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denecke tc-3 time code slate


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#1 Gregor Grieshaber

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Posted 16 January 2008 - 09:38 PM

hi there,

i consider buying a denecke tc-3. unfortunately the tc-3 is not able by itself to receive "wireless" timecode. so my question is, what wireless system do you normally use to transmit and receive timecode from the sound guys? and are the systems you are working with reliable?
i know ambient slates have a built in receiver but i don´t like the handling and the design.

thanks in advance

greg


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#2 Matt Kelly

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 12:10 AM

If I had any advice on the topic it would be to STAY AWAY from transmitting timecode. Jamming is much easier, and it will save you a LOT of 9 volt batteries and negative feedback from the annoyed dailies guy. The receivers eat through batteries like nuts, and I'd commend you if you can make it through a show without more than 20 or so timecode hiccups along the way (mostly caused by batteries suddenly dying, but also losing line of sight with the transmitter).
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#3 Marque DeWinter

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Posted 01 February 2008 - 06:06 PM

If I had any advice on the topic it would be to STAY AWAY from transmitting timecode. Jamming is much easier, and it will save you a LOT of 9 volt batteries and negative feedback from the annoyed dailies guy. The receivers eat through batteries like nuts, and I'd commend you if you can make it through a show without more than 20 or so timecode hiccups along the way (mostly caused by batteries suddenly dying, but also losing line of sight with the transmitter).


If absolutely required I'll use my Comtek system and switch on setup to a different channel. After the more than a decade as a sound mixer though...I've only had to do this maybe 5 times at most outside of Playback operations for music videos. When shoot a video its very common since you'll start the track in a variety of different places and you just can't resync the slate before every take. A PR216/M216 setup will usually run for at least 6 hours on a set of batteries (I've had them run for days even) so the batteries really aren't the issue. The concern is that there can be a delay in the transmission, interference, etc.

~Marque
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#4 Gregor Grieshaber

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 06:33 PM

hi marque, so how do you work if you don´t transmit it? i can´t imagine pulling a cable through the set. do you have kind of a timecode generator and sync it sveral times during the day? and do you know another solution beside the comtek? i think its to pricey for this application, it will be hard enough anyway to get money for it as timecode slates are very uncommon in germany. and i don´t think there are delays with the comteck it should be as fast as with a cable, electronic radiation is as fast as electrons in a cable...

and matt what receivers do you use? you say they are very power consuming, do you switch them off between shots, and do you have an indication led or something that warns you if they get weak?

thanks for the answers guys...


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#5 Chris Keth

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Posted 09 February 2008 - 12:36 AM

When I have worked with a timecode slate, the sound guy jammed it at the beginning of the day and at lunch. In between, I was free to roam with it.

Edited by Chris Keth, 09 February 2008 - 12:37 AM.

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#6 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 09 February 2008 - 09:17 PM

When I have worked with a timecode slate, the sound guy jammed it at the beginning of the day and at lunch. In between, I was free to roam with it.


That's generally how it works. Once the sound recordist jams the slate with his recorder, they disconnect and run independently at the same rate and in sync. Unless something weird has happened or a battery change has effected the timecode, there shouldn't be a reason to re-jam later on.
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#7 Gregor Grieshaber

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Posted 10 February 2008 - 12:03 PM

doesn´t that mean the sound mixer has one track less to record on? what if he needs this track? and i need a timecode generator for that right? i wanted to avoid causing any trouble or change something in the common production workflow... thats why my idea was to go wireless with the original record timecode. in germany nobody is used to work with timecode, it will be hard enough anyway to explain the production manager, why he should rent this thing from me. but i´m still confident.

i guess i will ask some german sound guys about their opinion. i´m sure i´ll meet some at the berlinale.

thanks for your help


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#8 Matt Kelly

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Posted 10 February 2008 - 02:36 PM

Hmmm.. I'm not sure what you mean.  Timecode has nothing to do with how many tracks can be recorded.  The TC-3 has a syncbox built into it, and it's very common in production.  The sound person will set up and generate the base time code.  All camera department does in return is give him syncboxes and/or TC slates to match everything to his.  When I've worked with generators we sync in the morning and then re-sync at lunch.  I haven't personally seen any of the theoretical "drift" that can supposedly happen.

