With its low self-noise and ability to reject noise from behind, the NTG-8 is being pushed as one of the quietest mics on the market. Based on the NTG-3 but seriously longer and correspondingly more directional, the NTG-8 is also radio frequency resistant, which means you won’t pick up a ton of interference if you use it in the same environment as radio mics. Take a look at the video for the full skinny, and have a read of a discussion about who the NTG-8 would benefit over at GearSlutz.com.
We’ve been hanging round Røde’s BVE 2012 stand requesting demos of their pro quality mics, and this time the very patient Jonathan has obliged us with a video run-through of their tiny lavalier mic.
Wireless and featuring a water-resistant pop filter, as well as a shockmount for use in high winds, the Røde Lavalier mic is perfect for outside broadcast as well as the usual studio applications. “One difference with our lavalier mic is that the cable is actually detachable at both ends,” Jonathan said. “So you could put a longer cable on there if you wanted to.” See it up close in the video above.
Using the Micon-1 adaptor jack, you can also attach the lav to any beltpacks you’re already using, and It’s been designed to connect to a number of Sennheiser receivers too, including the SK 500 G3, SK 300 G3, SK 100 G3, SK 500 G2, SK 300 G2 and SK 2 Freeport.
RØDE’s top DSLR mic offering, the Stereo VideoMic Pro, is being demoed down at BVE 2012, and our audio team managed to get a quick rundown of the top features.
Aimed squarely at DSLR-toting filmmakers, the Stereo VideoMic Pro includes a standard shoe mount and comes ready shock-mounted, so you shouldn’t have to worry too much about any handling noise if you’re shooting handheld. In a similarly practical vein, it features a high pass filter that’ll dampen anything below 75Hz, plus a 10db pad to reduce surrounding noise if you’re shooting in loud conditions.
Cleverer still is the mic’s 20db boost feature. While boosting a mic’s capabilities through a camera preamp works well enough, you can end up with a lot of background hiss. Using the Stereo VideoMic Pro’s built-in booster gives you a far cleaner sound.
For more information, call 03332 409 306, email audio@Jigsaw24.com or leave us a comment below. You can also keep up with more news, reviews and offers on our Twitter (@Jigsaw24Audio) and Facebook page.
There’s no denying it any more: iPhone, iPad and iPod touch are slowly colonising our classrooms. Whether they’re brought in by individual students or, as is increasingly the case, supplied as part of an iStudent scheme, these devices have shown themselves to be a great way to up pupil engagement (check out this glowing review from Weston College if you don’t believe us).
With that in mind, we decided to get one of our Education Consultants, Rob Williams, to give us a quick tour of the newly-launched iBooks 2 and explain why now’s the best time for e-skeptics to give electronic textbooks a chance. Read on, or take a look at our hands-on iBooks 2 videos…
1. They help you support interactive learning
”The main new improvement in iBooks 2 is the addition of movie clips, 3D models and other interactive elements that can be manipulated with simple finger gestures for engaging, interactive learning,” says Rob. As you can see in the video, these elements can be anything from video content to rotating 3D models, or illustrations that display annotations when clicked – great if you want to hammer home a key point, make sure visual learners are getting the point or simply don’t have room to carry out a science experiment in class.
2. You can create (and keep track of) custom reading lists
“This isn’t a feature that’s been shouted about much, but personally I think anyone who’s had to keep track of thirty-six copies of six different textbooks for a term will really appreciate it. As well as the categories Apple gives you to order your books by – title, author, date, etc – you can now create custom categories. These essentially act like interactive reading lists, letting you group everything a student (or a cover teacher) would need to work on a specific module, project or even lesson.”
3. You can add annotations that are actually meaningful
“One of the main arguments in favour of paper books has always been that students have had room to annotate and underline to their heart’s content. With iBooks, Apple have started to level the playing field. You can now select any text on the page and add a margin note, look up a definition or apply different coloured highlights as you go, so it’s much easier to students to do things like colour-code key quotes on different themes or topics.”
