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Three camera shoot using TC from a DVCAM Deck as sync


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#1 mabou

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Posted 11 July 2006 - 11:18 AM

Hi all,
I am embarking on a three camera shoot for two 90 minute fitness videos.
I am struggling to resolve the workflow I should use for syncing the three cameras AND the music deck, as well as providing the live music for the instructor to perform to.

The solution I have come up with is to "DeeJay" all of the music ahead of time and bump it off to a DVCAM Tape. Then during the shoot, I play the live music from the DVCAM deck which will also feed the timecode to all three cameras. This way all four sources (three cameras & 1 music) all have the same Time code.... even if we have to back up the music and retake a section.

I have NO idea what is required to take a single TC out from the DVCAM and split it to go to three cameras. I also have no idea of what kind of problems could arise. And finally, ALL of the equipment is rented so I will have no chance to experiment ahead of time.... pressure?.... yup.

We will most likely be shooting with Panasonic AJ-SDX900.

Any help would be appreciated.
Thanks a bunch.
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#2 Peter J DeCrescenzo

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Posted 11 July 2006 - 02:45 PM

Genlocking and synchronizing the timecode of multiple pro video cams is relatively straight-forward, but if possible I'd recommend doing an in-person test at the rental house before the day of the shoot. :-)

The Panasonic SDX-900 user manual probably includes a diagram and basic instructions on how it's done -- at least the manual which came with my Sony DSR-450WSL did.

You can download a user manual for the SDX-900 from the Manuals & Docs area here on cinematography.com or from Panasonic's website:
http://www.cinematog...hp?showforum=46
http://catalog2.pana...Model=AJ-SDX900

... or or might be able to get a PDF or paper copy of the manual from the rental house.

If none of the above, refer to page 44 in the PDF copy of the user manual for the DSR-450WSL available in cinematography.com's Manuals & Docs area:

If all else fails, consult with/hire a competent video production technician ahead of your shoot.
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#3 Michael Nash

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Posted 11 July 2006 - 03:55 PM

I would NOT recommend sharing timecode between the playback and the cameras. When you get into post it's going to be a nightmare trying to cue up the right take.

Do share TC between cameras though, it is straightforward as Peter says and I'll get to that later. Most NLE's can support multiple video tracks, so even if you have different cameras with the same TC it's not hard to keep track of cameras and tapes as A1, B1, C1; A2, B2, C2 and so on.

Instead of synching TC from the playback I would simply record the playback audio to one of the cameras. You'll have the music ready to go in post, and you could still do an audio overlay if you want. Use the other cameras for the other audio recording such as the instructor.

For synching TC bewteen cameras, I'm assuming you're familar with the procedure but if not we can describe it here. Suffice it to say that you have a few basic choices; you can go hard-wired with TC and genlock; you can "jam-synch" TC for mobile cameras (no genlock); and you can use record-run or free-run TC (record-run only with hard-wire synching, and I'd recommend free-run for the fewest problems anyway).
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#4 mabou

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Posted 12 July 2006 - 09:24 AM

Peter, thanks for the info... much appreciated.

Hi Michael, Thanks a bunch for the reply. Having a nightmare in post is not much of a concern to me because of my workflow and the edit suit I use. I am most concerned about whether it will actually work on set or not.
Have you ever used Multi-clip editing in Final Cut Pro? If not, just to let you know, it is very cool. I assign all of the clips for any given section to the multi-clip editor. This might mean that I have 9 or more clips stacked up (if I had to shoot three takes of the same section x 3 cameras). With the FCP Multi-clip editing, I can see thumbnails of all nine video tracks running in real time in a "switcher" window, and I can act like a live switcher, every time I click on one of the thumbnails, it drops that clip into the master timeline, then when I click on the next thumbail, it drops the next clip into the timeline... and on and on. Very, Very, Very, cool. In addition, the multi-clip element remains completely editable once I have dropped a clip into the timeline. At any time I want, I can select a previously edited clip in the timeline and open the multi-clip editor to choose one of the other 8 camera angles just for that clip. How cool is that?

But I digress...
Is there any reason why I could not drive the 3 cameras TC from the DVCAM deck?

Edited by mabou, 12 July 2006 - 09:26 AM.

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#5 Michael Nash

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Posted 12 July 2006 - 04:30 PM

Is there any reason why I could not drive the 3 cameras TC from the DVCAM deck?


I guess it depends on the deck, but in theory it should work. As long as you can send TC OUT from the deck (and monitor it), you could use the deck as "master" and all the cameras as slave. You'll want to roll the playback deck first though to ensure it's sending TC before you roll cameras. If you roll cameras first their TC will still be rolling free-run from the last synch point, and the TC on the tape will jump backwards to the playback TC as soon as it recognizes it. Timecode breaks and backward jumps can really cause problems in post.

And I would recommend manually slating takes on the set if you're synching TC to the playback. You'll want some kind of reference in post for the different takes. And even if you're mulit-cam editing, the TC of any given take really helps you identify takes quickly.

The whole idea is to make the workflow easier, both on set and in post. I did a multicam show for a while where the post department insisted that we roll A camera in record run, and slave the other cameras to that. But then that meant we had to follow a strict discipline on set of always rolling A camera first and then B and C, and always cutting B and C first, then A. If anybody slipped and continued to roll, we had to estimate how long it was and pre-roll A camera enough for the TC to advance past the other camera's cut point so there wouldn't be any backwards TC jumps on the tapes (and we had to be hard-wired as well). It was backwards and "messed up" to say the least. Finally someone in post encountered another problem with TC (at their end) and said, "why don't you guys just synch in free run? <_<

So you can synch the cameras to the playback if you want, but will this really make life easier for you? Will any part of production or post be harder if you do it the more traditional way?
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