I wanted to get an opinion on the Vaxis wireless units from someone who has been using them for quite some time. This is what DP/Director Jason Wingrove had to say:
I’ve always loved a wireless set. As a focus puller and operator, I struggled for years in the standard def / film world with homebrew rigs, transmitters and handheld monitors like the Sony Watchman. They worked, but the image was barely passable and intermittent, to say the least. As a director, the day when reliable, stable, long-range transmitters couldn’t come fast enough and I think even with today’s current crop I still found myself spending thousands and thousands of dollars to then spend hundreds of hours waiting for the link between me and my clients/ agency, or my camera and I to come back up or to have the problem debugged and fixed.
The multiple Vaxis Storm 800’s and 1000’s I bought last year are truly THE first time I’ve gotten through day after day with never even having to THINK about wireless video on set. The only time I hear ‘monitors down’ or ‘we’ve lost image’ nowadays is when we change a camera battery or there’s some power loss on set. The rest of the time I’m free to get on with being creative and giving myself and clients what I want.
I opted for a Storm 1000’ kit for the main client monitor with the matching 1000’ transmitter on my Sony FS7 and additional 500’ receivers on my wireless directors monitor and wireless focus station for my AC’s to pull from. What appealed to me at the time was the ability to mix and match kits so you only need buy what you absolutely need. If your directors or AC monitor is usually in close proximity there’s no need to buy the long range units and you can add a 800 or 1000 or 3000 later and they will all talk to each other.
Transmitting distances are pretty meaningless in most day to day shoots, 1000 ft, 500ft etc. etc. means nothing. The real world test is can the image get to my clients hidden away in the back of a 3 story house of glass concrete and steel without my crew having to stop what they’re doing and run cables. Again with the Vaxis gear, I’ve found it really capable in most of the average production setups. Only very occasionally do we have to move a receiver just a couple of feet for it to then work flawlessly for the rest of the day.
Pairing I must say has been a nightmare in the past with my experiences using many kits from the big two manufacturers. Endless resetting, pairing and unpairing, and the units completely forgetting what they were paired with. I think the last time I paired any of the Vaxis gear was also the FIRST time I paired it, day one! Whatever they’re doing with their board set or firmware works and stays working.
I’m not sure what else to say other than the best piece of gear, whatever it is, is the one that does its job, doesn’t hold me up and stays out of my way while I get on with being creative, keeping clients happy and making money. And that’s what the Vaxis does.
If I’m going to use a wireless video transmission system it has to be easy to set up, easy to power and most importantly reliable. If I’m working as a solo shooter or in a small team I don’t have the time to keep going back to a producer or a director to sort out wireless problems. If a problem does need to be addressed, then the system should be easy enough to be fixed by a producer or a director without them having to bother me (I know, wishful thinking!).
For my wireless needs, I have been perfectly happy with the Vaxis Storm 800. It’s easy to set up and I don’t have to have extra monitors, power supplies and receivers for people to see what I am doing. For my needs, this works well, but others may require a more latency free solution and that’s where I think the Vaxis Storm 800 is worth taking a serious look at.
I can already imagine some of the comments already, “It’s a Chinese Teradek knock off”, “It’s going to break or fail”. You should never judge a book by its cover, and having a pre-conceived notion that just because something is made in China that it’s not going to be any good is just naive and ignorant. Every product that we review gets the same fair and honest evaluation no matter who makes it or where it comes from.
The Vaxis Storm 800 does exactly what it’s supposed to do and it does it with minimal fuss. From my experience testing the system, I found it to be reliable, easy to use and well built.