4. You can create your own textbooks
Apple’s new iBooks Author tool for Mac lets you create your own textbooks, adding all those helpful interactive elements from point one yourself. “Using iBooks Author makes it easy for teachers to turn something like a Word file or a handout into something formatted specifically for use on iPad, so that students will be able to control and interact with it just like a professionally made ebook. Teachers needn’t worry about fonts, spacing or headers, because they’re all automatically formatted by the app – you just drag and drop the elements of your handout into the layout to create your book. If you’ve got an iPad handy, you can even connect it to your Mac as you’re editing, so you can preview the pages as you’re creating them.”
5. It’s backed by publishers
“Apple are already working with the publishers of textbooks within the UK and Europe to ask them to make curriculum textbooks in this ePub format, and it’s likely that, more and more, they’ll want to bring in these elements of interactivity. It’s a very exciting time for schools,” says Rob. It’s also a reassuring one, as it means more core texts should be winging their way to iBooks shortly, complete with supporting multimedia content. As well as meaning you get more textbooks in the short term, the backing of big industry names means that this format’s far more likely to stick around.
Want advice on integrating iPad into your classroom?
We’re Apple-certified and can help with everything from providing iPad and AppleCare protection to integrating devices into your existing infrastructure. Give Rob and the team a call on 03332 409 333 or email learning@Jigsaw24.com and request a callback.
The high-performance storage specialists at Active Storage have kept the new mMedia platform under very tight wraps but, as a leading storage and infrastructure expert, we can bring you the lowdown on a shared storage solution designed to cover your entire workflow.
First the basics: mMedia is a complete end-to-end storage solution centred around an enhanced ActiveSAN high-performance metadata controller appliance. This is partnered with new additions, mRAID and mVault – all tied together by optimised management software. Intended to take care of storage and management throughout your workflow, the mMedia platform is scalable in both performance and capacity, allowing content producers to assemble a storage solution that fits their individual needs.
“mMedia is the platform of the future for broadcast production,” said Alex Grossman, founder and president of Active Storage, Inc. “mMedia provides an integrated workflow storage platform with the performance, scalability and configuration flexibility to meet nearly every broadcast and post-production facility’s ingest, online and nearline archive capability.”
“Since the demise of the Xserve, Apple System Administrators in post and broadcast have had to cobble together different components and software to form a viable shared storage solution,” our Storage Product Manager Andy Walton pointed out. “In that sense, the mMedia fills a big gap in the market by offering a highly-customisable solution that works at every point in the chain – from ingest right through to archive. The scalability of mMedia is extremely useful – if you need a lot of nearline storage but not so much offline archiving, you can buy five mRAIDs and a single mVault and it’ll all work smoothly together. Which of course means you won’t end up paying for anything you don’t need.”
mRAID: nearline storage
mRAID is a new media-enhanced RAID platform, and provides the heart of the mMedia platform. And, coming from Active Storage you can be confident that it’ll be easy-to-deploy.
“The eight 8Gb Fibre Channel ports provide bandwidth strength to support multiple expansion enclosures at full speed,” said Storage Consultant Sammy Aindow. “Current ActiveRAID users will also be pleased to know that they can upgrade their Active RAID systems and bring them under the management of mRAID to take advantage of its improved processing power.”
Active Storage is keen to point out that, as it utilises the same Linux foundation that powers their ActiveRAID, the mRAID is rock solid. While the external appearance might be similar, don’t be fooled into thinking it’s the same solution – mRAID has been specifically engineered to handle the next generation of Intel-based storage processors. It offers immense processing power that can move huge amounts of content from the SAN to disk and back, leaving additional headroom for other functions such as optimisations, adaptive caching routines and background data scrubs, as well as error checking. Despite all that, the addition of the new Environmental Processor ensures that your system won’t be loaded down with UPS control and environmental process handling.
mVault: the archive
While backup solutions are generally the less glamorous element of a storage solution, mVault is a particularly exciting addition. “mVault is big news,” says Sammy. “It offers massive density and 180TB of raw storage which, combined with the mRAID means you could scale to petabytes of nearline storage for content archiving.”
Combined, mRAID and mVault offer 228TB of storage in only 7U of rack space. Whether used to replace or complement an offsite long-term tape archive – because it’s targeted at content creators – you can rest easy knowing that there’ll be no compatibility issues.
