Cinematography Mailing List - CML

      AatonCode Instructions & Advice

Here are some basic instructions I give to our camera people.

We've had great success with the system over many years now and find the best way to get good results is education of the crew before hand.

Here are our notes :

AatonCode in the Camera Department
Setting up the ORIGIN C+ Master Clock
At the start of each shooting day you enter into the 'ORIGIN C+' this information:

To start the ORIGIN C+ Push #

* Enter 'production-ID' number 'production-ID' number' will flash. Enter by starting with the last two digits first, then enter the first four digits if any.

* Sound roll ID changes during the day
The last two digits - if being used for tape roll numbers, can be changed without effecting the time and date during the days shoot if required. To effect this just page back through to Prod ID and you will find the last two digits flashing.
Change these then re-initialise the GMT SMPTE code generater on the audio recorder. Then hit # and the display then moves onto

* Entering the Date so check your calendar!
The Day. Enter two digits, then press # to move onto the month, enter two digits (ie March will be 03) then press # the year, enter the last two digits (ie 97) then press # (the ORIGIN C+ usually remembers the month and year on day to day operation so if correct just spool through this by pushing #. To correct while you're in the date ie go back to the day push *

* Entering the Time
The time will now already be flashing. the hour enter the two digits (ie 8.00am =08) then press # the minutes will now flash, enter two digits then press # the seconds will flash, enter two digits or nothing

* To start the clock press *
The ORIGIN C+ will now display hours: minutes: seconds

* Checking back entries & correcting mistakes
To scroll through and check all your settings, page through them by pushing # and backwards by pushing * unless you've entered the time.
If you've made a mistake and would like to start again, Push # for 6 seconds or until until "Stopped" appears then push # ORIGIN C+ will turn off. Push # again and you're back at the start to load the production number!

* Initialising the Camera with Code
By connecting the ORIGIN C+ to the camera with its 5 pin Lemo plug.
Push * on the ORIGIN C+ to download and check its code.
The cameras control screen will flash momentarily with the code -
the ORIGIN C+ should report back GOOD 0.00 indicating that the loaded code is exactly right.

* Code Indicators on the XTRProd
Once initialised with code, the camera will display the internal AatonCode it's generating, on the liquid crystal display (LCD) only momentarily. To view the AatonCode, push the T/C display button underneath the display. Push the button to page through the other T/C information such as the Date, the Production Number and the Camera Base Number. (Not to be confused with the camera serial number - the base number is located on the camera base where your shoulder fits.)

A little yellow LED next to the camera jog control will flash indicating there is T/C inside!

* Check Your F.P.S. rate - 25 / 24 / 29.97 / 30 Frames Per Second

* Check the gate
Once a day - check the LED AatonCode printer has all 7 Light Emitting Diodes (L.E.D.'s) working. This is easily done by removing the magazine from the camera body and switching the camera to TEST, so the in-gate AatonCode L.E.D.'s will flash 4 then 3 or sequentially, so you can see that they are all there. Run the camera - and they will start twinkling a moment after camera roll.

* Set the AatonCode exposure
This is done simply by setting the camera's internal light meter to the nominal value of the colour film without filter.
If you don't want to use the exposure meter you can turn it off, without effecting the AatonCode exposure, but you will need to change the
exposure if you are changing to a film stock with a with different sensitivity.

* black and white film is different, because it is red insensitive, and the LEDs are red, over expose code by 2 stops to avoid underexposed code

* Changing a camera battery
Remember that when changing a camera battery, the camera's internal memory, (a charge capacitor) will retain the camera's AatonCode for about a minute with no battery connected. The cameras display screen will flash the warning "No Batt" However, if you are too slow, you will loose the AatonCode, so best practice is to have the replacement battery on hand before you remove the flat battery from the camera.

* Checking the camera code with the ORIGIN C+
It will tell you the code accuracy to within one tenth of a frame.
It's wise to do this every few hours. Perhaps morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea.
At the 8 hour mark, the camera's LCD will start flashing the time, to tell you that it is time to re-initialise the system for maximum accuracy. It will flash for another 8 hours before shutting down.

* If the ORIGIN C+ reads Time Diff or BAD
In the unlikely event you get a BAD or Time Diff reading - before re-initialising to the correct time, get the recordist to roll and shoot a reference slate. Alert Continuety for notation of a sync discrepancy in the SCRIPTLINK. This will enable the telecine colourist to correct the sync offset easily.
Then re-boot all code devices on set with the ORIGIN C+ and then re-slate.

* Shooting Mute or for Variable Speed
Even if you are shooting mute - record AatonCode!
This is excellent for documenting shots in the field, later in telecine and during the edit - all automatically for ScriptLink and AVID's
clip function.

If you are shooting variable speed - still record AatonCode!
Although the film is running faster or slower than normal speed, the time documentation still occurs as the film passes through the gate and even though with playback in telecine at normal sync speeds, although the code is not useable for syncing, but it is still useful for documentation.

* Pre-Roll Arrangements for for linear sound replay in telecine.*
The first will call sound to roll - when sound indicates speed then cameras roll giving approximately a 5-6 second film roll up during which time a slate can be used if required, before 'action' is called. This will enable the DAT in chase sync mode in telecine to 'catch' the film's timecode.

The pre-roll process is unnecessary when using INSTASYNC in telecine or with INDAW - AATON's non linear sound syncing station. This equipment is much smarter and faster than the average audio chase as it uses the date to sync as well. I highly reccommend you insist on this as it makes life very easy for everyone!
DEVA recordings on 4 track generated to JAZ or Syjet can now be used straight into InstaSync or Indaw and is certainly a big advantage over

* The Midnight Syndrome - Shooting over 11:59:59.
If your using AATON's INDAW or INSTASYNC this is not a problem - don't worry about it. If you're not - try and avoid this - usually by starting your ORIGIN c at a time that will not clash with midnight.

* Working without sync slates: Roll Slate at the head of each camera roll with sound!
At the head of each camera roll, instead of just recording it mute, get your sound recordist to roll sound, then verbally ident. the slate and clap! This will help your telecine colourist to check that the camera and sound rolls are correct and in sync with each other. That one clap, acts like the pip on 2, on a SMPTE standard clock leader at the start of each transfer roll - sync is checked from the start of the transfer and all is right with the world!

Best regards

John Bowring
Lemac Film & Video, Australia
Phone +61 3 9429 8588 Fax +61 3 9428 3336


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