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acdave

Microframe Time Code Sync Master/Mini

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acdave   

Did a search here on jwsound and couldn't come up with anything.

I'm looking for an pocket-sized, inexpensive way to display timecode to cameras like GoPros and the like. Also, an inexpensive way of having an AC powered TC display for a multi-cam setup, so I don't have to leave my TC slates with the sticks up all day. Maybe even to hang onto my bag in start/stop docco timecode situations.

I ran across these. https://www.microframecorp.com/products/timers-clocks-counters/smpte-video-time-code-generator

For $200, they seem like potential solutions. No clappers or other audible sync capabilities, just displays. I'm sure I could attach a set of small clapper sticks or even a clothespin, if needed. Either the Master or the Mini.

Anyone have any practical field experience with either of these units? Or, any initial feedback? The reviews I've found online seem positive.

Thanks!

Dave Wendlinger

 

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Good find, Dave.  I wish I'd had a handful of these for DSLR drivers etc on some concert shoots in the last few years.  If you get one would love to hear of a long term sync test vs. a recorder or a known-good Ambient or Denecke box.

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I have the smaller one, and it's very handy.  I presume the accuracy is acceptable, the specs indicate it is, but  I haven't done a long term test. The display brightness is adjustable, and bright enough for adequate outdoor exposure. The smaller unit lacks the first digit of the hours column, which is represented by a single LED. I don't understand why they did this, as an LED "1" would have been just as easy.  (see the photo in the OP link) There is no power switch. The unit is powered off by inverting the 9V battery. I like the pocket size, yet large enough display to be an usable TC slate. Obviously designed by people not intimately familiar with the sound/camera department. A pocket-able generator/slate for an extra camera, DSLR, extra TC generator, or display unit for the script supervisor.  

 

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You could switch to the new Ambient slates... Their timecode display easily separates from the slate body with a nice handle to suit the work you describe. No AC but will run for a couple days straight on AAs

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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7 hours ago, pverrando said:

I have the smaller one, and it's very handy.  I presume the accuracy is acceptable, the specs indicate it is, but  I haven't done a long term test. The display brightness is adjustable, and bright enough for adequate outdoor exposure. The smaller unit lacks the first digit of the hours column, which is represented by a single LED. I don't understand why they did this, as an LED "1" would have been just as easy.  (see the photo in the OP link) There is no power switch. The unit is powered off by inverting the 9V battery. I like the pocket size, yet large enough display to be an usable TC slate. Obviously designed by people not intimately familiar with the sound/camera department. A pocket-able generator/slate for an extra camera, DSLR, extra TC generator, or display unit for the script supervisor.  

 

The small one has new firmware that lets you combine the frames field and have two digit hours and minutes on the top, seconds and frames on the bottom. 

Quote

Hours Shift (D8009 onlly)  for shoots where you need two digits of hours, combine "even" and "odd" frame indicators and show a full 2 digits of hours.

Not sure if you can field update firmware, but the new ones will have this feature

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The syncbac is cool but you'd need one per GoPro, and who would buy these...?    I'm still not down with the wireless TC concept when we already have ways to have TC sync held by devices with full autonomy for over 8 hrs no matter what the environment or distance between devices is.

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The Syncbac unit looks to be well engineered but I'm with Philip on the issue of wireless distribution of timecode. The Syncbac mates with the GoPro's HeroBus 30 pin port so that port must support timecode input --- why not just put a low cost Tentacle Sync unit on each GoPro. I'm pretty sure the Tentacle Sync Ts1 cost less than the Syncbac and has already proven itself to be very accurate, runs for over 18 hours on a single charge, etc.

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The Tentacle thing is more versatile but I will say that Syncbac did a good job engineering how the TC would get into the GoPro (that edge connector).  Tentacle could consider making some sort of adaptor back for the GoPro that used their TC box, but I also think it might be more complex than a simple connection? 

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It appears that there are lots of posts on the various GoPro user sites that talk about uses of this 30-pin connector (including sources to purchase the connector to make custom cables, etc. Here is the pin-out for the 30-pin:

PIN    Function
1    GND    
2    PB/Cb Video Out    
3    G,Y Video Out    
4    B, Pr/Cr Video Out    
5    USB Power    
6    USB Power    
7    USB Data +    
8    USB Data -    
9    GND    
10    R Audio Out    
11    L Audio Out    
12    Power/Mode Button    
13    Playback    
14    R Audio In    
15    L Audio In    
16    IR in
17    Trigger
18    GND 
19    ID1
20    ID2
21    ID3
22    ID4
23    Power Out Standby
24    Power Out
25    Battery In
26    Battery In
27    GND
28    I2C Data
29    I2C Clock
30    GND

So, it looks like some use of pins 27, 28, 29 and 30 would be for timecode (referred to here only as "clock".

