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Richard Lightstone, CAS

MovieSlate report from a user

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I wanted to report my experience using the new Apple App., just released last Thursday called MovieSlate, from PureBlend Software.

I and about ten other mixers have been beta testing it for well over three months.

The overall concept is to have the Camera, Sound and Script all on a wifi network each writing their individual reports, networked so as slate changes, camera lens data and the sound log are all shared.

The common tool is an Apple iPad, but it will also function on an iPhone and iPod Touch.

At the end of the day our individual reports can be emailed to Editorial, Production etc.

I look at it as a beautiful way to enter my sound log information, with as much or as little data as I need. All editable at any time. No need to offload the log file and edit it in Excel, or Wave Agent etc.

Now that I am exclusively using CF cards for my deliverable media, I am hoping to end the use of paper and pen and label printing as well.

You can externally jam the incoming time code and it holds that time code very accurately the whole day. I have not really measured the drift, but since I'm using it simply for logging a few frames + or - when the shot started or ended is not that critical to me.

The part I'm really happy with is the incredible great looking sound report it can generate and be sent via email. You can edit or correct the information on each take at any time. The "Circle Take" function is elegant and clear.

My handwriting has never been great - so anything to improve the report is a plus, plus!

I suggest you check it out at the Apple App store, or PureBlend to get the technical data http://www.movie-slate.com/movieslate

Here are some photos:

1 The sound report from my second unit day on Community.

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2 The Sate with a "show logo"

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3 The Sound Dept section

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4 The Sound "History"

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im having a hard time finding the right cable for it. i tried using the ambient cable for the IPAD...its not a strong enough signal for the movieslate app. any links to the right cable would be great

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PureBlend recommends KVConnection.com. They manufacture the correct cables. I'm jamming from my Denecke Gr-1 and I'm using one of those cables and it works great.

In the Help section of MovieSlate, there is information on the correct type of cable required. Look in "User Guide", "Timecode Sync Plugin", scroll down to: "Timecode Sync Cables". The audio level has to be at "Mic Level" not "Line level". There are links there.

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iPhone & iPad cables

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I got the cable that ends with a BNC connector --- I then have adapters to adapt the BNC to whatever device I have that is the TC source. This particular cable has attenuation built in and yields about 92% level into MovieSlate from my Deva. If you can find raw TRRS plug you could maker your own I suppose. Wiring uses last "ring" as the ground and the second to last ring as the hot lead (I think, don't know for sure).

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Lets' see if iPhone users chime in here.

I'm not sure if you are saying spending $125 is too much?

A Lav Bullet costs about $40? A sanken windscreen $12, an RM 11 about $20. Mixers spend that much for a microphone mount. Dropping $200 - $400 for something we suddenly justify as a purchase happens alot. But that's my opinion.

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And I think all of those things are over priced as well. But that's our biz. If I had an iPad, I would probably buy it. I loved the sound report function of Boom Recorder, and miss the paperless transaction.

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Are they using the iPad slate display instead of a regular Denecke-type slate (for camera)? If you and post are ok with the frame drift that will happen being on internal Mac clocks on your reports etc that's cool, but for hard syncing for telecine I think I'd want greater accuracy?

phil p

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I too have being using Movieslate for a few weeks and it has been great. Post loves it and I have stopped sending paper sound reports in. I had a tc cable ordered and still waiting for it as the parts are backed up (?) but since we never cut the camera the scripty has a denecke reader and writes down all the corresponding tc anyways so post always looks at her notes as we do several takes within the takes, but very happy with it and there is so much ore it will do as it gets farther along!!

Steve

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I like the reports, but I still say the three major issues with using an iPad as a slate are:

1) it'll break if you drop it (unlike a Denecke or Ambient wooden slate)

2) you can read a Denecke or Ambient slate's timecode numbers in bright sunlight

3) the iPad is going to drift, and 2 frames every few hours is wrong. "Close enough" is not close enough for post. It's gotta be dead-on.

BTW, where do you get the Sound Report form? I don't see that on the MovieSlate website.

--Marc W.