The only real benefit I see to wireless is that it saves the sound person the menial task of plugging a 1/4" phono plug into your slate twice a twice a day for about 3 seconds.  The receivers that I've used (no clue about model #'s of this stuff)  usually switch batteries (one 9-volt per) 1-2 times a day.  This often causes a take or two to be slated without running timecode, because either the boom operator didn't have an extra 9 volt immediately on standby, or I simply didn't notice the blinking low battery light because it's hidden under a camera report holder on the back of the slate.  On the other end, the same thing will happen if the boom operator doesn't notice the blinking low batt. light on his TC transmitter.  Those seem to change batteries at about the same rate to me, but i'm not sure.  I feel like a 25 day shoot would go through 150 9-volts or so just on TC transmitters and receivers.  Maybe someone can sell me on transmitting by telling me I've just worked with the wrong people, but jamming has always seemed waaaay more low maintenance and simpler for everyone.  

Also Gregor, how exactly are you renting it to a production?  It's normally something a sound mixer would own, along with all the appropriate transmitters/receivers.
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#9 Gregor Grieshaber

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Posted 10 February 2008 - 04:32 PM

Timecode has nothing to do with how many tracks can be recorded.


let´s say a sound mixer has four tracks for record. and he has two booms and two ambient microphones. that means he uses all of his four tracks and there is none left to record the timecode from the timecode generator. do i get this right?
this is my only concern because i would bring all this in the production. so i´m the promoter of this system and i don´t want to cause any trouble or disadvantages with that. the generator and jam thing sounds definately more practical. i think i should go for that, but i don´t want to limit the sound guy in any way.


Also Gregor, how exactly are you renting it to a production?


when i was for hollydays in bulgaria i walked by a local feature set with an old old crane with an old 535 on it. and they had a tc-3. so i thought why do they have this and we don´t? and than i thought this could be a nice way to make some extra money and also bring this over to germany, where budgets are much higher as in bulgaria.
so i think i just go to production and say: look at this cool thing i have. it´s so much better the assistant editor will love it and everybody will be happy. and it costs you just that little for rent. and he will say: oh i never had this before. but it sounds great. of course i pay your charge for this damn timcode thing. and i say: thank you

or do you guys think this is a bad idea?


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#10 Chris Keth

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Posted 10 February 2008 - 05:19 PM

The timecode being synced to is the timecode that the sound mixer's recording device generates already. You don't need another track for it. The slate is just jammed (synchronized) so that it runs the same TC as the sound mixer's gear.

As for renting it to production, go for it if you think it will get rented out. In the US it's usually the sound mixer that owns the timecode slate, if anybody.
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#11 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 10 February 2008 - 05:54 PM

Your complicating this way more than you have to.

All the recordist's tracks are recording at the same time, with the same timecode and in sync, so you don't have to slate for each track. Generally, time code is just set for the time of day. I think some guys even go so far as to sync their recorder to the atomic clock!

By the way, as a camera assistant, you DO NOT have to buy your own TC-3 slate. Most sound recordists have (or should have) their own. And if it's crucial to the film, production has to provide one.

As an AC, you should own your own sync slate (A basic Earl and an insert slate for longer focal lengths), but not something as expensive as a smart slate.
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#12 Chris Keth

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Posted 10 February 2008 - 06:12 PM

I think some guys even go so far as to sync their recorder to the atomic clock!


Really...?

I guess there's thorough and there's thorough. :ph34r:
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#13 Matt Kelly

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Posted 11 February 2008 - 04:17 AM

:lol:
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#14 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 12 February 2008 - 12:01 AM

Well, it's not THAT strange. Even my mother-in-law has an clock synced to an atomic clock in her livingroom ;)

Edited by Jonathan Bowerbank, 12 February 2008 - 12:02 AM.

