OVERVIEW OF THE FOSTEX DV40 AND DV824
O V E RVIEW OF THE
FOSTEX DV40 AND
A GUIDE FOR THE PRODUCTION MIXER ON
BY MICHAEL PAUL
OVERVIEW OF THE FOSTEX DV40
A GUIDE FOR THE PRODUCTION MIXER ON DELIVERABLE MEDIA
The Fostex DV40, released in 2002, was originally intended to be used as both a stand-alone
Master Recorder to replace linear machines like DAT and reel to reel recorders in Post Production,
and as a playback device for the Fostex PD6, which was in development at the time.
As such, the disc types, file formats, and directory structures that the DV40 was designed to
recognize were initially limited to what the PD6 would eventually deliver. In the years since, Fostex
has refined the DV40’s firmware in order to accommodate different types of media and file formats
to the point that the DV40, in its current state, can now play back a variety of optical media that is
created by the numerous non-linear field recorders now in existence.
The Fostex DV824, released in 2004, includes all of the features of the DV40 and adds
support for higher track counts while taking up less space in the Telecine bay.
This guide is intended to give you, the Production Mixer, an insight into how these machines
are used in the transfer process as well as a guideline on what disc types and file formats you can
deliver to a facility using these machines. While the DV40 can also play SDII files (like those created
in a Pro Tools session), this guide will only be concerned with operations involving the BWF, or
Broadcast Wave File, as that is the most relevant to the discussion.
THE FOLLOWING SUBJECTS WILL BE COVERED:
1. What field recorders can deliver files that can be played in the DV40/DV824?
2. What types of Optical Media can the DV40/DV824 accept?
3. What disc formats can be used?
4. What Directory structures are supported?
5. How many tracks can the DV40/DV824 play back?
6. Poly or Mono Files?
7. What sample rates can I deliver?
8. Where will my recorded tracks appear on the DV40/DV824?
9. What is “List Play Mode” and how does it arrange my files for playback
10. Common questions from Telecine, and possible solutions
To date, both the Fostex DV40 and DV824 can now successfully play back and sync production
audio tracks recorded on the following field recorders:.
FOSTEX PD6 AND FR2
HHB PDR2000 PORTADRIVE
SOUND DEVICES 744T AND 702T
VOSGAMES BOOM RECORDER
ZAXCOM DEVA II, IV AND V
While most of the above recorders can directly create an optical disc from either an internal
or externally connected DVD drive, those machines that record to non-optical media (Compact
Flash, Hard Disc Drive only, etc.) must have their files transferred to an optical disc by either the
Production Mixer or by the Telecine Operator before the files can be played in the DV40/DV824.
As of the writing of this document, firmware for the Sound Devices 7Series of recorders that will allow direct creation of optical media has not
been released. However, early testing of the soon-to-be-released firmware
gives no indication that there will be any incompatibilities.
TYPES OF OPTICAL MEDIA
The DV40 and DV824 can accept the following types of Optical Media:
CD-RW (DV40 V1.76 AND ABOVE)
DVD-R (DV40 FIRMWARE V 1.76 AND ABOVE)
DVD-RW (DV40 FIRMWARE V1.80 / Panasonic SW9573-C drive)
DVD+R/RW (DV40 FIRMWARE V1.80 / Panasonic SW-9573-C drive)
The DV40 cannot accept the following media
Basically, Dual Layer (DL) discs are, as a whole, not compatible. Usage of RW types of
DVD media in the DV40 requires firmware V1.80 and the fitment of a Panasonic SW-9573C Multi-Drive. Blu-Ray and HD-DVD are included on the list in the interest of providing a
complete picture. While none of the currently shipping field recorders offer either of these
formats, the arrival of these types of media in the marketplace is imminent, and therefore
While the type of disc that you use is important, the format of the disc is even more so.
Recordable CD’s and DVD’s can be formatted in a variety of ways, and not all are compatible with
the DV40/DV824. Acceptable formats include UDF, ISO9660, FAT16, and FAT32.
