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class="style5" SDX900 24p Workflow & DAT Audio

>Published : 28th April 2005

>Shooting a run-n-gun job with (2) SDX900's running 24p and I just had a post-mtg conference call - I think the only thing we all agreed upon is that Master Time code should be 29.97 time-of-day NDF.

>Suddenly the post house wants the Master Time Code on the VITC which, I believe, also requires sync to be frame accurate, right ? This concerns me as I've not been given a DIT/Engineer to put this all together. We might be able to figure it out between the camera house and the Sound Mixer and myself, but man, I'm not interested - I've got other things to prep! this is what Engineers are for.

>Post house uses Avid Meridian off line at 29.97, maybe on lining in Symphony and some stuff finishing on Smoke later on - the place is staffed with some real talented Editors and Operators (apparently the Smoke guy does the Discreet demos too).

>The Sound Mixer and I have very small crews and tough schedules, and we urged the following workflow :

-- DVCPro 50Mb/sec shot 24p (well, 23.98 really) w/ 29.97 Master TC (from Sound Mixer) put onto Audio Channel as native 29.97.


-- Use that TC to sync the DATs to picture (either in Avid or during add'l xfer to DigiBeta ? but the latter's more $$$)


-- Backup sync via visual TC slate and clapper


-- Best quality sound on DAT (not wireless to camera through lesser A/D converters and no confidence monitoring)


-- Steadicam, hand held, and lack of staff and lack of Telecast Fiber prevents realistic hardwire of sound-to-camera

>At that point, I would trade in the 2 RF transmitters/receivers I'm renting for (2) Denecke TC/D-Code boxes (or Ambient Clockit Boxes) and I've got less stuff hanging on the cameras (have lots of handheld, Steadicam).

>Editor also suggested jamming Sound Mixer's TC to the camera's time-of-day and me avoid feeding sync to camera if we had trouble doing that? Anybody ever done that "backwards" method ? thing is I'd have to slave the B-Camera to that, so its sort of the same issues, and no staff to do all this, and what happens when we're steadicam w/ 2nd camera shooting coverage.

>Any other suggestions? Why wont they let me keep this simple, fast and robust ?

>Mark Doering-Powell


>Mark wrote :

class="style7">>Shooting a run-n-gun job with (2) SDX900's running 24p and I just had >a post-mtg conference call - I think the only thing we all agreed upon is >that Master Time code should be 29.97 time-of-day NDF.

>This will make it virtually impossible to batch capture because you will have to let the camera Free Run and when you stop shooting the time will still be running. Put the Time of day in the User bits, run the camera in RECRun on NDF. Then you can look at user bits in the post room and the NLE can look at unbroken time code and al will be happy.

class="style7">>Suddenly the post house wants the Master Time Code on the VITC >which, I believe, also requires sync to be frame accurate, right ?

>VITC is Vertical Interval Time Code and means that the time code should show up in a certain place, like on the RS422 connection. Unless they said they wanted the time code to be the same on both cameras you do not have to worry. If they do want the same on both cameras then you will just have to tether the cameras together and put one to external TC in.

class="style7">>Post house uses Avid Meridian off line at 29.97, maybe on lining in >Symphony and some stuff finishing on Smoke later on - the place is >staffed with some real talented Editors and Operators (apparently the >Smoke guy does the Discreet demos too).

>Don't worry, just follow the first piece of advice. Use regular TC in REC Run, and put Time of Day in the User Bits. Everyone will be happy.

>Hope this helps,

>Jan M. Crittenden
Product Line Business Manager, DVCPRO50/25, Cameras
Panasonic Broadcast & TV Systems


>Crittenden, Jan wrote :

class="style7">>Put the Time of day in the User bits, run the camera in REC Run on >NDF.

>Jan, thanks again for your help. I did a lot of things yesterday that a DP shouldn't be doing. As it turns out, I'm doing Rec Run anyways since by the time Post & Production decided how they wanted things it was too late to sub-rent Clockits, and besides, now they want to record sound onto the cameras as main sound, and if there's quality issues, RF hits, whatever, then they can always go back and sync from the flawless DAT (plus we may use TC slate as backup).

>So due to that, I was going to do A-Cam doing Rec Run NDF Odd HR#'s, and B-Cam do evens. But I didn't think of setting time-of-day into user bits - I'll try it out and see if it works for post. Pretty sure I remember seeing the menu for what to plop into the UB's - so I'll give it a shot. Panasonic menu structure is something even I can grasp somewhat - and I'm used to Sony's.

class="style7">>If they do want the same on both cameras then you will just have to >tether the cameras together and put one to external TC in.