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#15 Marque DeWinter

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Posted 12 February 2008 - 11:44 AM

In summary....

As an AC I've never needed to provide anything more than an insert slate. I do carry an extra set of colored sticks (without a slate) just in case. If I really have to I can use paper to slate with the sticks or if for some reason I can use the insert slate.

As a sound mixer I always provide a timecode slate that is jammed with Timecode. If the slate is in good working order there shouldn't be any drift between my recorder and/or masterclock and the slate for the first 6-8 hours. So at lunch I re-jam the slate.

I only use a comtek pair when I have to send live timecode to the slate. This is only required when the timecode changes frequently ie. during playback for music videos. When that is needed I have a short cable (18") that stays plugged into the slate (you need to change the TS3 settings as well) and runs into the comtek receiver which I usually tape to the back of the slate. Every 4 hours or so, just to be safe, I change the 9V battery in the transmitter and receiver.

With the way modern recorders work timecode is automatically recorded so you don't actually "lose" a track. A 4 channel recorder has 4 available channels plus timecode. A 10 channel recorder (like my Diva) has 10 channels plus timecode.

A VERY important thing that as an AC you should always assist the Sound Mixer/Recordist with is verifying the Frame Rate prior to shooting. I have had a few shoots where I ask the DP or an AC and they say "we're shooting at 24fps" and we are really shooting at "29.97" which means that the audio won't sync properly. If the frame rate changes for some reason let the mixer know ASAP and let them know when it changes back.

~Marque DeWinter

Edited by Marque DeWinter, 12 February 2008 - 11:45 AM.

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#16 Gregor Grieshaber

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Posted 12 February 2008 - 11:58 AM

Your complicating this way more than you have to.


you are right. an assistant editor missinformed me, he said the generated timecode is recorded on one of the available audio tracks. but i talked to a sound guy before who said its recorded somwhere else.


By the way, as a camera assistant, you DO NOT have to buy your own TC-3 slate.


i know, i just thought it could be a good investment to make some extra money. i guess it´s paid after two years. and i just don´t like the fact that it is not common in germany to use one. and i will change that, at least for the productions i´m working on...


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#17 John Sprung

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Posted 12 February 2008 - 03:08 PM

you are right. an assistant editor missinformed me, he said the generated timecode is recorded on one of the available audio tracks. but i talked to a sound guy before who said its recorded somwhere else.

Time code can always be recorded in an audio channel, and long ago it was done that way -- for instance, on 2" 24 track audio, and the very first version of 3/4" U-matic video. Today, there are dedicated time code channels on almost everything. The amount of data necessary to carry time code is much smaller than you need for audio, so it makes sense in digital systems to use a dedicated TC stream.




-- J.S.
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#18 Matt Kelly

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Posted 13 February 2008 - 04:59 AM

Well,hey... they didn't use any smart slates on the newest Indiana Jones movie. I think that's kind of cool. :P
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#19 Gregor Grieshaber

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Posted 13 February 2008 - 01:31 PM

hey marque, thanks for your informative statement. do you think a SB-2(A) timecode generator is the right choice for me? and what are the advantages in comparison of the GR-1 master clock?

Well,hey... they didn't use any smart slates on the newest Indiana Jones movie. I think that's kind of cool. :P

interesting... i still think about if it´s worth the extra money for the production manager.




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#20 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 13 February 2008 - 02:06 PM

interesting... i still think about if it´s worth the extra money for the production manager.


I can't see any Producer budgeting for an AC's kit fee for a smart slate. You should just leave it up to the sound guy to provide one, and have a basic slate for yourself.

Chances are, the majority of the productions you'll be working on won't even benefit from the timecode being read on the slate. They'll probably just ignore sound's timecode and sync clips the old fashioned way anyhow.
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