Want to learn more about Active Storage mMedia? We’ll be bringing you more info – including pricing and software news – as it’s released, but you can get in touch at any time by calling 03332 409 306 or emailing broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. Keep abreast of the latest news by following us on Twitter (@JigsawVideo) and clicking ‘Like’ on our Facebook page.
With digital workflows becoming the norm and increasing frame rates and resolutions pushing up the size (and number) of files your production team has to deal with, the role of the DIT (Digital Intermediate Technician) is more crucial than ever. Luckily, there are an increasing number of tools at your disposal, capable of handling everything from automatically logging shot metadata so that it can be taken through to dailies, approvals and editing, to on-set pre-vis, colour grading and LTO backup.
DIT stations are increasingly blurring the lines between production and post, and the functionality they offer now goes far beyond simply keeping the insurers happy. You can now perform operations such as grading, auto-transcoding and delivering key content wirelessly to mobile devices. There’s even the potential to link your DIT station to a post facility’s SAN over the internet, meaning instant access for your post team or even clients.
DIT stations can be built around anything from a notebook computer to a bespoke mobile rack. The advent of Thunderbolt and the increasing capabilities of mobile solutions means that you can now get the requisite power and throughput from the latest MacBook Pros. You’ll need to work exclusively on OS X to maintain that 10Gbps data transfer rate, but this setup’s power to form factor ratio is hard to beat. That Thunderbolt port opens up the chance to daisy chain up to six devices including hi-res displays and high performance drives. You’ll struggle to find that level of speed and power combined with the flexibility of a notebook anywhere so it’s a really good hub for your DIT station.
It’s also a good idea to invest in a decent card reader (the Sonnet Qio is a safe bet if you’re working with multiple formats; Sony’s XDS media readers are great if you have multiple users feeding in XDCAM footage at the same time). It’s also worth picking up a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) for added assurance and to smooth out any irregularities in power on set, and of course, some local storage – although your exact requirements are going to vary from project to project, you’ll generally need more than you anticipate. Your best bet is to work out a flexible setup that can change as your requirements do, adding preview monitors, read and write support for different formats, LTO drives, links to storage and more as needed.
If you want an even more mobile solution, it’s worth considering on-set iPad delivery, which allows you to share footage around the set immediately after it’s been shot. With a local server and mini Wi-Fi setup, you can push dailies and approvals out to iPads given to the director, DoP, producers, lead actors, and anyone else you need to show them to. In the spirit of collaboration, everyone can then apply notes to the clip, which are then collated on the DIT station for review. Because the footage is streamed, no one will be able to move or copy it and everything’s password-protected. Best of all, you can remotely wipe the iPads at the end of the day or set a timer for the footage to become inaccessible.
The software that you need on set is dictated by what you want to achieve. If all you need to do is keep your insurers happy with plenty of offsite backups, you’ve got several options. There’s PresSTORE, which lets you copy to two tapes simultaneously; simple but reassuring Shotput Pro, which stops you deleting uncopied files; or XDCAM Pilot, which lets you manage the metadata associated with XDCAM footage wirelessly.
However, if you’re tied into post-production and need to produce preliminary cuts and grades, we can build you a station with enough power to support software as robust as the DaVinci Resolve grading system, REDCINE-X PRO and The Foundry’s newly-released VFX workflow design tool, Heiro, meaning you can begin planning your post decisions the second your footage is shot.
Want to know more about creating the perfect DIT station? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. You can also keep up with the latest news and offers by following us on Twitter @JigsawVideo or ‘Like’-ing our Jigsaw Video Facebook page.
It’s been nearly a year since Apple and Intel’s wunderkind, Thunderbolt, was unveiled, and with reviews of the first generation of peripherals now in, we thought we’d take a look at what the 10Gbps, bi-directional port can do for you…
Drives like the PROMISE Pegasus and the LaCie Little Big Disk offer high speeds, with the Pegasus giving amazing pound per GB value. A godsend for anyone with high bandwidth requirements, these make accessing multiple streams of hi-res footage or large projects far easier. If you’ve got the cash for multiple drives, the ability to daisy-chain up to six devices without impacting performance gives you an easy way to up your local storage capacity (or even a way to link storage to I/O, displays and more) without slowing down retrieval times.
