UWP-D11 Review

UWP-D11 Review Title
A user review of the UWP-D11

My route to the UWP-D11

Ever since the new regulations on radio microphone frequencies were introduced in the UK at the end of 2012, the days were numbered for my trusty old Sony UWP series radio mic system (consisting of the URX-P1 UHF dual-diversity receiver and UTX-B1 transmitter).  Whilst super-reliable and excellent quality, this combo is limited to channels 67-69 which the government sold off to expand the frequencies available for mobile phones (cheers!).

After the new regulations came into place radio mics had to switch over to channel 38 if they were capable of doing so – and the old UWP series were not.  Apparently there are ways to upgrade this receiver/transmitter system but it entails changing the main board in each unit (way beyond my technical skills) – but I’d already made up my mind that it was time to move on to something new with some additional features that would make wireless microphone use even more adaptable and reliable.

There have been many new and compliant radio mic solutions on the market since these changes were announced but I’d resisted them all for a couple of reasons.  Firstly, I’d managed to carry on using my old UWP series without interference or conflict with the authorities.  Naughty I know but when needs must the devil drives!  Secondly, I was so pleased with their performance that I was reluctant to change to anything new and untested.  To me, Sony have always represented belt and braces technology so any move away from this brand was a turnoff.  Any replacement would also have to have the same dual-diversity capability, be robust, compact, easy to use and within the same kind of budget as the original UWP series (sub £500).

Introducing the UWP-D11

I first set eyes on the new UWP-D11 at BVE 2014 where I was filming interviews with various exhibitors about their new products aimed squarely at professional videographers.  This included filming an interview with Álvaro Ortiz at Sony about the various bits of technology they were showing for the first time in the UK – which included the UWP-D series (http://vimeo.com/87877656).  I knew there and then that I’d found my replacement so it was only a matter of time before I got one.

The complete UWP-D series includes:

  • UWP-D11: Belt-pack transmitter, portable receiver
  • UWP-D12: Handheld microphone, portable receiver
  • UWP-D16: Plug-on transmitter, belt-pack transmitter, portable receiver
The UWP-D Series
The UWP-D Series

The D11 package is a direct replacement for my old system, though I have to admit that a UTX-P03 Plug-on transmitter (part of the D16 package) is still on my wish list.  Whilst the vast majority of my work is adequately covered by the D11 package (which includes an omni-directional lavalier microphone, windshield, belt clips and cold-shoe mount) there are occasions where I use a wired handheld reporter-type microphone and it would be great to go completely wire-free between mic and receiver.  Having said that, the D11’s portable transmitter (URX-B03) has a mini-jack input, with adjustable attenuation, allowing you to connect other microphones with differing sound pressure levels.  The input can also be switched between mic and line level so I could, for instance, feed the transmitter with an output from my Tascam DR-60D mixer-recorder enabling me to feed up to three microphone inputs into the URX-B03 and transmit that back to the receiver (URX-P03).

The UWP-D11 difference

The true Dual Diversity UWP-D11
The true Dual Diversity UWP-D11

The UWP-D features Sony’s Hybrid Digital Processing which combines the sound quality of digital audio processing with the reliability of analogue FM modulation. This helps improve the signal exchange between transmitter and receiver resulting in a stronger and more natural sound recording.  As a true dual diversity system, continuation of signal is maintained by the URX-P03 always using the strongest signal picked up either of the two independent receivers.

The D11 package offers wide frequency coverage with up to 72 MHz bandwidth across a wide range of channels.  The Sony website lists seven different carrier frequency versions of the D11 so it’s important to source the right model from an authorised Sony dealer for the country/region you are using it in as regulations do vary.  This should result in a product that works out of the box, without fear of interference or causing interference to others on restricted channels/frequencies.

Ease of use was high on my list of priorities and the D11 achieves this will some very useful features.  The large, bright display panels (11.5mm x 27.8mm) on both transmitter and receiver give you an instant indication of status.  This includes channel and bandwidth settings, battery strength and audio level meter on both units.  The transmitter also includes a mic or line setting indicator, a transmission indicator and transmission strength setting indicator. The receiver also has signal strength status (showing the dual receivers ‘a’ and ‘b’ independently – and which one it is presently using) – so at any one time you can see what each unit is set to and whether there’s communication and signal passing between the two.

