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Shooting double system doco on Canon 5D


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Hi all,

 

I have been asked to do sound on a 5D shoot.

- Mk2 or Mk3 (TBD).

- Sometimes a pair of 5Ds.

- It is documentary.

- We will shoot in Armenia.

 

- No post house on board yet.

- Editor not yet confirmed.

- Likely to stay like that until we return from Armenia.

- First production meeting Saturday.

 

I have some obvious concerns about sync.

- I have only one Lockit.

- My pair of Tentacle Sync boxes might not arrive by then.

 

So plan is: ERX on each 5D;

- 5D Left track - scratch mix (for PluralEyes)

- 5D Right track - TC (for AuxTC Reader)

 

For the interviews this seems fine (they will be boarded)

For the event coverage (marches, concert etc) where cams will cut & roll at will, I plan to roll a continuous take on Nomad, as much as possible.

 

I’ve downloaded trial versions of both programs to test the workflow, when I get my hands on a camera.

 

Questions:

 

- Could long audio and/or video takes cause problems with this sync set up?

 

- What is the appropriate way to pad down the TC for 5Ds mic level input?

 

- Any suggestions for improvements to this (provisional) system?

 

- Anyone done this before care to share their findings?

 

Many Thanks,

B

 
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...

 

Questions:

 

- Could long audio and/or video takes cause problems with this sync set up?

 

- What is the appropriate way to pad down the TC for 5Ds mic level input?

 

- Any suggestions for improvements to this (provisional) system?

 

- Anyone done this before care to share their findings?

 

...

  

- Yes, possibly.

 

- Why not just use the TC OUTPUT LEVEL adjustment on the ERX?  It goes in steps from .001V. to 3V.

 

- Testing everything in advance is the definitely the wise choice.

 

- There are more questions than answers since it sounds like production may not know what they're doing sync-wise.  The unknowns are often the toughest part of this gig.  It sounds like you have your bases mostly covered.  You may also consider using a time code slate when possible for the (mostly) fool-proof sticks, as well as a time code reference to your recording, but Plural Eyes for post syncing may be their easiest way out if post has no clue about time code.

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Check the plural eyes workflow first - I recently did 3 weeks doco shoot, syncing with plural eyes was slow and problematic - the main factor mostly being the editors unfamiliarity with the software, but different amounts of ISO's also seemed to cause him some issues.

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Thanks guys!

 

I'm certainly looking forward to testing out the Plural Eyes and AuxTC workflows, especially with long takes.

And hopefully being impressed.

I'll report my findings.

 

Good to hear ERX TC level steps will be flexible enough for what I need. 

 

Unfortunately budget is now going to allow for a TC slate.

I will get a dumb slate in at every opportunity.

 

2moro I'll research TC Slate apps, and their accuracy.

In the meantime if anyone knows a TC app that works well, I'll start there.

 

Cheers

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If you can get a clean(ish) scratch track to each camera, Pluraleyes will work. It also works well with just the built in camera mic unless the cameras can't get close enough to hear the source. I would skip trying to get TC onto an audio track unless Post can confirm that workflow.

I use a G2 to send a mono scratch for 5d projects...works perfectly and editors are happy.

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I think !-----A time code slate would be best with a scratch track.Forget putting time code on camera, not a good idea.Also,you should own a tc slate before you own a sync box.

 

                                                                                        J.D.

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I would recommend a timecode display (or a TC slate if you see a use for it down the track) - if you set TC on the 5D - then shoot the TC display every 3-4 hrs. Post will then be able to calculate the offset between the camera and your recorder. This shouldn't drift too much and if you do it 3-4 times a day you should be sweet.

Last 5D doco I did post preferred this system - tho they did get on board with Plural Eyes and loved that too.

Travel light if you can.

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One beauty of DSLR filmmaking is that those cameras, although they have terrible inaccurate clocks, can't roll for long enough to get very far out of sync (30 min).  I think what the OP proposes is fine, if post is on board with it.  If post isn't hired yet, then you and the filmmakers decide and post deals with it!  One thing that hasn't been mentioned is the need for very clear notes from you, hopefully entered into the audio file metadata, about what is being shot.  Names, locations anything to help the posties identify what's going on.  Audio filenames that make some sense (like being the name of the interviewee or the name of the event), and then organizing your notes into a clear sound report for each day's worth of files.  There are several options for sound SYNCING anymore, but supplying post with as much info as you can will really help them in understanding and shaping the footage into a movie.  Especially since post isn't on board yet, I think it would be a very good idea to have your reports and logs be in file form--uploadable, emailable and storable on the media with the audio files themselves. 

 

philp

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I would skip trying to get TC onto an audio track unless Post can confirm that workflow.

