Timecode is a powerful yet simple tool, that keeps all departments in a live production in sync. That includes, for example, the Lighting, Audio, Content playback and Camera departments
In a live production environment, there is one true Timecode source, which is distributed around the different departments. Everyone adjusts their own Timelines in their respective systems, to match the start of the Linear Timecode, the LTC.
The Audio department is often the source of the LTC. When they hit play on their playback track, everyone follows. The source device might be Pro Tools or Cubase or even EVS. The timecode is over LTC and plugged in to various devices, including CuePilot's Studio Server.
When the director calls action, the audio playback track is played, and all departments devices begin receiving the LTC and follow. The backing music track is played to the vocalist's in-ear monitors, the lights hit their cues, and the CuePilot Timeline will begin to play, switching cameras on the vision switcher, and CueApp will begin cueing the camera operators for the shots as planned.
Working with Timecode requires that the performer(s), perform in sync with the playback track, so that their live vocals match the music. If there are instruments being played and singing live but not to a playback track, the performers will need a click track, to keep them performing in sync with all of the production elements being cued with Timecode around them.
Start Timecode of Acts and Applying Offsets
Knowing the timecode of the start of the playback track is essential to ensuring that the Cues execute correctly live. LTC has hours, minutes, seconds and frames. In pre-production, you need to determine what start time each performance has.
A simple convention for smaller shows, is to have the start timecode for each Act begin on a new hour. i.e Act 1 is 01:00:00:00, Act 2 is 02:00:00:00, Act 3 is 03:00:00:00.
The start of an Act in CuePilot's Timeline is always at 0:00:00, however with an Offset applied, Act 1 will roll when the incoming LTC his 01:00:00:00.
You set the start time for each Act by applying the Timecode Offset. You can set this when you add a new Act, or from the Rundown view select the Act and then the ... , or from the Act view click on the Act's name at the top. This opens the Act's edit dialog.
In the field TC. Offset, enter the timecode for that Act. For instance, if Act 1 is going to be at 01:00:00:00, then enter that. The Timeline in CuePilot is still 0:00:00, and when the incoming LTC gets to 01:00:00:00, Act 1 will start playing.
It can also be handy to set a different start time to 0:00:00. Maybe you need a 5 second count in (as the performer has click track before the performance starts, and you have programmed lights and effects to crescendo just before the singing begins. Leave the Timecode Offset as 01:00:00:00 but change the Act's start time to be -5:00, for minus 5 seconds. When the incoming LTC is 00:59:55:00 CuePilot will start following and then at 01:00:00:00 the music will start playing, all in sync as planned.
Studio Panel and LTC Sync
When it comes time to the rehearsals and the live show, and the audio department's timecode is being generated, you need to turn on the Studio Panel to enable CuePilot to sync with LTC.
In Setup > Layout, set Studio Panel to Show, and save.
With Studio Panel set to show, you'll see an extra row of studio controls displayed. CuePilot Studio Servers and the BOB unit have multiple LTC in, so you will need to select which Timecode source to follow. In this case, the XLR cable from Pro Tools with LTC is plugged in to LTC 1, so LTC 1 is selected and when select it is highlighted in orange. Additionally there is a chain symbol, to indicate that an Offset is set.
Due to the potential for slight delays in LTC between devices like the switcher, EVS, lighting department etc, it may be necessary to further manually adjust the offset by a few frames, to get the most accurate sync. Next to where the Offset is displayed, are buttons with an arrow left and right, where you can adjust the Offset frame by frame as necessary.
Perhaps during rehearsals you want to quickly review the performance that you recorded to EVS. As long as the timecode that the EVS recorded matches, i.e. LTC 1 was also going in to EVS, then you can play back from EVS and it's timecode will trigger the CuePilot to follow. In CuePilot switch off LTC 1 sync, and turn on LTC 2 sync, (EVS's LTC will need to be plugged in to the LTC 2). Then when you play the recorded performance from EVS, CuePilot will follow. You can stop and adjust Cues, and then go for another record.
The new CuePilot S6 Studio Server, coming soon, has a built in recorder, that eliminates the need for EVS. It will record it's own rehearsal, and add the media to the Timeline in sync, for quick review.
Apply Offsets Manually
Perhaps there is no pre-determined start Timecode of each Act, where Act 1 is 01:00:00:00 and Act 2 is 02:00:00:00 as described above. During rehearsals it is possible to manually start the CuePilot playback in time with the music, and then jog/shuttle on the playback, to get the CuePilot in time with the playback track, then set the Offset.
After being counted in and both the audio department and CuePilot hit play at the same time, you will be roughly in sync. To get it even closer, use the jog/shuttle feature, and click and drag the control forwards to speed up, or backwards to slow down, until you are in sync. In the screenshot below the playback speed is 1.2x, (as shown bottom right) as the CuePilot was slightly behind the audio as needs to speed up to get in sync.
Once they are playing in sync, let go of the shuttle, the Timeline will continue to play back. Select which LTC to follow, i.e. LTC 1, and then the jog/shuttle control will change into a 'Set Offset' button. Click to set the offset to the current difference between the LTC & CuePilot.
After the Offset is set, the chain icon will be displayed as well as the Offset. You can still continue to tweak the Offset using the left/right buttons to adjust frame by frame as necessary.