The audio level meter also includes a peak indicator which displays solid black on the screen when you overload the input.  Both units also have two light indicators on the top edge of the body – one for Power (Power/Muting button on transmitter) and another marked ‘RF’ on the receiver and ‘Audio’ on the transmitter.  Under normal conditions the transmitter’s Audio light will flicker green to reflect the movement in the audio level – but if you do manage to overload the input on the transmitter this light will temporarily turn red which is very easy to spot.  If you lose signal at the receiver your green light will go out altogether – otherwise it remains on constantly.

UWP-D11 Batteries
2 x AA Battery Compartment

The power lights will also give you further information on battery condition (each unit takes two AA batteries) – with a solid green light displaying under good battery conditions, flashing green when the battery power is getting low, flashing orange when the audio is set to muted/disabled (switched on and off using a short press of the power button on the transmitter) and, finally, solid orange when the batteries are being charged.

This is one of the major advances on the UWP-D series in that you can charge Ni-MH batteries within the units by connecting them via their USB connectors (Micro B type) to a suitable supply (for instance, a laptop or any other standard USB power supply).  In addition, you can also use the USB connector to power the unit without the need to have batteries installed – plus this USB connection is also used for updating firmware.

UWP-D11 Menu Controls & Settings

Changing the parameters is carried out through a very simple menu system which is navigated via the ‘Set’, ‘+’ and ‘-’ buttons. Besides the power button these are the only controls on the units.  There is an advanced menu setting which enables you to change the commander settings, lock power switches, alter screen brightness, battery type etc. – but for normal operation the simple menu mode gives you everything you’re likely to want to change in the field.

Both units also contain an infrared red detector.  By default the UK model comes set to channels 33-35 so you’ll need to change this to channels 38-40.  You do this by selecting the ‘Band’ setting in the menu on the receiver (using the ‘+’ ‘-’ and then ‘Set’ buttons) and toggle through to the desired channel set.  Once adjusted you’ll see that the RF signal is lost between the two units until you click menu again and then the ‘Auto Set – Yes’ mode – at which point the RF light will flash and the unit will go through searching mode and communicate with the transmitter via infrared.  Once coupled via infrared the transmitter display will show the channel setting on the receiver and ask you if you want to sync the units.  Select ‘yes’ and the transmitter will change to the same channel/frequency and two units will connect via RF again.  You’ll see the signal strength indicators return on the receiver and the audio level will match that on the transmitter.

Changing your UWP-D11 to Channel 38
Changing your UWP-D11 to Channel 38

If you are in an environment where there’s a number of radio devices being used the receiver also has a function that allows you to scan the channel band to see if there’s anything being used on the same frequency – and then select a frequency which is unused.  Within the advanced menu you can also use the ‘Active Channel Scan’ function, which allows you to tune in multiple receivers to the same transmitter.  In addition you can also manually adjust the channel/frequency by holding down the ‘Set’ button on the receiver and then pressing the ‘+’ ‘-’ buttons.  Again, once set you’ll need to select the ‘Auto Set’ button and go through the syncing process with the transmitter.

This all sounds complicated but in practice the D11 package allows you to be operating on a clean, interference-free and legal channel very quickly.

UWP-D11 Ins and Outs

Besides the USB connector the transmitter has only one mini-jack connector which also carries power to the supplied microphone.  This has a screw-on collar fitting to stop the microphone becoming inadvertently disconnected from the unit.  The receiver has two standard mini-jack connectors – one marked ‘Output’ for connecting to your camera or recording device and the other marked ‘Phones’ for headphone monitoring.  You can adjust the level on the output via the menu to match your recording device (±12dB) – as well as changing the monitoring level on the headphones. The receiver also has and additional multi-pin auxiliary connector for connecting accessories – but I’ve got no idea what these might be!