>If they did want that, we're already tapped out for crew, I'd have to draw the line and tell the Producers to get a 2nd 2nd AC or Video Utility. Plus its not feasible anyways due to roaming cameras, steadicam, etc... so I'd probably draw the line by saying no thanks to their request. I've got 12 days to shoot sketch comedies in a boatload of locations and the script's thicker than my last 25 day feature.

>Mark Doering-Powell
LA based DP


>Does it work to shoot at a true 24P, and record at a true 30 Timecode on the Dats, and then do the 1% pulldown to create new masters?

>Steven Gladstone
New York Based D.P.
www.gladstonefilms.com
East Coast CML List administrator


>I hope its appropriate to add one more thing on this issue - sort of a commentary on the industry "culture": here in LA we've sorta rolled over on the 24p formats. Everyones hot to shoot it, but few consider what happens on-set, and they wont always hire DIT or Video Util (sometimes a DIT for the beginning to get them going then poof, they're gone). Only if the DP's a digital newby on these smaller shows. When DP & Sound Mixer outline the issues for them, "Post" is normally able to figure out a way to sync the sound from the DAT's. The last 2 HD 24p projects I'd done were like this: efficient on-set, perfect sound for mix. Now when we outline it for this particular boutique, they not only ignore us, they come back days later and have requests of their own that are 180 degrees from where we need to be.

>And because they can say to UPM "well, it will cost you x $ per week", and I can only say "well, that could really slow us down being tethered with XLR's and Genlock cables and...", and the Mixers saying "I can't confidence monitor and the RF's a problem and quality suffers..." things difficult to amortize into a $ figure, well you can guess who gets their way.

>After all was said and done, and since Sound Mixer only has a Boom Op (and in many scenes 4 actors to wire with tons of wardrobe changes!) we requested a 3rd person for him to do cable, jam his slates, wire actors, etc. A request granted us by Production. Now, take that daily rate, add the OT, multiply by 12 days, add the fringes atop that - surely that money must be more than the post house would require to sync from DAT's as has become customary for situations like this.

>Go figure. Glad anotha brotha gets some work though and we need the help anyways - just wish it was a DIT instead. :-) The 1st AC's keep saying, Mark, you know we can hop across the street and grab some SR3's & 1200 ft mags real quick. The humour keeps us going.

>Mark Doering-Powell
LA based DP


>Mark Doering-Powell wrote :

class="style7">>Any other suggestions? Why wont they let me keep this simple, fast and >robust ?

>Simple, fast, and robust to me is using a slate, time code or otherwise, and putting record run time code on the videotape, with time of day (or whatever) time code on the sound, syncing it up in post. My guess is the reason the post house is asking you for something more elaborate is 1) they're a post house, 2) things that sound simple to a post house, because they do it every day and are set up for it, are much more complex in a run and gun production situation, and 3) because they can.

>My advice, for what it's worth : Don't bother to even try and lash picture and sound together for time code purposes. Set the camera in record run time code (they'll thank you later for that). Use a time code slate, just as you would with film. Lash a Comtek to the camera and feed a scratch track as a syncing aid - not that they should necessarily need it or use it, but in part to allow for daily cassettes to be made without the additional cost of syncing in the post house. Let the assistant editor sync the "real" sound in the Avid. In other words, do the whole thing film style - but with the addition of an already-synced scratch track from production.

>That seems simple, fast, and robust. The post house won't get to do their automatically synced dailies thing, but the production will save money and final assembly won't be affected in the least.

>BTW, did you already do that job in Arizona or is that still pending?

>Mike Most
VFX Supervisor
IATSE Local 600
Los Angeles


>Michael Most wrote :

class="style7">>Simple, fast, and robust to me is using a slate, time code or otherwise, >and putting record run time code on the videotape, with time of day (or >whatever) time code on the sound, syncing it up in post.

>I hear ya. Conference call with 2 Editors, Compositor & Sales Rep, none of them had any real suggestions for syncing to the DAT's and in the end added, "we want to do the finals with the Production Sound on the DVCPRo tapes". They never suggested real solutions, ignored our concerns, and always intended on using the scratch tracks for final just the same. Incredible.

>But I'm still working on it. Maybe by day 3 of the shoot it'll sort itself out. I think they do have some strong talent at the boutique - so we'll get some good work done in the end.

class="style7">>BTW, did you already do that job in Arizona or is that still pending?