An easier way to expand
The arrival of the SANLink, with its dual 4Gb FC link and two Thunderbolt ports, means you can now add a more diverse range of devices to your SAN. As if that wasn’t enough, the increased bandwidth Thunderbolt offers has enabled manufacturers like AJA and Blackmagic Design to offer blistering capture and playback on conversion through compact devices like the lo XT and Matrox MXO2 family and UltraStudio 3D.
Various manufacturers are developing adaptors, PCIe expansion chassis like the Sonnet RackMac Xserver or Cubix Xpander Mobile and more, so you can still use tried-and-tested tools, or fork out to replace your entire setup at once. You can add key devices to speed up your workflow, and then break out all your connections – FireWire 800, USB and Gigabit Ethernet – from a single box to take advantage of all your hardware.
Developed by Intel and Apple, Thunderbolt combines video, audio and data streams into one high-powered connection for all your peripherals, from RAID drives to monitors, offering transfer speeds of up to 10 Gbps – that’s eight times faster than FireWire 800 and twenty times faster then USB 2.0. It combines elements of PCI Express (namely the blistering speed and direct connection to the PCI Express bus) and DisplayPort technology and uses the Mini DisplayPort (there are FireWire and USB adaptors available too). The Thunderbolt port first appeared on Apple’s MacBook Pro range released in February 2011, but can now be found on a wide range of Apple hardware.
Already using Thunderbolt? Let us know how it’s going in the comments below. To find out more, you can call us on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com; you can also keep up with the latest news by following @JigsawVideo on Twitter or ‘Like’-ing our Facebook page.
Not being able to open Final Cut Pro 7 timelines in FCP X has been a particular gripe for those who upgraded to Apple’s latest NLE. Recently, we posted a blog about using the translation tools in Square Box’s CatDV to transfer your legacy projects into FCP X. Unfortunately, we also had to point out that a few caveats meant you can’t transfer all of your data across. However, a full solution has been found.
With a bit of Blackmagic…
Blackmagic Design’s latest update for Resolve (8.1) introduced a wealth of new features to Resolve, one of which is support for FCP X’s new XML format. Following the release of 8.1, Mathieu Marano discovered that Resolve can now be used as a go-between to roundtrip FCP X and FCP 7 timelines. Mathieu, who is a post expert at FCP Montreal has created a video explaining how to open FCP X XML data in Resolve 8.1 and export it to FCP 7 before exporting it back in the other direction.
You can watch the video below and also read about the latest advances in Resolve here.
For more information on Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve or help with your Final Cut Pro workflow, call us on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. Keep up with the latest broadcast news and offers by following @JigsawVideo on Twitter or heading to our Jigsaw Media and Entertainment Facebook page.
As part of their Vision West Notts rebranding exercise, West Nottinghamshire College launched a £5 million refurbishment of their Derby Road site. The new Create centre was designed to help students prepare for careers in broadcast, theatre, dance, radio and more. We set them up with Centrify management tools for their new Macs, and configured and installed a 12-screen software-driven video wall so that staff could showcase students’ work in a more dynamic way.
Managing Mac suites
The college had been a long-term user of Apple hardware, but was having trouble getting their iMacs to work with their state-of-the-art Isilon shared storage system. After discussing their options with our server and storage engineer Tom Holbrook, they decided to use a combination of GroupLogic’s ExtremeZ-IP to smooth out any integration issues and Centrify Suite to secure and manage their machines.
“We did a test with Centrify on about 20 Macs,” said Learning Advisor Tim Warrener, “just to see how easily we could integrate using the Macs on the network with a personal login.” Impressed with Centrify’s ease of use, the college then rolled out the solution across the entire Create building. “It was quite daunting, but the team from Jigsaw24 were fantastic.” Once a management solution had been decided, our engineers wrote custom scripts that would allow Vision West Notts’ team to mount their drives properly.
As well as delivering a smoother, more productive user experience for students and staff, the new management system allows Vision West Notts’ tech team to maintain tighter control over individual workstations, reducing the possibility of failure due to end user interference, and ensures students’ work is saved securely and backed up on the Isilon straight away. Some staff were wary of the new login system this required at first but, as Tim explained, “they’ve warmed up now that they’ve got their own space.”