Conclusion

There’s lots of things that I really like about the UWP-D11 package – but the two things which jump out at me are its robust build and ease of use. The main body is made of metal and feels like it would fair well in the often drop-hazard world of ENG production.  In other words, they’re tough little buggers but weigh in at under 180g including batteries.  They’re also slightly smaller than my old retired UWP system making them ideal for use on DSLRs as well as traditional video cameras.

The other major advantages are the USB power supply or, more importantly to me, the ability to charge batteries within the unit whilst in the field.  Not only could this save your bacon but it also means you do not need to buy yet another charger unit.  I’ve not had to put this to the test yet but I’m sure I will.

UWP-D11 receiver's extra bright screen
UWP-D11 receiver’s extra bright screen

I’m also really looking forward to coupling the system with my Tascam DR-60D mixer/recorder – which will open up a whole new range of wireless audio solutions for me.  I do a fair bit of conference work and often there’s no AV technical handling audio – or when there is the feed from their desk is not exactly perfect.  Faced with these situations I could add get up to three mics placed on stage, mixed through the DR-60D and out to the transmitter once set to line input – and then wirelessly transmit this back to the receiver at the camera without the need to run and gaffer-tape cables.  I can imagine this feature/combination to be highly appealing to wedding videographers filming top-table speeches too.

The UWP-D series are also compatible with Sony’s WL-800, UWP and Freedom series systems, allowing you to switch between different commanding modes. Like any bit of technology you’re going to have to read the manual (supplied on CDROM) but, thankfully, not religiously and only when you want to dig deeper into its capabilities.

So, I’m legal at last – and ready to deal quickly with any audio situation that might arise without interference of other devices.  Well done Sony.

Kevin Cook F.Inst.V. (Hon.)

Note: Check out the Sony website for your nearest authorised dealer.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Broadcasting of an Event Documentary

Event documentary broadcast
Video Artisan’s Event Documentary to be broadcast!

News release – event documentary to be broadcast

It’s taken some time to release this news but this week I’ve had confirmation that my short event documentary on the 2013 Same-Sex Dance Festival is going to be broadcast on the Community Channel on 7th June at 9:45.  Sponsored by dance shoe manufacturer, Supadance, this event documentary tells the story behind this unique Ballroom and Latin Dance competition for same-sex dance couples held in the Spanish Hall at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens.

I’ve produced five films for Supadance now but this is the first event documentary which has been spotted by a broadcaster.  The Community Channel describe itself as, “Broadcasting original programmes that showcase the work of new directors and community filmmakers, as well as the very best of terrestrial TV, Community Channel is the place for real-life stories” and is a registered charity owned by the Media Trust.  Same-Sex Dance Festival was chosen by the channel for its human interest appeal for both dance and same-sex audiences.

Broader Audience for an event documentary

The online version of this film has already reached more than 20,000 viewers through YouTube, Vimeo and social networking platforms since it was launched in October last year.  It has also been downloaded and shared throughout the world by those interested and activity participating in same-sex dance.  The Community Channel, which its average daily reach of 160,000 viewers (according to www.barb.co.uk), should push the event documentary out to many more people and give them an insight into this fascinating area of social and competition dance.

The Community Channel is broadcast 24/7 on Virgin 233, Sky 539 and Freesat 651, as well as on Freeview 63 and glorious Freeview HD. Community Channel is also available on BT Vision and BBC iPlayer. You can also watch their “on demand” output on their website and on their YouTube channel (CommunityChannelTV).

The benefits

Whilst there is no monetary advantage for Video Artisan in having this work broadcast there are other, very significant, advantages in this event documentary going out to a wider audience.

Firstly, Supadance are obviously extremely pleased as their products and their involvement in the event are heavily featured in the documentary.  Produced initially as website video content to help with their search engine optimisation, this event documentary will now expose their brand even further without any further investment.  Equally, the event organisers for the Same-Sex Festival are going to gain more exposure than they could have dreamed of – which not only benefits this particular dance festival but also same-sex dancing in general.

