All posts by Factory Optic




that gives you the freedom to capture images the way they should be!

*Individual lens mapping and mix-n-match MDRs have just been released*

Now you have the ability to map up to 28 replicated lens motors with individual lens maps per motor. This allows you to use lenses with non-identical lens barrels and even lets you mix and match your lenses. You can shoot in confidence that all lenses are hitting the same mark as your hand-set.

SERVO32 now supports systems with any MDR. You can now build systems using any combination of MDR-2, MDR-3 and MDR-4s.  No more concern with sourcing all the same MDRs. 

SERVO32 is perfect for multi-camera, prime lens arrays that need a fish-eye (or two) in the set … More to come

Please stand by …

Factory Optic SERVO32 in action!



That’s right – very soon, we will be able to reveal to you our very latest production tool – created on demand. It is called “QUICK TC” and, it’s all about ‘that timecode stuff …’ 

As always, there will be Fact Sheets, specs, and information on where to buy (all the usual) but for now, you will have to be satisfied with the gibberish below … tech talk from the Engineering Department … trying to be meaningful and relevant in the world of Tweeting … good thing there is a restricted word count rule at Twitter! Well, we are sure they will find a way to get around that one (!) … so, please enjoy the first glimpse of “QUICK TC” as you read its first White Paper … even though it’s not white and it isn’t printed on paper … Stand by for everything you need to know (right now, anyway) about “QUICK TC” …

What’s all this timecode stuff, anyhow?

You may have seen it used for synchronizing audio with video. Perhaps you jammed it for multi-camera shoots. Or just set the camera to free-run from internal generation. Maybe you’ve seen it being fed into a multitude of devices on a virtual production? You may know timecode from the SMPTE ST 12-1:2014 spec, which tells us it’s a Manchester biphase encoded audio signal- yeah, who has time to read those things?

Timecode is ubiquitous whenever you have multiple devices that need to be synchronized on a time of capture basis. Different from genlock/sync, which only provides the timing pulse, timecode will provide you with time of day, or some random clock time that is coming from your master clock.

Time of day is possible, if your master clock is tied to GPS or maybe you have a way to connect to the NIST F1 atomic clock, thru things like NTP. In any case, timecode is a way to get you reference time, in hours, minutes, seconds and frames. Assuming you configure your timecode generator to match your video frame rate and your frame rate happens to be less than 30. If you are shooting more than 30 frames per second, well, you will get double stamped timecode on your captures or your system can recognize the higher frame rate and will recount it for you, for example turning 0-24 into 0-49 for 50 hz video.

We work with it all the time. The truth is, it’s a pain and a risk to use. A timecode clock generator can have lots of options (most don’t):

  • Frame rate (23.98, 24, 25, 29.97 or 30)
  • Time source
    • Time of Day
      • GPS
      • NTP
      • IEEE1588 PTP to your local grandmaster clock
      • Sundial?
    • Free Run
      • User sets it to their watch
      • Device sets time to be random (midnight) just after powering up
      • Device has a real time clock and maintains time with a drifty clock
  • Drop Frame or Non Drop Frame
  • Output signal voltage levels
    • An analog signal output of +4dBm to +8dBm at 600Ω drive impedance is SMPTE spec

After that, you might have equipment that allows you to fan-out the signal from your generator and more equipment that helps distribute the signal everywhere. You might be adding distribution amplifiers (D/As), range extenders, fiber optic systems, RF (ACL) and tin-can phonic communication system.

Now, did I mention that timecode is an analog signal?

Perhaps you are of the mindset that everything is analog. If you think digital is just clipped analog, you wouldn’t be wrong. But analog signals are suspect to lots of influence as it passes thru cables and devices.

  • Noise – it’s everywhere
  • Level change (who messed with the gain trim on the analog D/A?)
  • Reclocking – turning those nice low-pass filtered audio-friendly waveforms into hard edge square waves, with those nasty high frequency oscillations on the sharp edges

So, by the time you get a signal on the end of a cable, it can be distorted to the point where the device is not happy with the signal. Or worse, it works for a while, then stops, then works. Now you find yourself with one device that is not happy while the others seem to be OK.

