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Jim Feeley

UltraSync BLUE - Timecode over Bluetooth from TCS

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Hmmm...

 

From Timecode Systems:

UltraSync BLUE is simple, low-cost, and has the potential to synchronise any camera or sound recording device with Bluetooth®connectivity. There are no cables and no mounting issues, giving you more freedom to shoot from creative angles with smaller, more mobile cameras. It can even sync iPhones.

 

UltraSync BLUE is our first product to synchronise over Bluetooth®. Once connected, timecode is transmitted wirelessly from the UltraSync BLUE directly into the media file of connected devices. By removing the restrictions of a wired connection, crews not only benefit from extra convenience, but also get even more versatility to choose how they sync. Use a single UltraSync BLUE unit to sync up to four recording devices shooting in close range over Bluetooth®. Or alternatively, connect the UltraSync BLUE to a Timecode Systems RF network and sync to other camera and audio recorders using Timecode Systems units on the same channel.

 

*A patented, timing protocol delivers unparalleled accuracy for the exchange of timecode over Bluetooth®.

*After first set-up, UltraSync BLUE automatically recognises your device.

*Use one UltraSync BLUE to feed frame-accurate timecode to up to four devices filming in close range (up to 10m) over Bluetooth®.

*Or, use long-range RF to sync multiple UltraSync BLUEs, or to sync to other Timecode Systems products.

*Timecode is embedded into the media file and automatically recognised by professional NLEs.

*£125 | $179 | €149

 

More info and stuff here:

https://www.timecodesystems.com/products-home/ultrasyncblue/

 

 

 

90-second video from Timecode Systems:

 

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But at the moment there are only two apps that are compatible with this. No hardware. This might some potential if could get camera makers to support it, but you’d stiil need at least two different devices unless really every single camera supports this..

I salute their idea, but at the moment it’s more of a „meh“ moment 

 

unless that USB port is for syncing, too?

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Some mirrorless cameras... Like the Panasonic GH5, Sony A7 (don't recall which models). I think I have that right. The new MixPres. At least some Atomos recorders. But will they work with this app, and can TCS do the work necessary or do they need the camera/recorder people to help? I'm not clear on that (ignorance on my part, not doubt at this point). TCS says support for Zoom F8n is coming.

 

And as the video shows, BLUE can work with other TCS products, such as their little UltraSync TC/Genlock box. So I guess the idea is if a shoot combines consumer & professional cameras, recorders, etc, then BLUE can ease getting them all on the same TC.

 

Not sure if dropouts are a problem, and if so how those are handled. But you know, if the consumer cameras & phones are just rather close to the professional devices' TC, that's not so bad. And maybe it'll be another inexpensive scripty/logging link... Maybe...I'm just winging it here...

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I agree, it seems a bit pointless atm (or at least I fail to see the point)

but it also feels like a chicken and egg problem: If no device sends out TC through BT, no manufacturer will create devices which synch through BT and the other way around.

If this UltraSync manages to convince the camera and recorder manufacturers to adopt this method then this will be great - not sure if it wouldn't have been better to make it open source instead of patenting though (and I assume this won't be compatible with the BT protocol of TentacleSync). And personally I would have liked if they added a 3.5mm TRS to use it on current cameras too, because at the moment I see zero use for it, and very limited one in the next couple of years. 

chris

 

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1 hour ago, chrismedr said:

If this UltraSync manages to convince the camera and recorder manufacturers to adopt this method then this will be great - 

 

 I don’t think I agree with that.

First, I don’t want a manufacturer to spent even an hour of developers time on this instead of better firmware or new hardware. 

 

Second, I wouldn’t want to have to rely on Bluetooth for TC sync. BT connections get lost all the time and you wouldn’t even know it

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4 hours ago, chrismedr said:

I agree, it seems a bit pointless atm (or at least I fail to see the point)

but it also feels like a chicken and egg problem: If no device sends out TC through BT, no manufacturer will create devices which synch through BT and the other way around.

If this UltraSync manages to convince the camera and recorder manufacturers to adopt this method then this will be great - not sure if it wouldn't have been better to make it open source instead of patenting though (and I assume this won't be compatible with the BT protocol of TentacleSync). And personally I would have liked if they added a 3.5" TRS to use it on current cameras too, because at the moment I see zero use for it, and very limited one in the next couple of years. 

chris

 

Agree about some kind of connector to O/P LTC. So currently this just functions as a bridge between their comprehensive pro system and prosumer smart devices (which Tentacle Sync E can do in 1 go to an extent)? An accessory for existing TCS customers.