Finally, I can’t deny that there’s a certain amount of kudos to be gained from having one of your films noticed and output by a broadcaster – albeit not one of the more mainstream channels.  It should also mean that I can add a legitimate credit to the IMDb database (www.imdb.com).  More importantly though, it’s another demonstrable example of where I’ve been able to deliver far more than promised to a client.  Not every event documentary has this potential but, when it does, Video Artisan can develop and deliver the right kind of content.

You can read more about the making of this event documentary on my earlier blog HERE.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
VHS and Video to DVD conversion service

Video to DVD Service – Formats

Video to DVD Service – Saving memories at Video Artisan

Our video to DVD service continues to broaden here at Video Artisan. Whilst the bulk of this is converting VHS videotapes to DVD, we’ve also been converting all manner of family memories.  This includes those stored in photographs, slides, cine film and every other common videotape, camcorder hard drive or memory card format.

Many were predicting the demise of DVD which was tipped to be overtaken by BluRay or Cloud storage.  But good old DVD has managed to keep a firm hold on its position as the playback medium of choice.  Regardless of whether that’s via a DVD player, Games Console or a computer. Nearly all older videotape formats and home movies are recorded in standard definition, so there is little advantage in converting to a high definition format (such as BluRay).

VHS to DVD video to DVD service
VHS – the most common video to DVD service

Video to DVD service – it’s all about archiving futures

Whilst DVD is still the most appropriate and convenient format to have your family archives copied over to, we also keep our eye on where things are moving to in the future. Online or Cloud storage is expanding fast and it can be a very smart way to share your memories with family and friends through social media platforms or through privately shared online storage solutions.  To meet this demand Video Artisan offer a conversion service to MP4 on a USB stick.  These sticks can be played using most modern Smart TV sets – and the MP4 file can be easily shared using platforms such as YouTube (for more information on Video to MP4 see our more detailed article here).

Whilst DVD and USB sticks are a great playback format, some customers want to edit their films further once converted so we offer delivery in a wide range of editable digital formats which are ideal for either PC or Mac editing programs.

Growing demand for video to DVD

Video to DVD - formats Common formats (from top to bottom) VHS-C, DV (or DVCAM), 8mm (or Video 8), Camcorder Cards (or Hard Drives) and Cine Film (Standard or Super
Common formats (from top to bottom) VHS-C, DV (or DVCAM), 8mm (or Video 8), Camcorder Cards (or Hard Drives) and Cine Film (Standard or Super8)

VHS tapes were first released in the late 70s and remained as the main consumer videotape format for over 20-years until DVD was introduced in the late 90s. At their peak there were more than 200 million VHS players being sold each year and many, many millions more VHS tapes were manufactured and used for off-air recording as well as for recording home movies. And despite many variations of the format being introduced (Super-VHS / SVHS-ET / VHS-C / W-VHS / Digital-S / D9), the last standalone VHS player was sold by JVC in 2008.

Whilst videotape is now considered to be obsolete, there have been many more tape formats, both analogue and digital, that have been used to record family films and home recordings. The more popular of these include Video 8, Hi8, DVC, MiniDV, MicroMV, Digital 8 and HDV. The result is billions of hours of home movies and family films that are gradually becoming harder for people to see as the players become faulty or discarded. Having a videotape to DVD conversion is therefore a really great way to bring those memories back to life.

Tips on how to store your old videotapes

Here are a few tips on how to keep your old videotapes in the best possible condition. Videotapes do deteriorate over time, so getting them converted is the best possible way to keep your memories safe and make them much easier watch and share.

  • Keep them in their box – as this will help prevent dust and moisture getting to the tape.
  • Store in dry conditions. Moisture can cause the oxide particles to separate from the tape.
  • Keep away from magnets. The recording process is based on the magnetisation of metal particles on the tape – so avoid storing near speakers or other appliances with strong magnets.
  • Avoid storage in places with varying temperatures.
  • Store the tapes upright to avoid the tape slipping on the reels.
  • Rewind tapes fully before storing.
  • Do not handle the tape it’s self.

Videotape to DVD Turnaround

We normally turnaround videotape to DVD conversions within a week – but often much quicker. This does depend on the volume of work as all videotape to DVD conversions have to be carried out in real time.  Our studios are based in Loughton, Essex – but we service all parts of London, Essex and Hertfordshire.