The primary format that the DV40 and DV824 were designed to recognize is the UDF
(Universal Disc Format) Revision 1.5, commonly called “UDF 1.5”. There are a few different
versions of UDF, but only V1.5 should be used. Many so-called “blank” DVD-RAM discs from
manufacturers such as Panasonic and Maxell now ship their DVD-RAM discs pre-formatted at the
factory. Unfortunately, they tend to use the UDF V2.0 disc format instead of V1.5. This is done
because the majority of these discs will be used in consumer applications such as home DVD video
recorders, which use the V2.0 format instead of V1.5 .
All of the current non-linear field recorders that can create their own deliverable DVD media
have the ability to deliver a UDF formatted disc, but there have been instances where a preformatted UDF V2.0 DVD-RAM can “fool” a recorder into thinking that the disc is properly
formatted, and allowing you to record audio, so care must be taken when inserting a “blank” disc for
recording. While this phenomenon may have been rectified in new firmware versions of your field
recorder, the following rule of thumb should always be implemented:
ALWAYS FORMAT YOUR BLANK DVD-RAM MEDIA IN THE
RECORDER YOU ARE USING
Failure to do so may result in an unusable disc and the loss of a day’s work (at least, in the eyes
of the Telecine house).
In addition to DVD-RAM, other formats, like CD-R and DVD-R, can be formatted using the
UDF V1.5 standard, so those of you who must use a computer to create your deliverable disc, make
sure that your disc burning software supports UDF 1.5.
This format, one of the earlier CD-ROM formats, was designed to work with older DOS and
Windows based systems up to Win95. This format is still compatible with newer Mac and Windows
systems, and can be chosen as a format option for the DV40 and DV824. File names and directories
should not exceed the DOS 8.3 notation limit (eight characters and a three character extension).
Currently, the Aaton Cantar is capable of delivering a DVD-R formatted in ISO9660.
* A Note on Joliet and ISO9660 – “Joliet” is an extension of ISO9660 that
allows the use of long filenames (up to 64 characters). Many DVD burning
programs will offer a hybrid “ISO9660+Joliet” formatting option, and while
there have been successful tests using these discs in the DV40, it is recommended
to send in a test DVD to the Telecine dept before starting a show.
FAT16 is the DVD-RAM format used by the Zaxcom DevaII. While this format is compatible
with the DV40 and DV824, to ensure accurate sync playback of these discs in the DV40, firmware
V1.75 must be used in the DV40.
The DV40 and DV824, with relatively new firmware installed (V1.76 for DV40 and V1.32 for
DV824) can now play back DVD-RAM discs formatted with the FAT32 standard. However, while
the disc and the files will be recognized and played correctly, the DV40 and DV824 will not read the
file names correctly on discs formatted in FAT32. With a FAT32 disc, the DV40 and DV824 are
currently limited to the DOS8.3 file naming protocol, so any file names longer than 8 characters will
be truncated. This does not affect the Aaton Cantar FAT32 discs, as their file names always conform
to the DOS standard, but any other recorder’s files may have their names changed. For example, a
file name like: 002003006.WAV will be truncated to 0020030~15.WAV.
The files themselves should play correctly, but the correct names will not be readable to the
Telecine operator. At this time, until Fostex can rectify the issue, it is not recommended to turn in
FAT32 formatted DVD-RAM discs by anything but the Aaton Cantar-X.
Note: Installing DV40 firmware V1.80 will disable the DV40’s ability to play FAT16 formatted
DVD-RAM discs from the Zaxcom Deva II correctly. If this firmware and the optional updated
internal DVD Multi-drive are installed in a DV40 at the same time, it cannot be undone by the
Telecine facility, at least not quickly.
A Directory structure on a disc consists of any Folder or Sub-Folder that is used to both contain
your audio files, and to separate the audio files into easily recognizable folders with pertinent names
Like the UDF 1.5 format, all of the current field recorders that can create their own deliverable
DVD media will write files to the disc using the correct number of directory folders on the disc, so
this should not be of great concern. Those who wish to use a computer to create DVD’s should try
to keep the use of folders and sub-folders to a minimum. While the DV824 has the ability to navigate
through several layers to find your files, the DV40 firmware is not so accommodating. Since the
DV40 was designed to read down the PD6’s directory structure, it was limited to a 2-folder depth (2
Folders – one for BWF, and one for SDII files).