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I like the reports, but I still say the three major issues with using an iPad as a slate are:

1) it'll break if you drop it (unlike a Denecke or Ambient wooden slate)

2) you can read a Denecke or Ambient slate's timecode numbers in bright sunlight

3) the iPad is going to drift, and 2 frames every few hours is wrong. "Close enough" is not close enough for post. It's gotta be dead-on.

BTW, where do you get the Sound Report form? I don't see that on the MovieSlate website.

--Marc W.

That's the best part Marc. If you want the sound report option you have to pay an extra 50 bucks to have it.

I pretty much agree with you Marc. Plus once you have the app and the extras you need you could buy a nice Denecke slate anyways.

Now can you feed timecode to the iPhone app and Bluetooth to the iPad? Giving you a wireless slate. That would solve the drift issue. And if you could make sound report notes on your iPhone which would also go to the iPad, now that would be badass.

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My use of MovieSlate is for logging purposes only. I would never use it as a sync slate and any discussion about it's use as a replacement for a Denecke or Ambient slate is plain silly.

Even though there is a housing they sell with real clapper sticks that holds the iPad, I don't see it being the main market.

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Ah, then that would work fine. I think the idea of a logging utility is very cool, and that would work great -- especially if you could email a PDF seconds after wrap.

Damn! Now I have to break down and buy an iPad, after vowing I'd wait for the third-generation...

Where's the info on the $50 sound log add-on? If I could buy that as a standalone, that would be great.

BTW, I thought of another Denecke advantage: I can get a good solid 12 hours on 6 cheap AA's. You definitely can't get that on an iPad. Heck, I'm lucky to get 12 hours on my iPhone if I'm using it heavily.

--Marc W.

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BTW, I thought of another Denecke advantage: I can get a good solid 12 hours on 6 cheap AA's

--Marc W.

I get 3-4 days on both of my TSC with Powerex 2700 rechargeable AA. Only thing I don't use rechargeables in is Director IFB and my SB3 Sync boxes.

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I have the iPad 2, I'm not sure when an "iPad 3" will be introduced.

I've been getting between 6 - 8 hours on my iPad, with MovieSlate running before I've had to plug in the charger. The iPad seems to be pretty efficient in it's power consumption and I've been quite surprised by this. It certainly outlasts my HTC Evo Android phone.

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Where's the info on the $50 sound log add-on? If I could buy that as a standalone, that would be great.

--Marc W.

+1 to that, or since I'm dreaming it would take an output feed from the fusion wirelessly and auto-magically input all the notes and metadata direct into the program :)

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+1 to that, or since I'm dreaming it would take an output feed from the fusion wirelessly and auto-magically input all the notes and metadata direct into the program :)

"dreaming" is the operative word. The ultimate goal for any of these sort of devices/apps would be to have one entry made by an authoritative person, most likely candidate being the script supervisor, and all other devices that need this data would be updated automatically.

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I get 3-4 days on both of my TSC with Powerex 2700 rechargeable AA. Only thing I don't use rechargeables in is Director IFB and my SB3 Sync boxes.

Yeah, I was rethinking this, and I seem to recall on our last shoot, we went two days with two slates on one set of Alkaline cells (each). My assistant on a previous shoot grabbed a bunch of Lithiums, and I think those ran for days and days and days. In fact, they initially came up as a "10.5" or something on the TS-3 readout, which is much higher than I've ever seen before. I do use Lithiums in the SB-T box, just on the theory that timecode and sync need absolute reliability for days. I think those go for a week, maybe more.

+1 to that, or since I'm dreaming it would take an output feed from the fusion wirelessly and auto-magically input all the notes and metadata direct into the program...

Man, that would be fantastic! Push a button and it's done. I assume at the moment the Scene, Take number, and Notes all have to be entered in manually, but the TC start numbers are automatic.

--Marc W.

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I have one of the "Remote Audio" cables to run to the iPad (1st generation) from my 702T. The cable is NOT reducing the sound at all, and I'm only getting 60% input on MovieSlate, where the exact same cable from the exact same 702T is running the Ambient app just fine. Their program needs to be updated to either adjust the input mic (it can be adjusted) OR to reduce the needed input level.

