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KenLac

Timecode boxes: opinions wanted

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I'm planning on purchasing a couple of bare-bones timecode "lock-it" style boxes. I'm looking for opinions about the best choice between...

* Denecke JB-1

* Ambient NanoLockit

* ...Or something else?

 

Bullet-proof is more important to me than features. I don't need GenLock. I'm paring these up with a Sound Devices 664 as the timecode master. The cameras I'd be sticking them on could be darn-near anything.

 

Thanks!

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I’m a fan of the JB-1. Small, light, long battery life, BNC connector, display with menu and readout, no app needed. 

 

Ive worked on a couple shows where the DP brought his own Tentacles as an excuse for a smaller lockit and to take my rental, and I found them rather frustrating, since you need an app to run them, which means you are now dépendant on your phone working and their app being up to date with whatever updates your phone has imposed on you. I also feel like they don’t jam correctly on the first try every time, and will stay in sync with themselves, but nothing else. Just my experience. 

 

Denecke has been in the TC game longer than anyone and they are a proven and reliable company with good people working in the shop. I think they are a good company to support. 

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"I found them rather frustrating, since you need an app to run them, which means you are now dépendant on your phone working and their app being up to date with whatever updates your phone has imposed on you. I also feel like they don’t jam correctly on the first try every time, and will stay in sync with themselves, but nothing else. Just my experience."

 

Not quite true Jon, you do need the app to set them up, but once set you just turn them on and jam to whatever. I rarely use the app unless there are changes required to the TC Rate for example, however I do use the App for spot checks which I can do on multiple units at once and without going anywhere near the camera due to the Bluetooth capability.

 

Mine have always jammed first time, every time, and they are at least as accurate as the Denecke TS-3 Slate and the Sound Devices 788T that I typically use along side them. All 3 play very nicely together and hold sync accurately.

 

Don't get me wrong, I love Denecke products, they are rock solid and I previously used their Boxes. The JB-1 is a beautiful bit of kit at a comparable price to the Tentacle. IMHO, they are both contenders, but for me the Tentacle won the day due to its Bluetooth capability.

 

Cheers,

 

Steve

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JB1 for many reasons: 

 

-- Reliable 

-- Extremely accurate!

-- LCD Readout 

-- Super small 

-- BNC out 

-- They work -- every time, all the time (Tentacles sometimes took several tries to take a jam) 

-- Battery charge lasts for a week or more 

-- Great support 

-- They have my initials (JB) 

 

The only downside to the JB1 is that they're so tiny you need to be careful not to lose them. 

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I bought into the Tentacle deal, tried them, sold them.  TC was fine, but I'm too- old school for the phone setup thing--I like just dealing with the box itself.  The Tentacles I had did not have locking TC connectors, and that was always a worry as well.   I have a brace of small Moze boxes (from the period in which they used 2 AAA batteries), they've been fine: just as small and light as the other mini-boxes.  If I needed to buy more mini TC boxes I'd look @ JB1, they seem to have a good combo of features, although the rechargeable-only battery would take me some getting used to.

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TCS fan here.  I like it because of the integrated system.  I have the Wave, along with the smaller sync boxes and the combined Denecke/TCS slates.  Plus the Genlock/Word clock feature when needed.

What is really great is the fact you have a number of choices with sync boxes now.

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9 hours ago, JonG said:

Ive worked on a couple shows where the DP brought his own Tentacles as an excuse for a smaller lockit and to take my rental, and I found them rather frustrating, since you need an app to run them, which means you are now dépendant on .... Etc snip

 

The DP's equipment / rental ... why did they not deal with their equipment their self? Or at least provide the necessary phone+app?

 

J

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I like the Betso TCX-2+  Small, removable AA that lasts a day at least, 500 meter wireless range, Solid BNC connection, built-in OLED display to compare to camera, switchable to transmitter or receiver, will tell you when another box's battery is running down, works with their slate wirelessly, and you can set it up so that when it senses a TC signal, it automatically turns on, Jams and starts broadcasting. 

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One more Tentacle Fan here, i like the controll possibilties with the bluetooth app and that you can have a wireless sync workflow, the build in mic is super if you deal with DSLR to have a scratch track, battery life is very good and i never had a problem with jamming, the newer tentacle e has a locker for the cable...

only downside for me is that there is no genlock.

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Got a few mozegear Qbits on a recent job when the arrri mini's latest firmware decided it didn't want to play with the zax erx TC, they were cheap and available in the time window I required, they worked, held sync and are tiny but were sometimes hard to jam and the charging led's weren't super reliable so I'd prob go another way next time.

 

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I use 4 of the first generation Tentacles, because I got a really good offer when the new ones where already launched. I didn't mind to not be able to monitor them via bluetooth, because they work quite fine. But the scratch mikes of the first generation units are crappy. I think it was the first Kickstarter project that made timecode afordable for indie filmmakers and really small. After that the other brands also launched more affordable and small units. 

 

If I want to upgrade one day I think I will also go for devices with genlock and LTC. Actually I have no real need for that.

 

Greetings

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JB1’s all the way. 

 

For all the reasons Jon and John mentioned. Also the build quality is great and they actually have replaceable batteries. So after many years of use, all you have to do is replace battery and you can keep on jammin’! 

