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Old May 29th, 2009, 12:00 PM   #1
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Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: bend, oregon
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I've been looking for a new field recorder for indoor and outdoor video production, but I'm a little confused with the timecode. When a field recorder says it does/has/records timecode, does that mean it's jam syncing to a camera, recording it to the actual file (.wav, etc.) for use in a NLE, or both. I want a recorder with an option for free run timecode so I can sync it once at the beginning of the day.

For example the "R-4 Pro 4 Channel Portable Field Recorder with SMPTE Time Code" versus the "R-44 Solid-State Four-Channel Portable Field Recorder."

Are one of the these recorders not going to give me timecode if I drop the audio file in my timeline?

Thanks in advance.
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Old May 29th, 2009, 12:07 PM   #2
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Some recorders can jam to timecode (the Tascam comes to mind) and some can generate their own and or Jam which separates the R-4 Pro 4 from the R-44. Not sure if they put a date timestamp on the track with the R44 which could be used as quasi timecode in your NLE. Don't expect professional features from the lower end models. Check the specs to see if they have inputs and outputs for the signals you want to record. If they say they record timecode then yes it is part of the file which your NLE should be able to access but that is also something to check depending on the software you are using.

Last edited by Daniel Epstein; May 29th, 2009 at 07:45 PM.
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Old May 29th, 2009, 05:54 PM   #3
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Tiimecode with file-based recorders is a different critter from traditional linear timecode such as used in analog recorders or DATs. With a broadcast wave (BWF) file, there is a single timestamp marking either TOD, timecode, or "00" at the instant of the first audio sample. There is NO linear timecode recorded continuously parallel to the audio in the file itself. Because of this, the timecode provides a TIME reference for when the file starts, just like a slate provides a "clack" sound reference to a specific frame, but it does not provide a SPEED reference to maintain sync as the scene plays out.

When you drop a timestamped BWF file into an editor that recognizes the embedded timecode, it places the first sample at the matching point in the timeline.

Timecode-capable recorders will jam to a camera that sends them 'code, however with most prosumer cameras there remains the problem of getting its timecode OUT to send it to the recorder. Only a few cameras have TC output terminals to allow for that. The other option is to use the audio recorder as the timecode master, sending code to the camera, but again, only a few prosumer cameras have inputs for external timecode.
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Last edited by Steve House; May 30th, 2009 at 02:03 AM.
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Old May 29th, 2009, 08:13 PM   #4
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Well said Steve! I was just going to mention the BWF time stamp issue with no word-clock or video black-burst reference present.
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