Post Magazine

July 2018

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REVIEW 38 POST JULY 2018 his past winter, I began my first foray into the world of HDR finishing. As I researched what gear I would need to grade footage for HDR, the most obvious and exciting piece that I looked into was the monitor. I knew that some editors get by with a good quality consumer TV set, but I wanted to go the pro route and get a studio monitor specif- ically designed for production. Since I am not a part of the Hollywood or profes- sional broadcast scene, I had no intention of investing in a $15,000-plus reference monitor. But I did find another option not too far from my home in Knoxville: Cary, North Carolina's SmallHD. In 2016, SmallHD jumped from its world of five- to seven-inch, on-camera mon- itors straight into the realm of full-size monitors when the company introduced the 13-inch, 17-inch, 24-inch and 32-inch production monitor series. It just so hap- pened that SmallHD had a 24-inch HDR- capable production monitor on hand for me to work with for a few months. The 13-inch, 24-inch and 32-inch sizes in this line are offered in HDR versions. AT FIRST GLANCE All of the monitors in this series are 1920x1080 displays. The 2403 has ports for two SDI sources and one HDMI. It also has "outs" for both signals and can be used to daisy chain with other devices. At an eye-searing 1,000 nits, the screen's brightness has no trouble putting up a fight against the noon-day sun if you're using it as a location monitor. Fortunately, a brightness control allows you to dial back the solar flares when working in a darker environment. The back of the monitor sports an Anton Bauer battery gold mount with Lemo port for power. There's a four-pin XLR for external power also available. The female threaded holes drilled into the rear of the chassis make it VESA compatible for mounting just about any- where. But the monitor also ships with a C-stand mount kit as well as a desk stand that can be slipped into two rod receivers that are similar to a rail system for camera rigs. Designed into the back of the frame is an accessory rail system where you can quickly slide in addition- al tools. This could include a wireless video transmitter, such as those made by Teradek. Finally, there is a retractable handle on top that allows you to pick up and move the monitor easily and secure- ly, carrying it like a briefcase. The front of the monitor sports con- trols like power, menu navigation con- trols, LUT loading, brightness, scopes, settings, multiview, tools and four differ- ent display modes. SmallHD has put a lot of effort into making the operation of its monitors dead simple and fast. The com- pany used the space in the monstrous bezel that would have been otherwise wasted real estate and turned it into valuable controls for quick changes. In the center, bottom, there's a removable rubber gasket hiding a full-sized SD card slot, headphone jack and USB port. The SD card slot can be used to load custom 3D LUTs onto the monitor. FIRST IMPRESSIONS My first impression of the 2403 was the build quality. After the FedEx driver finished cursing at me for making her haul the 25-pound, enormous box onto my porch, I quickly empathized with her once I dragged the box into my living room. After I removed the packaging, I was able to grab the carry handle and lift the tank-like monitor out of its protective padding. Without the box, the moni- tor weights just shy of 20 pounds. The weight is not without purpose. SmallHD mills the frames of these monitors out of aluminum, and the heavy, metal cladding shows in the chunky, industrial styling of the sides and rear. The company builds these things to be abused, whether on- set, in a studio or on a FedEx hand truck. If there's any doubt to their durability, just take a look at their torture test video. (Spoiler alert: the monitors keep working after all of these assaults.) Once I reinforced my desk and gingerly deposited the 2403 next to my laptop, I plugged in and turned on. I first wanted to dig into the menu system to see how it compared to other SmallHD monitors I've looked at and find out what had changed in the company's newer firmware. HITTING THE HIGHLIGHTS The menu of the 2403 is extensive and powerful, which also means there's too much to exhaustively detail in this review. Instead, let's hit the highlights (no pun intended). Under input, you'll find options to set white point, gamma and color space. Rec. 709 is standard, but there are 10 options available including Red, S-Logs, C Log and V-Log. There's a dedicated calibration page, which allows you to use an external calibration tool to fine tune the display. Image rotate can control whether the display is mirrored or even flipped upside down. There are anamorphic options from 1x to 2x de- pending on your aspect ratio. Under pro- files, individual users can save and load their own custom setups for the monitor, making it easy to manage multiples in a studio environment. After setting my preferences, I exper- imented with the four "P" buttons on the right side of the screen. These four buttons, numbered obviously as one through four, can be set in almost any way imaginable. They can each display a different LUT over your signal, or they can be dedicated to different "tools." The "tools" in SmallHD monitors are the many things that would be used either on-set or in an edit bay to more scientifically evaluate certain criteria that our eyes may otherwise deceive us with. The "frame" category includes aspect ratio guides, safe lines, crosshairs and crosshatching. SMALLHD 2403 HDR PRODUCTION MONITOR T A HEAVY DUTY, 1,000-NIT, HDR COMPANION BY PAUL SCHMUTZLER KNOXVILLE, TN EMAIL: PAUL@ THESCHMUTZLER.COM TWITTER: @ THESCHMUTZLER VITAL STATS MANUFACTURER: SmallHD PRODUCT: 2403 Production Monitor PRICE: $5,499 (MSRP) WEBSITE: • All series monitors are 1920x1080 displays • Features ports for two SDI sources and one HDMI • 1,000-nit brightness

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