This will probably right up there with my all time stupid questions:

Is there any chance a BT audio receiver can connect to this and O/P LTC? No.

Or it needs an app running on a smart device to embed the TC data into a recording? Yes.

Perhaps the TC data can be TX'd in different protocols (like audio)? No.

Can 2 or more run in sync to increase the number of paired devices and the operating radius? Yes.

 

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1 hour ago, Constantin said:

First, I don’t want a manufacturer to spent even an hour of developers time on this instead of better firmware or new hardware. 

Second, I wouldn’t want to have to rely on Bluetooth for TC sync. BT connections get lost all the time and you wouldn’t even know it

 

Fair points, but if the normal range is around 10meters, then it should be fairly stable if you rig it to the tripod leg/shoulder pad etc.

and I would hope that the camera/recorders clock would be accurate enough to survive a 5 minute connection drop, and that an message would pop up on your iphone/android about the lost connection.

 

Actually my thinking was that if a manufacturer goes through the effort to implement BT TC sync, they'd have a good enough internal clock that we would only have to synch twice a day and then BT would sure be more convenient then carrying 5 different TC cables. plus the manufacturers might even save cost and space by not having to build an extra port for TC synch (I'm thinking small cameras here like a BM Pocket, not Alexa - as a side note, the new BM Pocket 4K should be able to accept TC on the 3.5 TRS while still have a mini XLR with P48 for audio).

 

chris

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That’s a lot of „if“, „should“, „hope“... 

 

I don’t get this part 

1 hour ago, chrismedr said:

if a manufacturer goes through the effort to implement BT TC sync, they'd have a good enough internal clock

 

I expect the opposite: „well, now that we’ve implemented BT TC, we don’t need to bother with a stable clock“. 

After all, they haven’t so far

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35 minutes ago, Constantin said:

That’s a lot of „if“, „should“, „hope“... 

 

well, since TC in consumer gear hasn't happened yet, so all I can do is hope and speculate ; )

it might be pointless to do so, but the UltraSync BLUE seems to indicate that Timecode Systemsis betting on it (as said, otherwise I really don't see much of a point for this product)

 

35 minutes ago, Constantin said:

I expect the opposite: „well, now that we’ve implemented BT TC, we don’t need to bother with a stable clock“. 

After all, they haven’t so far

 

could be, I don't expect a 5D MK V to have a stable clock or TC sync possibilities either...

on the other hand it seems quite possible to me that Blackmagic or Panasonic will in their future products. Atomos already has:

https://s3.amazonaws.com/atomos-web-uploads/press/Atomos_AtomX Sync_PR_Final.pdf

 

 

 

 

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Maybe, TCS knows what comes next to pro cameras & recorders; so they have introduce their solution before the news hit the masses.

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It looks like you don't need to buy into the whole TCS world, just part of it. Again, it looks like BLUE can control (at some level) the $300usd UltraSync One TC/Gen box. That's not free, but will let Blue have some control over say, a 633. But I kinda doubt 633-class productions are the target market. The video shows phones, GoPros, etc.

 

Would be great to hear from someone at TCS fill us in.

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It talks their Blink wireless protocol, so it integrates into an existing system to provide TC to devices like the iPhone and (coming soon they say) the Zoom H3-VR Handy Recorder and F8n MultiTrack Field Recorder. It is cheaper than an UltraSync and can support four devices in proximity simultaneously.

 

It seems to be designed to be an adjunct to their existing line, more than a standalone item right now. If they get any non-cinema camera makers to support it, it would be a nice standalone solution for small shoots with lower end gear.

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A solution in search of a problem?  Most low-budg filmmakers using prosumer gear don't give any thought to TC at all, and thing swork out ok in post.  Blutooth is too unreliable for professional applications, esp wacko-run-gun-shoot-the-rehearsal pseudo-doc sorts of shoots, which could also have many more than 4 cameras working....

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3 hours ago, Philip Perkins said:

A solution in search of a problem?  Most low-budg filmmakers using prosumer gear don't give any thought to TC at all, and thing swork out ok in post. 

 

Maybe, but we have used their SyncBac units on the backs of GoPros for places we cannot mount regular cameras. With low cost, but very high quality gear like the Sound Devices MixPre series, and the great cameras on phones today, less expensive gear is becoming more and more common. As an adjunct, it makes a lot of sense, especially if the devices to which it is talking have solid clocks built in, so it is there just to prevent drift.

 

3 hours ago, Philip Perkins said:

Blutooth is too unreliable for professional applications, esp wacko-run-gun-shoot-the-rehearsal pseudo-doc sorts of shoots, which could also have many more than 4 cameras working....

