Timecode generators are all getting smaller and smarter.
2017 offers lots of new timecode solutions that are taking what made Tentacle sync so successful and getting smaller and smarter. I thought would run down 2 new units from Timecode Systems and Ambient. The UltraSync One is from Timecode Systems and the NanoLockit by Ambient.
These are the key features they want to stress taken from each of their websites. Then I’ll go through and give my thoughts:
Timecode Systems Ultra Sync One Key Points:
- The only product of this size and price point to have a genlock and word clock sync output, in addition to timecode
- 25 hours+ battery life from a single charge
- Measures just 55mm x 44mm x 17mm
- Weighs 39g (1.38oz)
- All sync modes – timecode, genlock & word clock
- Generator and transceiver: generate master timecode or configure as a slave
- Jam or slave to an external LTC source
- Sync over long range, bi-directional BLINK RF
- Connect to BLINK Hub via a :pulse or :wave
- Perfect for multicamera sync, professional VR rigs & DSLR shoots
- £240 | $299 | €279
- There is no comparable product on the market that can compete with this value for money.
Ambient NanoLockit Key Points:
- Highly accurate timecode generator
- Less than 1 frame drift per day in autonomous mode, zero drift with active C-Jam master in ACN
- Supports all TC framerates
- Full ACN support for ease of use and enhanced network capabilities
- Auto framerate configuration on jam
- Professional, locking Lemo connector with TC in/out and ACN metadata support
- Timecode output level adjustable for LTC on audio track on non-timecode equipment as DSLRs
- Metadata transceiver for RED Digital Cinema cameras
- Generator buffered timecode transceiver with
- Self-configuring SMPTE and MIDI timecode in- and output
- Easy-to-read bicolor status LED
- Micro USB connector for external power supply, simultaneous internal battery charging, MIDI timecode, communication, and firmware updates
- 35hrs+ operation on full charge in 2 hrs, fast charge 15 min for 4hrs of operation
- Solid aluminium body
- Size: 65.5 mm (2.6“) x 36,5 mm (1.4“) x 21 mm (0.8“) plus antenna 31mm (1.2“)
- Weight: 72 g
- Single Nano is 289,00 € (euro) ex VAT of 19%
The run down:
Now let’s go through the key points they both highlight and see which one better suites your needs.
The NanoLockit is 65.5 mm (2.6“) x 36,5 mm (1.4“) x 21 mm (0.8“) plus antenna 31mm (1.2“) with a Weight: 72 g and the UltraSync at 55mm x 44mm x 17mm with a Weight of 39g (1.38oz) means the UltraSync takes the spot for weight but both very close on size.
With having a portable unit you need to know it will last all day and both come in over the 24hr mark with the NanoLockit winning with 35+ hrs from a 2hr charge and from just a 15 min fast charge can get you 4 hours compared to the UltraSync having 25 hours from a single charge but that is including also outputting Genlock on a separate connection and the backlight being on constantly.
It’s important to point out that the NanoLockit is a timecode generator only. The UltraSync is a timecode generator but also has Genlock and Word Clock functionality which I think is going to be a main pulling point for pro users.
They both wirelessly sync thanks to each having a family network of other products so you can still use this with other TCB or Ambient ACN networked products.
The NanoLockit can be used as a metadata transceiver for RED Digital Cinema cameras which is useful for Ambient ACN networked systems to create and share reports.
Both do LTC audio timecode as well.
The UltraSync does come in cheaper while being able to offer more from €279 vs Ambient NanoLockit at around €289. Though I’m sure early deals will be about to land grab.
It’s useful to note that you can use these units on their own like tentacles but you get much more power when used in the full suite of products from either company.
Both these products are fantastic when integrated into their respective family suites of networked products and if you are considering the full range I would encourage more research as these titans of timecode are both well respected in there own right and anyone with either set of other products will be happy to add this I’m sure.
As for one vs the other and an individual solution much like a tentacle I think the price points are amazing for both but the UltraSync edges it for me with having the Genlock and Timecode option available. This is key for multicamera setups and VR.
If however you didn’t need Genlock because you only work with Arri Alexas as an abstract example because it generates it’s down Genlock and your off to the jungle for a few days then probably the NanoLockit for its long battery life and rugged case would do. I really wouldn’t mind having either in my setup.
Let me know what you think in the comments: