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Future of Timecode system

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Gentlemen,

As you all know, i am putting together ( feels like a neverending story ) my feature package. There has been a lot of discussion regarding new Timecode system using wireless technologies, WIFI network, IOS support etc... We have done good with using simple, yet effective, timecode generators in the past ( Ambient, Denecke, Horita etc... ) but there seem to be new avenue coming and would like to start a topic on this. I believe we can split the systems in different categories:

1- OLD SCHOOL. System using simple TImecode Generator and TImecode Slate. All sync via a master source, manually, usually every 6 hours. MFG Denecke, Ambient, Horita etc..

2- Wireless system. Same as 1 but using a wireless system to Jamsync the different units in the field automatically. MFG Ambient

3- Network system. Same as 1 and 2 but replaces usually the Hardware Slate with an Ipad unit. Share and Jamsync timecodes via WIFI instead of wireless system. Permits Advance features, like sound report creation and giving acces to timecode info to all owner of IOS devices. MFG TImecode buddy, Movie Slate etc...

4- Zaxcom ERX system. Same as 1 and 2 plus the ability of sending audio ( with a certain latency ) to the camera.

What are your toughts on this. As always, there are people who already have system, people that are looking at replacing their current system, people who would like to augment their current system and new people with an eye on purchasing a new system.

Please give your pros and cons to these and also tell which type of "people" you are.

Thank you

Pascal

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I own a Denecke TS-3 and 5 Zaxcom ERX receivers. The receivers are great if needing to be strapped to the camera and they double as additional IFB receivers if not needed for timecode.

I'm not a fan of the iPad route in its current form because they are not rugged enough for field work and the battery life isn't sufficient, and can't be readily changed as needed. Although, I think there is strong potential for a WiFi based system using somewhat common tools (smart phones, iPad, specialty boxes, etc).

Of course, in all scenarios the originating timecode must come from a rock solid clock. How the timecode is relayed to the receiving end will grow and change as production needs evolve.

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Wifi is not a good solution for transmitting frame accurate timecode. There is a lot of lag from the time timecode is generated, to the time the data packets are transmitted over the air, to the time the packets are received and decoded.

Anything transmitting timecode needs to be realtime to be useful

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Being old school myself, I go with the tried and true, option #1. If it ain't broke, why try to fix it ? The fewer calls from post , the better. RF is always at the mercy of the elements, and time code is the last thing we want to be monitoring, when we are trying to wrangle all the RF audio feeds we deal with already.

Jim Rillie

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Last week I was doing 3 ex3 interview on sticks.

3 talents 3 wireless laved.

Cameras were daisy chain synched and was feeding my bag wirelessly from the last camera on the chain.

Sudenly the director decides to do a walking conversation.

DPs are rolling Eyes and I am ready to go,

Wireless ERX1TCD is the way to go....

Being old school myself, I go with the tried and true, option #1. If it ain't broke, why try to fix it ? The fewer calls from post , the better. RF is always at the mercy of the elements, and time code is the last thing we want to be monitoring, when we are trying to wrangle all the RF audio feeds we deal with already.

Jim Rillie

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Wireless time code is, of course, nothing new. Comteks have performed this function with a large degree of success going way back.

I don't see the new stuff as changing the paradigm, it just adds more tools to our kit. It's still important to use the right tool for any given job.

Whatever we do, I'm a big believer that Method #1 is the basic and most reliable (next to the even older school actual clapping of the sticks), but am quite willing to use new tools when appropriate.

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I have been using wireless TC on g3 for some time and it works fine. The advantage of the erx1tcd is that it is not dependent on a clean and constant wireless signal to hold accurate sync.

Sent from my HD7 T9292 using Board Express

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I have seen iPads popping up recently running slate apps. From what I understand, the crystal in these isn't frame accurate over time. If you weren't trying to sync two of them, or your takes were of short duration, they would be ok, I guess.

