I’m pleased to announce that I’ve finally taken delivery on a Denecke TS-3 timecode slate and a Mozegear Q28 timecode lockbox.
For the very highest quality audio, it’s necessary to use the recorded files that are provided by your soundperson… the quality of the digital converters in my Sound Devices 664 just sound better than camera audio files. Yes, it requires more work to sync the audio with the video, but the differences are apparent… especially when you listen to the two files side-by-side
There have been a number of workflows proposed for getting timecode on DSLR video, with varying degrees of success. But a timecode slate is still considered an industry standard sync aid, since it gives a visual confirmation of the timecode numbers that can be checked at a glance.
I’ve needed a timecode slate for a long time, especially on DSLR shoots, where dual-system audio recording is a must. The inputs on DSLR cameras rely on a single, unbalanced, non-locking 3.5mm connector, and I refuse to rely on the camera as a recording device. I did a 5d shoot once where the producers assured me that “… it’ll be fine, we always do it this way…” and the audio mysteriously disappeared. Had I not been recording a duplicate signal to my Sony recorder, two days and many, many thousands of dollars would have been wasted on a silent movie.
The only problem with timecode slates is the cost. They aren’t often available used, and the few that I have seen were pretty badly beaten up. New slates are expensive. But I finally bit the bullet this year and purchased a Denecke TS-3EL from Trew Audio in Nashville, my preferred supplier. And yes, it’s the backlit version so you can see it in low light situations.
To go along with it, I also purchased a Mozegear Q28 sync generator. While most cameras can generate a reasonably reliable timecode signal, a few are notorious for wild drifts, errors, resetting to zero when you change a battery, or other shenanigans. An external sync generator solves these problems, and gives a steady source that is nearly always dependable… with good batteries, of course. The Mozegear Q28 is a Camera Department favorite because it is very small and light… about the size of a thin stack of credit cards. I had to sew up a makeshift case for it so it can be attached with velcro. The only trouble I’ve had so far is the cables. I’ve got the BNC output and 5-pin Lemo… fine for Arri Alexa and Red One, but Red Epic, Scarlet and Dragon uses a 4-pin Lemo. And of course, we were shooting on a Scarlet… some days you just can’t win.