Time For Time Code

Made in Germany, the small and lightweight Tentacle Sync box works in conjunction with software to provide frame-accurate time code to almost any recording device.


Q I work for an ad agency, and we shoot a three-camera meeting each month using Panasonic DMC-GH4 cameras. It’s my job to edit all of these into a highlights overview that’s uploaded to our server for other offices to view. We record the sound (multiple speakers and audio from video presentations and PowerPoints) on a Tascam DR-40 digital audio recorder and sync the three cameras to the sound in editing. As you know, the GH-4 doesn’t have genlock or time code I/O, neither does the Tascam. My boss suggested I look at ways I could more easily sync the multiple camera scratch audio with the DR-40 in editing. I edit with Final Cut Pro 7.04, but will be upgrading to Final Cut X or Adobe Premiere Pro as soon as we can upgrade our editing computer. In the meantime, any better solutions than just manually syncing audio waveforms?
J. Hunter
Via email

A I used to own a Panasonic DMC-GH4 camera myself. I know that you can add the Panasonic DMC-YAGH audio interface to each camera, and that will give you TC input and balanced XLR audio inputs, as well, but that wouldn’t help you in using and syncing to your current Tascam DR-40 audio recorder.

For the three GH4s, three YAGH interfaces would still cost you an additional $1,500 at current retail prices, plus you’d need to purchase some sort of time-code generator, and your three cameras still wouldn’t be genlocked with each other.
Another possible solution would be the Tentacle Sync system, an innovative box funded by an Indiegogo campaign that actually came to fruition and is now for sale. The Tentacle Sync box outputs time-code signal that can be recorded on the audio track of any camera or audio recorder. Each Tentacle Sync box syncs up time code with each other before you even route the output to the audio input of each device.

Tentacle Sync offers Tentacle Sync Studio of OSX, software that can be used to easily sync all audio and video sources using the identical time code recorded by each camera, or audio recorder, for preview. The multi-cam function in FCP 7.04 will work great with the identical time code recorded on each device.

The Tentacle Sync devices solve one of the age-old problems of shooting multiple consumer cameras and a separate audio device, namely, no time code. The company offers a whole page of various adapter cables that allow you to connect a Tentacle Sync box to almost any brand and format of camera or audio recorder on the market.

The only downside might be that the Tentacle Sync boxes are high quality and, therefore, costly. Still, short of upgrading all three of your cameras and audio recorder to something pro level with time-code capability, the Tentacle Sync solution could very well be a perfect choice for speeding up your monthly workflow. The Standard Kit with two Tentacle Sync boxes is $507. Check out their solution at tentaclesync.com.

Utilizing four separate capsules, the Core TetraMic is a portable, single-point, stereo and surround-sound ambisonic sound-field microphone.
Utilizing four separate capsules, the Core TetraMic is a portable, single-point, stereo and surround-sound ambisonic sound-field microphone.


Q We recently purchased the new Go Pro Omni 360º camera system. Our goal is to shoot 360º/VR video of music groups and singers in a small performance space. We’re dipping our toes into VR production, and the Omni seems to be a decent solution to commence with. Upon testing it out with 360 video using the Oculus Rift headset, the 360º audio quality leaves a lot to be desired. What microphone can you recommend that won’t cost as much as the Omni that will record high-quality audio for 360º video?
E. Croft
Via email

A Congratulations on jumping headfirst into the world of 360º video! I recently shot 360 video for a social-media marketing campaign, and it was my first exposure to VR/360º production. I came away from it humbled, as it’s such a different format and mindset compared to traditional television and film production. We hired a sound mixer who’s up to speed on ambisonic sound. I learned several important lessons from him in regard to recording audio for VR and 360 video.

There’s a decent amount of confusion and misinformation around audio for VR and 360 video. Let’s talk terminology. There are primarily two types of audio recording formats used in the VR/360 video world, depending on the end product. Binaural audio works well for content in which the camera controls the viewer’s vantage point, as it allows users wearing headphones to feel as if the audio is coming from all around them. This would be primarily for VR video games or enhanced reality experiences. However, for content that’s interactive and immersive that allows the user to look in any direction, binaural audio doesn’t actually work well. Once the user turns their head, the binaural audio will be off, so the audio still will sound like the user is looking in the original direction.
Ambisonic sound uses an algorithm to determine the correct combination of four directional microphone feeds to create the sound that’s tuned with the direction the user is facing. Therefore, the ambisonic sound will move with the user in a virtual environment while binaural audio will not.

The most popular ambisonic microphone available right now is the Core TetraMic (core-sound.com), a sound field microphone comprised of four subcardioid or cardioid capsules arranged on the faces of a tetrahedron. It uses software to generate mono, stereo, surround or ambisonic B-format signals, which is what you want to match your Go Pro Omni footage.

The Core TetraMic isn’t inexpensive; it retails for $1,329 for the complete PPAc package that gets you the mic element, PPAc transmitter, PPAc receiver, 18-inch PPAc adapter cable and shock mount. Keep in mind that you also need an audio-recording interface capable of recording at least four channels of high-quality audio with high-quality mic pre-amps. Core recommends the MOTU Traveler, MOTU 4Pre, Metric Halo’s ULN-8, Prism Sound’s Orpheus, Apogee’s Quartet and the RME Fireface UFX.

Since you’ve jumped into shooting 360 video, I would strongly suggest you investigate the audio side of the equation and give it the same resources you gave to the video side. Recording live music will require high-quality audio to match those visuals. Let me know how this all works out; I would be interested in hearing about which path you take with ambisonic sound.

16 CFR Part 255 Disclosure: Neither Tentacle Sync nor Core compensated me to write this article. I borrowed a colleague’s Tentacle Sync system for evaluation and recently completed a 360-video project on which the sound mixer used the Core TetraMic. No material connection exists between the manufacturers mentioned in the article and myself.

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