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Old October 29th, 2014, 01:12 PM   #1
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Convergent Design, and The Legend of Billy the Kid

Pardon me if there's a more appropriate place for this. Open DV Discussion felt right:

I am not a great filmmaker. I am a great dreamer.

My last project took place on a Bay, in NY. The characters are weather worn fishermen, clammers to be specific, fighting the good fight of survival while dreaming of one-day's success. Our stories paralleled, we related like brothers - all our collars are blue to the core. Like most dreams do, our project grew in ambition as the days marched forward. Three characters became ten, the plot thickened, and now we wanted storm scenes as well. I could feel it in my bones, this project could become my own one-day's success.

Early mornings we met on the dock. With each new day came bigger ideas. Some realistic, others unfathomable, until one day one of the Baymen mentioned Billy Joel. Apparently someone knew a girl, who knew a secretary, who knew Billy's publicist. For three days emails bounced between computers, iPhones, offices, and twenty foot skiffs working out in the Bay. I found it strangely curious that in none of the exchanges came the answer "no" to Billy agreeing to be a part of the film. And then it happened. 4am Friday I got a text simply saying, "We got em. 11am Saturday, on his dock,1hr." From that text forward I never slept again, until my heart finally succumbed to mortal sadness late Sunday night.

Billy Joel is a musician, "I can't use my headphones, they're cheap!" He's spent his lifetime around professional audio equipment, "I need new XLR cables!" We'd be shooting him on his dock, on the Bay, with a huge Oyster Fest going on just a quarter mile away. "I hate my lav mic". My partner flew home yesterday, there will be a band playing, DJs shouting on PA systems, waves splashing, the dock will be crashing into pylons, it'll be windy... And so my haunting list of potential problems went on and on, but surprisingly it never included my tripod, lenses, my FS700 or my Odyssey7Q.

The shoot was an experience. Billy Joel is one talented man. He would take three or four sentences of direction then hold his hand up, almost as if to say, "I'm good. I got this" ....while actually saying, "I'm good. I got this." And he was right, he had it. I felt electric inside, like I was witnessing something that would only happen once in my life. My paranoia had me checking the red record bar atop the Oddysey7Q at least seven times in the 24 minutes that Billy spoke. In the end we covered it all - every potential problem with audio, direction, mood and content. Huge success. In a rush I shut the Sony and the Odyssey7Q off simultaneously, we loaded the skiff and off we went. About half way back across the bay we all looked at one another and acknowledged just achieving something far more than any of us had imagined. ...and then I looked at the footage.

There's a sportscaster out here who ends his daily show with a great quote: "Sports don't create character, they reveal it." Well right now I'd like to borrow that quote and modify it to reflect what I was about to experience with Dan Keaton and Convergent Design. Replace the word "Sports" with the word "Problems", and let's get to the heart of this story.

Although the XML data accompanying the BIlly Joel clip said it was 24 minutes long, it only played for 3 once on my laptop. And on the Odyssey7Q it didn't play at all. Clips before it played fine, clips after it played fine. But the one clip I couldn't shoot again, the one that at the time felt like it's hard drive was embedded somewhere inside my tragically fading spirit, didn't play at all. The data, the frames, the file size and the timeline - they all said the same thing, "You just blew your chance."

I was sick. I was silent. I kept doubting myself. For sure I hit "stop recording" when I meant to hit "start". For sure I inadvertently paused it, and never started it again. I didn't know, but whatever happened it had to be my fault. I checked the SDHC card that I use as a backup, but it had run out in the sunset scene that morning. Of all the things I could have screwed up but I didn't, that was the one I blew.

I called Dan Keaton, something I swore I would never do, and asked for his advice - "Should I just walk in front of a train right now or do you think there's hope the full clip is actually there?" Dan was pretty cool, I have to say. He never once asked me if I used an SDHC backup. After all, in a way that would be like a sales rep suggesting you strap a bicycle to the back of your new Corvette, just in case...

I shipped my Odyssey7Q and all my ssds to Convergent Design, just like Dan told me to. In two days time their engineer Tommy was neck deep in the ssds working diligently to recover anything possible. Apparently my simultaneously powering the two devices off triggered some rare planetary anomaly that corrupted the clip I had just recorded. Tommy figured it out, created a firmwear update to address it, sorted the frames and recovered the entire 24 minutes of my problem clip. I was saved. I am saved.

I have said this before but never online, my Odyssey7Q is the single most vital piece of gear that I own. More than any lens, light, boom, dolly, head, stabilizer, or quite honestly even camera. The biggest difference for me is not only what the Odyssey7Q records, but that I can see what it records. The new 2x focus zoom, and finger dragging option. The resolution, the focus peaking, the colors, and on and on. Never mind all the formats, and the fact that with every new firmwear update I feel like I just bought a new monitor/recorder without paying for it, but with this new experience under my belt with Convergent Design and how they handled it I now believe more in the brand than ever.

Thank you very much Dan Keaton, and all the crew at Convergent Design. Great product. Great support.

Last edited by Eric Gulbransen; October 29th, 2014 at 08:01 PM.
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Old October 29th, 2014, 01:52 PM   #2
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Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Augusta Georgia
Posts: 5,367
Re: Convergent Design, and The Legend of Billy the Kid

Dear Eric,

Wow, it is very nice for you to post your experience.

We try hard to build quality gear and quality firmware. Sometimes an unexpected problem with crop up, as it did in your case.

Then, our team goes into action, as they did for you, to do our level best to recover your footage.

And our team goes into action to find what caused the problem and ensure that it never happens again.

The 3.10.100 firmware update that we released this morning has a fix to the problem that you experienced.

Thank you for posting your very kind words, and I will let our team know about your post.

Dan Keaton
Augusta Georgia
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