Friday, August 26, 2016

Recent and recommended films

I concluded my last article, in which I dissected a list of great 21st century films, by questioning the necessity for lists and "greatness". I think it only appropriate to contradict myself (in part) by presenting something positive to yesterday's negative.

So here are my favourite films of this century. I have "only" 20, not 100, and make no effort to rank them. Instead, it's a simple chronology of greatness and stuff I simply like.

Dancer in the Dark (2000, Lars Von Trier)
Trier makes a lot of depressing films but this one takes the cake... and is a musical to boot. Bjork sells every bathetic scene, but was apparently emotionally abused on set. As you will be by watching this perverse exercise in deconstruction.
Thursday, August 25, 2016

Are films "great" any more?

What is it about films and lists? No two people agree on films, and so a list will be sure to generate controversy, hence traffic and ad revenue. So it is not surprising that BBC has already, a mere 16 years in, decided to list "The 21st Century's 100 Greatest Films". You should read the article before continuing.

The conceit of the article is that "the death of cinema" has been greatly exaggerated and that there are still great films being made today. "Perhaps the fault lies not in our movie stars, but in ourselves. If you can't find masterpieces amid the blockbuster flotsam, you simply aren't looking hard enough" writes the (uncredited) author.

But this is a weak claim. Certainly there are still "good" films still being made. No-one would actually deny that. The question is, are these as good as or better than those made in the past? Do these live up to our criteria for "greatness"? The list provided is supposed to answer in the affirmative but does just the opposite.
Sunday, August 07, 2016

Zoom F8: Comparing power methods

In the last article I explained several ways to power the Zoom F8. There's an option for everybody. My own particular priorities are reasonable cost, ease-of-use and safety, lowest possible weight, and fairly long recording time. I will consider these in slightly more detail, before turning to some real-world battery tests. This article will conclude by quantifying several different solutions, so that you can make up your own mind.
Saturday, August 06, 2016

Zoom F8: Powering the recorder

This is the third article on the Zoom F8 multitrack audio recorder, which started with an overview of features and continued with my suggestions for firmware improvements. Here I will discuss a few power options and discuss batteries.

The latest generation of hand-held recorders, like the excellent Olympus LS-11, last an incredible time on only two AA batteries. With a life of 18 to 22 hours, I often forget that they need recharging. It's easy to take this small miracle of power management for granted. Thank you, electrical engineers!
Friday, August 05, 2016

Zoom F8: Firmware Suggestions

UPDATE: Firmware 3.0 addressed a number of my concerns. These have been indicated below.

UPDATE: After using the unit for a month, I have added three more ideas. Some of these are less critical than others, but I have edited the article to remove any attempt to grade them. Our priorities are all different!

In my first article I discussed my justification for buying a Zoom F8, and gave a handy overview of the features. No doubt this multichannel recorder offers the best bang-for-the-buck of any on the market, while not compromising on professional features: time code, pull-down and pull-up sync rates, dual SD card slots, and so on.

But no matter how good a recorder is out of the box, there is room for improvement. I was encouraged to buy a Zoom F8 because of the feature set and pricing, but the deciding factor was the firmware updates. Zoom looked at the critiques after the first months of availability and issued Firmware 2.00, which added many useful features. A further 2.10 update fixed more bugs.

In this field, a company that cares about their customers should be willing to enhance their hardware beyond initial release. Anything else is a wasteful approach to hardware that, let's face it, uses up precious resources from our environment. I like to use a piece of kit for as long as possible!

Zoom have shown that they care... and have me as a customer as a result. The signs are encouraging that this policy will continue, and so I present my list of requests, restricted to those that can be implemented without hardware changes.
Friday, August 05, 2016

Zoom F8: Overview and Features

It's been a long while since I posted anything about digital audio recorders. That's because I am still totally happy with three hand-held units: the Olympus LS-10 and LS-11, plus the Sony M10. All of these I have written about quite extensively on this blog. And these posts have garnered a lot of interest from you, the reader. For that reason I am kicking off another series, this time to document my experiences with the Zoom F8.

In the next few posts you can expect practical information, tips, user experience reports, and so on. I am not going to call this a "review", but it will help to supplement those reviews already extant (links at bottom). You can expect me to write about compatible SD cards, power options, and practical usage tips. Plus some recommendations to Zoom for their next firmware update.