Or maybe it’s coming in clean, but one or two frames late. Did someone embed the timecode into the audio feed, then run it through a frame shaker and de-embedded it? It could happen.

Generally, timecode is robust and fairly reliable, and it works, until it doesn’t. At which point you need to do some timecode debugging …

So … where do you begin?

Typically, you start at the source (timecode generator) and work your way to the device that is being fed timecode. Then what? Look at the cables, are they plugged in. Do you have a bad cable? You can’t tell by looking at it before just swapping it out? Does anyone on the show have an oscilloscope and know how to use it? Maybe the DIT or AC has a mobile oscilloscope that connects to their iPhone, just in case something like this pops up. They haven’t used it since they bought it, need to download the app, re-read the instructions. But they are super-excited to have the opportunity to try it out. And when it’s working, you might see a waveform but do you have any idea what is considered good or bad by looking at it? Chances are, you won’t recognize the problem. And you certainly can’t discern what in the heck the bits are telling you.

This is where “QUICK TC” comes in. It’s a simple go/no go tester for timecode. It’s small enough to fit on your keychain. It is powered by a rechargeable battery which plugs into USB-C for charging. It is always ready to plug into your BNC and tell you what’s coming in. It will not only read-out the timecode, but it will also let you freeze it momentarily as you read it out. Additionally, it will provide a 1hz LED blink at :00 frames, allowing you to look across the stage and see all cameras blinking in perfect sync. It will tell you what the signal voltage levels are and the timecode format, including DROP FRAME.

It will even readout the userbits.

It pretty much does everything – except drive Uber … you’ll have to arrange for your own ride back to the airport … and stop along the way to grab something to eat … because “QUICK TC” won’t buy your food for you either … but it’ll do just about everything else …


Humor from The Factory Floor

Two night-shift workers on the Factory Floor are talking among themselves.

The first worker tells the other, “I can make Freddy The Foreman  give me the night off.”

The second worker replies, “Impossible. He is unbending. So, how would you propose to do that?”

The first worker answers, “Just wait and watch.”

Pulling down one of the Factory chains, he hangs himself upside down from the ceiling.

Freddy The Foreman stops in his tracks as he makes his rounds, takes a look up at the dangling worker and asks,

“What are you doing up there?!!”

The worker replies, “I am a light bulb.”

Freddy The Foreman then says, “Hmmmm … looks like maybe you have been working so much that you have gone a bit crazy. I think you need to take the night off.”

As the the first worker leaves, the second worker starts to follow him out. Freddy The Foreman stops him, saying, “Where do you think you are going?”

The second worker answers, “I am going home, too. I can’t work in the dark.”

Nothing quite as good as having a GOOD LAUGH on The Factory Floor! Well … Okay, maybe there’s a few better things … but not many!

Quotes from The Factory Floor

Confused Engineer trying to find the restroom: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” 

Joyful Factory Worker #1: “Wow – that was great … did you think that up?”

Confused Engineer trying to find the restroom: “No … Arthur C. Clark said it … originally”

Joyful Factory Worker #2: “Well, it’s still magic even if you know how it’s done.” 

Joyful Factory Worker #1: “Nice! Did you make that one up?”

Joyful Factory Worker #2: “Nah … it was said by Terry Pratchett …”

Joyful Factory Worker #1: “Oh … yeah … doesn’t he work in Shipping?”

Joyful Factory Worker #3: “I won’t be impressed with technology until I can download food … is it Break Time yet?”

Joyful Factory Worker #1: “Life is too short to remove USB safely, you know?”

Joyful Factory Worker #3: “Yeah, I hear ya! Our Wi-Fi went down at home last night for five minutes, so I had to talk to my family. They seem like nice people.”

