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Do I really need a broadcast monitor if...

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Daniel De AvilaDo I really need a broadcast monitor if...
by on Feb 17, 2009 at 9:44:27 pm


Do I really need a broadcast monitor if the final delivery is just going to be played back via web or computer hard drive? By broadcast monitor Im also including the monitoring solutions presented by Matrox MXO and MXO2.

I was recently asked this question and didn't really have an answer. Personally I would say that its best to have some idea what your image is looking like and as such its worth getting something like an MXO and an LCD screen. (Workflow dependent of course)

But is that really true? Can one, say in a small corporate set up, go without if they are only going to produce for web and computer playback?

Good idea? Bad idea? Pro and cons?


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Nick GriffinRe: Do I really need... Yes/No/But
by on Feb 17, 2009 at 11:23:48 pm

Can you get away with just using a computer screen to monitor video which will just be viewed ON a computer screen? IMHO, yeah, you can but... that works as long as that's ALL you're going to do and YouTube quality is deemed "good enough" by the powers that be.

Then again, in my experience working around corporations, once the budget for something has been beaten to its lowest point the next request is along the lines of "Oh, and can you give me a version that we can show on the Jumbotron when we hold our sales meeting in Yankee Stadium?"

Moral of the story - equip for what's next, not just what's needed at the moment. (Any wonder I'm self-employed?)

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Bill DavisRe: Do I really need... Yes/No/But
by on Feb 18, 2009 at 9:08:50 am

God in heaven NO.

All your effort, judgement and focus is supposed to be in turing out work of increasing quality.

You simply can't do that if you can't accurately monitor what you're doing. Period.

Not insisting on owning the primary device that will allow you to see the images you're recording accurately is INSANE.

How can you learn to fix problems in field acquisition if you can't even see those problems?

On second thought go right ahead. Take your portable home TV, or LCD computer monitor or laptop and go forth and shoot. Someday, when you've busted your gut to do work you're really proud of, and you believe you're about to ascend to the next level of your craft - and somebody slaps it on a REAL monitor and you suddenly realize that all the fluorescent lights in the store behind your subject are actually a billious green rather than the acceptable tones that your LCD rendered them in - then remember this post.

Field production without accurate ways to monitor sound and judge picture is the hallmark of the newbie.

Sorry to be harsh, but that's the simple truth.

You can't fix stuff you can't see or hear.

End of story.

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Daniel De AvilaRe: Do I really need... Yes/No/But
by on Feb 18, 2009 at 11:45:53 am


How fun…from a maybe to an absolute no!

Personally, I would tend to agree more with Bill. However, it seems like you can possibly get away with it IF you (and your client) have a very clear idea of what is being delivered. I met some guys recently, who are considered very experienced, and they told me that when they do on-site editing its often with just a laptop and no video monitor. They do stat that the setup is far from ideal.

I wonder if the mentality behind someone not using a proper monitor is also to do with the vast amount of consumer editing products out there and the sale pitches telling everyone how easy it all is. . Someone uses Imove and the mental leap from that to something more professional is sometimes hard to justify. Why do I need that when I was fine with this? No realizing how circumstances have changed.

Is the ability to present a justification for such things in a clear and rational manor one of the characteristics that separates a pro from an amateur?

Hmm…if it makes you feel any better I do monitor with broadcast quality equipment.

Sounded a bit elitist there, but then I do like to be a bit of an elitist from time to time.

Many Thanks

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Mark SuszkoRe: Do I really need... Yes/No/But
by on Feb 18, 2009 at 2:54:17 pm

They let you have an LCD monitor?!?! Wow, your bosses must be rich; I just get to stick the output end of a piece of coax in my mouth to taste whether or not there's a voltage on it:-P

Look, there's non-critical monitoring and there's master monitoring. Every shop I know of has at least one "God Monitor", the reference standard, the one you have the Big Boss watch when budgets and approvals are on the line.

Then you have a bunch of crummy cheapo monitors that are just to know that 'yeah, this is the correct source coming out'.

While you can edit on the crummy monitors, you can't really color-correct on them, or judge the fine quality. Even if your destination is YouTube, the better your initial quality is before the smash-down, the better your final product.

I have spent years working on really low budgets, I hardly know how else to do a job now. The thing I've consistently found is that while clients and bosses love a low budget on paper, they still bring high-budget expectations for what they want to SEE.

I have never had much success showing a client something substandard and saying: 'yeah, its ugly but this came in way below budget'. Their expectations are generally unfair and unrealistic; they want it to look like champagne on a beer budget.

As I've dealt with this over the years, I learned many tricks to shave expenses where they don't show (much), but I have over time begun insisting on higher and higher quality tools to do the work with... because there's a limit to what you can do beyond what your tools can do for you. If you never improve the tools, well, you may never get to do more than what you do now. The bosses will begin to believe this is all you CAN do, and the more "advanced" work will start to get outsourced, even though you're perfectly qualified to do it yourself. You wind up fighting a perception that your capabilties are limited. And the perception becomes the reality, as stuff starts passing you by. And one day, boom, they decide in-house guy is not worth the money since the prime stuff is already outsourced. I have seen big, prestige projects over the years get outsourced for way more money, projects I know I could have done just as well, for a third less money, but my group was never considered for the work because of this same perceptual barrier.

So it is with having at least one "God Monitor" in the house. It seems like such a small thing, by itself. But it brings a lot of issues with it, out of proportion to the obvious, immediate usage.

If all else fails, tell them your failing eyes need the extra resolution, it's ergonomic, or something vaguely smelling of OSHA regs. But get that one good house monitor, for the immediate need, and for future needs.

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Alan LloydRe: Do I really need... Yes/No/But
by on Feb 18, 2009 at 3:38:43 pm

Well put, Mark.

And if the guy absolutely, positively (sorry, Memphis delivery folks) has to work with what he has, and needs to get a bit past "presence of signal confirmed" might I suggest learning the test instrumentation in pro NLE packages? Waveforms, vectorscopes, audio meters, decent headphones (computer speakers are generally utter crap with bottom-heavy subwoofers designed to boost the bass on crappy MP3 files) and even camera zebras are there for good reasons. And they are your friends, once you get to know them.

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Jake WilliamsRe: Do I really need... Yes/No/But
by on Feb 18, 2009 at 7:54:03 pm

I agree with Alan. On a deadline you could forget to calibrate your monitor and realize the problem after it is too late. The scopes never lie.

Jake Williams

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Daniel De AvilaRe: Do I really need... Yes/No/But
by on Feb 19, 2009 at 3:08:25 pm

Yes – agreed. Many Thanks for the additional information.


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