What are the benefits to using a 744t with a slate running time code over a zoom H4n with regular slate if the camera is a Canon DSLR? are there any tutorials out there on syncing time code from a 744t to a slate?

4 Answers 4


Well, first of all, the audio on the 744T will be FAR superior to what you get on the H4n, plus you get all the meta data that you can't get on any Zoom pieces.

As far as TC goes, my answer really depends on your post production workflow. This will only benefit you if you are going to use the TC imprinted in the audio files to do the sync. IMHO, if you're doing a simpler shoot, it's much easier to enable onboard audio in the 5D as a reference track, record your production audio with whatever your recorder is (I would recommend a 744T over a Zoom any day), then sync the 744T audio to the 5D scratch audio in post. You can visually sync to transients very easily. There's also a plugin that will do this for you called Pluraleyes.

If you want to go the TC route, it's very easy to sync a 744T to a Smart Slate (or a dumb slate). You just need a cable that goes from the 744T (lemo connector) to the slate (generally a 1/4" TS connector), plug them in together, turn the slate to Read, then tell the 744T to send a Jam signal (in the TC portion of the menu, about half way to 3/4 through the menu screen). If you decide to go that route, I can most definitely walk you through it with more detail.

If it's a short film or commercial you're working on, I'd go with a manual sync. If it's something in long format, or you're using a lab to do your prints, I'd go with TC.

What type of project are you using this for?

  • Beware of Pluraleyes. I think it fulfills its stated goals well enough, but due to the method it uses (creating multi-clips instead of merged clips), it kind of paints you into a corner if you then want to export an OMF or AAF file you might be in trouble.
    – Nathan
    Commented Jul 27, 2010 at 3:17
  • Thanks Colin, I guess the safest bet is to go with the slate and sync timecode, if your up for making a tutorial that would be great.
    – Eric
    Commented Jul 27, 2010 at 15:40
  • @Nathan The recently released 1.2 version of PluralEyes creates merged clips now.
    – user600
    Commented Oct 4, 2010 at 5:46

Thanks Colin,

Will be recording a series of interviews that will run for 3 hours for a documentary @25p PAL and I'm concerned it will go out of sync after the 15nth minute. The director will be editing this and I doubt she has researched on discrepancies with importing Canon DSLR footage onto an FCP sequence. I have read about having to compress footage at ProRess before syncing or that audio files speeds have to be slowed at 99% before syncing.

All the equipment is being shipped a day before although i know how to work with an SD 442 this will be my first time with a 744T. The walk through would be great.

I want to be able to supply on sync audio. Having read all that can happen in post it would be great to know in my end i did things right.

  • 1
    5Ds have been known to drift a little bit... When you set up the 744t, make sure that all the TC settings and the bit depth / sample rate are correct. (should be 24bit, 48k, 25fps). If you are set to that on your recorder, then you have done everything on your end you can do to make sure you match. The 744T is a very easy piece to master. Very straight forward, and the manual is very good as well. It is available on the Sound Devices site. I can help you through anything you have questions about.
    – Colin Hart
    Commented Jul 26, 2010 at 3:18
  • 1
    As for the 5D and post, I'm not a camera guy or an editor, but I know a little bit and I'll help you as I can. The best resource out there is Philip Bloome (philipbloom.net). VERY very good tutorials about how to do all sorts of things on it. There are quite a few on syncing audio as well. He's a British guy, so he probably has some stuff up there about shooting in PAL.
    – Colin Hart
    Commented Jul 26, 2010 at 3:21
  • That 99% pull down idea depends on the camera's setup for the footage. If the camera is running at 25fps (which it really should be if that's the final deliverable format) then you won't need to do that. Pull Downs/Ups are for when you're working in a film based frame rate. With that camera you're talking a 23.976 frame rate. That's where things get stickier. +1 for Philip Bloome, he's an excellent resource as far as 5D workflows go. Commented Jul 26, 2010 at 12:09
  • This should be a comment or an update to the original post, not an answer.
    – endolith
    Commented Jul 26, 2010 at 18:59

I agree with Colin on all fronts here. The 744T is a better investment, a dumb slate will do you fine on shorter project, and a smart slate will make your life simpler on larger ones (kind of like the one you're about to start on).

What a smart slate will buy you when using the 5D is some faster relinking of media in post. The 744T will time stamp your audio. With the slate chasing time code, you'll have a visual representation of time code in the picture until the slate is clapped. This means you can sync at any point before the actual clap using that visual output and the audio's timestamp. While I wouldn't trust it completely (you'll still want to verify that the visual clap and the audio pop are in sync), it will be close enough for the director/editor to at least start with.

I mention that last part, because of time code discrepancy offsets that I've encountered in testing this workflow idea (mentioned in another post). We've shot some more test footage, and I just need to sit down and relink it to see where it's at now. I have been getting feedback from multiple sources that a "smart" slate will always have a timecode offset. I'm still pursuing first hand confirmation of this.

  • Just to clear up one or two things: Smart slates, if set up correctly, shouldn't have any offset, unless you have low batts, or you bought a cheap slate. A Denecke shouldn't have an offset at all within the first few hours of the day. Once it is off (which is bound to happen after a few hours), just re-jam. Also, a dumb slate will achieve the same thing as a smart slate, just needs a cable always attached for jamming TC, or an external TC gen. A dumb slate is often confused with a plain clapper, but it does have running TC on an LED screen on it.
    – Colin Hart
    Commented Jul 26, 2010 at 16:15
  • @Colin Hart - Thanks for that info, Colin. I've very little experience with time code slates. So, we're kind of feeling our way through to get it working the way it should. We're still having some inconsistencies, but I think we're making progress. When in doubt, another round of tests! Commented Jul 26, 2010 at 18:27

Eric, the 5D's memory card is said to overheat after about 5 10-12 minutes of take, so you'll probably have to cut every 10 minutes. The factors to this seem to be both the environment and the parameters of your video (res, fps). Your timecode should never go out of sync too much :) Or you could have a take per interview, that's what we did when we shot with a 5D.

  • I think Justin's right here that you probably won't have to worry about sync. We have found that a clip can last an average of 10-12 minutes, though. Also, if you adjust the ISO, essentially the iris function, it seems to affect how fast the chip overheats, which could conceivably get someone out past the 15 minute mark. Not by very far though. Commented Jul 26, 2010 at 13:11
  • Yeah Shaun I was just putting the warning and I'm now reading some threads about overheating. It seems to depend on the environment as well (obviously, the hotter the air the hotter the chip...). But 10-12 minutes is what other people seem to say too! Commented Jul 26, 2010 at 13:14
  • Even if the camera does not overheat the recording is limited to 4GB which is also about 12 minutes.
    – user80
    Commented Jul 26, 2010 at 14:06

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