Showcasing student work
From the beginning of the refurbishment, staff at the college had known they wanted to include a video wall in one of the building’s communal spaces. One of the college’s key aims was to foster links with industry, and they wanted the screen to act as a bold, eye-catching introduction to the building for any visitors, as well as a platform for talented students to share their work. The screen would act as a showcase for multimedia projects, especially those involving video or 3D elements, as the college’s existing display boards couldn’t show this content at its best.
Designing the video wall
After hearing several pitches, the college decided to work with Jigsaw24. The main advantages of the solution Vision West Notts chose were its cost-effectiveness, the flexibility the Scala software offered in terms of what could be displayed, and the fact that, rather than taking a single output and stretching it across all the screens, the system could output a separate 720p image to each screen. This increases the wall’s overall pixel count and reduces the risk of distorting or degrading the original image.
Expanding the solution
During the design process, Vision West Notts managed to free up some extra funding, and decided to expand the video wall from nine to twelve screens. “We weren’t sure what we wanted [from the video wall],” explained Curriculum Manager Steve Gathercole. “There was a lot of to-ing and fro-ing, and one of the things that we were pleased about with Jigsaw24 was that we received a very fast response as we changed the criteria. Everything was put in a way that I could understand – I knew what I was paying for and how I could use it, and there was also an element of future proofing, so we could expand it, enlarge it, build on it, and that was what really made the difference.”
Our team headed over to the college and, despite having to swap out the DUI transmitters for a newer model with better specs at the last minute, managed to get the whole setup up and running within a day. After a couple of weeks of smooth running, power to two of the screens cut out, but we were able to get them back on their feet in no time at all.
Jigsaw24’s Anthony Hammond also provided a quick training session for key users. “I picked it up quite quickly, due to the fact that I work in a multimedia environment,” said Tim. “It’s very similar to a lot of the software we use.” Our design department then put together an animation based on the Vision West Notts logo, which served as an eyecatching placeholder while the Vision West Notts team created their own content.
“We’ve had amazing feedback on the video wall – we’re adding new content all the time,” Steve told us. Our design team have also given Vision West Notts some placeholder content based around an animated Vision West Notts logo, which Steve says “has elicited some brilliant responses.”
The next stage of the plan is to load up the screen with students’ creations in time for an upcoming open evening. “We wanted to showcase talent and show how great our students really are, and having this wall really does give that impact,” explained Tim. After opening night, he plans to look into giving other machines on the network the ability to edit content on the wall, so that staff can keep the wall up to date with the latest images and information wherever they are.
For more information about AV and digital signage solutions, get in touch with us on 03332 409 306 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com.
The music department at Weston College decided to help students improve their performance skills by creating a custom app that would allow them to take part in guitar, drum and bass lessons over the web or on an iPad. After we set them up with Sony Z5 cameras and several iPad 2 devices, they were able to put together a professional-looking app, and roll it out not only at the college, but to several secondary schools in the area.
Creating condensed lessons
After being hit by a combination of growing student numbers and budget cuts, Weston College’s music faculty were beginning to feel the strain. “As a manager of a very busy and a very successful music course, I was confronted with, how would I teach one hundred plus students the guitar, for example, with a limited budget and limited hours?” explained Curriculum Manager Paul Raymond.
Aware that they were dealing with a generation of “digital natives” who were as likely to have learned an instrument by watching YouTube tutorials as by having traditional lessons, Paul and the rest of the music faculty decided to put together a series of condensed video lessons that students could view online. “Every one of our students uses the internet, uses YouTube as a resource to learn, whether they’re recording, practising or learning new tunes. That’s opened up a massive opportunity to us,” said music lecturer and bass tutor Richie Blake.
The college quickly realised that the video lessons would be useful outside the classroom too, and decided that rather than simply making them available on the school network, they’d place them on YouTube and, for maximum portability, create an app called iTutorus which would be available to students via iPad and iPhone. “I think using the iPad is particularly appropriate because it’s what students want to use. They naturally interact with technology; they’re digital natives and that’s how their minds work,” Paul explained.
Developing the app
The app was initially developed by Richard King, one of Weston’s Audio Technicians, who’d previously done some development work for the iPhone. “Developing for the iPad is a challenge,” he told us. “Apple put a lot of restrictions on their developers, but that’s just to make the user experience better, so even though you have the challenge of developing around them, at the end you get something with an intuitive user interface and experience.”
