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John R Woods

Using a timecode slate?

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All the cool kids use timecode slates. Me? I'm a shooter. I leave synching to the editor. We use a plain slate -- white plastic and striped sticks. My friend who does the hard work has no problem with that. But I'd still like a tutorial on how to use a timecode slate, even if I'll never use one. 'Knowledge for the sake of knowledge', as it were. I want to upgrade from an Aaton LTR 54 to an XTR Plus or XTR Prod. I assume timecode slates will work with those?

 

Aside from the obvious, show the slate and speak the words and clap the sticks, what are the ins and outs of timecode slates?

 

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There's nothing really fancy about a timecode slate. They are typically provided by the sound department since sound also provides timecode to camera. You don't really need to worry about jamming them since sound deals with that. When you open the sticks, the numbers are illuminated. When you close them, the numbers stop for a second, then turn off.

 

The only thing that's different procedure-wise is for tail slates. The 2nd AC will usually bring the slate in right-side up, clap, then flip the slate upside-down to indicate a tail slate. This is so that the editor can easily read the timecode numbers. The upside-down slate is not really necessary in a clip-based digital workflow.

 

Don't know the answer to your Aaton question. Some of the later models have a feature called Aatoncode which exposes timecode numbers on the negative. But I'm not sure what you would need to make that work. Honestly with film, most people just use a dumb slate.

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There's nothing really fancy about a timecode slate. They are typically provided by the sound department since sound also provides timecode to camera. You don't really need to worry about jamming them since sound deals with that. When you open the sticks, the numbers are illuminated. When you close them, the numbers stop for a second, then turn off.

 

 

I've heard 'jamming' but I'm not sure what it is. IANA professional cinematographer, so the equipment I use when I do shoot is old-school. Can you explain? I have an idea that the timecode slate sends a signal to the camera, which records the time on the slate onto the film.

 

Regarding AatonCode, I found this .pdf.

 

 

The XTRprod can accept timecode information in both ASCII and SMPTE form, and work with all standard timecode devices. Because the same time address is running in both the camera and the sound recorder, a slate is no longer needed for syncing purposes; synchronization becomes fully automatic during the film/tape transfer or later post-production stages.

 

 

That sounds like the camera gets its information from the recorder, and they both have the same code. So I'm not sure that helps me as far as the concept behind a timecode slate.

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The concept is to simplify syncing of picture and sound. When the timecode clock on each recorder matches to the exact frame, the syncing process can be automated. This is especially useful for broadcast-style multi-camera work.

 

Additionally, timecode functions as an additional layer of redundancy for establishing sync. Redundancy is always good.

 

1. Slate Clap

2. Matching timecode on sound and slate

3. Matching timecode on sound and camera

4. Audio scratch track on camera (video cameras only)

 

Jamming timecode just means syncing the clocks in the master source to a slave source. Usually, the sound person's mixer is the master source from which the slate, timecode boxes, and digital cameras are slaved to. It's usually done with a cable of some sort - 5pin Lemo for most devices and BNC cable for broadcast cameras, which sometimes require long runs.

 

Normally, the sound person will check to see what kind of connector is required, as it can vary depending on the type of camera. For example, Red cameras require either a proprietary timecode/sync jumper cable, or an expansion module of some sort to jam timecode. It sounds like the Aaton XTR Prod may be able to accept a Lemo5 cable, which is very cool.

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John I believe the time code slate and the Aaton TC are two different things.. a time code slate isnt sending anything to the camera .. the frame with the stopped numbers when slate is clapped, are matched up with the audio with the same TC number.. this will work on any camera..

 

Aaton have their own TC thing.. called Origin C.. its a small box TC generator..that can be plugged into the camera via the Lemo plug.. and TC slates etc..its been around a while, I remember as an assistant we had it..but it always seemed to drift alot and I think we gave up using it and just used the slate..

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When I've worked on slate firmware, we've always had it set up so that you can flip it upside down and the numbers will stay the right way up...

 

P

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