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Options for Time Code


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#1 Robert Edge

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Posted 09 December 2005 - 03:19 PM

I have an Aaton 16mm camera that records time code and I am about to make a decision about how I want to generate the code. I do not want to use a time code slate. Consequently, I have three options:

(1) buy Aaton's Origin C+ time code generator and a sound recorder like the Tascam HD-P2 that records time code

(2) buy Aaton's GMT time code generator and a sound recorder like the Tascam that records time code

(3) buy a sound recorder such as the Sound Devices 744T or Fostex FR-2 that both records and generates time code

I have read the document on Aaton's web site on time code, but I did not come away from the experience with a particularly clear picture of what the real world differences are between these options. I know the cost of each option. I'd appreciate comments on the advantages and disadvantages from the point of view of performance. Also, is there a product that competes with the Origin C+ and GMT?

Thanks.
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#2 Robert Edge

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Posted 10 December 2005 - 05:15 PM

Actually, my choice is between options 1 and 3. I forgot that the GMT works with a sound recorder but not, as I understand it, with the camera.
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#3 Robert Edge

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Posted 12 December 2005 - 02:20 PM

Looks like I had the options right the first time. It appears that an A-Minima camera can be used to control a sound recorder to which the GMT-S it attached. Anyone know what the difference is between this solution and using an Origin C+? Also, what exactly is the downside to using a generator that does not support Aaton ASCII, such as the Denecke GR-1 or SB-2 or a sound recorder that generates SMPTE?
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#4 Robert Edge

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Posted 14 December 2005 - 03:00 PM

I've had a very informative discussion about this with one of Aaton's distributors and I thought that I'd pass on what I've learned. The Aaton A-Minima can be used to set date/time of day on an Aaton GMT-S, which can then be used to generate time of day code on a sound recorder. The device supports 24, 25, 29.97 drop frame and 30 fps at 1 ppm. It is compact and light (150g/5oz). Leaving aside performance and looking at this strictly from a cost point of view, if used in conjunction with a sound recorder like the new Tascam HD-P2 this approach is competitive with purchasing a Fostex FR-2 with Fostex's time code option. Being an external device, unlike the Fostex card, it can also be used with other devices. I still have some questions about the Tascam, but if one is using an A-Minima camera, the GMT-S and a Tascam look like they might be a cost effective way to get reliable sync sound without the need to use a slate.
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#5 Luke Prendergast

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Posted 14 December 2005 - 03:39 PM

Thanks for sharing.
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#6 Robert Edge

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Posted 14 December 2005 - 06:36 PM

Conceptually, this puts the A-Minima in charge of time code. It works because the camera can be used to initialize the GMT-s, in ASCII code, with date/time of day. In turn, the GMT-s translates the ASCII code to SMPTE and initializes the sound recorder.

There are a couple of things that I need to know about the Tascam that are not clear to me from the owner's manual on the Tascam website; in particular, whether the way that the Tascam records date, and its time code modes, are consistent with the way that Aaton Code works. There are also procedural questions. While the Tascam will apparently generate code after initialization without being tethered to the source, I also need to think about whether it is a good idea, despite that, to keep the GMT-s, at 1 ppm, connected to the recorder. How frequently should I re-initialize? Etc, etc. This stuff can tie up one's brain in knots, especially if, like me, one is fairly new to the issues.

Note that I am talking about the A-Minima. It appears that an A-Minima/GMT-s mix would not work in the same way with other Aaton cameras.

I gather that in shoots where there is a firm line between the camera dept and the sound dept, the former is in charge of camera time code and the latter is in charge of sound time code. Thankfully, I don't have to concern myself with this distinction, but I'd be interested in any comments on how this necessarily interdependent function gets separated in situations where the distinction is maintained.
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