Making the app as intuitive as possible was a key goal for Richard, along with making it “really fun to use” and ensuring that “students were able to access the content without the actual app getting in the way.”
Reactions from staff and students so far have been overwhelmingly positive. “My favourite thing is the way you can split the screen between the actual camera shot and the PDF, which you can scroll down at your own pace,” said guitar tutor Cliff Moore. “You can think, ‘I’ll pause that and learn that piece of music there,’ and then carry on with the lesson, and it’s just a beautiful, progressive move all the time.”
Sourcing content from students
To create content for the app, Weston turned to students from its Media Studies and Art & Design courses. Three musically inclined graphic design students were recruited to put together PDFs to run alongside the lessons, and a series of posters to promote iTutorus. As well as brushing up on their music theory, working on the iTutorus project has given students the opportunity to work with clients and to a brief – a key part of their FdA course. “It’s just good to get to work with clients, especially when you’re working in an area you love,” explained Nick Reardon, one of the trio of designers. “It’s been really good to get experience at industry level.”
Corry Raymond, a media student who was commissioned to create intros for the guitar, bass and drum videos, was a big fan of the college’s Sony Z5 cameras. The camera’s manual ring controls made filming “a lot more organic. I could move at my own pace, setting how many seconds I wanted [the focus to take] to go from here. I love depth of field, I love focus pulls, I love all of that stuff. So to be able to do all that with my hand is amazing.”
Next came the task of actually putting the videos together. Media lecturer Richard Edkins was already working on another cross-discipline project, in which media students filmed live music lessons so that the musicians could review their own performances. Armed with the college’s Z5s, he and the students set about making 30 short videos on drum, bass and guitar techniques, then edited them together in Final Cut Pro. “It’s been an excellent opportunity for both departments to work together,” he said. “Working on live projects like this really sharpens students’ camera technique. They’ve got
to work to a deadline and under pressure, as [the footage] needs to be broadcast quality, so I think it really ups their game.”
Rolling the project out to feeder schools
After seeing how much students at Weston responded to iTutorus, Paul and his team decided to roll out the app to five local feeder schools. “Everyone was very positive,” said Paul. “I showed [the Heads of Music] what we’d pre-prepared and they all loved it and thought it was a fantastic opportunity.”
Weston secured funding to provide each feeder school with iPad devices of their own, then got back in touch with Jigsaw24. “We’ve been working directly with Brett at Jigsaw24, and he’s been constantly solid, dependable and positive,” said Paul. “Whenever we’ve had any equipment needs, he’s always been there to advise us, he always gets us the best price and whenever there have been any problems he’s been very quick to respond.”
“The post sales support is definitely the best of any of our suppliers,” agreed Richard King. “Jigsaw24 always deal with any problems we have on the same day.”
Independent learning at Priory School
Clive Day, the Head of Creative Arts at Priory School, has been an avid supporter of the iTutorus project. “I use it right across the board, from year 7s to year 11s,” he explained. “The response has been very positive, especially from the younger students, who see it as a really big privilege to be able to work on their own and take their time with it. It’s a big thing for me, the fact that they can go back again and watch lessons several times.”
Students who wouldn’t have picked up an instrument before are finding iTutorus really accessible. “This is providing students with lessons they just would not have come across without this technology,” said Cliff. “It’s evolved to the point where students are coming back after school and at break times and asking to borrow the iPads, so they can carry on learning independently.”
“Once this is established, we’d like to see it in other subject areas, not just the creative industries,” said Sarah Clark, the Head of the Creative Arts Faculty at Weston. “We’ve thought about maths and languages, but we can’t think of an area of the curriculum that wouldn’t benefit from this technology.”
Richie Blake is keen to involve more feeder schools in the project. “If we can start running this in feeder schools and further afield, it all comes back to raising standards. Further down the line, any tutor will get a student with a solid foundation in good technique, good theory, and we can start them at college running rather than walking, so they can realise their potential in as short a time as possible.” Part of this plan involves creating The Green Room, an online community where students can upload performances they’ve recorded on the iPad, and receive peer feedback before assessments.