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Old December 29th, 2004, 12:28 PM   #1
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Question about tone generators on DV cameras

I would actually be interested in hearing from folks here how they use the onboard tone generator on a DV camera. In these days of Firewire, it's not like you can tweak the incoming audio levels to your NLE (unless you are capturing DV through a board, which I would guess that few do). Having a bars-and-tone section at the head of each tape these days seems to function more as a way to use up the dropout-prone 30 seconds at the head of the tape more than anything else. Certainly I use tone from the mixer to make sure that the camera levels and mixer levels are trued, but coming from the camera...

This all came up on my recent feature where occasionally we were hung up waiting for the laying down of bars and tone on a given tape while the sun was setting or the child actor's work hours continued to shrink, etc. Hopping from one foot to another, I distracted myself by visualizing the tape in the edit room as it is rewound to the beginning of the first clip, then captured thereafter, then the tape being stored in perpetuity with that lonely bars and tone sitting at the head of it; all this as the ball dropped lower on the horizon and my fleeting daylight seeped away.

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Old December 29th, 2004, 12:35 PM   #2
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Charles,
I agree with you entirely.
I don't know of any other camera which generates its own tone. It should come from an external source such as a mixer. My recordist couldn't get over the fact that Canon had built it in already - absolutely superfluous he thought...

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Old December 29th, 2004, 12:42 PM   #3
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I almost always record sound using a mixer, so I record tone from the mixer. Having it in camera is nice, in case you don't have a mixer. Not having bars and tone at the head of your tape is considered amateurish. However, if you're editing your own stuff and not shooting things you may hand off to other people, then it might not matter. I always check tone at the head of tapes when I'm getting ready to load footage, and adjust the incoming audio accordingly. Without the tone, it's guesswork.
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Old December 29th, 2004, 01:19 PM   #4
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Where I used to intern, the 'engineer' there (we call ourselves whatever we want) was asked to do a dub from mini-DV to betaSP. There was no tone on the tape (although there were bars) so he just guessed. The audio was overmodulated, but the client didn't complain.

Technically he could have generated a tape with tone in Final Cut and calibrated the deck to that, and ensured the dub would not overmodulate/distort. They weren't really a dubbing place but had the equipment (and would be crazy to refuse the money).

But anyways, the story is, if you tape is getting dubbed:
A- You might want to put tone on it.
B- Check your dub, because they may not be doing the dub properly. Graeme Nattress has a story where his dub had incorrect 7.5IRE setup.
C- Ask some questions about 7.5IRE setup, audio levels, how they are dubbing (firewire, composite, S-video, component, SDI, etc.). 7.5IRE setup and audio levels in particular can be confusing- if they're just as confused as you are (or you're confusing them), then you really should check your dub and *complain nicely* if they screw things up.

At Ryerson University, the Velocity edit suites are setup so the audio from DVCPRO tapes are captured via analog, so having proper tone on the tapes is a good idea. There are edit suites that don't capture DV through firewire/IEEE1394.

2- I guess what I'm trying to say is, if you're capturing firewire then don't sweat it. However, you may not be capturing firewire- then you need to pay attention, although you don't necessarily need tone.
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Old December 29th, 2004, 01:27 PM   #5
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Thanks gents. That pretty much confirms what I thought. Bill, are you capturing your footage via analog also?

I certainly agree about having bars and tone at the head of master tapes.
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Old December 29th, 2004, 02:00 PM   #6
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I guess that means we won't need audio guys anymore. Thanks Canon!
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