Dec 18, 2008

Scripting and the HD-Digital Age

A reader question:

Hi! I've been reading your blog for most of this year and just started script supervising. I will be working on a student thesis film and they are shooting with a Panasonic HPX-3000. It uses hard drives instead of tapes. Do you use time code only? Or list the hard drive? ( But, the hard drives get switched out repeatedly.) I appreciate any advice you have. Thanks for your time.

The best advice I have is to take all the notes you can get. Yes, get the drives and the timecode. However, even with all this new technology sometimes getting all that information can be tricky. Back in the old days working film, camera assistants called out roll changes we used slate numbers instead of timecode. I could be quite a distance from camera and this process would work as long as I was able to communicate with camera. With digital if you don't have some way of getting timecode you are flying blind.

I recently worked on a job where we shot out in a field for five days. During the first set-up the camera department rolled their eyes at me when I asked for timecode to be generated to the director's monitor. They grumbled and said no. They were not going to even have a director's monitor...not enough cable. Ok, fine.

Here's when you need to be uber-nice to the camera boys...(Yes it's true professional politeness gets you farther than being an ass) I asked politely if they could enter the time of day into the camera (which they did). I synced that time with my stopwatch time. That way for me to know the timecode at the start of a shot, all I had to do was look at my stopwatch.

Now for those scripty's looking for software that may help out this situation I turned to my friend Tony from ScriptE to see what his system offers:

Good Morning Script Goddess,

Happy to tell you a little about ScriptE and logging timecode.


We built a timecode clock into ScriptE. You simply synch up (jam) your lap top by connecting a 1/8" (or mac mini) cable to any timecode source then disconnect and work cable-free all day. This works for any free run timecode format (NTSC drop or non-drop frame, PAL drop or non-drop).

The sound mixer or camera operator may look at you funny when you line up to jam your laptop but your editor will love you! ScriptE's timecode clock is rock solid and you only need to jam it once in the morning and then you are good to go all day -- (just like a smart slate).

Once "jammed", ScriptE will then marks the timecode whenever the ScriptE operator hits their stopwatch icon. You can even mark timecode in and out for multiple instances within a take. Our commercial ScriptE users love this feature. So rather than writing "director preferred the 15th attempt at opening the ketchup bottle in take 12", You just hit a button and give the editor a concrete timecode landmark.

We've even created a special "Timecode Log" that incorporates elements of a traditional editor's log with these TIMECODE MARKERS as well as CAPTURED REPRESENTATIVE STILLS from each take.

We're headed to LA for our first 2 DAY INTENSIVE TRAINING SEMINAR (FEB 28-MARCH 1). And we'll be holding product demo's FEB 27th, MARCH 2-3). Announcements will go out later this week. Hope you and some of your readers come by to visit.

We'll be posting updates on our website:

All the best,
Tony Pettine
ScriptE Systems

Any scripty's care to comment?

UPDATE: Via e-mail another scripty told me her solution...I don't have a timecode grabber, but what worked for me on some shoots was hooking into the monitor that had the timecode running on it and I used a video capture device to basically capture the timecode from the screen as well as capture other screen shots. Of course I had to manually type it in, but the timecode was there in a screen shot.


Maggie ~:) said...

Thank you so much for this entry. I am a newly "self taught" scripty and I am investing in a macbook this Christmas. I've been looking for a good program that would solve my "what's your time code??!!!" problems. I just may invest in that ScriptE program as well.

Ruth said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Scripty said...

Thanks for the comment Maggie, I'm sure there are many "self taught" scripty's out there (me included)!!!

Ruth-Thanks for the comment! It's always wonderful to hear from my readers!

Anonymous said...

I'd jam timecode on ScriptE more than once per day, usually after every meal / 6 hours or so. As a sound mixer, I jam the slate itself probably every four hours or so, and I would imagine Denecke slates to be a more stable clock than that of a laptop. But I bet that is a great piece of software!

Sound Mixer

Scripty said...

Thanks so much for the tip Thomas!