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How important is timecode?

Well if you want to edit your footage from multiple cameras you can’t have timecode with the exact same numbers or the NLE Software will think that two or more clips of footage are the same. You mainly need timecode to match up audio with video clips. If your cameras can do ‘TOD’ (Time of Day) Free Run timecode, then you can just synchronize your cameras to the ‘TOD’ for your shoot and then match up shots from the different cameras without hassle. If you don’t have Free Run settings, then you’ll have to make sure each camera’s TC is different. You’ll have to ‘Zero Out’ the Main Camera’s TC so it will be the baseline for all of the shots and then make sure the other cameras TC won’t overlap each other.

The field monitor – How exacty would you use this?

Truthfully, you shouldn’t shoot without a field monitor even if it’s just a small on-camera mounted one. However, economics dictate you do what you can with what you’ve got. However, on a studio shoot or non-run & gun location shoot neglect to monitor at your peril. As for what you use it for, using a field monitor will allow you to see ‘what you’re going to get’ when it’s on TV. Camera viewfinders and camcorder viewfinders are fine for shooting, but to get good ‘reference video’ you need a monitor. With a monitor (properly set up) you’ll see that unnecessary ‘dead space’, the unneeded headroom, or when you’re cutting off too much of the scene.

I know how to put up color bars on my cameras, but am clueless how to
utilize this as well. How do you match all of them via this method if
only one camera is connected to the monitor?

Ideally, you would want to have all of your cameras patched into a video switcher with a single monitor and have a Technical Director to run it. From the setup you mentioned, you’re probably not going to get that. There are less expensive versions of what I described, but they are a bit pricey and you’re far from ready for that anyway. So without a waveform monitor on hand, you’re best bet is to hook up your cameras to a single monitor via an audio/video switcher that you can buy in ‘S-Mart’. Get one that has at least 3 video connections preferably with S-video and or at least RCA plug-ins.

First you’ll setup your Main as the baseline for color and contrast based on the Main’s colorbars. Connect your main video to the monitor via the S-video or yellow RCA input. Then put up your colorbars in your camera. Calibrate your monitor using the instructions from the following link;

*Be advised when using a consumer LCD TV as a field/production monitor you’ll have to base some of the controls described in the link on the equivalent controls of your TV. The good news is; the rules will still apply and you can get good results despite not having specialized controls.

Once you get your monitor calibrated, if you have similar camera models set them all to the same image settings as your main. If you don’t then connect the other cameras to the switcher while the calibrated main is still connected. Using the main as reference, tweak the other cameras (using their colorbars) image settings until you can ‘eyeball’ them to be ‘close enough’. You’ll have to switch back and forth between the main and the camera your calibrating and that’s what the switcher is for. It’s a ‘ghetto’ field setup, but it does work!

The main issue here would be the Z5Us would probably record in 1080 60i while the consumer would be in 1080 60p.

I would say if there is no requirement to shoot in HD for a public access show, Don’t! Just shoot it in DV 16×9 if they can put it out like that or just to be safe, 4×3. Find out what they want and can broadcast. Shooting in DV will be a lot easier and you won’t have to worry about format issues (i.e. interlaced or progressive scan) as DV is all interlaced (unless shot in 24p.) Concerning the ‘consumer cam’ timecode issue, it probably doesn’t have timecode, but make sure if it uses a ‘counter’ that it is not ‘zeroed out’ just in case it causes a conflict with your main cam’s TC.

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