Use Tentacle Sync Timecode Generators to Perfectly Sync Up Multiple Cameras and External Audio Recorders In No Time

Synchronizing multiple cameras and other external devices with frame accuracy could be a daunting task. The process could get even more tedious and overwhelming when you throw into the mix a bunch of cheaper consumer cameras or DSLRs that barely provide any sort of timecode support that tends to drift apart shortly after you commence shooting due to the lack of accurate internal clocks.

Such a workflow could turn your life in the editing bay into a real nightmare, especially when you need to work under the pressure of tight deadlines and quick turnarounds. This is where a few Tentacle Sync TimeCode Generators my come in pretty handy and instantly get you off the hook. By embedding timecode into one channel of audio of virtually every camera with an audio input out there, you’ll be able to sync as many devices as you want quickly and effortlessly in post.

Keep mind that you’ll need a separate Tentacle Sync timecode generator for each device involved in your multi-camera shooting whether it’s a compact mirrorless camera, external audio recorder or a professional camcorder. You can use one of the Tentacles as a master clock and sync to other to it. This way all units will stay frame accurate for more than 24 hours thanks to the internal battery which will last up to 40 hours.

It’s also worth noting that the Tentacle Sync generator can be used not only for generating timecode audio but also for embedding timecode into the metadata of files recorded on some of the professional cinema cameras or higher end audio recorders as long as they support this functionality.

The main benefit of using a dedicated timecode generator like the Tentacle Sync over a sync software like PluralEyes, for instance, is that the software algorithms predominantly rely on analyzing waveforms and reference audio which can cause some issues to correctly identify sync points on certain occasions.

Meanwhile, Tentacle Sync features a built-in microphone which allows users to record reference audio as an option. Plus, audio can be synced via almost any timecode compatible software, so you’re not restricted to their own proprietary software.

As Emm of Cheesycam points out, depending on where you want to send the generated timecode, you can opt for a number of different adapter cables from XLR, BNC, USB, TA3, Lemo, cables for RED + Arri Alexa cameras, etc. You can even tether a Tentacle Sync to an iPhone or an entry-level audio recorder such as the Zoom H1.

Tentacle Sync Hardware Specifications:

  • Super small (34 x 50 x 16 mm) and lightweight (30 g)
  • Super simple usage:
    – DIP-Switchless operation (no screwdriver needed)
    – Just one button and LED
    – Frame rate and TC output level setup via software (OSX & Windows)
  • DSLR-ready: Switchable mic/line output + build-in microphone for reference sound
  • Generates all SMPTE timecode rates: 23.98, 24, 25, 29.97, 29.97DF and 30 FPS
  • Compatible with all professional equipment: Uses LTC timecode according to SMPTE-12M standard
  • High precision TCXO:
    – Inaccuracy less than one frame in 24 hours
    – Temperature range -30°C to +85°C
  • Can act as master clock (Green Mode) or jam-sync to any external timecode source (Red Mode)
  • Automatically detects and takes over incoming frame rate on jam-sync
  • Built-in rechargeable lithium polymer battery
    – Lasts for up to 40 hrs
    – Fast charging via USB (1.5 hrs)
    – More than three years of battery life (depends on usage)
    – Will be replaceable
  • Integrated hook surface on back for easy mounting
  • Made in Germany

The Tentacle Sync Timecode Generator isn’t cheap, though.  A standard set of two units currently sells for $399 which can quickly add up when you need to work with multiple devices. Nonetheless, it’s still one of the best and most reliable options you can opt for when it comes to syncing up quickly and easily multiple devices on set.

[source: MrCheesyCam]

B&H Order Links:

Tentacle Sync Timecode Generator

Tentacle Sync Timecode Generator Standard Set of Two

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  • sfcameraman

    These have been out in the wild for over two years, this article is way behind the curve. That said, I have several, bought for a project almost two years ago. I had to sync a 4track recorder, three cameras and a dslr recording to a Atomos. It worked great. The tentacles are very simple, light, and the batteries seem to never die. I have several audio friends that keep them to jam cameras with their mixers. It is super simple, the way it should be. The cost is nothing after they save your bacon on the first shoot. Plus, they are way cheaper than the other lock boxes out there.