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I've talked about a few of the TC options in one of my vlogs:
 



In my opinion the Timecode Systems Ltd Ultrasync ONE is the best option on the market right now, when it comes to the features (sure, some features like genlock you might not need right now, but one day you might be glad you've got that option! Plus that genlock output has other tricks up its sleeve such as being a 2nd LTC output), small size, battery life, and the entire ecosystem that TCS Ltd has. (more than just the USO! Also can work with their :Wave/:Pulse as master, or integrate with a smartslate together with metadata from your 664, and even more!)

With my 2nd favorite being the Tentacle Sync E, which I'd recommend instead if you need a built in scratch mic. (such as when doing DSLR/mirrorless shoots

21 hours ago, Steve Foy said:

Not quite true Jon, you do need the app to set them up, but once set you just turn them on and jam to whatever. I rarely use the app unless there are changes required to the TC Rate for example, however I do use the App for spot checks which I can do on multiple units at once and without going anywhere near the camera due to the Bluetooth capability.

 

Mine have always jammed first time, every time, and they are at least as accurate as the Denecke TS-3 Slate and the Sound Devices 788T that I typically use along side them. All 3 play very nicely together and hold sync accurately.

 

Don't get me wrong, I love Denecke products, they are rock solid and I previously used their Boxes. The JB-1 is a beautiful bit of kit at a comparable price to the Tentacle. IMHO, they are both contenders, but for me the Tentacle won the day due to its Bluetooth capability.


I agree. The Tentacle Apps (yes, apps plural.... as there are more than one!) is beneficial strength of choosing Tentacles and not at all a weakness of them. 

 

21 hours ago, Philip Perkins said:

The Tentacles I had did not have locking TC connectors, and that was always a worry as well. 


The Tentacle Sync E (i.e. their latest 2nd Generation TC boxes) do have a "locking" connection. 

 

 

 

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On 9/4/2019 at 6:56 AM, JonG said:

Ive worked on a couple shows where the DP brought his own Tentacles as an excuse for a smaller lockit and to take my rental, and I found them rather frustrating, since you need an app to run them, which means you are now dépendant on your phone working and

 

Jon, on those gigs, where did your TC responsibility end? Was it "plug your Tentacle in my recorder here to jam it," "I'll jam it for you; hope you have the settings correct," or were you expected to run the Tentacle app and maybe install it on your phone, or...?

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17 hours ago, Kelly Dodds said:

I like the Betso TCX-2+  Small, removable AA that lasts a day at least, 500 meter wireless range, Solid BNC connection, built-in OLED display to compare to camera, switchable to transmitter or receiver, will tell you when another box's battery is running down, works with their slate wirelessly, and you can set it up so that when it senses a TC signal, it automatically turns on, Jams and starts broadcasting. 

 

Love my Betso TCX-2's for all the above.

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@Jim Feeley they wanted me to install the app and run it like it was mine. I charged both productions for the lockit anyways, since I had to inconvenience myself with these things. But it is something that I’m seeing DPs do since nobody seems to be able to withstand the massive weight of a regular sized lockit, and Tentacles have become a buzzword for those not so in the know. 

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Remember MySpace? 

 

Might I suggest a T/C device with a proven track record, long history of customer service and support. 

 

This thread reminds me of the classic " Honda Vs. BMW" debate. "

" I want BMW performance and reliability, with a Honda?"

 

Denecke= BMW

Ambient= BMW

 

What if in 18 years you go to sell this item? Or even 10?

 

I just bought a Denecke SB-2 from @Aural Fixation (Thanks!@!!) that is from 2001, That is an 18 year old T/C box. Still runs like a Rolex. 

 

Let that sink in. The year will be 2037 should you decide to use and then sell your T/C box in that same amount of time. Which companies do you truly think will still be profitable and in business in the year 2037. I am intentionally trying to not mention names here, but do you still have your cell phone from 2010? 

 

Are you buying for today? Or are you buying for 2037? Adds a bit of a different perspective doesn't it? I tend to buy for 2037 unless I really only need it for today. 

 

 

@KenLac You have to let all of us know what you decided to go with!!!

 

 

 

 

You have to

 

 

 

 

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Well, I have since moved on from using a Nagra, a DAT machine, a MiniDisk recorder (not professionally), and lots and lots of other machines and pieces of equipment have come and gone and some have stayed. But I definitely do not buy for the year 2037. I do buy gear for reliability for what I think are the next 5-10 years. I was surprised to realize that I bought my 788 ten years ago and I still use it. 

A part of the job for me is to play with and own gear. And if something new gets released and I really like, I buy it. If I can somehow justify it. If it improves my workflow and my life on set, I‘ll buy it. 

It‘s true, my current phone may not work anymore in the year 2037, or even 2020, but that’s not important as long as someone keeps working on the app and the firmware. If the company, TentacleSync, that I trust my TC needs with doesn’t exist anymore in 10 years, that doesn’t matter to my TC boxes, because they might still work. And they will even work without a phone. The cost about as much as a lav mic, or even less. I don’t expect to be using exactly the same lav mic in 10 years. I don’t want to, either. Things will have moved on by now, and I want to move on, too. 

 

Btw, I never owned a Nagra

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We are using over 5 months now, Timecode Systems Ultrasync ONE. No problems so far, we have damage one cable (at BNC termination, not DIN). I am charging them every two days; 20 hours of operation / 10hr continuously and still has battery lifetime for 3-4 hours. Size is small. I like the silicone case with velcro. Is there a 90 degrees of DIN connector?

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36 minutes ago, VAS said:

Is there a 90 degrees of DIN connector?

 

Yes; I've seen both raw connectors and premade cable assemblies available. Looks like a lot of the cables are made for the RED One camera.

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