I have two Sony HDR-FX1's. I'm looking for a way (at this point, at whatever cost just so I know what's out there) to Timesync and Recote Control the cameras. That, or a way to transmit the video from the cameras to a central unit (Computer, a box of some sort, whatever) wirelessly.
Multicam editing is a drag. If you're doing a long show or something, it's easy enough - line up the videos once and you're good to go. But for something that's many takes over a number of scenes, the task becomes very daunting.
I need some way to synchronize these cameras to make the process smoother.
One way I've done this is by tethering both cameras to a computer with 25' Firewire cables. This works, and I can record both sources simultaneously to the computer, but it's limited in application because you have to be tethered and 25' is the maximum I've been able to do. And, thus far this will only work for me with DV, not HDV.
I've found data on this subject to be very limited. I mean, they must do some sort of time sync with the cameras they use to tape TV shows like American Chopper. Sure, they're using very big expensive cameras, but what is the technology behind their sync?
Lastly, I want to avoid (like a plague) work arounds like setting off a camera flash with both camcorders looking in that direction in order to get the video Synced. While this method works, the idea is that I don't want to have to spend hours upon hours lining up those video frames in the NLE.
Any insight or help into this would be greatly appreciated.
I'm not too familiar with the FX1, but if it has an option to set the TC to Free Run that could be an option. Sync the TC on both cameras when you start. The TC will run regardless of whether you are recording or not. When you edit, match up the TC from both cameras. Turning on the TC overlay in you NLE will help. Might end up a few frames off, but that's easy enough to fix with one edit.
There are other ways you can sync your cameras, but none that I know of that are wireless.
Final Cut Pro Editor
I don't really know what Free Run is, so I don't think it can do that. Do you mean write timecode as the current date/time? Hmm. I don't know, that doesn't sound like the best solution here.
The FX1's have LAPC connections for remote control and (I believe) some sort of time code system. I think you can get adapters to convert LAPC codes to SMPTE time codes, but I still don't know what I'd do what that. Are there wireless timecode sender units or something?
What is used on the large production cameras? They usually appear to have some sort of antenna and a box on the back - what is that? I mean, I can't imagine that the guys editing reality TV shows sit there for hours lining up multi-cam video clips before editing. They must have something to help them along the way.
I don't care if we're talking about a $10,000 system right now, I just need somewhere to start looking.
What were the other (non-wireless) ways of syncing cameras that you mentioned?
Free Run means the TC will continue to count whether or not you are recording. You can use it to set the time, or you can set it to some arbitrary number as well. It appears that the FX1 does not have a Free Run TC setting.
I pulled up the manual for the FX1, and it doesn't look like you're going to be able to do much of anything to sync your cameras. The only control option you have is through the LANC. The LANC allows you to control the camera using another device. It can control REC/STOP, zoom, focus, and sometimes iris. Some cameras will output SMPTE TC through the LANC, but I'm pretty sure you cannot use the LANC to bring in TC.
With that said, it looks like your only option with the FX1 would be to try and find 2 wireless LANC controllers that will run from the same remote and use that to start recording at the same time. Or, if the FX1 comes with a wireless remote control, then you don't even have to worry about the LANC controller. If this doesn't fit your production flow, then your other option is to buy different cameras.
The large antenna and box you see on the back of pro ENG cameras could be a number of different things from audio to various remote controls. The different between these cameras and the FX1 is that the FX1 does not accept any of the controls the ENG cameras do.
The most common ways that multiple cameras are synced together is through Genlock or Timecode Sync. These are both features typically only found on ENG style cameras. The only prosumer camera I have seen with Genlock and/or Timecode Sync is the Canon XL H1s - which has both.
The other common way to sync cameras is by using Free Run TC.
To be honest with you, I seriously doubt there is a reality TV show editor out there who spends hours syncing their footage. Depending on the production, some will have synced TC to work with, but I imagine a lot don't. There is so much that gets cut out that there are only a few cuts that need to be synced - and that is usually as simple as lining up your edit then trimming a few frames to make it work.
The material I edit falls somewhere between reality TV and a documentary. When I have multi-camera shoots to edit the only thing I have to help "sync" up my footage is the data code. At this point FCP will not read the data code, so I have the interns add the date and time to the clip description. I then at least know that all my footage is in chronological order when I'm looking in my bin. When there are shots I need to be in sync whether for an edit or for a picture-in-picture type effect, I either use the waveforms to sync it up, or if its an edit I just find a matching frame to cut at. Takes a matter of seconds, not hours. For the amount of material that doesn't even make the final cut, it would be a waste for me to worry about syncing up all of my footage before editing. I just do it when necessary.
I hope this helps you out!
Final Cut Pro Editor
"Wireless" TC boxes are just sync generators that you jam from a primary source then attach the clockit box to the TC In. One way would be to get a clockit box and convert the one audio channel to ingest TC as a series of blips. I have not personally done this, but in a pinch it seems reasonable enough.
I swore I thought I saw a box that would convert TC to FW or vice-versa...
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