Please contact us for details on pricing and discounts for bulk videotape to DVD conversions – call 020 3602 3356 or 07771 535692 or email kevin@video-artisan.com.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Video CV

Filming a Video CV

Would a Video CV be right for you?

This week I’ve been at the marvellous Ashridge Business School (www.ashridge.org.uk) in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire shooting a Video CV with my colleague, and often fellow-shooter, Dilip Patel from double-barrelled.tv

The Video CV (or Visumé, or VCV or Video Resumes) is nothing new. When video cameras became commonplace there were some recruitment specialists who thought that they were going to replace the written curriculum vitae altogether. That obviously didn’t happen – for a number of very good reasons. Firstly, they are not suitable for every job position – and not all potential employers would find them useful. Employers cannot quickly scan through a Video CV – and they can also, “allegedly”, leave the employer open to allegations of discrimination. There’s also the fact that some candidates would be completely terrified at the thought of having to project themselves positively on screen.

In addition, a Video CV will also add to the costs and time involved in gaining an interview – and it will always need to be accompanied by a written curriculum vitae as the inclusion of full educational and employment histories would make for a very dull video – especially when the candidate has extensive experience.

However, there are situations and job prospects where a Video CV is absolutely perfect and could help to set you above other candidates. This is especially true when the position entails face-to-face communication and the employer is looking for someone with exceptional presentation skills. In these situations a Video CV can be exceptionally good at revealing your enthusiasm, how you engage with an audience, your knowledge, confidence and your personality. Whilst you can say all these things in a written curriculum vitae, in a Video CV you can make them a whole lot more believable.

Shooting a Video CV might be perfect - for you!
Shooting a Video CV might be perfect – for you!

A personalised Video CV

I’m sure you will understand why I’ve not including details of the person we were shooting the Video CV for. At the time of writing this piece the video had not been released by the client – and there’s a reasonably good chance that it will not be publicly released at all. Confidentially issues are obviously high on the agenda in these situations so it is always something that has to be talked through with the candidate and faithfully observed.

Suffice to say that this person was pitching for an executive-level appointment within an industry which values and rewards exceptional communication skills and creative thinking. Our candidate was blessed with both, and the interview-style Video CV enabled them to communicate this and give any potential employer an understanding of their expertise, industry connections and successes. These things can obviously be set out within a written curriculum vitae, but on video you can deliver them with personality and passion.

Whilst a Video CV can be shot pretty much anywhere, Ashridge Business School was chosen because it has an excellent reputation in educating business leaders. As our candidate was a previous degree student at Ashridge the venue also added some relevance to the piece and was referenced to within the interview. This gave us the opportunity to shoot some b-roll shots around the grounds to help carry the interview along – and at the same time gave the piece additional credibility.

Ashridge Business School
Content is King – and adds to your credibility

Not every Video CV has to be produced this way but it was perfect for this candidate and the positions they are seeking. There is not a “one size fits all” solution to producing a Video CV so each commission needs to be considered carefully and creatively to produce something that’s right for the candidate and the employment they seek. No two Video CVs should ever be the same.

The shoot

I was working freelance for Dilip on this occasion. We often work for each other and have a great working relationship where we both concentrate totally on creating the best possible content for our clients – whoever they “belong” to.

On this occasion we were shooting on two Canon 5D Mkii’s, one as a “safe” shot and the other shooting “dirty” (wide of set including lighting rig and camera one, shot of camera monitor screen, pull focussing etc.). We also had a Canon 550D on a slider placed on the table in front of our candidate and we took turns in giving that a whiz during various takes.

Lighting was great in the room we were in with its floor to ceiling windows, but we added the sparkle on the candidate’s eyes by using my Lishuai LED lighting panels. Dilip handed all the audio side which was via cabled tie-clip mic and an additional stand-mounted directional mic fed back to his mixer and Tascam recorder. The audio would be synced up in post, which was again in Dilip’s hands.

Ashridge Business School
Finding a suitable location to help tell your story

How much would a Video CV cost to produce?