I don't want to sound judgmental, but I am a professional who shows up with professional gear. So I will stick with my Denecke/Comteks/Betso gear.

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the future of timecode is no timecode. with tools like pluraleyez, why bother running it?

I don't know that I believe that... Pluraleyez requires that an audio feed is sent to the camera. One thing that I don't like doing, for the simple fact that the camera audio is not 100% under my control 100% of the time. I have had issues in the past with levels getting changed, snake cables coming unhooked (blame the AC who touched it), and the design of camera audio by camera companies that spend 99% of their R&D on the image..... And the other 1% on the marketing. How much is left to design a stable audio sampling crystal, eh RED?

Yea... Timecode is about all that I would send to the camera, thanks. There is a reason that the editor has an assistant. Syncing the dailies is one of that assistant's jobs, in addition to fetching coffee.

I use my iPad as a sound report generator with MovieSlate and everyone loves it... But I agree with Steve - The professionals expect to see an indestructible (almost) Denecke TC slate. So that is what needs to be brought. Especially when you have an AC who bludgeons the sticks together, and leaves the slate sitting around EVERYWHERE the instant he doesn't need it. The iPad doesn't have the durability, and has FAR too many other functions to trust that it won't grow legs when not being guarded every second.

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Doesn't matter if you like doing it or not, I can't remember the last shoot I was on where I didn't feed camera audio. (Even on the 5ds)

It's something you usually have to do anyway.

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I have seen iPads popping up recently running slate apps. From what I understand, the crystal in these isn't frame accurate over time. If you weren't trying to sync two of them, or your takes were of short duration, they would be ok, I guess.

I don't want to sound judgmental, but I am a professional who shows up with professional gear. So I will stick with my Denecke/Comteks/Betso gear.

You are right. There is no crystal in the iPad.

However you can plug your iPhone into the timecode from your recorder and use the Bluetooth to send timecode to the iPad. Wireless slate.

Is it practical in the field? Probably not. You'd have to have power to your iPhone in your bag or cart. And would an iPad go twelve hours before needing to be charged?

And yes it's hard to trust AC's with it. But on Movie Slates website you can get a nice protective case with sticks for it. But! It costs 500 bucks. So...700 for the iPad(64 gig wifi) and 500 for the case, that's 1200. I could get a TS3 for that or an used older version for less.

Anyways, just some things to think about. I love Movie Slate, it's worth it for the Sound Report alone.

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Just a quick note on pluraleyes. It is fine for shoots in which you only record the same that is being sent to the camera ( you record a two track version or the mono feed sent to the camera ).

BUT

When you record isos tracks that are pre fader, then IT DOESNT WORK. Why, well pluraleyes will compare the mono audio of the camera ( a mono version of what you are sending to the camera ) to the polyphonic file your recorder created with not only the mix ( what you sent to the camera ) but also all the isos track INCLUDING mics that were closed. So the audio will be different and pluraleyes will have serious issues comparing it. Efficiency goes from very high to almost none very quickly. I had a project that ended with a nightmare in post, having to resynch audio watching lips. Producer did not want. Denecke on the camera and no slate were allowed. They trusted pluraleyes without testing it. There fault but a very good lesson for all of us.

So beware, all isos recorded shoots should never really on pluraleyes for resync. I have ask pluraleyes in the past to enable a feature that would permit the software to only look at the first two track of a polyfile but no success so far.

Pascsl

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Could you record the mix track you sent to camera - split it out using Wave Agent - use that in Pluraleyes and use timecode to sync. up the rest of the iso's? Slightly cumbersome......

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Time code is not going away.

In fact it most likely will find its way into less expensive gear as we go forward.

I like to think that our Zaxnet ERX100TCD solution is the most cost effective and most fool proof way to go.

As nothing ever needs to be jamed, nothing can ever drift, and each receiver outputs high quality IFB scratch track at the same time. Running time is 14 hours on 2 AA alkaline batteries.

