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DAT and Film


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#1 Hal Smith

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Posted 28 December 2005 - 03:50 PM

I'm buying a Super-16 camera and going to learn to use it. I shot and edited 20,000' of ethnographic film with a Beaulieu R16 with an ex-wife in India years ago and recently have reacquired the film-making itch. But my sound experience stops with a Nagra and Pilot-tone. I know a lot about DAT tape equipment but nothing about shooting double system DAT and film.

I own a Sony TRV-30 and have been shooting widescreen archival tape of my theatrical lighting designs for an Actor's Equity Small Professonal Theatre I work with here in OKC over the past few years. The tape doesn't look too bad on my 55" Mitsubishi Platinum but there isn't enough quality in the images to allow much further alteration to them and the camera doesn't allow any real creative control. Having access to a talented pool of actors and owning a lot of lighting gear has my creative juices simmering. I've thought about going to HDV but the professional world seems to believe good old analog filmstock still delivers the visual goods best and I've not seen anything that strongly argues with that point of view.

So I'm getting ready to work in Super-16, keeping possible final aspect ratios other than 1.66 in mind as I film. I'll use negative film, get it processed at a top lab, and get video dailies sent to me for editing in my Avid NLE system (which I just upgraded to Xpress Pro HD V5.2). I'll have a visual original in a can that can be transferred eventually to ANY format with good results, including apparently even pretty darn good 35mm if I shoot on low-grain stock. I've looked around on DuArt's webpage to get a feel for what's possible in state-of-the-art film/film and film/video transfers. AND - no surprise here - my finished work will have that film look!

Sound will be a bitch at first, I'm an absolute novice on how to marry DAT to film. I understand and have used pilot-tone in the past but film sync DAT's brand new to me. Has anyone got any hints where to find a good tutorial on sync techniques and issues using DAT with film and Avid? I own a Tascam professional DAT (DA-30MKII) and my day job is owning a radio broadcast engineering consulting company. One client is ten minutes from the shop (large enough to use as a studio in a pinch) and has a small production studio with an Orban Audicy workstation that I could put the SMPTE option on, multiple DAT machines, CD's, a small, high quality console, good voiceover mikes, etc. I've got unlimited access to the studio outside of the 9-5 work week and can even get into it for an hour or so in the daytime during the week if necessary. The studio even has ISDN audio equipment - I've engineered live feeds to and from the BBC, NPR, and the A(ustralian)BC from it.

Dear Mr. Clooney,
Could you help out a fledgling film-maker and lay down a few voice tracks for me? You won't even have to leave Italy to do them - just find a broadcaster with ISDN studio equipment somewhere close to you, RAI should have the right gear. I'll pay for the phone call. :)

Anyhow, back to reality, I'd appreciate any help, links, etc. on the DAT/film/sync issue.
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#2 Jason Debus

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Posted 28 December 2005 - 04:26 PM

The clapper is the key. You record the clap both visually on camera and aurally on your DAT. If the clapper has time code then you can sync the clapper with your DAT at the start of the shoot which can help you sync up later in your NLE.

Posted Image

EDIT: It's also called a 'slate'

Edited by Jason Debus, 28 December 2005 - 04:30 PM.

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#3 Andy Sparaco SOC

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Posted 28 December 2005 - 04:53 PM

We are at the end of DAT. Tascam and Fostex have both introduced Solid State Audio recorders which use CF cards.

Most audio folks are moving from the DAT machines to the Memory Card methodology. It's faster, records in the natives wav format for edit and the CF cards can be reused and are inexpensive.

DAT machines will soon find themselves with the Nagra's on the junk pile of obsolete technology. I always prefered the Nagra Sound

Fostex FR2
Tascam HD P2
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#4 Hal Smith

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Posted 28 December 2005 - 04:55 PM

[ you sync up later in your NLE.

EDIT: It's also called a 'slate'

Thanks but apparently I haven't expressed my need clearly enough - I am absolutely out to sea with respect to just exactly how time relationship between the camera and the DAT while shooting/recording is maintained. I know that using a slate establishes the starting point but how are the camera and DAT kept in some form of sync so that one gets film and tape that later can be resolved? I suspect this all has something to do with crystal sync motors on the camera and the fact that DAT recorders internally have crystal clocks - but I'm just guessing.

Maybe an example of an equipment list for a shoot will help me, that way I can research all the gear being used to figure out how the camera and DAT "talk" to each other. whether it be by a direct link between them as per a camera motor that generates a 60Hz sync tone passed onto the audio recorder or perhaps just because they both are running a highly accurate timebase in some form.

Is this too "geeky" a post for the 16mm only forum? Is there a more appropriate place to address this issue?
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#5 Rachel Oliver

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Posted 28 December 2005 - 05:08 PM

Hi;

Make sure your camera has a crystal sync motor, most pro digital audio recorders are very stable these days and have some form of constant speed control, with this in mind sync between both should be ok... Always works for me! No need for pilotone.

Olly
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#6 Mark Lyon

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Posted 28 December 2005 - 06:11 PM

Hi Hal--

Your equipment list is short:

- Crystal-sync camera (best would be an Aaton or Arri with in-camera timecode)
- Timecode DAT (or, better, timecode hard disk or flash recorder)
- Timecode smart slate

The process is easy too:

1. Initialize timecode on recorder
2. Jam sync timecode slate from recorder--make sure its timecode matches the recorder's
3. Roll sound (at least 5 seconds of pre-roll is important for syncing dailies in telecine)
4. Present open smart slate to camera
5. Roll camera
6. Call out scene and take number, and clap slate

If you have a camera with Aaton code, you can eliminate the slate from the equation, but we still use it for backup.

I hope that helps--

Mark Lyon, Director
Mighty Max Films
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#7 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 28 December 2005 - 07:15 PM

Hi,

...or, if you want to save some time and money at the expense of having to sync up the sound yourself (which isn't too much of a chore) all you need to do is clap a dumb slate before the take.

As for maintaining sync, you must ensure that both the camera and recorder are crystal sync. This being the case, the drift between them is so minutely slight that it's irrelevant for any practical purpose - they'll stay in sync for days.

This notwithstanding it's usual to re-jam a timecode slate at lunchtime, but they never, ever drift anything like an entire frame in that time.

Phil
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#8 Hal Smith

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Posted 28 December 2005 - 10:36 PM

Thanks to all who've answered (and will answer) my post. I understand the core fact that DAT's stays pretty much in sync by theirselves thanks to having accurate internal timebases. So slates and time code become all that one needs to be obsessive about.

Sincerely,

Hal
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