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Post Production & Time Code

Published : 3rd December 2003


I'm shooting a spot on 16mm that involves candid interviews with young children, at least 2 hours worth. The agency wants to take a video dub away with them the day of the shoot so they can start screening and picking potential clips. (Why they can't wait 2 days for a proper time code dub of the transfer, I don't know... but this is the request that was passed on to me by the producer.)

My immediate thought was to bring my DVCAM deck along and record the video tap, but also to slave the timecode on the DVCAM deck to the DAT/Smartslate. That way the clips could actually be found again.

However, when I asked the lab, they said that it would be a major pain to match the timecode from the DAT/Slate on the videotape during the transfer... ("It can be done, but it'll cost you!") I can't believe I'm the only person who's ever thought it would be handy to keep time code matched between the DAT & Smartslate on location, and the final videotape transfer.

Has anyone dealt with a similar situation? I'm thinking even of multi-camera shows, where matching timecodes between cameras seems like a logical idea. Is it really that hard to do? Or is it just a particular lab that doesn't do much of that kind of work, and isn't set up for it?

George Hupka
Director/DP
Downstream Pictures
Saskatoon, Canada



There are a couple of things to be aware when doing this.

The main problem doing this is that your video dailies will have gaps in the address track. The only way to have a chance at this is to run the DVCAM/DAT/Smart Slate time codes in assemble mode, not free running time of day code.

However, If you don't stop and start the film camera exactly in time with the stops and starts of the video and audio, there will be no room for the footage on the video dailies. That is, if the sound is running without the camera, there will be black places on the dailies and that is not too bad. However, if you run the film camera without the video and audio generating code, there will be film without corresponding code, and that would ruin the plan.

They do do this on multi camera Television, so if you can find people that are experienced in this, that would be great. If you don't do it exactly right, however, you will be in a world of hurt.

Ed Colman - SuperDailies
Cinematographer Supervised Video Dailies
http://www.superdailies.com



>Has anyone dealt with a similar situation?

George, I think what you may be looking for is an Aaton XTR PROD.

There is a video tap (color or Black and white) that will burn in the timecode that is being burned into the film into the video image. So you can cut the video tap footage, and have that match (+- 1/2 a frame - shutter closed film exposed) the Film image.

That should do what you want.

Steven Gladstone
Cinematographer
Gladstone Films
Brooklyn, N.Y. U.S.A.
East Coast List administrator - Cinematography Mailing list



>I'm shooting a spot on 16mm that involves candid interviews [..] The >agency wants to take a video dub away with them the day of the shoot

This looks like a show case for burning the same Time-Of-Day TC on the film camera negative (AatonCode), in the video-assist images (characters and 3Lvitc), and in the audio-recorder files.

XTR-prod, VSA and Cantar come to mind... some Arri cameras can be used too.

>I'm thinking even of multi-camera shows, where matching timecodes >between cameras seems like a logical idea.

Just ask John Bowring, he will send you some pics of a Rock concert in Australia, filmed by 100 AatonCoded cameras.

I guess this number is highly exaggerated.

JP/Aaton



>100!

I've done 16 Aatons, actually there were a couple of Arri's in there as well, with 4 Betacams as well all locked

Cheers

Geoff Boyle FBKS
Director of Photography
EU Based
www.cinematography.net



>I've done 16 Aatons, actually there were a couple of Arri's in there as >well, with 4 Betacams as well all locked

Whew! Sounds like I should be referring some of my clients to Geoff!

Good thing for me they can't afford him

George Hupka
Director/DP
Downstream Pictures
Saskatoon, Canada



Thanks for the replies!

We are using an XTR, but as it turns out, once I was able to talk to the agency people, the whole time code synchronization issue wasn't an issue - all they wanted the dubs for was to get a transcript done for their files.

However, this is great info to keep in mind for the future. It sounds like finding a lab that is experienced with multi-camera stuff is the key.

JP, would I be correct in assuming that a lab that is set up to work with AatonCode would have a much easier time dealing with these time code sync issues?

George Hupka
Director/DP
Downstream Pictures



George Hupka writes

> Good thing for me they can't afford him

Hey!

I do deals!

Always ask

Cheers

Geoff Boyle FBKS
Director of Photography
EU Based



Geoff Boyle wrote :

>I've done 16 Aatons, actually there were a couple of Arri's in there as >well, with 4 Betacams as well all locked

What was that for Geoff and how did it work ?

Cheers

Matthew Woolf
London/NY DOP



Mathew Woolf

> What was that for Geoff and how did it work ?

That particular one was FashionAid.

Quite simple really, the cameras backstage were Betacams, the ones covering the show were a mix of Aaton's and Arri's.

Where possible all cameras used their internal T/C that was periodically locked against a master, as was all the audio, a mixture of Stellavox and 24 track.

There were also monitors strategically placed all over the Albert Hall that displayed a black screen with T/C superimposed, people would bang off a few feet of this occasionally as an offset check.

It was also useful for the cameras without T/C as if they rolled on this at the start of a mag and then panned to stage we had a sync reference.

I did a lot of music concerts like this, usually with multiple Aatons, I believe we had 12 for Style Council at Wembley.

I always tried to work belt & braces with T/C, both internal clock and external display that could be shot as a check.

Cheers

Geoff Boyle FBKS
Director of Photography
EU Based