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I’m here with Tentacle Sync and Max taking about a new timecode generator solution, so Max tell us about yourself and Tentacle Sync…

I work as a cameraman since more than ten years and worked in all different kind of settings: documentaries, student films, fiction films and huge advertisement shootings. In the beginning and during my time as a film student I also edited a lot of the films I shot. Syncing was always annoying on set and in post production, but it was during the peak of shooting with DSLR Cameras some years ago, when I realized that there was a need for a timecode-device for cameras without a proper TC-In. I was dreaming of a small gear that is easy to use and cheaper than f.ex. the Ambient Lockit. During one of the shootings I came up with how to solve the problem. But a thought is nothing if you cannot transform it into real. So I needed someone who could build a timecode-generator as small and easy to handle as possible. I immediately had to think about Ulrich, a cameraman friend of mine, who is a technical genius.

Ulrich immediately build a device to test the idea. The original idea did technically not work and would have been much to expensive. But we had realized that there was definitely a need for a different kind of timecode-generator. Uli was excited about the idea to develop a small and easy timecode-device that would make timecode available to everyone. While I got abstracted from time to time, he kept on enhancing it over months and months. Since we both kept on working as cameramen we started analyzing what we and others did not like about other workflows and included all our findings into the new device. (Everyone for example hates dip-switches that force you to use a screwdriver to change the frame-rate…)

After a lot of friends and colleagues tested the product, the need for a specific software also arises. While Avid Media Composer was able to handle audio-timecode, Final Cut was not. So Ulrich started to write a software to convert files with audio-timecode. Doing this he thought: why not write a software that automatically syncs the files? So he also developed a whole software package for Tentacle that can also be used for any other kind of timecode generator. During this process we came to realize that timecode and syncing is not just a device or a software but rather a whole workflow. From this moment on our goal was to develop an affordable workflow that solves all different kind of problems connected to timecode and syncing. Tentacle Sync was born.

tentacle sync

tentacle sync

tentacle sync

tentacle sync

Tentacle Sync

Tentacle Sync

tentacle sync

tentacle sync

How does the Tentacle product actually work?

Actually Tentacle Sync is not just another timecode generator. We offer a whole workflow solution especially for people who didn’t think about timecode syncing before. There is the Tentacle Device and the Sync Software.

The Tentacle Device Tentacle is completely stripped-down to what you really need: An accurate, small, lightweight, easy to use and smart Timecode Device. The most convenient way to use them is put one on your camera and one on your sound recorder. Before you start shooting you put them together with a cable to synchronize them – this takes one second. As soon as they are synchronized you put easily them on your gear by using velcro – we put a hook surface on the device and deliver the tentacles with some sticking loop pads. You can leave the devices on your gear the whole day since the battery lasts up to 40 hours and Tentacle is frame-accurate for  24 hours using a TCXO. Charging the Tentacles works via USB. If you just have one tentacle you can also use it with a Sound Devices-recorder. But as I said earlier: it’s much more convenient to use two of them.

The Tentacle Software Just throw your clips in and that’s it 🙂 The software enables you to do two things: on one hand it enables you to read and analyze all kind of audio-timecode (not only Tentacle). And on the other hand it allows you to create and sight dailies on the fly. Especially during documentary filming this is really helpful because you can see through your material the day that you shoot it. So far it works with OSX only.

What makes Tentacle products different from other mainstream timecode products?

The main difference is: Our Philosophy! While our competitors try to overload their products with dozens of functions and features, we tried to go the opposite way. This makes our product not only smaller and lighter than other products, but also easier to use.

Another difference is our target group. While Ambient and Timecode-Buddy for example are mainly focussing on professional users, we would like to make timecode available for those who haven’t thought of timecode yet because of high prime costs and complexity of usage.

We have built this product with the DSLR crowd, film students and small production companies in mind who are on a budget, but want to work as professional as possible.

But to be clear: Tentacle is still a professional Timecode-Generator. It uses industry standard SMPTE 12M Timecode and the accuracy holds up easily with our competitors.

The last but important thing to mention is that we are the first company who thinks of timecode as a whole workflow from production to post production that we want to enhance. Instead of just selling timecode boxes we are offering a complete solution that consists of a timecode generator on the one side and unique sync software on the other side.

When can we expect the product to be launched?

Our prototypes are fully developed and since everyone who tested them likes them, we already have a lot of requests from all over the world. So the next step is to mass-produce them. To be able to finance the production we started a crowdfunding campaign that will be finished by mid-November. If there are no complications with the supply of some components we will be able to deliver them in February.

I understand you have an Indiegogo campaign launching, where can people check out more info on that?

Yeah. We started it on Monday and are quite excited… Here is the direct Link to the campaign: http://igg.me/at/tentacle – In the next weeks you will find further information on our website http://tentaclesync.com but you can also stay in contact with us over http://facebook.com/tentaclesync.

Thanks for your time, any last words for us?