Also... You don't get timecode in the app without a DIFFERENT $50 in-app purchase. I'm already a purchaser of BOTH the sound add-on and the timecode, for a total of $120. I really hope they don't create yet another in-app add on... I'm tired of paying for this app.

I did a day-long test on my last shoot (using it for reports only) and it was drifting 2 frames per hour, like clockwork (heh). I was taking high speed photos to check it side-by-side with the 702T, the only way I was able to get it to originally sync is by using an ART designs headphone amp to boost the signal.

As for the cable from the LEMO - The pinout on the TRRS connector is Tip / Ring 1 - no connection. Ring 2 - ground. Sleeve - Mic audio.

Within the connector of this $51 cable, is a 1k resistor across the mic and ground to simulate the load of an external mic (or the Ipad and iphones will NOT activate an "external" microphone) and a tiny capacitor to trap the 2 volts DC that is coming the other direction to feed Apple blessed remotes. There is no attenuator in the circuit, I have disassembled both ends of this cable. The app creators responded to me that I would be best served by buying a cable from KV Connections... Yet they say on their website that they have no ability to test anything with a LEMO connection, as they have nothing that HAS a LEMO connection. What good would another cable be, when there is not an attenuator within the cable I already have? Are they using oxygen-free directional copper that RA isn't, which boosts the signal? (kidding!)

I find this disappointing, as renting a recorder from Trew or Gotham would have been the easy solution, especially considering the large number of users that have such gear in the market. Contacting Sound Devices during development, they might have even gotten specs or a test unit from them. I requested the ability to adjust the mic level within the program, and was told that they were instead completely reworking the timecode system in the app, and while it will not be ready for a September approval (hmm... Checking calendar) it would be available for version 3.1, ostensibly for sometime in the near future. Clearly there is an issue with the level acquisition for timecode, BUT with the accuracy... Since the Apple-based clock was capable of faltering only 2 frames per hour consistently, that seems like something that can be adjusted for in the software, and there IS a control for that timing adjustment, tho there is not any information as to how to use it that I have seen so far. It should be trivial to do the same for the incoming level.

Would I use it as the actual slate? I'm still working on that aspect, and since I only have the one iPad... I'm more inclined to use it for ONLY the sound reports... However I have a unique solution for the problem of a timecode burn if a Denecke is not available: Use an old iphone or ipod touch receiving timecode over wifi (all devices on the same Apple Store account get the in-app purchases free after the initial purchase) and have it velcroed to the slate. Display the timecode only on screen... There's your timecode burn, with the loud snap.

Yes, that is not an ideal solution, but ipod touches are cheaper than ipads. Also, anyone that needs a timecode feed can get it the same way. I haven't found a limit to the number of i-devices an Apple account can sync to.

Its a work in progress, but I see potential. Those sound reports look damn sexy too, MUCH better than my crappy scribble.

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post-273-0-60166900-1317609151.jpgMarc,

"I assume at the moment the Scene, Take number, and Notes all have to be entered in manually, but the TC start numbers are automatic."

The Take, the Seg#, and the File# Increment automatically. Entering the scene opens a keypad where you can input any number. Let's say you enter 23, the keypad then automatically has buttons for; 23A, 24, 22. The settings allow you many choices in what and how the the individual fields increment or not.

To answer Jim, the Help section is very detailed and in the Settings, Timecode Syncing, there is a feature to Calibrate LTC Lag. The prices breakdown this way; Basic Slate App $ 24.99, Sound Dept Plug-In $49.99, Timecode Sync Plug-in $49.99.

From what you wrote you have everything that is available.

All I was offering was my opinion on the product that I like. I'm not here to sell anybody anything and if you have issues, complaints or questions; please contact PureBlend.

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Richard,

It looks like a really well thought out application. It looks like it could increase the accuracy of sound reports to a great degree or contribute to there being more complete reporting.

I have a few practical questions:

During the beta test, did you use the app in collaboration with script or camera?

If so, how did it work out? Did they end up as enthusiastic about the app as you seem to be?

What was the transition like on a practical level and how long did it take to stop reaching for a pen?

How's the utility of the app when you need to use it one handed?

Have you made it a permanent part of your routine?