Although different firmware versions of the DV40 can accommodate more directory folders, it is
a good idea to keep the number of folders as small as possible. One folder containing your audio files
is preferable, and you can even discard folders entirely, and just put your audio files on the disc
without a directory folder. Even though the DV824 may be able to read many sub-folders, adhering
to this principle is recommended, as you may not know which machine your disc is being played in.
The Aaton Cantar-X has the ability to deliver a DVD-RAM disc containing multiple Directory
folders and Sub-Folders (one for mix files, and another for discrete elements). The DV40 has
firmware available that allows it to recognize this structure, but this only works with the Cantar
disc. If you intend to deliver this type of disc to Telecine, alert them in advance so they can load the
The DV40 (V1-77 and above) can play back anything up to and including an 8-track file. But,
since the DV40 only has outputs for 4 tracks, the remaining tracks will not be heard on the outputs
nor will they be reflected in the metering on the DV40’s front panel
DV40’s equipped with the optional Model 5050 modification will be able to output up to 6
tracks of audio (with metering), but check with your Telecine facility to see if their machine has been
The DV824 can play back and output up to 8 tracks of audio with metering of all tracks.
POLY OR MONO FILES
One of the most important things to remember about the DV40 and DV824 is that they do not
have the ability to play back more than one file at a time.
Because of this, if you want to have all of your tracks available for transfer, you should always
select Polyphonic as your file type on your field recorder. Many field recorders have the option of
recording in Mono file format, where every track armed results in an individual file, but when these
“file groups” are inserted into a DV40/DV824, you will not have the ability to play back all of the
tracks at the same time.
When the DV40/DV824 sees a group of files with the same timestamp, it will choose which of
the files to play back – and it always chooses the first file of that group in the order they were written
to the disc (typically – Track 1).
See the section on List Play for further information
While these machines can play back files recorded at a variety of sample rates, it is the 48 kHz
and it’s variants (48.048 kHz/ 47.952kHz) that we are concerned with for recording dialog.
To put it simply, if you are asked to deliver 48.000 kHz or 48.048 kHz files, then by all means,
feel free to do so. Both the DV40 and DV824 have the ability to pull up or down the audio by 0.1%
so as long as you have clearly indicated the sample rate used in the field, both machines will be able
to play it back correctly.
Some facilities will ask for 48.048 kHz file so that when they are pulled down in the DV40, the
resulting digital output will be 48K. This is due to the fact that the DV40 and DV824 do not have
sample rate converters on their digital outputs, so a 48K file pulled down 0.1% will result in a 47.952
kHz digital output – not compatible with digital equipment down the line.
Some facilities have opted to place external sample rate converters on their machines, so it may
vary from facility to facility whether you are asked for 48.048 kHz files.
There are other reasons for recording at 48.048 kHz that are not related to DV40 and DV824
operation, but the usage of this sample rate should not cause you concern.
There are some field recorders that include a special mode of recording 48.048 kHz files that are
destined for the DV40. These modes are typically referred to as “F” modes. Depending on the
version of firmware in the DV40, these modes are not always necessary. Nonetheless, using an “F”
mode designation will not impede your files through the Telecine chain, but check with your facility
to see if it is really needed , or if there are other applications down the post chain that need this
mode in order to function correctly
With Polyphonic files, since there is no standard for track count identification other than the
overall number of tracks present in the Polyphonic wrapper, both the DV40 and DV824 will
automatically assign tracks for playback starting at track one, and continuing on sequentially through
To put it more simply, when the DV40 and DV824 see a 4-track file, they have no way of
knowing what the original track number designation was when you recorded the file on your field
recorder (except for the PD6, whose recorded files will always play back on the correct track
For example, when recording on a DevaV, you have the ability to arm non-consecutive tracks to
record. Let’s say you arm tracks 1, 3, 5, and 7. If you have chosen Polyphonic for your disc mirror
file format, the resulting file will be a 4-track Polyphonic file, and when that file is inserted into the
DV40 or DV824, the tracks will play back on TR1~4, not on 1/3/5/7 like they originated on.
While this may change in a future firmware upgrade, for now it is best to keep in mind that your
track 4 may not necessarily show up on the DV40’s track 4, so write your sound reports accordingly
to reflect the resulting poly file, and not just the original track number assignment.
