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Tech: The Canon 7D Setup Used by Video Journalist Travis Fox

April 15th, 2010

Camera Geek Alert!: After a week and testing, here's what I i... on TwitpicOne of the beauties of being in NYC are the people who come in and out of the office. Most recently, Travis Fox stopped by to pick up some stuff. He’s back from Haiti where he’s been working for PBS Frontline.

When I first arrived here, he was only a couple days from heading out to Haiti and was trying to convince PBS to let him shoot everything on his Canon 7D. The issue they were having was with the audio–it’s a new platform and while the images are amazing, the audio from all these HD DSLR’s…kind of sucks.

Fox’s solution was to use the lightest, smallest audio recorder with XLR jacks, the M-Audio. Audio works like this: Shotgun Mic and Wireless Mic plug into the two channels on the M Audio. The M Audio makes a high-quality recording while outputting a signal to the Canon 7D. This output is not good enough for broadcast, but it does serve as sound for syncing. Fox uses Puraleyes to sync the M Audio with the video in Final Cut Pro (FCP).

The M Audio is powered by an external battery. Accompanying the camera is a 5 inch LCD display to help Fox focus and frame. All of this is mounted to camera bracket of his design.

Workflow is laborious, especially considering it’s in the field:
Shoot with Canon 7D
Record Audio with M audio
Output line to camera for audio sync

Convert footage from h264 to an FCP-friendly format
Import to FCP
Sync with Pluraleyes and/or manually
Export to sequence as XDCAM 422 (for Frontline)
Ship

Frontline then imports into an Avid system and does all the post.

Frontline_foxSounds like even more computer time for journalists, but a feasible workaround that allows us to incorporate HD DSLR footage into our work.

See some of Travis Fox’s work on Frontline:

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