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Timecode Playback


Den Nic
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Hey Guys,

Just a quick question, I have been reading about on set music playback in the forms, and I couldn't find how exactly to make a Timecode Audio Track in Pro Tools. What do you guys use to generate that audio? Third Party plug in? In Pro Tools method? Standard audio files that you use over and over?

(I have PT9 on a iMac.)

Thanks guys

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Take timecode out of a recorder and physically record it as an audio track on your recorder. If you do it while playing the song into the recorder, you can stripe your file at the same time.

I use a Deva, and send audio from my computer to tracks 1 and 2 to create a left and right stereo mix, I then sum both inputs to track three for a mono source, and then input the timecode into track 4.

Remember to set your Timecode to record run, and give yourself some pre-roll.

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I have a ProTools template with 10 minutes of ltc starting at 00:00:00:00 in all the timecode stamps. I mute the ones I don't want and add the music track to the template and off I go. I don't use it as much these days with HD being the new norm. I just send the music track to the Alexa.

CrewC

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Here is my method for creating Pro Tools Music Playback sessions (Thanks to Alex Lowe).

You can record the timecode track from any (professional) time code generator, a Denecke GR 1, or any recorder that can output accurate time code. First make sure your timecode frame rate is the correct rate you will be shooting your project.

I use my GR-1 and I've created 15 timecode base tracks. I give each song a different starting hour so it will have a unique timecode for both the picture and sound editors.

I decided to record them in Sound Studio as wave files so I could import them into any playback platform. I start the 'clock' 30 seconds before the hour. Let's say I want the first playback number to be Hour 1, so the recording would start at 00:59:30:00. I record about 8 minutes so I will have plenty of code.

In ProTools open a New session and import the timecode wave file. You can then drag and drop or import the music file and Spot the start of music to the Hour mark. You could also get Pro Tools to create a click track as well.

On the shooting day, I record my Music track (iso) on Track 7 and the Playback Timecode (iso) on Track 8. The Post transfer house, or assistant editors can use the Playback Timecode track as a "burn-in" reference window in their assembled sound and picture files (Avid or FCP). I usually suggest they place it in the upper right hand corner and it serves as an exact marker of where each take (and eventual cut) is in the song being played back.

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Many good comments above. This was also previously discussed in these two threads:

The other issue is whether the client needs to see playback timecode on the slate, or if you're going to do dialog AND have music playback. If it's just the former, it's easy: get a Comtek transmitter, feed it playback timecode padded down, and get a special cable for the Comtek receiver and feed the output to a timecode slate. (Unless you use a more sophisticated IFB receiver like a Lectro or Zaxcom.) All of these methods can work.

It was a kick for me to do playback the first time, because I had been on the receiving end of music video playback for post hundreds and hundreds of times for many major artists (Fleetwood Mac, Garth Brooks, Rolling Stones, Van Halen, you name it). Don't forget the need for the downbeat pulses prior to the start of the song -- this is important just to prepare the artist, particularly when dance moves are involved. Courtney Goodin's BWF-Widget Pro is very helpful in this regard.

Note also you will probably need to furnish a finished timecode track to the editor, with the song in stereo and embedded timecode as part of the BWF file.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Take timecode out of a recorder and physically record it as an audio track on your recorder. If you do it while playing the song into the recorder, you can stripe your file at the same time.

I use a Deva, and send audio from my computer to tracks 1 and 2 to create a left and right stereo mix, I then sum both inputs to track three for a mono source, and then input the timecode into track 4.

Remember to set your Timecode to record run, and give yourself some pre-roll.

I just did playback on a music video for the first time, and this advice was particularly helpful in the day leading up to the shoot. Being able to hand them a BWF of the song with timecode metadata and an audio track with the timecode waveform (suitable for AuxTC or Avid timecode reading) worked famously.

The one thing I hadn't figured on was the repeated back and forth that the director wanted to go between MOS and playback, and then looping the playback because the "extras" needed umpteen takes to be able to lip sync.

So, good that I had properly prepped the song (i.e. striped timecode to a multitrack version of the song, tracked BPM, aligned measures to the start of the song, synced timecode on screen to timecode on slate, marked out regions on the song, created a thumper and a count-in track run through a mixer to the PA) only to have the timecode portion become relatively useless because they wanted me to cycle certain measures over and over and over.

Eh, live and learn. Was a great learning experience.

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I did this one recently. Lots of visual effects and motion control (that ran off my timecode) none of it is green screen.

Especially with the slow motion stuff, you need to make sure you have the BPM dialed in exactly 100%, or when you go to slow it down or speed it up, it's going to be off. This is a step a lot of people don't do that kills them later.

