Tentacle Sync is a little black box that connects to both your camera and audio recorder, that generates a synced timecode for both devices, without the need for them to be physically connected with each other. It’s currently being crowdfunded via an Indiegogo campaign.
For indie film production, the cost of setting up synced timecodes in all your device can be beyond the scope of most budgets. The inventors of TS, Max & Ulrick (both cinematographers) say they have designed their product “to be very cost sensitive to make it affordable.” Which is why they’ve not used 5pin Lemo sockets on their device.
During an interview for Soundrolling, Max said, “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.”
TS generates a LTC-Timecode according to the SMPTE-12M standard, creating master and slaves whenever you connect two (or more) via their 3.5 jack inputs. The boxes are then connected to their respective devices, also through the mini jack audio inputs. The synced timecode is sent down the audio input (of your devices) as an inaudible signal, which automatically re-syncs in post via the TS software or any compatible software. Simple.
The makers say TS will stay frame-accurate for 24 hours and the built-in battery will last for up to 40 hours. The boxes are charged via USB and come with velcro on the bottom (for attaching them to devices). They also contain a small microphone for recording reference sound (in DSLRs) in case your battery goes flat or you forget to turn it on. Although, if you’re using TS properly you won’t actually need the mic, it’s just there as insurance.
Most indie filmmakers will have already used Red Giant’s Pluraleyes or the built-in syncing function of some NLE editing programs, such as FCPX. This kind of syncing relies on matching waveforms from both the in-camera sound and audio recorder. Problems occur (as we’re sure many of you already are aware) when the in-camera sound recording is unclear, too far from the source or has too much ambient interference. At those time you’ll need to manually sync the files, which can be tricky, especially if it’s not slated well or you’re using multi-angles.
Pluraleyes is a cheaper option, but eventually you will run into issues with it, that’s inevitable. Whereas, TS will sync seamlessly with every device, no matter its proximity to the audio source or even if it’s in the same building.
There are a number of perks to choose from, the ‘standard’ option is priced EU€380 (around AU$553) and will give you two Tentacle boxes,one mini jack cable, two USB charging cables and one licence of the TS software.
Although, the price starts to jack up when you add extras like TS to BNC, Lemo, RED or XLR adapters and shipping (of course).