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Old August 24th, 2014, 02:43 AM   #16
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Re: Thinking about timecode lately. Am obsessed....

Some people are lucky enough to have a camera and a recorder that show no significant drift for 20-30 minutes at a time. Or so they claim. I have never seen non-genlock gear able to do that. More typical, IME, and according to the reports of people in various online forums like this (and several others), We're lucky to have drift of maybe a frame or three after 10 minutes.

OTOH, Who uses shots that are 20 minutes (or even 10 minutes, or 5 minutes) without any kind of edit point? A video production with a 10-minute shot would be deadly dull to almost any audience. We typically throw in "cutaway" shots just to keep the viewer awake. And any point where you make a video edit is an opportunity to "pull-up" the video to match the audio track. This is so trivial, it takes much longer to describe it than it takes to just do it. So modern gear and modern edit techniques makes timecode and genlock much less important than it used to be, at least IMHO.

And as Mr. Fairhurst mentions, as video and audio recording become more computer-based, PTP will likely replace all those previous-generation genlock and timecode solutions.

I have shot and edited all sorts of video productions, including multi-camera musical events. And lack of timecode or even genlock has never been even a significant issue IME.
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Old August 24th, 2014, 09:44 AM   #17
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Re: Thinking about timecode lately. Am obsessed....

"Is drift a giant factor even with today's modern digital equipment?"
If your work-flow involves long takes, get some kind of gen-lock system. But otherwise I concur w/ Richard.
SD's Ambient clocks are pretty accurate but that doesn't mean the other gear on a shoot is.
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Old August 25th, 2014, 11:34 AM   #18
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Re: Thinking about timecode lately. Am obsessed....

Hey Richard and Rick. Great thanks! Finally wrapping my head around this somewhat.

I know that if I interview someone, I could have the camera running continuously for 20 minutes or more, especially if there is a really talkative subject. Or if there is some sort of (boring) presentation that is being captured.

Obviously MUCH of that gets edited away in post.

But maybe you could clear this up for me: Let's say there is a take that's 20 or > and you have your video in an editor, say FCP, and then you import audio, sync that up at very beginning.

So I am editing about 18 minutes in and notice that something is slightly off. Is this something you just deal with by a cut/edit and then manually slipping audio in sync one way or the other a few frames? I know the 'ol b-roll trick.

Any rule of thumb on this?

Jonathan
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Old August 25th, 2014, 11:35 AM   #19
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Re: Thinking about timecode lately. Am obsessed....

Oh, cr@p. I think Richard answered this in #16!
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Old August 25th, 2014, 12:44 PM   #20
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Re: Thinking about timecode lately. Am obsessed....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Crowley View Post
OTOH, Who uses shots that are 20 minutes (or even 10 minutes, or 5 minutes) without any kind of edit point? A video production with a 10-minute shot would be deadly dull to almost any audience.
But of course there are people who want to do it because it's a challenge. My favorite long take is actually short in comparison -- the opening to Touch of Evil, where Orson Wells opens with a nearly 3.5 minute tracking shot that's just brilliant. And just the opposite of boring!

Ten years before that, Hitchcock made far longer takes in Rope. He supposedly wanted to make the entire film just one single long take, but was saddled with 35mm film cameras that were limited to 1000' magazines (roughly 10 minutes at 24fps). So the final film is 11 long takes, each around 10 minutes in length. Sadly, I've not seen Rope. But it's now on my list.

But in general, Mr. Crowley is spot on. For those of us who are not quite as talented as Orson Wells or Alfred Hitchcock (that would absolutely be me), really long takes should perhaps be avoided. And not just because of the sync sound issues!
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Old August 25th, 2014, 01:01 PM   #21
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Re: Thinking about timecode lately. Am obsessed....

Rick mentioned this early in the thread but I get the feeling it escaped notice. When used with a modern file-based audio recorder, timecode does not provide any speed reference, hence is useless for preventing drift. Timecode provides a single position reference so you can align the first sample in the audio file with the frame in which it was recorded in the video file. It really does nothing more than a clapper slate does, albeit in a much more convenient way. To prevent drift you need to use a genlock system so the sample clocks in the camera and the audio recorder share a common timebase.
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Old August 25th, 2014, 01:57 PM   #22
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Re: Thinking about timecode lately. Am obsessed....

I was just overtaken with the desire to watch "Russian Ark". I guess I will have to buy a BD. It is scheduled to be shown on Sept 1. on TCM @ 3am(!), but since I don't have satellite or cable (or even Netflix), I guess I will just have to buy a BD.

"Russian Ark" (2002) is a 95-minute feature film made in ONE shot, ONE take. It features 2000 extras in period costume, 33 rooms of the epic Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg, and 3 live orchestras, With ONE camera operator using a Steadicam!

I just discovered: "In One Breath - The Making of Russian Ark" on YouTube (in 5 parts!)

They had a "camera entourage" of eight people including director, assistants, Steadicam operator, focus-puller (wireless), and a guy with an enormous back-pack, presumably hard drive recorders and batteries.
In the first segment (which is the only one I have watched, so far) they said they had 36 hours for setup, shooting, and strike (including restoration to the museum). "Postponement was never an option."
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Old August 25th, 2014, 02:14 PM   #23
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Re: Thinking about timecode lately. Am obsessed....

...but did they do sync sound?

For Touch of Evil, they didn't. Rope likely did. Not sure about Russian Ark.
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Old August 25th, 2014, 02:52 PM   #24
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Re: Thinking about timecode lately. Am obsessed....

It appears that they did NOT do sync sound for Russian Ark. At least in very many places you hear the director and assistant directors shouting out blocking instructions to the cast/extras.

Apparently they made a custom Steadicam for this production, but even at that, the Steadicam operator nearly didn't make it all the way through without collapsing. He said he feared he was in danger of permanently injuring himself and never working again. In several places you see the enormous battery and recorder back-pack being wheeled around on a cart by two guys. But no relief for the Steadicam operator.

What a very unique and remarkable production! Even if they didn't do sync sound.
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Old August 25th, 2014, 04:54 PM   #25
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Re: Thinking about timecode lately. Am obsessed....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Crowley View Post
"Russian Ark" (2002) is a 95-minute feature film made in ONE shot, ONE take. It features 2000 extras in period costume, 33 rooms of the epic Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg, and 3 live orchestras, With ONE camera operator using a Steadicam!
Well, might was well get the others. Timecode (shot 15 times, one continuous take each time, with the actors wearing different clothes for each take to prevent edits after the fact), PVC-1 (I can't find out anything about this one), and La Casa Muda (may or may not be one single take, might be edited to simulate one take) are also supposed to be full-length single-take feature films. This from Wikipedia; I haven't seen any of these films. Yet. That makes four -- are there any others?

All of the above are from the digital era, of course. I don't remember exactly, but I think there was a film camera made that could handle 1200' reels of 16mm film (S16?), which was good for a bit over 30 minutes. But that's about the max we ever got from film, yes?

I'll have to locate a copy of Russian Ark; should make for an amazing evening.
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Old August 25th, 2014, 10:27 PM   #26
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Re: Thinking about timecode lately. Am obsessed....

There are a few copies on eBay, both DVD and Blueray versions.
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Old August 25th, 2014, 11:45 PM   #27
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Re: Thinking about timecode lately. Am obsessed....

Despite audio syncing method with today's workflow, I still prefer SMPTE TC. Yes, it costs a lot more. $500+ for SMPTE TC option, but in the long run that investment pays off in efficiency and accuracy. I actually use it more than ever before in situation where it's too tedious to run 100-ft XLR from the master mixer on the balcony to the bottom or vice versa. The SD 744T has been a great workhorse. I use mostly the 24 hr continuous TC and it acts as a master source. No more low-quality wireless feed but full 24-bit glory w/ out the cable run hassles. The key is to resync every time the cam powers down to ensure absolutely minimum drift. To me, 1 frame off is perfectly acceptable. But 5 or more is not. For a whole day of shoot and 2 battery changes, it drifted only 1-2 frames before resync. Not too bad. In the real world example, trying to sync with audio from 6 cams will take a very long time in most NLE. It has to process all the audio pattern. I gave up for the 3 hour concert. Or one can use a crude method of finding flash photography and mark it in. This works for continuous take but when the 6 cams are rolling w/ out any visual reference, TC is indispensable. For me, I use TC as the primary method. If TC drifts by a few frames due to battery change and other matters, common flash sync is my 2nd. Then audio sync as the 3rd method. Audio sync is very hard if you have a rear camera 200-500 feet back and the front cam is right next to the speaker. There's a delay in the audio when the cam is too far back.

In post prod., lining up TC source is incredibly fast (as long as it's done correctly in the field) from various sources vs having to go in and manually find a reference point and mark as in point. I hate having to guess the lip-sync and then 15 min later in the continuous event it's drift by half a second. in such situation, TC works best.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan Levin View Post
Hi everyone.

I am really getting nuts getting into the nuts and bolts of sync sound (for me anyway) and wanted to discuss timecode.

My basic knowledge of this is that a camera and audio recording device can be synced using timecode, thereby making sync in editing as easy as matching numbers. (Correct so far?)

Where I am getting thrown are the different "flavors" of timecode syncing. For example, my desired Sound Devices 633 has no less than nine timecode modes:

Record Run, Free Run, Free Run Auto Mute, 24hr run, 24hr run Auto Mute, External timecode, External timecode Auto Record, External timecode continuous, and External Timecode Auto record continuous!!!!!

Holy crap!

Or do you have a better way?

Is the first thing you do is "Jam sync" the two devices? From what I understand the camera is the external slave that controls the recorder???? And what the hell are "user bits" and do I need to even concern myself with this?

Jonathan

I realize the easiest and possibly the lowest tech approach would be to slate each and every time you start and stop the camera and recorder.
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