Since each ERX100TCD has its own time code generator the code output is always error free and time code range is up to1000ft as code only needs to be received for a fraction of a second to accurately jam and output perfect code. Individual time code offset is also available since different cameras do not always sync in an identical fashion. The ERX100TCD is also the smallest and lightest timecode/audio receiver you can put on a camera.

If you have a Nomad 6,8, or 12 you get the Zaxnet transmitter as part of the Nomad. Zaxnet combines the time code and the IFB onto a single signal simplifing the entire setup.

If the ERX100TCD is not used for time code distribution they make great IFB receivers for the crew.

Glenn

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I don't want to get too far off topic, but let's talk about the notion that folks might forego slating for Pluraleyes. Pluraleyes is a great tool, but like all the tools in my toolbox, it doesn't work for everything. If you're doing a :30 spot with :29 of copy, a pro actor will give you basically the same read take after take. Pluraleyes gets confused with this and won't work well (if at all.)

When it comes to slating, there are lots of non-sync advantges. Number one is that when the crew and talent hears "slate in" they know it is "go" time. It starts a rhythm on set. Number two is that many digital DPs shoot the slate as their first frame on a shot. That way, the slate appears on their thumbnail pic for that clip in their edit. One little procedure that makes the edit more efficient.

I realize slates aren't appropriate everywhere, like in reality and some docs, but the procedure is more valuable than some give it credit for.

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And if the timecode's future will be ... GPS time.

GPS time is very accurate, chose your frame rate, go outdoor with your gear and get the GPS free run time !

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the future of timecode is no timecode. with tools like pluraleyez, why bother running it?

um.... there are many reasons, every job is different, you can't commit an entire project....an entire workflow for all jobs to pluraleyes. Even a denecke slate has redundancy. You can sync to TC, you can sync to sticks. There is a backup built in.

Doesn't matter if you like doing it or not, I can't remember the last shoot I was on where I didn't feed camera audio. (Even on the 5ds)

It's something you usually have to do anyway.

even on the 5Ds? these are like the only jobs where people are all bragging about plural eyes telling me my slate is useless! What about a film shoot? what about a multitrack job where wireless hops are needed but not in the budget? what about new versions of cameras like the Alexa or RED when it came out.... that don't even record audio? You can't say that all footage from this day foreword needs to have the mix on it just for pluraleyes!

Even with the GPS thing.... there still needs to be something physically in the shot to sync to - thats the only way that sync is guaranteed.

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Couple of things to keep in mind with the ERX system. I'm not talking about what's on paper but personal test.

1- WIFI is crowded real estate. Make sure to check regularly that all is fine. I have made a lot of check in Montreal, and it is crowded like mad.

2- I did a check on the ERX running Timecode. When you first jam it via WIFI it is fine. But if you shutdown the WIFI ( like an interference ). After 10 hours, it was 4-7 frame off. I repeated the process 4 times to make sure. Check for all setting to be fine.

3- 10ms of latency in the audio feed!!! If they need to resync via pluraleyes or issues with the multitrack and wanna use the ERX feed then....

It's a very tempting system but I found that it as its limit. Where Denecke and Comtek are more reliable and deal with all the issues.

I believe that the ERX as its place in the situation that is cart based in a controlled area where you have time to do frequent WIFI scan, write sound reports explaining the latency for dailies. It is a great system, don't get me wrong but for bag use, I would be a bit more cautious.

Again Montreal is crazy WIFI world.

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And indoors???

snapback.pngVM, on 12 February 2012 - 04:44 PM, said:

And if the timecode's future will be ... GPS time.

GPS time is very accurate, chose your frame rate, go outdoor with your gear and get the GPS free run time !

Indoors ? Keep it accurate with an Ambient/Denecke or Aaton box ! Just go outside for a free run jam.

That's funny : I wrote this, then I put my Ambient ACL203 in my pack for tomorrow's job !

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