Founder of Mixel Media, Stephen Greaves, is a freelance NYC based broadcasting professional who focuses on all aspects of a production from creating workflows, to camera operator and editing. Recently, he was working at the United Nations filming live crosses into the news hour for Al Jazeera English. We virtually “sat down” with Stephen to ask him a few questions regarding his primary focus for productions, advice he would give to someone looking to make it in broadcast field, and how his Core SWX gear is beneficial to his productions.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself and Mixel Media.
I’m originally from Australia but moved to New York City almost eight years ago to pursue a wider range of videography opportunities than available back in Melbourne. Over my years in the US, I’ve worked on numerous exciting projects with a range of international clients, mostly while working freelance. I created Mixel Media as a vehicle to market my skills at creating high-quality, creative content and as a way to manage and organize my work opportunities. As a sole proprietorship, Mixel allows me to operate as a small business and contract to larger companies and media organisations.
2. What is your primary focus for productions?
My client base is predominantly in the television broadcast industry which includes international news, documentaries, corporate material, and social content. I think it’s important to be adaptive and utilize an appropriate mix of shooting styles for each project. I love the variety of content and projects I get to work on, whether it be a multi-week documentary assignment, advertising related to fashion week, or live news stories. Every job presents its own interesting challenges, which keeps the work fresh and exciting. The most rewarding part of freelancing is the decision I get to make about the kind of equipment I invest in to work with and the kind of projects I undertake.
3. What advice would you give to work in the broadcast field?
Focus on what you want to work on, who you want to work with, and what you need to do to get there. When I moved to New York, it was a risk. It was my first time freelancing and I needed to develop contacts, invest in my own equipment, and establish my reputation. The equipment I chose needed to reflect my clients’ needs and my budget. My first camera was a Sony PMW‑350, and while this was only 35 mbs, it suited my clients’ needs and offered a great return on investment for the work I was being hired for.
Over time, I worked hard, built my client base, and upgraded my equipment, earning opportunities to work on bigger and bigger projects. Yet, even as projects grew in complexity and visibility, I needed to ensure my equipment was well matched to each task and versatile. I realized there is no point spending large amounts of money on equipment that is going to sit idle because it’s ill suited for the work you’re hired for. It’s important to keep up with industry trends and the latest technology, while understanding how to get the best out of your equipment in every situation.
4. What Core SWX products do you use, and how are they beneficial to your productions?
I own several Core SWX products: the Hypercore NEO 9 Mini 98Wh Lithium-Ion Batteries, SWX Battery Plate for Sony PXW-FX9, and the 2-Bay Charger. Each has proven essential to my work.
Core SWX Hypercore NEO 9 Mini 98Wh Lithium-Ion Batteries –
Over the past few years, the industry has evolved considerably, including in the attention paid to battery design and functionality. Four years ago, when I purchased the Sony PMW-F5, I opted for the standard 150W batteries. More recently, however, when modifying my Sony PXW-Fx9, I decided I wanted to find a lighter, more attractive, and airline-friendly battery without sacrificing performance or functionality.
Core’s NEO 9 Mini batteries immediately became my number one choice because of their compactness and functionality. I wanted to keep my camera set-up short and neat, so I needed a battery that didn’t sit higher than the camera and wasn’t too bulky. Functionality wise, I really wanted USB power and D Taps, which the Core range of batteries offer. Performance wise, the batteries didn’t disappoint. The LCD screen on the back is clear and offers two readouts: percentage remaining and battery run time. This is crucial as the Sony Fx9 does not display the exact voltage remaining in the battery.
Finally, since I fly frequently for work, having batteries compliant with FAA regulations was critical. This is why I chose to invest in the 98Wh batteries rather than the 150Wh version.
Core SWX Battery Plate for Sony PXW-FX9 –
There are several V mount adapter options on the market for use with the Sony Fx9, yet none are as well designed or durable or offer the extra features that Core has built into their V Mount system.
Right away I noticed this V mount plate has been designed around the Sony Fx9. Considering how seamlessly the V mount plate integrates with the camera, you could be mistaken to think this isn’t a 3rd party addition to the camera. The plate feels like a true extension of the camera body as it sits flush with every point of contact on the camera. In addition, the unit has three great features: the D tap power outputs, the 4 pin power in, and the ability to add accessories to the top of the unit.
Core SWX GPM-X2S Mini Dual Travel Battery Charger –
Finally, to complement my new camera set up, it made natural sense to go with the Mini Dual Charger. There were two things I was looking for in a charger: charging options and size.
This charger offers simultaneous charging of two batteries at once which improves productivity by avoiding having to wait while only one battery is charging. Not all brands offer this option in such a small charger so that’s an attractive feature.
Also, given my frequent work travel, I’m always looking for ways to travel more compact and cut down on the number of pelican cases I have to take with me. The smaller size of this charge is therefore ideal and lets me be more nimble.
5. During this unprecedented time, what have you been doing to keep busy? And is there anything recently you’ve worked on we should keep an eye out for?
Being a New York City-based videographer this year has been challenging, emotionally and professionally. As the city ground to a halt, so did work opportunities for some time. While I was anxious and worried, I opted to take the silver lining opportunity to explore the deserted streets and landmarks of New York to collect B-roll and photographs of the city. It was a surreal and oddly peaceful time to explore Manhattan, which would normally be bustling with tourists and workers. I decided to shoot this footage in 4k, 23.98p S-log3 with the intention it could eventually be used in documentaries or long-form news pieces.
Now that the city has begun slowly re-opening, work has picked back up and one of my recent projects has been a documentary exploring the sharp rise of racism towards Asian Americans due to Covid-19 and why some Asian Americans are voting for Trump in the upcoming election. This documentary will air on Al Jazeera’s 101 East programme in mid-October.