Yes: thank you to everyone who supported us already! I hope that we can make syncing easier for people who already use it and accessible to people who did not use it so far. To be able to produce the first series we’re bound on the success of the crowdfunding campaign. When we raise 90.000 Euro we can mass-produce them. Just to be clear: the 90.000 Euro would just pay of the production costs, but not earn us any money. But our main goal at the moment is to make Tentacle as a company possible and thereby making the device and software available to everyone. So if you like the idea: please support us 🙂

Thank you Matt for the interview Max

Conclusion

It is very exciting to see so many different options for timecode solutions, especially when the price is coming down around the place, especially for the DSLR people that don’t need it rock solid but a really close guide. Looking forward to hearing more from them.

summary

  • Super Simple Usage: DIP-Switchless operation, no screwdriver needed! Just one button and LED. Setup of Framerate, TC Output-Level over USB via software possible (OSX & Windows).
  • Integrated hook surface on back for easy mounting
  • Super Small (34x50x16mm) and Lightweight (30g)
  • Generates all SMPTE timecode-rates: 23.98, 24, 25, 29.97, 29.97DF and 30 FPS with an inaccuracy of less than 1 frame in 24hrs.
  • Can act as a Master-Clock (Green Mode) or Jam-Sync to any external timecode source (Red Mode).
  • DSLR-Ready: Switchable mic/line output + build-in microphone for reference sound
  • High quality built-in rechargeable Lithium Polymer battery with running times of up to 40hrs. Charging over USB takes only 1.5hrs. Battery life will be more than 3 years (depends on usage) and there will be an option to replace the battery.

Tentacle Sync Software:

  • Drag and Drop: just throw your media folders in and view your synced dailies instantly
  • Analyses Timecode of Quicktime and Broadcast Wave Files (BWF)
  • Reads and analyses Timecode recorded on Audio-Tracks
  • Supported Import Formats: Quicktime, AVCHD, MP4, BWF, WAVE (MXF will be supported in Future)
  • Supported Export Formats: Quicktime (XML and AAF in Future)
  • Simultaneously sync and transcode your Material on Export to more editing friendly codecs like ProRes
  • Multicam Support
  • System Requirements: min. OSX 10.9

Finally FAQ

1) What is the expected lifetime of the internal battery and will it be replaceable?

Sustainability is very important for us. The battery lifetime is about 3-5 Years, depending on usage. We will offer battery-replacement kits in future.

2) Do i need to hook Tentacle up to a computer to change frame rate and settings?

For now you need a computer to change the framerate, but our experience is, you do it only once for a project. We are currently working on a solution to set the framerate over your smartphone and our target is to have this working when Tentacle will be delivered.
Another possibility is, that Tentacle can detect the incoming framerate on Jam-Sync and automatically switches to that rate.

3) How many Tentacles do i need to work properly?

This depends on the audio recorder you want to use Tentacle with:

If you are using audio-recorders without timecode capabilities (like Zoom H4N or Tascam DR680), you will need two Tentacles: One on the audio-recorder (wich will record the timcode signal to an audio track), the other one for use on camera.

For basic operation with audio-recorders that have timcode generators build in (like Sound Devices recorders) you will only need one Tentacle, if the internal clock is tuned properly. But to be honest, it is much more convenient to use just two of them, one on the recorder and one on the camera. Using this setup, you never have to worry about loosing timecode if you power down devices during lunch breaks or when you have to change the battery. With two it’s set and forget – Tentacles will stay frame accurate for way more than 24 hrs.

4) Do i have to use the included sync software to work with Tentacle?

Please do not see our software as a must but as a useful tool. It enables you to view, convert and sync files wether they are using audio-timecode or file-timecode. You don’t have to use our software at all, Avid Media-Composer for example has rich timecode-syncing capabilities right build in.

5)  Ok, i read that there is an integrated microphone. How does this work?

Tentacle has a microphone build in for recording reference sound. It is located right behind the USB Connector. It is intended to use with DSLR and other cameras that use a stereo mini-jack for microphone Input. Using Tentacle on such cameras will record the timecode-signal on the left channel and the microphone signal on the right channel.The mic is powered by the plugin-power of the camera. So if you forgot to switch Tentacle on or it powered itself off due to an empty battery you are still recording audio from the build in microphone.

6) Why don’t you use professional 5pin Lemo Sockets on Tentacle?

Because we don’t like them 😉 To be serious, this product has been designed to be very cost sensitive, so Lemos would simply be to expensive.

7) What cables are included? Do i need to purchase additional ones?

Only one USB and one mini-jack cable will be included wich will allow you to connect Tentacle to DSLRs and other cameras that use a mini-jack. For any other camera or recorder you need to pick the right cable from the perks.

8) Is a charger included?

No. Because Tentacle uses a Micro-USB connector it can be charged by any USB Port. This also includes computers, laptops, car chargers, phone chargers and so on.

What do you think? Leave a comment below

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