I am asked if I'm a paid spokesman for Timecode Systems and I am most definitely not. I met Paul and the team at their first NAB and it was a time that I was searching for something better and new for sync. I wanted something more then just a dumb sync box and their vision of the future really spoke to me. I blogged about the then Timecode Buddy System as the best of show (in my opinion) at that NAB and proceeded to buy the first set of TCBuddy's that came into the US. In short... I do this because I believe in the company and the products that they've created and I whole heartedly feel that championing a hot running innovative company is in my own best interest for the future!
www.televisionsound.com Thom Shafer Production Sound Mixer
In Sync is a Good Place to Be
Sync has come full circle... In this article I will lay out my work flow in the wonderful world of synchronization and do so from the hub of the sound cart/bag while also highlighting other possibilities along the way. My system of choice is Timecode Systems LLC because of the complete and thorough integration of the entire process that they've created. Soup to nuts as it were... :-)
The first order of business is to determine which base station fits your needs in the bag or on the cart. With two options available here is a quick overview of the differences between them.
TCS:wave was designed for the sound professional and integrates with all Sound Devices 6xx series mixer/recorders or stands alone as a master sync unit. TCS:pulse does all that :wave does but adds increased computing power to handle camera metadata as well as adds 2 ether net ports for hardwire computer/camera integration. The number one reason (IMO) that a mixer may want :pulse is the ability to control GoPro's over the TCS b:link network. With the SyncBacPro, GoPro's can be powered up/down, rolled/cut and grouped via b:link but only controlled via :pulse. My thoughts are that I want to keep all sync in my sound house so I'd encourage that path.
Either option is fine so lets move on to the next order of business which is the foundation of the system and the fundamental premise behind it.
The B:LINK Network
There is a lot of confusion on the overall way TCS delivers sync. Wifi (2.4ghz) has absolutely nothing to do with the sync operations of the system. Instead, the b:link network operates on the extremely robust 915-918 MHz (US Version) frequencies with a selectable incrementation across 14 channels. All TCS devices enjoy internal clocks rated at 0.01ppm drift over a 24 hour period. The basic premise is that all devices auto sync with the master at power up and enjoy a standard range of 400 meters (less for the SyncBacPro's without an external antenna which I'll cover in that area) and automatically shift to internal clocks when they loose rf and then soft jam back to the b:link network upon regaining the signal. The soft jam concept is an important one. In the event that a unit has experienced some drift the system won't slam it back into sync ruining the metadata on the clip currently recording. It softly slides it back so as not to affect the recording.
Word Clock - Genlock - LTC Timecode
All extremely important to achieve true sync. Most cameras only look at TC at the initial roll of a take & then shift back to their internal clocks which leaves them very susceptible to drift over long rolls. Genlock, in a nutshell, is the mechanism that takes over the internal clock of each camera. So with several cameras all rolling the best way to sync them is to have an external source such as the TCS mini:trx+ lock all the genlock pulses together as one. The same is true with word clock and sound. LTC provides the ability to feed TC onto an audio track of a 5D for example which in todays world is an important piece of the sync puzzle that we dance with daily.
Denecke TS-TCB Slate
The Denecke TS-TCB slate is one of my fagvorite pieces of the sync puzzle and has become a genuine crowd pleaser in my kit!
TCS B:Link Network / MovieSlate 8
The options for integration with iOS devices is pretty extraordinary now with TCS. Their own free software allows for complete monitoring of all the deployed units as well as transport control & metadata entry for all Sound Devices 6xx series mixer/recorders via :wave ass well as camera control via :pulse.
For a closer look at each of these systems click on the appropriate link along the right.
Summary of Sync
This is not intended to be a nuts and bolts on how to operate the gear blog.
My intention is simply to provide an overview of the system.