>Not yet - principal photography starts mid Sept. and I missed a meeting Tue due to this thing. But I may still do it even though its probably now a 99% Supervision job and less shooting - don't know yet. If I don't, I've already wanted to recommend you of course since you'd be perfect for it and honestly better qualified ! (you'd do it in your sleep) and since you helped me with all the rate issues - I think I worked out something fair.

>But don't steal my gigs just yet.

>Mark Doering-Powell
LA based DP


class="style7">>Simple, fast, and robust to me is using a slate, time code or otherwise, >and putting record run time code on the videotape, with time of day (or >whatever) time code on the sound, syncing it up in post.

>---I think Michael's suggestion sounds perfectly normal and routine, with the KEY WORDS being "syncing it up in post".

>Isn't that what editors are PAID to do?

>Jeffery Haas
freelance editor, camera operator
Dallas


>Steven Gladstone wrote:

class="style7">>Does it work to shoot at a true 24P, and record at a true 30 Timecode on >the Dats, and then do the 1% pulldown to create new masters?

>Er, don't forget that decimal point! It's .1%.

>A 1% pulldown would not be a good thing...

>Jeff Kreines


>Jeff Kreines wrote:

class="style8">> Err, don't forget that decimal point! It's .1%.
> A 1% pulldown would not be a good thing...

>Thanks Jeff, I hate when I shift that decimal point.

>Steven Gladstone
New York Based D.P.
www.gladstonefilms.com
East Coast CML List administrator


>Mark Doering-Powell wrote :

class="style8">> But don't steal my gigs just yet.

>Would never do such a thing. And thanks for the kind words.

>I was at the HPA event today and had an interesting and pertinent talk with Phil Squyres (Sony - the studio). Without revealing anything proprietary (at least I hope not - feel free to scold me in public if I cross a line here, Phil), we talked a bit about how they are handling elements on Joan of Arcadia and some other shows they're doing on 24p.

>Basically, they use a Clockit box and jam sync it and the sound recorder once or twice a day. The now matching time of day time code (29.97 code) is recorded on sound, of course, and also on one of the audio tracks of the HDCam. The HDCam itself records in Rec Run mode and puts continuous 24 frame time code on the time code track. The sound man is "encouraged" to record on a random access format, either a Deva or some other device that can be delivered on either hard disk or a DVD Rom. In post, the original camera tape is synced with the sound in real time by having the sound chase the matching time code on the videotape audio track. The married picture and sound are recorded to a new HDCam thus providing a backup and a duplication element with production quality sound. Other things are done down the line to provide viewing dailies, logs, and other elements.

>Personally, I considered this a very sensible and efficient approach, albeit not quite as accurate as syncing via a slate (although they do bang sticks for backup purposes). Simple for production, too, in that the only added step is jam syncing the TC box and sound once or twice a day - less often than you would for a time code slate, which you could still use, I suppose.

>There are probably a million answers to this puzzle, and therein lies the problem. Too many systems, not enough standards.

>Mike Most
VFX Supervisor
IATSE Local 600
Los Angeles


>The Joan of Arcadia method is very similar to what we've done on 24p series & features (in varying details anyways) - auto synced to a new tape, kept camera orig as backup - or synced in Avid. Sound's TC native on Ch2 seems a good way to go if post can deal with it. Or converted via clockit to 24p TC in the case of Sony. Whatever works. The point is it vastly simplifies on-set procedures. Cameras can hop onto cranes, steadicams, rove handheld with greater ease. Sound & Camera work double system as is efficient.

>If they really want sound on camera with split tracks, TC w/ genlock, etc., then use Telecast Fiber. It more than pays for its rental fee !

>Otherwise, all sorts of things slow you down. Yesterday I realized, while we're normally able to pre-stripe the heads of the tapes with bars, and a reload is fairly instant (picture will have the correct time code, bars wont, no biggie as long as it's ascending when it goes to picture). Now, I've got to do bars & sound tone each time we reload. Any shooter knows that 30 seconds on set can feel like an eternity, and I only have 33 minute loads on this project. Just one more thing to wait on.

>And Eric Fletcher brought up a great point with me yesterday: in post, you can always get another hour. Somehow, someway. Not so in your shooting day. that hour's gone: the daylight, the kids that go 'poof' at 8 hours, the OT that makes the UPM pull the plug. Its gone.

Put another way :


Sound on camera w/o proper staffing & support ? = less coverage for the Director & Editor.

>Mark Doering-Powell
LA based DP