Confused Engineer trying to find the restroom: “Ah, excuse me … are you guys finished … I really need to get to the restroom …”

Well, truth be told (which is ALWAYS a good idea), we were supposed to do a much more technical post here, but, as usual, the Writing Department and the Art Department are waiting on The BIG BOSS to sign-off and deliver … so, in the meantime, our boss, Freddy [That’s Freddy The Foreman] gave us the green light to engage in a wee bit of levity to sorta lighten up the heavy strain that waiting of The BIG BOSS usually causes … so, instead of his BIG serious technical post (which will be coming along any day now) (maybe), this has been our more light-hearted-yet-Foreman-approved entry for May 17. Hope you all think it’s funny, too! Oh … and, thanks for coming in today!

Waiting for the BIG BOSS to show up with his latest technical briefing and monthly post, we figured we’d just sorta get together and have a laugh … while we wait, that is … ah, er …ah … certainly NOT about the BIG BOSS! Ah … er … ah, he’s our role-model … and hero … right girls?

Syncro-Link Wiring Guide


At long last … it’s here!

We have produced the definitive SYNCRO-LINK Wiring diagram to help you achieve a quick, easy connection!

See below …

okay …

April Fools!

… just a little humor from the Factory Floor! The crew down here really loves to get into the spirit of it all and with a little help from The Art Department (doing what they do best – forever misrepresenting technology!) we have done it again – roped you right in! 


Okay, now, for the record, here is the REAL diagram – one that you can find (and print) in the SYNCRO-LINK section of this site … RIGHT HERE

A Winning Combo!


Here is a hastily taken photograph of our SYNCRO-LINK MARK ZERO on-set action, teamed up with other latest-and-greatest products from SONY (Venice 2) and ZEISS (Supreme Prime) – all together creating a winning combination of the newest, most innovative technology in the industry. Oh, and why was the photo “hastily taken”? Well, you know … typical ‘closed set’ for an undisclosed project – don’t ask us to violate any NDA’s!

SYNCRO-LINK MARK ZERO works with any camera equipped with an XD capable lens and provides precision sampling of metadata and zero-delay streaming to Unreal Engine.

Read more about SYNCRO-LINK HERE

… and if you are into hashtags … well then, go nuts!

#icvfx, #incameravfx, #virtualproduction, #virtualenvironment, #xr, #sonyvenice, #sonyvenice2, #zeiss, #zeisscinematography, #zeisssupremeprime, #filmproduction, #UE4, #UnrealEngine, #behindthescenes


And … Good news from The Lab!

“Yes … we’ve finally worked all the BUGS out … now they’re [the bugs, that is] all working on the Factory Assembly Line … at Minimum Wage, of course!”

"Yes! We got the BUGS out!!"
“Yes! We got the BUGS out (!!) … and put them to work!”

Factory Optic Sets Sail for SBLVI


SUBER BOWL LVI is in Los Angeles and on the horizon, and from up here in the Crow’s Nest, we’ve spied another custom Factory Optic design/build “seaworthy” remote camera platform, broadcasting live from ‘The Lake’ starting tonight, February 11, 2022, on the NBC Olympics Primetime at 5pm.

All hands on deck!

The Factory Sets Sail for SBLVI
The Factory Sets Sail for SBLVI

Something New for 2022!

Are you shooting plates for VFX and need to ride iris on more than 4 lenses?  Want to add a focus motor to your  array so you’re not stressing about a lens barrel getting bumped? Need a new and creative solution?

Well, You’ve come to the right website.

Happy New Year (and New Gear) from Factory Optic! We just so happen to have a brand new, bespoke for you, production tool/product that will provide a solution!

Introducing the Factory Optic SYNCRO-LINK SERVO32!

Ideal for complex camera setups such as 3D or multi-camera arrays …

Drive up to 32 lens motors from a single Preston Hand Control! Our newest bespoke production tool is made to order and customizable. The SYNCRO-LINK SERVO32 allows you to replicate control over multiple Preston Cinema MDRs with a single hand unit. Works with MDR-2 and MDR-3 motor drivers.

The SERVO32 makes it possible to connect up to 7 additional MDRs to your system, giving you the ability to control up to 32 lens motors when using MDR-3s. By configuring the Preston Hand Unit to duplicate focus and iris channels, you can control focus and iris on up to 16 prime lenses, all from a single Preston Cinema hand unit!