LIST PLAY MODE
In a Telecine operation, the DV40 and DV824 will usually be put into “List Play” mode.
Basically, this mode creates a timeline inside the machine, and your audio files are positioned in the
timeline based on their SMPTE timestamps. Once this has been done, the Telecine operator can
instantly access any file on the timeline by entering a timecode number on the edit controller, or by
feeding timecode to the DV40/DV824 and having it set to Chase. Unlike with linear formats such as
DAT or Analog, there is no fast-forward or Rewind time needed to reach a point in the timeline,
greatly speeding up the transfer process.
There are a number of filters that the DV40/DV824 operator can use to select which files are
played and which are ignored, and to select from different directory folders containing audio files,
but for the most part, the operator will use the default settings to create the play list. This default
setting will usually assemble the correct files, but there are instances where the operator must engage
different filters in order to get the desired result.
The two most important filters are the Link Mode and Track Count filters in the List Play
LINK MODE FILTER
The Link mode filter tells the DV40 how to assemble the files in the timeline. While there are
several options in this menu, the default setting of “LTC Link” is usually the correct one. With the
“LTC Link” method selected, the DV40 will create a 24hr timecode timeline starting a 12am and
ending 24hrs later at 12am again. Next, the DV40/DV824 will assign your files to the timeline based
on their timestamps, and the transfer process can begin.
The other pertinent selection in the Link Mode menu is called “Midnight Mode”. With this
mode selected, the DV40/DV824 creates a timeline as above, but moves the 24hr timeline to
reference from 12pm (noon) to 12pm. This mode should be engaged if one of your audio files was
started with a timestamp just before Midnight, and continuing through the midnight hour to finish
A common complaint from Telecine is, “We were playing a file and then it just stopped halfway
through” is usually indicative of a file that “rolled past midnight”. Asking the operator to reset the
List Play filter to Midnight Mode, will usually clear up the problem, and prevent any unflattering
phone calls to the Producers of the show.
TRACK COUNT FILTER
The Track Count Filter in the List Play menu gives the operator the ability to designate that
only certain files of a particular track count shall be played, and to ignore others. There are 4 filters in
the DV40 menu, with ALL being the default.
1. ONE – only Single track files will be played – all others will be ignored
2. TWO – only 2-track files will be played – all others will be ignored
3. FOUR – only 4 track files will be played – all others will be ignored
4. ALL – The DV40 will play all track counts
On page 11, four examples are provided to show how the DV40 will filter your files based
on the Track Count filter engaged. In all of the examples, the same number of files are
arranged in the timeline with the filter setting shown on the left. Files highlighted in red are
the ones that will play when the shown filter is engaged.
Remember, when the DV40 and DV824 see two files with the same timestamp, they will always
choose the first file of the two in the order they were written to the disc.
* WARNING * if the DV40 or DV824 see two files with overlapping
timecode numbers, they will play the first of the two files, but not the second,
or overlapping file – there is no filter that will rectify this
The DV824 Track Count filter is somewhat more simplified. On the DV824, you simply select
the maximum track count that you want to play back. Any file bigger than the chosen filter number
(1trk, 2trk, 4trk, 6trk, and 8trk) will be ignored. The default setting is 8-track.
C O M M O N I S S U E S AN D S O L U T I O N S
Q: “Your files do not line up correctly in the timeline”
A: If the Telecine operator has set the DV40 or DV824 to the wrong SMPTE framerate, then
the timestamps may be incorrectly calculated in the machine. This is usually the case if the operator
has set the machine to 30fps instead of 29.97fps (or vice versa). Changing to the correct framerate
will usually solve the issue
Q: “Your files are in the right place, but do not hold sync with picture”
A: This is usually indicative of an incorrect pull-up/pull-down setting on the DV40/DV824
Q: “Your timecode does not hold sync with the Video reference”
A: The operator must remember to select “V-Sync Play: ON” in the RS-422 menu
Q: “You have missing files”
A: The operator has probably set the Track Count filter incorrectly
Q: “The audio just stops at 23:59:59:29”
A: Midnight Mode !!
Q: “We’re hearing pops and clicks in the audio.”
A: This is usually a sample rate incompatibility. Check to ensure that the digital output rate is
correct for the machine that audio is being fed into.