Beijing filmmaker, Stone Johnston’s career began with a love of music and photography. Realising he could combine the two in filmmaking, Johnston and his brother Adrian, created the global production company KMOV Studios.
Primarily working in documentary filmmaking, Johnston faces a myriad of challenges, with (at times) a punishing production schedule that includes traveling through extreme cold and hot, dusty deserts, on trains and buses, and to locations in remote areas. This means his gear needs to be simple to set up, able to cope with his rugged schedule and dependable. Along with a variety of cameras, lenses and support systems, Johnston’s choice of on-camera monitor/recorder is Video Device’s Pix-E5.
“I had been debating whether or not to buy a competitor’s product for almost a year. I really didn’t like the size, build quality and integration of the cheap-looking SSD docks sticking out the back,” says Johnston.
“I read about the PIX-E5 and was lucky enough to be able to reserve one. I usually let everybody else try products out first and then decide based on the various feedback that shows up online. But [its] size and design seemed like a perfect fit, solving all the things that were keeping me from purchasing another monitor. I went ahead and made the purchase, and have been happy ever since.”
Johnston uses the monitor on a number of lightweight Sony, Canon, and Blackmagic camera rigs. His most common pairing is on his Sony A7S, as a monitor and 4K recorder, especially when he’s using a gimbal or slider.
He describes using the device as a “very solid recorder.”
“I appreciate that it is streamlined and not overloaded with menus,” he added.
“The codec selections are good and the monitor is the perfect size and quality for me—really sharp and bright enough even for use out in strong sunlight. The monitoring tool’s display has been great for correcting exposure, nailing focus, and seeing any issues right away. Being able to load LUTs are also great when working with Blackmagic cameras or with Sony S-Log profiles.”
Most ENG, videographers or documentary filmmakers understand the need of keeping your gear simple to setup and flexible enough to be useful in any number of shooting locations. Johnston likes to mount his monitor/recorder directly to the camera cage and more often than not, right on top of those smaller mirrorless cameras he prefers.
When shooting with a gimbal, he mounts his RØDE VideoMic Pro on top of the monitor. This allows him to monitor his audio while directing the mic separately from the camera angle, an especially useful workflow with wide lenses. When using a tripod or slider, Johnston typically puts the it on top of the camera.
For a recent project, Johnston found the monitor coped with everything he threw at it.
“There was a one-day shoot with one character that involved improvised running through a city in south China. I was chasing him through back alleys, jumping over and off of things, avoiding people, and making sure I didn’t run into anything. I shot the whole thing with the Sony a7S on a single handheld gimbal with the PIX-E5 fixed to the base of the handle, and attached with a ribbon HDMI cable. If I ran into a wall or dropped the rig, I knew [it] would probably hold up better than any of the other equipment.
“I use the PIX-E5 all the time,” continues Johnston. “I always use it for interviews where I need to make sure the colour, focus, lighting, and audio are all perfect. It’s also great for macro studio shots where I’m doing detailed stock footage. I can play with lighting and different elements, while having the screen in any angle to keep working fluidly. And of course, I like being able to add it to the camera at any time for quick shots. It is a strong tool and I really love it.”
For more info, check: videodevices.com/pix-e5
Available in Australia from:
Level 1, 108 Johnston St, Collingwood, Victoria, 3066
Phone: +61 3 90059861
Excerpts from Press Release.