Thanks.

Any reason (i.e. bleed) why I wouldn't send TC out the other pin of the ERX if it's already attached to cam?

 

I think !-----A time code slate would be best with a scratch track.

No option for TC slate. 

Also, it is doco. So any kind of slate is gonna be a Plan-B whether I like it or not.

Forget putting time code on camera, not a good idea.

I'd be interested to hear why you feel this is not a good idea? Bleed? Keep that track as a copy of the scratch track on a different gain setting?

 

Also,you should own a tc slate before you own a sync box.

Are you talking about matching one to the other to ensure matching accuracy levels?

 

if you set TC on the 5D - then shoot the TC display every 3-4 hrs. Post will then be able to calculate the offset between the camera and your recorder. This shouldn't drift too much and if you do it 3-4 times a day you should be sweet.

[...]
Travel light if you can.

The TC screen on the Nomad will serve both of those needs nicely.

I've been looking forward to incorporating that little guy.

Holding good for 3 to 4 hours is much less drift than I had expected from a 5D. Excellent news!

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One beauty of DSLR filmmaking is that those cameras, although they have terrible inaccurate clocks, can't roll for long enough to get very far out of sync (30 min).  I think what the OP proposes is fine, if post is on board with it.  If post isn't hired yet, then you and the filmmakers decide and post deals with it!  One thing that hasn't been mentioned is the need for very clear notes from you, hopefully entered into the audio file metadata, about what is being shot.  Names, locations anything to help the posties identify what's going on.  Audio filenames that make some sense (like being the name of the interviewee or the name of the event), and then organizing your notes into a clear sound report for each day's worth of files.  There are several options for sound SYNCING anymore, but supplying post with as much info as you can will really help them in understanding and shaping the footage into a movie.  Especially since post isn't on board yet, I think it would be a very good idea to have your reports and logs be in file form--uploadable, emailable and storable on the media with the audio files themselves. 

 

philp

 

This is something I've been giving some thought to.

I certainly want to nail the notes. 

 

On the one hand I thought to use SoundReportWriter so as I can make the notes more comprehensive.

On the other hand that leaves the notes even more separated from audio, which is uncomfortable considering post/editor is not yet onboard, and we will be abroad with no cellular coverage (i.e. relying on hotel wifi later that evening).

 

I have also considered reserving a Nomad track for slate mic notes.

Usefulness vs card space - to be pondered...

 

At the moment the track count is looking high, considering the potential to roll many hours in one day.

This is because I have been asked to lav the interpreter and director (as well as up to 2 subjects). 

In the upcoming production meeting, I will establish if this is really necessary. My feeling is it is not.

If that is the case and we can lose two recording iso tracks, i may consider putting a track down for slate mic notes

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Since you have a Nomad, you could also talk to the camera ops about its visual slate, which would sort of eliminate the TC slate but require them to shoot your display at the beginning of each take, hence bad for sitdown interviews, good for run n gun stuff. If you choose to send a scratch track it is advisable to remind them during post to replace the scratch audio with your properly recorded tracks, as an editor with little care for audio monitoring mioght just stick with the scratch tracks, which may be OK in some cases, in others definitely not.

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Since you have a Nomad, you could also talk to the camera ops about its visual slate, which would sort of eliminate the TC slate but require them to shoot your display at the beginning of each take, hence bad for sitdown interviews, good for run n gun stuff. 

Thanks.

Shooting Nomad's TC display every take won't be possible due to the nature of the shoot.  

 

However, Chris Bollard's experience of 5D (above), suggests that every 3-4 hours is enough (for cross referencing with cam TC to calculate an offset).

Manual labour, but better to have it as a backup than not.

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I still don't understand why one would not send TC to the DSLR's audio track.

It's the most "situation-proof" way to do it.

If post can't deal with audio track TC, well...they better learn how to deal with it.

Come on, there are plugins for that that are really easy to use.

 

Preferrably use a sync box. A wireless TC link can lose signal due to RF hits, and wifi has not been designed for real-time transmission.

 

Shooting a TC display at the beginning of each shot is asking for trouble. DPs will, in the heat of the battle, forget to do so. The concentrate on other things, and sometimes the situation just calls for shooting NOW and not 5 seconds later.

I bet that this TC display will end up in less than 10% of all shots.

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I still don't understand why one would not send TC to the DSLR's audio track.

It's the most "situation-proof" way to do it.

If post can't deal with audio track TC, well...they better learn how to deal with it.

Come on, there are plugins for that that are really easy to use.

Preferrably use a sync box. A wireless TC link can lose signal due to RF hits, and wifi has not been designed for real-time transmission.

...

If you're in a position to dictate to post, then by all means, do so.

