I got a chance to chat with Adam Butler from Portabrace and wanted to get the inside view on what was new at Portabrace and where they are heading in the future with their products. Soundrolling.com is now looking to get even more into the ins and outs of the latest equipment for audio professionals and don't forget to leave a comment below.
1. So Adam, for those that haven't met you, can you give us an introduction to your work at portabrace and how you first got involved with the company.
"Working as a Location Audio Mixer for nearly 10 years, I used all kinds of bags from a variety of manufacturers. I started working In Birmingham, England as a sound recordist, then started traveling extensively. Working in and around Asia for nearly 5 years, I found myself on a variety of rigorous, adventurous run-and-gun style shoots, with The Amazing Race franchise being the toughest and most challenging. Living in the heart of Asia, I also worked on many exploration documentaries, traveling to the world's deadliest places, and traversing some of the most unforgiving terrain on the planet. While climbing volcanos in Indonesia, hiking over scorching deserts, and filming extensively in the jungles of Vietnam (where I later returned working on the SYFY channel's Destination Truth), I destroyed equipment constantly.
After relocating to the US, I decided to contact Portabrace with an enquiry about a bag I had recently purchased. I spoke to Nancy from the Design team and we sparked up a conversation about bag design and the functionality of the Portabrace products. To cut a long story short, I was invited by Portabrace to visit the factory in Bennington, Vermont to provide some firsthand feedback and modification ideas to improve their products. Since that time almost a year ago, we have made many significant changes and developments for Portabrace's audio consumers.
It has been a personal focus of mine to involve the users throughout the design process and to listen very closely to everyone's input. I'm still very open to suggestions regarding any products that we have, and even developing new products for new items. I started the design process by creating a thread on the popular audio site, JWSound. From there, I was able to collect information and bounce ideas back and forth, which created a great discussion. This led to the new products that are available today. The amazing and unique advantage that Portabrace has, is that we can take an idea, or a modification, and implement it straight away. The time from design, to paper, to production can be a matter of a few weeks. We also now offer customization for our audio bags. http://www.portabrace.com/products/audio/organizers"
2. Tell us more about the new Portabrace A01X Audio Organiser Bag?
"The AO-1X is the smallest of the classic AO range of organizer bags. The new bag had some substantial changes made to suit today's most popular mixers and gear setups. The
is a great fit for the
Sound Devices 633
and also the
, along with many other smaller mixers. Some of the changes made to this bag include:"
Boom-pole attachment point.
(Form Suggestion, to attach the boom when walking or mic-ing cast)
2 x Solid dividers
.(To provide solid protection and organization for your receivers)
Longer vinyl cover.
(To allow for antenna)
Double layer vinyl pocket.
(For accessories or cast picture sheets)
Interior copper colored lining.
(A forum suggestion to make finding items in the bottom of the bag easier)
.(For maximum access, the ends can be totally removed)
3x Metal harness attachment rings on each side.
(Improved balance and options for various loads)
Smaller compact collapsible front pocket.
(Allows compact travel size)
3. Tell us more about the New Portabrace A01.5 for 788 size recorders?
"The new AO-1.5X is slightly larger than the AO-1X, and offers the same great improvements as the AO-1X listed above."
"The slightly larger size of this bag gives the user various options when setting up for different shoots. I personally use this bag with a: 633, XLB2 Batteries attached, 6 x Lectro 411a receivers. Then, re-configure the bag to use the Sound Devices 788-CL8 with 4 Lectro SRB receivers. As with the AO-1X, the bag is made with strong durable fabric and is hand-stitched."
"The frame of the bag is a solid lightweight plastic, so the bag remains incredibly light compared to any other bag of its size, without losing structural strength. Unlike other bags that I've used in the past, these AO bags are balanced very well and will not tip over."
Finally The Price - $349 (about £260)
4. What are the new developments for the new Portabrace harness?
is a considerable change from the earlier model, heavy load harness. This new harness contours to the shoulders and remembers the shape of the back and shoulders, sitting comfortably regardless of whether weight is attached to the harness."
"The carabiners, located on the front belt section, allow the user to lower the heavy weight of the bag down onto the hips by adjusting the two straps located under the arms and on the chest. Being able to distribute the weight is especially important when working long shoot days and working with larger setups."
"I have been using this belt and harness system with a Portabrace AO-4 containing 8 x 411a receivers and the 788-CL8 combo, weighing over 30 lbs (13.6 Kg). The belt on this harness is thick-padded memory foam and secures tightly around the waist, providing much needed back support and stability."
5. What is portabrace looking to achieve over the next year?
"In the next year, Portabrace intend to develop their audio bags and cases even further, working closely with customers to improve the products in every way possible. Currently, we are working on a new audio accessories line of products that will provide carrying case and travel cases for more of your gear. That will be available on our website in the next few weeks. Also, the development of a rugged cart buggy, that would bridge the gap between cart and bag work is on the drawing board. So, watch this space. You heard it here first!"
6. How do I get a custom bag?
Are you a fan of Portabrace quality materials and manufacturing but just don't see the exact case that you need for your specific audio gear setup? Then you've come to the right place! Are those bag handles too short or too long? Is that front pocket just not big enough? Do you want a different configuration for your modular sides? Or, just where do you intend to keep that BDS system? Portabrace understands that no mixer setup is the same. So we would like to help you create your very own customized bag, tailored to your specific needs and requirements. Whether you need a little "tweaking" to one of our existing designs or a completely new design, we'll work with you every step of the way to create your personalized, customized audio bag.
Here's how it works:
Step 1) Email us at email@example.com and let us know that you are interested in creating a custom audio bag. In your email please include the following information:
-Contact information (email, phone, google chat, or skype)
-Rough idea of what you're looking for. Not sure what you're looking for? No problem!
-Your prefered method of contact and the best time to contact you.
Please note: if you have any drawings or plans, hang on to them until after step 2
Step 2) Our audio specialist / design consultant will contact you directly to ask some questions and help determine the best (and most cost-effective) solution for your custom case. Typically, our custom solutions start with one of our existing case models (examples pictured above), which we will modify based on your requirements. Pricing for custom cases is determined by the amount of changes / customizations, case order quantity, difficulty of design and sewing changes, and type and quantity of materials used.
Step 3) You'll receive a design and quote for your approval. Once you approve it, our design and production team will get started making your custom case. Just like all Porta-Brace cases, your custom audio case will be designed, cut, sewn and inspected right here in Vermont, USA.
Don't dream of the perfect audio case, make it a reality by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org today! You'll likely be surprised how cost-effective a custom case and can be, and it doesn't cost anything to email us and find out.
So there you have it, here is my 2 cents / pence (other currency of your choosing)
These are just the newest products, see the whole range of Portabrace bags. I feel Portabrace are taking a very proactive route forward to building better bags. I look forward to more products and those accessories for the future.
Hope you enjoyed this interview and please leave a comment below on your thoughts and what you think to the bags, have you tried them?