There are some situations where a home produced Video CV would be perfectly adequate and some where it certainly wouldn’t. In these situations you need to use a professional who is going to be able to create something credible for you. Apart from any pre-production planning and script development, for a relatively simple Video CV format the filming itself shouldn’t take any more than half a day to complete and, as long as there’s a clearly defined brief, no more than a day to edit. You can work out ballpark figures using my freelance rate card here.

The budget is however always wholly governed by the creative brief. A more complex idea might involve many more days filming, at various locations, with additional crew and kit requirements. This is normally quickly established in a confidential briefing with the delegate during which ideas, budgets and objectives can be discussed and agreed.

If your next appointment really matters, a Video CV might be just the thing to get you noticed. If you think this might be right for you, then please do get in touch.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Producing a Video Selfie for your business

Video Selfie
The story behind our Video Selfie

I’ve finally managed to do a video selfie for Video Artisan this week. Okay, it’s really an ‘Elevator Pitch’ as titled, but I thought I should get a link in whilst there’s still all this talk about ‘Selfies’ going around.

It all started with an invite to a breakfast BNI meeting where I was asked to give a 45-second presentation of my business. We tend to speak around three words per second so the presentation was only to run to 135 words at the most. Simple enough one would think – but presentation was to nearly 60 potential clients so I wanted it to be all the C’s which they say a great elevator pitch should be…

  • 1 – Concise
  • 2 – Clear
  • 3 – Compelling
  • 4 – Credible
  • 5 – Conceptual
  • 6 – Concrete
  • 7 – Customized
  • 8 – Consistent
  • 9 – Conversational

Video Selfie aide-memoire

Having written out and timed my presentation I then set about getting it into my head – and for me that’s often a challenge. One of the most successful ways for me to remember things like this is to record it and play in back again and again so I thought why not go one stage further and film myself giving the presentation using my mobile phone – and then edit the best takes into a complete presentation. The editing process alone would also be helpful in learning the words and seeing me on screen should help with perfecting my delivery.

I did that, and whilst it helped me get the presentation in my head it also inspired me to do something a little more polished. The version above that’s been released this week is actually version three. Version two was an attempt at shooting it greenscreen but I didn’t like the look and feel of that; it was far too clinical. It did prove to me though that I do have just enough room in the edit suite to set up a greenscreen set – albeit that I can’t flap my arms about too much!

Early versions of the Video Selfie
Early versions of the Video Selfie

The BNI presentation went well by the way. You never know exactly where this kind of thing leads to as video production is not the kind of service which people rush to you for the moment they know you provide it. Let’s just say that the seed was sown and there are now at least 60 more businesses who know that I’m here and what I provide.

Of course you never get invited as a guest to a BNI meeting without them trying to sign you up as a member. I was tempted, and I can see how the BNI model could work for a business – but the commitment in time made it impossible for me to sign up. Things might change in the future who knows?

More than just a Video Selfie

Having finally got my video selfie out there I can imagine there are lots of other businesses who can see the value in doing something similar and, like me, want something that’s a little bit beyond what’s achievable on your mobile phone.

The benefits of a video selfie for your business are numerous, but above everything they’re a great way of revealing personalities behind the business. People buy from people, so giving potential customers the opportunity to see who they are going to be dealing with can’t be a bad thing. More often than not they’ll get to meet you eventually so there’s no point in hiding yourself away.

Video Selfie wide
Using a Video Selfie to sell… you!

The other major benefit of a video selfie for your business is that it should help with your search engine optimisation (it’s already helping ours). This of course relies on the video being properly titled, tagged and described – all of which is part of the service we offer our clients on every film we produce to ensure the video reaches its full potential. And let’s not forget what I say in my video selfie… having video content is now vital in achieving a complete search engine presence.

How much would a Video Selfie cost?

Assuming you’ve written your presentation and rehearsed it, shooting something like this would take a couple of hours – and probably twice that to edit and master. If you are local to Loughton that would be within our day rate (see rate card here) – but like any other work we carry out it’s always best to have a chat with us first so we can go through the options. It might be that you’ll want a little more than a Video Selfie after all.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail