Denecke TS-TCB Smart Slate
Chapter 1 - The Slate Stands Alone
I'm one of the very early adopters of the Timecode Systems Timecode Buddy as an innovative rock solid method for the synchronization of cameras and sound in the field so when it was announced that Denecke was going to partner with TCB I was very excited. I've been working with the slate for the past few weeks now and initially my plan was to review the TS-TCB as it fits into the overall work flow that Timecode Systems has created over the past several years. I've since decided to do this in a few chapters with different focus points and I hope that all of this becomes clear as I post my thoughts. These early chapters may be rudimentary to many but I feel this system has a tremendous amount of layers to it.
First off I haven't, nor will I, perform any 24 hour drift tests. I'm confident in Denecke's rock solid status with timecode clocks.
On with my thoughts.
If you're new to timecode or perhaps you're contemplating on how to build your system slowly then I suggest that this be the first piece of TC gear you purchase. Yep, thats what this chapter is going to be about. The TS-TCB works completely fine as any other slate on the market and all you have to do is jam it the same way you would any other slate. Stick it with a 5 pin lemo and you're up & rocking with a phenomenal slate that won't let you down. The TS-TCB is a bit more of an investment but one that will pay off big-time as you expand the system. Buy smart... Not often.
The first expansion is easy and free. You simply download the Timecode Systems app on your smart phone or ipad and you begin to have access to the bottom row of LED's on the slate. That means the wow factor is available without spending additional cash on your start up.
The TS-TCB has built in wifi to facilitate communications with apps such as the Timecode Buddy app and MovieSlate 8. There are a lot of work flow options available to us with this system but remember in this chapter I'm focusing on this slate as the start up piece of gear. I'll summarize at the end some of the more advanced options you can build into.
To the right is a screen shot of what you'll see when you have your slate generating wifi and latch onto it with your smart phone. In this scenario you can see that my slate wifi is "slate083" thats the wifi network you'll see in your phone list that gives you access to the slate. Now you may be wondering what the red slates in the app are all about. I'm glad you asked! Those are the controls for the bottom LED scroll. With this basic free app you have the ability to enter whatever data you'd like to see appear on that bottom LED and by tapping the slate icon in each field it sets the parameters for the information as it scrolls.
Example: Tapping on each slate icon cycles through the available options for each field.
With just the clapper highlighted red that field scrolls upon clap. With just the main body highlighted that field scrolls when the slate is opened and so on with any combination you'd like.
The next image is a screen shot of the control interface from the app. I have this slate running in internal mode and in that mode I can change the settings from the phone and jam the slate from a code I select or hit the use clock. Its pretty much the only mode you can change the code via the app. If you're running in external RF(cont) or LTC(cont) the app sees that automatically and shifts the device screen giving you just the Textbox Scroll Speed bar for the bottom LED. In the early days you will most likely be jamming the slate in LTC(Cont) mode the way you would any other slate. Then the app will add in the bottom row of LED's. The negative for this setup is the range of the wifi which needs improvement. I'd put it at no better then a 40ft range and thats if there isn't any competing wifi. Its very important to understand that in this core system developed by Timecode Systems (TCBuddy) wifi does not impact the TC sync in any way. Which is a good time to move on to the next step of evolution. There are several options available but I'm staying true to this chapter and only going to move up the ladder a little bit and add in a Timecode Systems :miniTX.
These are the small affordable transmitters that in your bag or cart would provide for instantaneous sync with the TS-TCB slate. In the photo to the right you can see that RF channel 1 is 915.050 and increases from there with an additional 14 channels to select. This method has a great deal of range and the (cont) stands for continuous roll so when code is lost the slate simply reverts to its own internal clock marching along until the RF signal is regained. No more rejamming through out the day or after lunch. They auto jam at power up. This is the heart of the entire Timecode Systems work flow. Smart TC & Metadata.
The slate itself is what we've all come to expect from Denecke. It features an 8 position brightness selector and a very user friendly menu for interfacing with the rest of the system or simply rocking it as a stand alone slate. There no longer are any dip switches of any kind to mess with. The slate simply sees the incoming code and self adjusts to conform. This is why I'm so high on this slate. It allows mixers the ability to take logical steps towards building their gear package without re-inventing the wheel while at the same time helping them control the cost along the way by providing real functionality (and some bling with the free app) that expands as you expand. You can for the first time really tailor the gear to your budget and grow it sensibly. Of course if you've cash or a pending gig throwing down on the entire family is always an option!
In my world I'm running the Timecode Systems Wifi:master (soon to be :wave) out of my 688 as the master clock with an array of :miniRX's providing tri-level (genlock) sync to the cameras and the TS-TCB / MovieSlate 8 combination has really been a tremendous addition to the family. It simply syncs with my entire work flow on power up. The system ultimately will integrate with Sound Devices 6 series and 788T via the :wave and a host of cameras via :pulse. In the next chapter I will start to tie all these systems together as well as introduce MovieSlate 8 which expands the connectivity with the slate exponentially but thats a whole chapter for another day! This is an incredibly expansive system and will require time to bring it all under one roof.
The battery door needs an attachment to prevent it from flopping while no batteries are loaded. Denecke recommends maintaining an empty batt sled while not in use.
www.televisionsound.com Thom Shafer Cleveland Ohio Location Sound Production Mixer
The free Timecode Buddy App for the Denecke TS-TCB Slate
The Denecke TS-TCB Slate
"Being a great mixer is knowing what sounds good and what doesn't as it applies to the situation you find yourself in..." - Thom Shafer