An ERX will successfully maintain time code for a reasonable period of time and only needs to be in WiFi range momentarily to rejam from a Nomad or IFB100/200.

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I still don't understand why one would not send TC to the DSLR's audio track.

It's the most "situation-proof" way to do it.

If post can't deal with audio track TC, well...they better learn how to deal with it.

Come on, there are plugins for that that are really easy to use.

 

Preferrably use a sync box. A wireless TC link can lose signal due to RF hits, and wifi has not been designed for real-time transmission.

 

Shooting a TC display at the beginning of each shot is asking for trouble. DPs will, in the heat of the battle, forget to do so. The concentrate on other things, and sometimes the situation just calls for shooting NOW and not 5 seconds later.

I bet that this TC display will end up in less than 10% of all shots.

I agree 100%.

Except one small point - TC from an ERX doesn't suffer wireless dropouts. 

WiFi signal is used to rejam.

In the absence of this it continues to output TC, and seems (to me) to stay steady for long enough to let it come back into range.

[Edit: John got there before me]

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I like the idea of a "notes track" if you can spare it--in the old Nagra doc days we did a lot of "talking to the recorder"--both me and the shooter, to give the editor a blow by blow of what we'd just recorded, who the people in the shots were, what they werer doing, where we were etc.  In a hard doc verite situation that could work very well.  But you still have to do good reports, as a file, that can be put in the folder with that day's audio files, AND you still should get what you can into the individual file metadata.

 

philp 

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If you're in a position to dictate to post, then by all means, do so.

An ERX will successfully maintain time code for a reasonable period of time and only needs to be in WiFi range momentarily to rejam from a Nomad or IFB100/200.

Didn't remember the ERX maintains code. You're right: It works like a TC box that constantly rejams when in wifi range.

 

As the OP mentioned there wasn't even a post house booked before shooting starts, this appears to be exactly that "dictate them a workflow" situation. Though I'd prefer to call it "give them the easiest workflow you can".

 

To expand a bit on this: TC is the most standardized way to sync sound and picture (well, apart from sticks which simply don't work in today's documentary shooting). It is the one thing I'd expect a post house to be able to handle, even if it's LTC on an audio track. DaVinci converts that audio TC to a TC stamp in the file at one mouse click.

All other ways that were mentioned in this thread are workarounds if you can't get any kind of TC to the camera*.

Shooting the recorder's TC display means looking for a shot of the TC display in each file. And then it's missing more often than not.

The most absurd approach, to me, is the one that calculates an offset between camera (file creation) date&time and sound recorder TC. This means someone has, for each and every picture clip, to calculate the corresponding TC, find a file with a start TC close to that calculated TC, and calculate another offset between start TC and calculated TC.

 

*you might need to work that way with a DSLR if you want to appear like a photographer, not like a film team. Only hidden lavs, the only visible gear being just a "stills camera" like a tourist has. You would not wear a pro-looking audio recorder visibly then, either.

As long as you can mount a LCD display, focus rings, or an audio hop to that DSLR, you can also mount a sync box or ERX.

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I think the same arguments pro TC (how easy the workflow is and all) can be made for a PluralEyes/Audio-on-cam-only workflow. With the added benefit of instant playback with good sound, and without the TC noise. I would suggest that this is particularly useful on a doco shoot.

Unless there is a way to set up your camera in such a way that it will always playback only one channel, I think actually the TC route is not ideal.

PluralEyes overall works very well, but there are times when it doesn't, of course.

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Didn't remember the ERX maintains code. You're right: It works like a TC box that constantly rejams when in wifi range.

...

  

Well yes, although it's not as stable as something like a dedicated Denecke box.  To be fair, that's not the ERX's designed purpose.  They're fine if you're in WiFi range (so it rejams) every half hour to an hour.

 

In tests I did a while back, out of five ERX units, the worst case drift of the five was less than a half frame over an hour. 

 

Since someone may likely ask, here is a link to the thread with the test results:

 

.

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If you can get a clean(ish) scratch track to each camera, Pluraleyes will work. It also works well with just the built in camera mic unless the cameras can't get close enough to hear the source. I would skip trying to get TC onto an audio track unless Post can confirm that workflow.

I use a G2 to send a mono scratch for 5d projects...works perfectly and editors are happy.

I use g3s for this purpose, it's the right tool for the job and I second Jason's advice. Unless post is expecting TC on an audio track I'd skip it and just send audio. Editors love the mono mix on 5d. Great for playback too.

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For documentary shoot a choice of 5d camera is slightly problematic. However when using the camera I prefer dedicated top mic or g2 mono mix track for PE synching/ playback. Also I very successfully used TCB wifi master to display running time code on iOS devices so cam ops can self slate..

D

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