We already beam a master timecode clock on public airwaves worldwide...why aren't we using it to sync audio with one or more cameras?
Syncing audio and video is one of those things that often just feels a bit more complicated than it needs to.
Timecode is hands down the gold standard. If you keep your camera (or multiple cameras), synced to the same timecode, you can bring the footage into your NLE and BAM! One click, instant sync between picture and audio. With pretty much all traditional timecode solutions, you need to re-jam regularly since the "clock" inside the camera drifts, and Lockit boxes may feed very stable timecode into your gear, but they are generally outside of the budget for most indie folks.
The Dish.TC solves that by continuously and constantly re-jamming timecode from satellites.
What is Dish.TV and How Does it Work?
Part of the GPS system requires very, very accurate clocks in order for the device to triangle it's position based on the time it takes for the single to arrive from various satellites. GPS satellites run on the atomic clock and send that signal out all over the world.
Dish.TV takes that timecode and feeds it through the microphone input to your camera. It uses a 3.5mm audio connector and feeds the timecode into the camera body audio. So, any camera that has an audio input (which is almost all) can now sync.
Every major NLE supports timecode in the audio track, but if yours doesn't, Dish.TC is also launching a software, LTCSync that will transfer your Audio-LTC to normal timecode. It supports Windows, Mac, and Linux and is free and open source.
Of course, with Kickstarter, there is always the caveat that they might not ship, but we've been corresponding with the company and will have some hands-on time with the prototype to report on soon.
What About Other (Cheaper) Options?
There are several other ways to sync audio, methods that professional filmmakers use every day on big projects.
We still do a clap-slate out of habit. Every once in a while we need to use it, but considering where we are with technology, it seems like we should be way past that.
You can waveform sync, where your NLE lines up waveforms between camera audio and second system audio, but that has myriad problems. It's slow. Sound travels slower than light, so on a long lens, it can result in bad sync. If you are shooting through a window or in a noisy street, good luck.
And that's where timecode comes in. As I mentioned before, it's quick and accurate if you are diligent enough to re-jam when you need to. If you're not diligent enough or just want to no think about your timecode constantly, there's Dish.TC.
- Locking 3.5mm connectors
- 1/4-20 threaded mounting point
- scratch microphone
- AA power
- Micro-USB connector
Dish.TC is live on Kickstarer now. Pricing for a single unit starts at $160. (While a single unit might not initially seem useful since you'll want one for every camera and sound recorder, as the key image above shows, you can use a Y-Cable to connect to a camera and an onboard sound recorder to keep them in sync as well.)