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I2C is a 2 wire serial bus, the clock is an oscillating sync pulse that dictates the timing of the data bytes. It is basically a metronome. Now, it is possible that TCS has figured out/had access to gopro's serial commands to send a timecode feed over i2c

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I've got a better solution: don't use a GoPro camera. I think you're much better off using something like a Blackmagic Pocket camera, which will support ProRes, manual video gain, and interchangeable lenses. The GoPro is a toy camera that makes bad pictures. Every time we have to deal with one in post, everybody slaps their foreheads and grumbles. 

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Bash   

But to be pragmatic, Marc... GoPro have sold some millions of cameras, and if TCS tap into just a tiny percentage of those users, then they will have a number of thousands of sales!!!!! I would, if I could..... ;-)
  sb

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Here's the Microframe D8009 (the smaller one), in the mode where it displays all the digits of TC  (ie not skipping the 10s of hours).  This pic doesn't show the plastic boot that comes with it--looks like the boot on a Fluke etc multimeter, but makes it a pain to get to the battery, which is the only way to turn the thing on and off.  W/o the boot I would put this thing in the "drop once" category.  It takes some button pushes etc to get working, I'll need the manual around.  I have not done my 8 hr sync test yet.   But it seems useful, very small and very light.  I agree--maybe not full-sun readable, but haven't tried yet.

tc display.jpg

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I finally got around to doing an 8 hr sync test w/ the Microframe D8009.  Slate+reader time is the elapsed time of the test.  Cable going to Microframe reader is for a power adapter (not TC), Microframe running on its internal clock.  Nice stable temperature in the shop, so not a real-world test by any means, but looking good so far.

microframe.jpg

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PaulM   

I have used both the Sync Master D8010 and D8009 on several shoots and have found it to be quite reliable for syncing cameras with TC-IN while synchronizing DSLR's and Go-Pros at the same time. Sometimes we don't even slate with time-code...just simple sticks with a whiteboard and marker (on one camera) but then the DSLR's and Go-Pros get their own visual time-code from a D8009 or sharing a D8009 between multiple cameras if they are close by each other (and the slate is too far away). It's also been adopted by some local universities in town and they are using it in their programs teaching multi-camera ops with time-code to students. Personally, it has never failed me. On one occasion we hooked it up to a Sony F3 and a Tascam HD-P2 audio recorder and shot for 9 hours without changing batteries (brand-new when we started). We forgot about the Sync Master running on the back of the F3. The little tracer lights are really helpful to tell you when the battery is getting low. After 9 hours we still had 3 lights showing about maybe 50% power on the 8009 connected to the Sony F3. We kept checking time-code more often on the Tascam HD-P2 and I think the battery got pulled out a couple times to conserve power. We also kept a D8010 off to the side running all day on AC power to keep master time code (in case any of the units lost a battery). We synced up the Tascam's D8009 a couple times with the AC-powered D8010 and it was always in Sync with the Sony F3's D8009. At the end of the day, we pulled the D8009 off the F3 and the Tascam and put them next do the D8010 connected to AC power. Then we turned all 3 on and took a picture...NOT A SINGLE FRAME DRIFT in 9 hours. For such an inexpensive time-code product, the accuracy is at least the minimum of the 8 hour spec.

As for durability, we have dropped our units several times without wearing the yellow-boot. Thought for sure we broke them but barely even a mark on the case and they keep working with great accuracy. However, if you drop it hard on the ground to get time-code while shooting a bike race, marathon or sports activity, it is possible to jostle the battery and lose time-code. If you have a chase-car following with a D8010 plugged into the car (by AC power inverter) you can keep all camera operators synchronized to accurate time-code all day long no matter how many times batteries are switched out. Again...this has got to be one of the most versatile time-code units to enter the market yet. Well worth the price in my opinion.

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PaulM   

Found some photos of D8009 connected to Sony F3 and Tascam HD-P2. Picture taken with an iPhone so both odd and even digits show up which can be misleading at first. Normally you would want to use a faster shutter DSLR to show the time code is accurate. Hope this helps.

IMG_0647.JPG

IMG_0638.JPG

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VAS   
4 hours ago, mikewest said:

I though things were getting smaller not larger

Gee!

mike

Ha! Good point

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Matt   
That works fine but I'm trying to avoid transmitted TC--I'd rather have an accurate  jammable device than an RX any day.


Just get a Tentacle Sync, velcro it to your phone, feed timecode into the 1/8", set free Denecke app to read it. Only issue might be the battery on the iPhone or used iPod Touch.

Or just download the Bloop Box app if TC is not essential. Sync with the bloop and flash frame.

For about $75 more you get a syncbox and a small porta-slate. For a dedicated device, though, and the price, pretty cool.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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Just get a Tentacle Sync, velcro it to your phone, feed timecode into the 1/8", set free Denecke app to read it.

Or just get the free Tentacle app.
I'm curious though, is there some latency in the iphone display?

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