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Syncing Timecode with ARRIs and a 552


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I've looked and read through many different forums and websites trying to get a straight answer, but I'm not 100% clear on what I need.

Here is the situation:

I have a multicam interview shoot with one ARRI Alexa and one ARRI Amira. They want timecode to be synced between cameras and the sound recorder without being tethered. I am recording on a Sound Devices 552 mixer which doesn't generate timecode. What I need is a straight forward explanation of what I need to rent to make this happen and how to set it up. Does anyone have any input?

As a side note, I do NOT want to record timecode through XLR, I want to use the TA3F Connector so it timestamps the audio file. 

I've never had to sync timecode before, so talk to me as if I'm a complete moron in the matter.

PLEASE any thoughts and references would be much appreciated.

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You need 3 External timecode boxes, either Ambient, Deneke or one of the new guys on the block.


You'll have to use one of the cameras to jam all of the boxes, but once that is done, use one box on each camera and the third on the 552.  If you are in LA, rent them from one of the usual suspects, Location Sound, Trew LA or Audio Department.


Make sure to have the rental staff show you how to setup the boxes themselves.   Hopefully you will be working with a knowledgeable camera department who know their way around the timecode section of the camera.

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Since you are going to have to rent the equipment anyway, go to one of the local sound rental houses and explain what you want to do. They should be able to rent you a time code generator and also the right cables you need to attach everything together. Do not leave the store until you understand what they are telling you.


One way to go is set Time Code Free run to one of the cameras, it is the starting master. Jam the time code to the generator and then jam to the second camera. Take the generator and plug it into your 552 and leave it hooked up and running the the rest of the day. If you need to re-jam the cameras, just re-jam from the generator.



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Hi Stix


  I agree with Scott.  


Thing is, both the Alexa and Amira are fitted with Ambient clocks.  I would rent in an Ambient Tiny lockit or ACN-204 box.  Use the lockit box as your master clock and sync the two cameras to that box (double, tripple check with a camera rental company that you know how to do this in the menus)  and then use the lockit as master clock on your 552.  A re-jam after 6 hours would be safe.


  Unless the cameras are going to change their frame rates all the time, you should be fine with 1 lockit box. Save some bucks.  Note that when the camera frame rates are switched, you would have to re-jam every time when they go back to 23.976 or 24 or 25 or...whatever rate the production is being broadcast at.


Cables.  the newer Ambient boxes all have 5pin Lemo's on their end (output).  For the Alexa you'll need a 5pin Lemo to 5pin Lemo, for the Amira you'll need a 5 pin Lemo to BNC and for your 552 you'll need a 5pin Lemo to TA-3 connector.  Be sure to test all these cables propperly and that the direction of signal flow is correct.


Enjoy :)

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If you go with the rentals, I'd suggest taking your 552 down to the shop and making sure you understand how to hook a TC box to it, and to cameras, and how to set and jam the TC between them.  There is a lot of misinformation and incorrect assumptions out there about how to do multicam sync, and a lot of that misinformation is found in camera depts.  Figure out how you'll do this with your rental tech, then "plan your dive, dive your plan" : don't be swayed by doubters on set.  Looking like you know what you are doing helps a lot with this, so REHEARSE your moves.

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Absolutely, keep one timecode box on all three devices. Set them up once, and forget about them.

Despite its Ambient timecode circuit the Alexa is prone to lose its timecode, too, after battery and framerate changes (easier if the camera has a double battery setup) You would need to keep an eye out for all framerate and battery changes. Don't do that, that's not your job. Let the camera people worry about the camera. Set up your three TC generators once, re-jam at lunch, and don't worry about it

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