What is timecode?
Timecode is used to identify every frame of video or motion picture, and as a time marker for audio. It is a standard set forth by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) that allows different devices such as cameras and sound to share a common time-stamp for every frame on all related media.
Why is timecode important?
When shooting with multiple cameras or if you are recording sound on a separate device, syncing up all the devices with timecode can save you time from having to manually match up all the media in post-production.
Who uses timecode?
Timecode slates are commonly found on television and film productions of all sizes. In the past only the very high end and expensive equipment were equipped with timecode input and output. Today, we have tons of high end and yet affordable equipment with the ability to jam timecode used in both large scale feature productions to low budget shorts and music videos. It doesn't matter if you're shooting with the newest Red or Arri cameras or affordable DSLRs, any production can benefit from the use of timecode.
How do I use timecode?
The best use of timecode is to jam it directly into a camera or sound recorder that has a timecode input. For the equipment that do not have such input, you can record the LTC timecode into one of your audio track that can later be decoded in post. The slate's digital readout of the timecode will at least give you an accurate reference for any camera.
Once the production is finished, every frame and every audio file will have a correlating timecode stamp you can view in many NLE editors and DAWs. Some of these software can automatically sync up all footages from multiple cameras and audio files by matching up the timecode embedded in each file.
How does this compare to other timecode devices such as Ambient slates, Lockit Boxes and Denecke slates?
The steel Slate uses a temperature compensated oscillator. The clock has a tolerance of +/-1ppm capable of achieving an accuracy of less than one frame drift over a 24 hour period. Operating temperature from -10 to 60°C maintaining a stability of +/-1.5ppm. Right on par with Ambient and Denecke devices. The projected 10-year tolerance of our clock is +/-3.5ppm, a mass improvement over the typical +/-10ppm quartz crystal used in other devices.
What about those phone and tablet timecode apps?
While there are a number of cheap apps for under $10 that can generate and read timecode, they have very low accuracy resulting in unacceptable drift over time.
What will the final product look like?
Currently the 3D printed prototypes have a very rough finish. The finish on the final enclosure will be smoother and cleaner as well. The front panel layout will be slightly different as well as a simpler and clearer font.
Based on the feedback from various people testing the prototype, we might reduce the overall height of the slate by shortening the front panel and trimming down the clapper sticks. This is dependent on how much retooling will be required for this change to take effect.
Some of the differences from the prototype to the final product is the printed material (e.g. the color or B/W strips on the clapper).
Is it durable? Extreme weather?
Stress tests so far include baking in the car that went up to 150F mid day and a low of 90F, as well as tossed in the freezer (had to use external power for this test, as the AA died very quickly). Both test still kept timecode within 1 frame over 24 hours with one running at normal room temperature or 75F. No drop test as of yet, need to get some more uses out of the few prototypes before I try to break one:-)
How much development is there left to do?
The prototype you see is a complete and working product. We have already achieved the most important feature of a highly accurate clock and worked out all the mechanical design. We have almost everything needed to build the production units from suppliers to manufacturers set and ready to go. The only supplies we still need to work out is the color print for the clapper sticks, basic operations printout, and the packaging. First batch is expected to ship about 6-8 weeks after the project is funded.
What are some of the challenges to get the slate into production?
The biggest challenge for this project is living up to the trusted standards and reliability Ambient and Denecke has established in the film industry. Current side by side testing shows that our slate is just as accurate with less than one frame drift over 24 hour period. According to specs of various components used in this slate it should be consistent over every unit produced in volume. We will ensure accuracy with quality control and extensive testing of each unit before they are shipped out.
The second challenge is building and testing every single unit in a timely manner. The prototypes took 2 hours to assemble per unit, and went through several days of testing. We have plans and a pretty good idea how to reduce the time for each unit, but until we actually have the volume to produce we will have to quickly fix any unforeseen issues that may arise. We will also hire a technician to help put out slates at a steady pace.
FUZE Ti LLC Warrants the Steel Slate to the original purchaser against defects in materials and workmanship for one (1) year from the date of original purchase or date of shipment from Kickstarter campaign. FUZE Ti LLC will repair or replace the product at its discretion at no charge. Warranty does not apply if FUZE Ti LLC determines the Steel Slate have been altered, modified, neglected, abused or misused.
For all services, including warranty repairs, please email support@FUZETi.com to obtain RMA number and shipping address.