The iPod as a timecode slate

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I recently got suckered into a low budget music video. How low budget? The decision was made not to hire an audio person for playback. Without that audio person it meant there would be no audio master made for the song and no timecode slate for syncing later in post. What was the solution? Use an iPod with video and make our own timecode slate!

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We dropped the audio into a timeline and then applied a timecode generator to a slug for one version of the song and color bars to another. This was done so we would know what version of the song we were working with at a glance. It was also handy to have the timecode on the iPod video screen in that we put visual cues like chorus, bridge, solo to know where in the song we were.

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Timecode is always something to think about as we were shooting in 720p60 and of course the iPod doesn’t support that so sync was a bit off when the clips were brought in. But since the camera recorded the audio playback with the camera mic there was always an audio reference to help with sync. What I did was to first drop in the actual piece of video we put on the iPod into a timeline. It didn’t matter that it needed rendering as I just needed to see the numbers. I assigned the master timecode of the timeline to match. It didn’t really match since we shot at 59.94 but if you were shooting at 29.97 it would match perfectly and you could skip the next step. Then I dropped all the performance takes (there wasn’t too many of them) into a timeline, using the iPod display to get the clip nearly into sync. I then adjusted the clip to get the sync just right and then assigned each of the takes an auxiliary timecode, made a multiclip (I was using Final Cut Pro) grouping via aux timecode and you have a multiclip group with all of your takes. Voila! Instant music video, no timecode slate needed… though I still prefer a professional audio pack with a real timecode slate at if all possible.