On at least 75% of jobs I've done recently, everything ends up on some hard drives - nothing goes to a lab. I often end up scanning reports at home and emailing them, so they will end up in the right place and invariably I end up rewriting a page or two because my handwriting has gotten so poor. Now this could easily happen at the moment on the day on location without the extra work.

Thanks for the report. I found it very informative.

Best regards,

Jim

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One thing I don't like is that their site makes a big deal about how much more expensive a Denecke slate is, and how their slate drifts off by various amounts over a day. The impression this might give an uninformed user is that this this gradual drift is not a big deal, when in normal telecine production it IS kind of a big deal. A constant offset is one thing (remember the TC output of Nagras?), a drifting offset is another. If the code isn't accurately clocked I don't see much reason to display it. The full up logging function where departments are interconnected would be cool for some very organized and orderly shows, for lesser jobs I think it might be an app looking for a use...and I haven't figured out yet how to include an iPad in my bag rigs. (I can scribble in my notebook with one hand while the other holds the pole--I'm not good and fast enough @ iPhone text entry to do it one-handed on the run.) Can the app work for data entered after the fact, w/o running TC?

phil p

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Yes it is now part of my cart. I am planning on using it without a written log.

Yes, you can enter any data after the fact, that means the History section is totally editable.

Again I think the "slate" function is not designed for our use, please stop kvetching about it. Keep using your Denecke slates and the sun will still rise tomorrow. No body expects you to sell your slates and adopt this application as your timecode slate.

Personally, I don't care what the software site says. I'm using it for what I want; the logging, and sound report feature are the ONLY parts I care about.

If I did a run and gun shot and hand scribbled take notes on a note pad, I could then enter that after the fact on MovieSlate. I'd set up the sound section with the appropriate slate number hit "Roll", "Stop", as many times as there were takes. Then I'd edit the timecode start in the History section. Takes about the same time as carefully trying to re-write the data onto a printed (blank) Sound Report.

I have yet to beta test it on a project where we were all on a wifi network. The next show I do I will try to get this going.

We are all at the point where many of us are constantly updating our recorders metadata, that might be one device or two? So entering data is not a new thing.

I approach MovieSlate just like it were my written log. I jam sync the ipad on startup of my day. I usually have the "Project" data set up in advance, i.e episode # etc. Then I go setup the track "metadata", Sc# and I'm ready to go. On the call of "Roll", I tap the "Roll" button on the iPad and the same on my recorder. When we cut I do the reverse. The iPad will increment the take and Seg# or any thing else I set it up to do. Each take is part of the "History"(the eventual Sound Report) and I can later correct any screw ups.

There is a "False Start " feature.

Here is the hypothetical, AD Calls roll, and then after doing that he says 'hold the roll". You hit the "False Start" button on MovieSlate and it will keep the same take number, but advance the segment number -- if you want it that way -- all controlled in the settings.

On the Deva, we then generally reset the take metadata, but since the machine rolled the segment number increased.

I've found MovieSlate faster to enter data than the Deva, or SD, even with a keyboard.

You can also "roll" back or forward any incremental number while rolling and the History section will be correct.

So I'm sold on it and plan to integrate it fully into my setup.

I'll put up some photos of how I've incorporated it on my cart, tomorrow.

I can only say this is not an App for everyone. Those that do reality and only work in the bag will have little need for it. But the majority of us who work off a cart, on a stage or a location or on an insert car can use it easily.

There has been a trend over the last few years of mixers using "electronic reports" only. Some use Metacorder or BoomRecorder not only as a backup but also for it's sound report feature. They load the "sound Log" file from the Deva or Sound Devices and manipulate it after the fact via Excel or Wave Agent.

I have not personally been a fan of that method. MovieSlate allows me to visually see and edit (if needed), my sound report as each take is recorded. After "circling" the takes is done, I can email it immediately to the Post house, the Editors and Production in one email.

I have my iPad in an Otter Box case - so it's protected from bumps, dings and even dropping it. It mounts to my cart via a Ram Mount iPad holder, configured to fit on a Mathews Flex arm, affixed to my cart via a Mafer clamp.

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