HDMI output and another with an SDI output.

The PIX 240 incorporates a very logical and easy-to-use menu that makes setting up and connecting a simple task. I connected my camera using an HDMI cable, and then entered the menu to choose that setting. Switching to the camera with an SDI output connection was equally simple.

The PIX 240 offers several media storage options. The simplest is a CF card. However, it is essential that you get one that has a high data transfer rate or it will not work.

I actually recommend getting the optional PIX CADDY, which allows you to use a solid-state drive. These SSD drives are the way of the future. They are reliable, sturdy and fast. The caddy can be easily removed from the PIX 240 and connected to a computer via a FireWire 800, USB-3, or eSata connections. Then it functions like any ordinary external drive for editing.

Whether you use a camera with an HDMI or SDI connection, the biggest benefits of the PIX 240 are the recording options. You can instantly convert your video source into Apple ProRes 422 at four data rates (36, 100, 145, or 220 Mbps) or Avid DNxHD at 36, 145, 220 or 220 10-bit Mbps.

However, there is a feature that sets the PIX 240 apart from many other recorders. It can perform instantaneous frame rate and resolution conversions while recording. You can choose to record the exact format that your camera outputs. Or you can change it to a very different one.

For example, one of my cameras has a native output of 720p/59.94. It doesn’t offer any other video format options. However, I shoot most of my work with a Canon DSLR at 1080p/23.976. With the PIX 240, I can convert the video from any camera into 1080p/23.976 just by selecting that in the menu.

This is an enormously useful feature. Not all cameras offer a full menu of video format options. However, with the PIX 240, you can use any camera with an HDMI or SDI output and convert it to the video format you desire while shooting. This enables me to use any camera available and still maintain a consistent video format.

I experimented by shooting video and recording it in all available resolutions, frame rates and codecs. There was never a glitch. The fi les were stored, sorted and easily accessible for playback.

I prefer to capture in 24p because of the film look it offers. So, I was particularly interested in seeing the footage from the PIX 240 that was converted during recording from 60i to 24p.

I connected the PIX caddy to my Mac Pro and examined the files in both Final Cut Pro 7 and Avid Media Composer 6.5. Of course, one of the big advantages of recording with the PIX 240 is that the files are already in Apple ProRes or Avid DNx-HD, so they feed naturally into their respective editing systems.

When I examined the footage that I shot at 60i and recorded in 24p, I was amazed by the quality of the frame rate conversion. The 24p footage recorded from a camera that could only output 60i looked great. The image was not jumpy, which some transfers cause by removing frames. The PIX 240 footage uses sophisticated frame blending to provide a smooth conversion.

Another very impressive and handy feature on the PIX240 is the ability to record sound through XLR or digital inputs and have it synced automatically with the video. This frees you from having to use the onboard audio of the camera or rely on an external recorder that requires syncing in post. With the PIX 240 you can connect two XLR microphones, or a mixer. It functions as an external audio recorder while syncing the audio with the video as it is recorded. I found this easy to set up in the menu, and was even able to monitor audio levels while viewing the video that was being shot.

This is a feature on this recorder that deserves some attention, as it has the potential for eliminating another recording device in the overall video production process. People who shoot with DSLR cameras generally use an extra digital audio recorder and then sync up the sound in post production, but with the PIX 240, you can record audio with external professional microphones, and it will be automatically in sync with the incoming HDMI video. This eliminates having to carry around that extra recording device and the complications of syncing numerous sound files in post.

SUMMARY

At first glance, the PIX 240 recorder may appear pricier than some of the competition. However, if you take into account the range of professional features, offered, it actually is not. In fact, it’s a time and money saver. It has the ability to perform real-time format conversion while shooting. And by offering full professional audio recording synced to an HDMI or SDI signal, it can eliminate additional audio recorders and the headache of managing audio files and syncing them in post. The recorder is also very well designed and ruggedly constructed to withstand the rigors of field operation.

FAST FACTS

APPLICATION
ENG/EFP location recording, studio recording, any other situation where high-quality video/audio recording is required.

KEY FEATURES
Compact size, solid-state memory card or solid-state hard drive media recordings, high-quality audio recording, built-in timecode generator

PRICE
$3,049

CONTACT
Sound Devices
608- 524-0625
www.sounddevices.com



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