 

One would not want it talking to more than 4 devices just because of distance constraints. Their Blink protocol connects these devices over long distance, so one would be able to use multiple of them on a single shoot. I have not used the UltraSync Blue, but I expect that they are expecting the local devices to maintain a reasonable clock and just use the bluetooth to maintain sync.

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7 hours ago, Carmi Weinzweig said:

and F8n MultiTrack Field Recorder.

???

I've read nothing suggesting it would talk over Bluetooth with the F8n, only with their VR audio recorder. 

 

7 hours ago, Carmi Weinzweig said:

 If they get any non-cinema camera makers to support it, it would be a nice standalone solution for small shoots with lower end gear.


I think they might be taking the "build it and they will come" approach. As at the moment there doesn't seem much point to it other than some niche cases, but hopefully with time this approach might become popular and widespread. (I imagine for instance that if they pushed for it that maybe the Panasonic GH6/G90/etc could all support it. As no longer do they need to give the excuse "it is a mirrorless body, it is too small to have space for a timecode input as well!")
 

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5 hours ago, IronFilm said:

I've read nothing suggesting it would talk over Bluetooth with the F8n, only with their VR audio recorder. 

 

From their website: We’re launching UltraSync BLUE initially for iPhones, and the new generation of H3-VR Handy Recorder and F8n MultiTrack Field Recorder that will be released towards the end of the year. However the possibilities are endless for integration with professional, prosumer and consumer sound and video equipment using Bluetooth® wireless technology. We’re working with a variety of manufacturers and app developers to adopt our Bluetooth protocol so watch this space.

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Ohhhhhhh....... I wonder if it will be allowed to connect to the app and the TC box at the same time? With both using Bluetooth at once. 

Not sure if I can think of a use of this at the moment though, as to how I'd want to be using it over bluetooth with the F8n. Guess we'll see what happens when the F8n firmware update comes out. 

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Without being able to sync it with an external source I can't see this being popular. Everything they've done here can be done by the Tentacle Sync E with their API kit and a firmware update. Tentacle Sync E also is being added into many apps and hopefully soon 3rd Party hardware. But at least with the Sync E you also get real TC I/O that can be synced up with other systems.

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14 hours ago, Andrew Jones said:

Without being able to sync it with an external source I can't see this being popular. Everything they've done here can be done by the Tentacle Sync E with their API kit and a firmware update. Tentacle Sync E also is being added into many apps and hopefully soon 3rd Party hardware. But at least with the Sync E you also get real TC I/O that can be synced up with other systems.

 

It literally synchronises with the timecode master over RF.

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22 hours ago, Andrew Jones said:

Without being able to sync it with an external source I can't see this being popular.

 

Not sure what you mean by “sync it with an external source”. It supports Timecode Systems’s Blink protocol that lets it sync with UltraSync One, MiniTRX+, SyncBac, :wave and :pulse units.

 

22 hours ago, Andrew Jones said:

Everything they've done here can be done by the Tentacle Sync E with their API kit and a firmware update.

 

Or by this product today, not at some future point.

22 hours ago, Andrew Jones said:

Tentacle Sync E also is being added into many apps

 

You mean like Mavis and Apogee on iOS?

 

7 hours ago, Frido Beck said:

and hopefully soon 3rd Party hardware.

 

Like the already announced support of the Bluetooth connection from Zoom and the already shipping support for Timecode Systems's Blink protocol on the Atomos Ninja V?

 

22 hours ago, Andrew Jones said:

But at least with the Sync E you also get real TC I/O that can be synced up with other systems.

 

The UltaSync Blue is $179, vs. $284 for a Tentacle-E. Combining an UltraSync Blue with an UltraSync costs $478 vs. $512 for two Tentacle-e boxes.

 

If one only wanted UltraSync modules, one could buy 2 of them for $495 vs. $512 for a pair of Tentacle-e units. In other words, the TCS gear is cheaper, has more options and is already supported by third parties in hardware, not at some future date. Overall, I am unclear as to what advantages you see in the Tentacle-e system.

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Personal preference for sure here...but in my experience...

Bluetooth blows...period...

It almost always sucks 30 ways.. I hate using it.. even in the car(s) it's a pain in the ass . During personal life it's bad enough to use it, at work, forget it.. 30'... 40' please..

I'll stick to the usual suspects ... They just work..

Hardware, phones, apps.. I don't personally want to deal with that on set..

The Lectrosonic dweedle tones on the app are about all I want to deal with phone wise..

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