In ProTools, the calculated time expansion/compression tool is based off the BPM.

The setup was protools 10 with a digi003

audio came out of 1/2

timecode came out to 3/4

timecode out of 3 went to the motion control rig

timecode 4 went to the comteks (one / camera, and one on the slate.

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I did this one recently. Lots of visual effects and motion control (that ran off my timecode) none of it is green screen.

Especially with the slow motion stuff, you need to make sure you have the BPM dialed in exactly 100%, or when you go to slow it down or speed it up, it's going to be off. This is a step a lot of people don't do that kills them later.

In ProTools, the calculated time expansion/compression tool is based off the BPM.

The setup was protools 10 with a digi003

audio came out of 1/2

timecode came out to 3/4

timecode out of 3 went to the motion control rig

timecode 4 went to the comteks (one / camera, and one on the slate.

I've sent a lot of TC to various motion control and etc sorts of camera rigs, but never have done calcs based on BPM, just % of playback speed (of the original). Is this an advantage because the music people (on a music video) are more comfortable talking BPM changes or ? Most of our off speed playbacks were with Sound Studio or Audacity or (going back a few years) samplers.

phil p

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Phil, I don't really think it makes a difference. The reason I do it like this is so I make sure the track lead in and lead out don't effect either the new run time, or pitch, because they are not factored in.

but im pretty sure if you do the math it works out to the same, I just always felt safer making my changes as a product of BPM rather than runtime.

My experience is that the music people don't really care either way. I always ask the VFX sup to verify what the percentage of change is with the high or low frame rates and go with his number. That way the math is not my fault.

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there are a few shots of me with my playback cart in this (im not the most photogenic person in the world)

interesting story about this one

for that shot where they have the camera on the gator, I fought to have the playback speaker on with the camera. (it was wireless with a comtek) the actors were coming from a pretty far distance and got pretty close. I thought the delay from the two distances would be a problem with sync.

I ultimately lost that battle to the DP (Jeff Kimball)

I think I heard they had problems with those shots and had to cut them all up.

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there are a few shots of me with my playback cart in this (im not the most photogenic person in the world)

interesting story about this one

for that shot where they have the camera on the gator, I fought to have the playback speaker on with the camera. (it was wireless with a comtek) the actors were coming from a pretty far distance and got pretty close. I thought the delay from the two distances would be a problem with sync.

I ultimately lost that battle to the DP (Jeff Kimball)

I think I heard they had problems with those shots and had to cut them all up.

In my experience you were exactly right and an experienced music video director would have known that the distances involved would make his syncing more complex. It's amazing how fast sync falls out as you move away from the speaker.

phil p

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Especially with the slow motion stuff, you need to make sure you have the BPM dialed in exactly 100%, or when you go to slow it down or speed it up, it's going to be off. This is a step a lot of people don't do that kills them later.

This is very easy to do with on-set playback using Courtney Goodin's BWF-Widget Pro:

BWF-WidgetVarispeed.jpg

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$99 and a cheap crappy Windows Netbook, and you're in the playback business with BWF-Widget. More people should know about this program. The multiple cue points in particular are a life-saver.

It saved our asses on many occasions when we got mis-flagged or disorganized material during dailies sessions in post.

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I would LOVE to get way more into the playback game. I shoot quite a few music vids and usually I'm the playback tech as well. But it would be really nice to get into it in a higher capacity. Your suggestion is something I'll keep in mind next time it comes up.

Any suggestions for helping drummers stay in sync (aside from 10,000 watts and 10 giant speakers)? I've wondered if the buttkicker thing would be a helpful addition. Seems like it would but haven't tested.

Also, since everyone's sharing, here's a video I lensed a few months back and just found out it will be on the hunger games Blu-Ray and DVD extras. Song was recorded live while we shot on an Epic and 7D at Jim Henson studios:

http://music-mix.ew.com/2012/08/21/birdy-hunger-games-video-just-a-game/

$99 and a cheap crappy Windows Netbook, and you're in the playback business with BWF-Widget. More people should know about this program. The multiple cue points in particular are a life-saver.

It saved our asses on many occasions when we got mis-flagged or disorganized material during dailies sessions in post.

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  • 3 years later...

I'm looking for a local audio playback person in San Francisco with a protools setup and tc locks to multiple cameras Jan 8/9. 

You can see my pitch in the work available board here:  http://jwsoundgroup.net/index.php?/topic/26663-audio-playback-operator-in-san-fran/

Please let me know if you are interested or can recommend anyone!

Thanks.

John

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