That’s right – very soon, we will be able to reveal to you our very latest production tool – created on demand. It is called QuickTC 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 “QuickTC” 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 “QuickTC” …
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
- IEEE1588 PTP to your local grandmaster clock
- 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?