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    Production Monitors
    #1
    Senior Member Eric Coughlin's Avatar
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    What recommendations for a production monitor? Say around a $4,000 budget range.

    Flanders, SmallHD, Atomos, and Sony seem to be the main players.

    Flanders has the name recognition and the best colors, SmallHD has the high brightness, Atomos has a recorder and lower price point, and Sony has a good name but perhaps not as good as Flanders.

    I'd use these primarily as a client monitor, perhaps on occasion for color grading while editing but not often.

    I'm currently leaning towards the Flanders DM170. Is 17" large enough for clients? There's the DM240 for an extra $600 but then it's also going to be more bulk to carry around.

    I don't feel like I do a lot of outdoor shooting where a production monitor is wanted, but I suppose it does happen on some rareish occasions.


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    Senior Member Run&Gun's Avatar
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    I've never used Atomos monitors. And I've never been impressed with smallHD's larger offerings(were horrible for off-axis viewing), but I haven't seen any of their new stuff in-person. I was also never impressed with Flanders, at least their older LCD monitors. They always looked very flat and the image was uninspiring to me. I don't know how their OLED's look in-person. I have two 17" monitors. One is an old Panasonic and the other is a (now old) Sony OLED. The Sony was calibrated and is my main reference monitor. 17" is a decent size, but depending on your clients, you may want to go bigger. And a lot of people don't spend a ton on their client monitors. They buy the good monitor for themselves so they can really evaluate the image. Most clients don't need to see the level of accuracy and nuance that the DP or shooter needs to see while lighting and evaluating the shot. I'm not saying they should be given a POS that doesn't properly convey the image and makes it look bad and thus reflecting poorly on you, but (and I'm not talking about Hollywood/big budget level production) I would put more emphasis on "my" monitor than one strictly for clients.

    Now with that being said, if you are just going to be carrying one big monitor for you to critically evaluate the image and the client to watch, then obviously get a good one. I generally just carry the 17" Sony, IF I carry a big monitor. Just depends on the shoot. But I always have two smallHD OLED's in each camera bag. A DP7Pro OLED and a Focus OLED.


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    Senior Member Eric Coughlin's Avatar
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    I feel like most of the time the monitor for the DP/cam op is the monitor on the camera. I suppose if you have a dedicated cam op and the DP is viewing a production monitor on a stand, then you'd want a nice monitor, but I'm almost always cam opping when I'm the DP. I do suppose it helps for something like an interview shot to be able to reference a larger monitor.

    For my C300s I've found the small monitor it comes with has been plenty sufficient for referencing on set for myself, so I don't even bother setting up my 702's unless the client specifically requests it, moreso for them than for me. Plus the C300s have magnify which also helps. The Amira's on camera LCD is too small and low quality to use as a primary monitor, so I typically have a 702 attached to the that camera. I'm looking forward to using the new larger and better quality monitor that the Mini LF has once it comes to the newer Amira or 4K Mini down the road (or if I ever get a Mini LF), as it would be nice to not have to have an additional monitor attached to the camera like with the C300s.

    It's an interesting thought to go cheap with the production monitors for clients. I'd imagine charging $250-$300 for the rental of the monitor to clients, but I could perhaps get a cheaper used Flanders and still charge a similar rental rate. But like, if you're doing an agency commercial shoot for a big client, you don't think the producer hiring you is going to want a fancy monitor for video village to be looking at?

    One of my friends has a 17" Panasonic monitor and I always though the image low low resolution. Not impressed. I've worked a Sony in the $3k-$4k price range once before and don't recall being that impressed. I don't know, I guess none of the field monitors I've worked with including Flanders have really impressed me much. I feel like the TVs at Best Buy often have a nicer image. Field monitor tech always seems to be way behind consumer tech. We're still mostly dealing with 1080p field monitors now while consumer tech is doing 8K OLED HDR for cheaper prices and five times the size. I get these don't have SDI inputs and rigidness, etc., but whatever. I've complained before about field monitor tech being behind consumer tech and it doesn't do anything. 4K field monitors are just starting to come out but are rather expensive for the time being.


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    I bought an Atomos Sumo because a frequent client uses the multi-cam switch and recording capabilities. The monitor side of it is OK with nice scopes and false color. It's a bit heavy but its flexibility and self-containment is good.

    On the cheap side, maybe look into a Decimator DMON-QUAD... can effectively turn any TV or monitor into a 4-channel multi-viewer, but IIRC doesn't have any scopes. A multi-city production I worked with last year just carried one of these and a few thin SDI cables and then bought/begged/borrowed cheap TVs at whatever location.
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    Senior Member David W. Jones's Avatar
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    If you shoot raw or log quite often, you might consider a monitor which has the capability to load LUTs so the client has a better idea of how the footage will actually look when finished.


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    Senior Member Grug's Avatar
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    Having LUTs and recording built into the monitor is a real boon. Once you've trained up the director or scripty to operate the recorders, life gets much easier as they're never asking you to check playback.

    The Sumo is useful in that way. That said, a small video recorder outputting to a larger monitor can perform the same function ultimately.

    I have a pair of 17" monitors (generally one goes to the AC and one to the director + scripty). They're fine, and no one complains. But I'm sure something around a 22-24" size would be appreciated.

    If you have HDMI output on your Wireless Video RX, then you can feed that signal to a standard TV easily enough - you just need to customise it a VESA mount to be practical on-set.


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    #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grug View Post
    Having LUTs and recording built into the monitor is a real boon. Once you've trained up the director or scripty to operate the recorders, life gets much easier as they're never asking you to check playback.

    The Sumo is useful in that way. That said, a small video recorder outputting to a larger monitor can perform the same function ultimately.

    I have a pair of 17" monitors (generally one goes to the AC and one to the director + scripty). They're fine, and no one complains. But I'm sure something around a 22-24" size would be appreciated.

    If you have HDMI output on your Wireless Video RX, then you can feed that signal to a standard TV easily enough - you just need to customise it a VESA mount to be practical on-set.
    If using a sumo exclusively for playback, do you only need enough SSD space for a single day then can format for the following day once the main footage has been backed up?


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    Senior Member Grug's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rob norton View Post
    If using a sumo exclusively for playback, do you only need enough SSD space for a single day then can format for the following day once the main footage has been backed up?
    The times I've used it, we've just shoved a big 1TB drive on there, and recorded in something lightweight, like 1080p Prores LT. Means you have the entire production, every shot, to-hand at video village at all times. Certainly makes life easier.


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    Especially if you have a terrible (for playback) camera like the FS7 where the thumbnails take a week to generate and scrolling through a clip is a mystical art I cannot emphasies the value to a production of recording and playing back on the monitor and maybe peddalling through a few LUTs.

    While Atomos are not the best screens most directors get used to the UI and driving thier own playback experience quickly.

    This keeps them near the monitor and away from you. Perfect. ANd not asking you to pedal you camera menu for playback. Double win.


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    #10
    Senior Member puredrifting's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by morgan_moore View Post
    Especially if you have a terrible (for playback) camera like the FS7 where the thumbnails take a week to generate and scrolling through a clip is a mystical art I cannot emphasies the value to a production of recording and playing back on the monitor and maybe peddalling through a few LUTs.

    While Atomos are not the best screens most directors get used to the UI and driving thier own playback experience quickly.

    This keeps them near the monitor and away from you. Perfect. ANd not asking you to pedal you camera menu for playback. Double win.
    If I was doing more regular production and not mostly live streaming so far in 2021, I would get a Sumo. Being able to keep directors away from camera would be nice.
    They can playback, analyze, and we end up with a Prores backup recording? Sounds like a win to me.
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