Jam Syncing Timecode: Your Secret Weapon for Faster Post-Production

Save hours in post but it takes only minutes on set.

I can’t believe I didn’t get on board with this earlier. Years of working with multiple camera shoots and never once thought about a better way to have them synced up for post.

Everything from talking head interviews to ad shoots and podcasts that never had anything but scratch audio or maybe, just maybe a sync clap to work with.

I also had a young team under me who looked to me for guidance on these shoots and so they didn’t know a better way of working either.

Introducing Timecode Jam Syncing

This is something I should have known, realized or just taken the time to research. Something that I know now and can share with you is that there is a better way.

It’s called timecode syncing and there are a number of ways to do it.

The easiest way is by doing something called jam-syncing your cameras.

What do You Need to Jam Sync?

To do it you need to have the right equipment.

Actually, you know that’s one of the even more frustrating things… we actually did have equipment possible of doing this within our shoot kit but never used it for this.

If you’re just starting out then you might need to purchase some gear but if your already have a team with a decent shoot kit, chances are you already had what you needed the whole time.

I’ll drop some affiliate links to the products I’ll mention below so you can check them out after this.

No More Painful Waveform Syncing

I can vividly remember those times where mistakes were made and no audio was fed to a camera or the framerates were different or the audio recorder was set to a different frequency. 

Waveform Syncing - Timecode Jam Syncing

Why can I vividly remember those times? 

It was the hours spent re-syncing things in the timeline, trying to match a person’s action on one camera to another, or trying to find out why everything drifts out of sync after 15 minutes yet it’s perfectly in sync at the beginning.

Argh… it’s agonizing to think about how easily it could have been solved at the time and on set.

The Turning Point

It wasn’t until I met a freelance sound operator for a shoot gig we had on, my team was scattered across other shoots so I needed extra resources, it was then that I realized there was another way.

We had 3 cameras and two go pros shooting a professional football trick artist. There were going to be mixed frame rates for slow-mo shots and audio from them too.

I explained to the guy how much of a nightmare this would be in post and he gave me some magical wisdom that changed everything.

Premiere Pro Multicam Sync Timecode

Once I tried it out all I had to do in Premiere was right-click, Synchronise and select timecode.

I could even create a multicam sequence from the project panel. More on how to sync in post later.

Timecode Sync Devices

So, what was the magical wisdom?

Well, it turns out that most professional audio recorders, even Zoom audio recorders have the ability to provide timecode.

You can take this and “Jam” your cameras to receive that timecode. 

Jamming or jam syncing is the term used for overriding the timecode within a device with the timecode from another. 

You see it is actually the sound operator’s job on large sets to be in charge of timecode and ensuring all devices are in sync because their equipment has the ability to provide it.

But things have changed a bit in the last few years and there are some great devices on the market now that allow us to utilize timecode jam syncing without needing to use professional audio recording units. If you do have a sound op in your team or have the equipment already then you will be able to use this method too.

For those that don’t, I’m going to show you two great devices that give you this ability.

Deity TC-1 - Timecode Jam Syncing

Tentacle Sync and Deity TC-1 timecode generator boxes are little devices that sit on your cameras. For larger cameras you can jam the cam and then take the device out again but you may need to resync every few hours, I’ll explain why in a minute.

Tentaclesync - Timecode Jam Syncing

The sync devices sync with each other so that one becomes the master timecode provider and the others are slave devices getting the timecode from the master.

You connect the device to one of three ports usually. On larger cameras like a Sony FX9 it’s the timecode genlock BNC connector, for smaller cameras it will be either a USB multiport that you may need an adapter for OR you can jam using the audio in port with a TRRS 3.5mm jack. The devices usually come with a variety of cables for your needs.

Deity TC-1 FX9 - Timecode Jam Syncing

Once you have jammed the cameras you can just start shooting. It takes literally seconds if not minutes to do and could save you hours and in some cases days of frustration in post!

For smaller cameras where you are connecting via TRRS jack you will need to keep the devices attached because the camera is actually using audio from the device to receive the timecode.

Deity TC-1 FX3 - Timecode Jam Syncing

For the BNC jammed cams you can remove the device and the timecode will stay running and synced to the other devices but it’s worth reconnecting a timecode box to resync every few hours because timecode clocks in cameras are not flawless and can drift out by a frame or so after a few hours.

Making sure before you even step on set that you know you have your bases covered, you know the cameras you’re going to be using and that you’ll need everything in sync in post is key.

This all starts in pre-production, so a pre-production process that gets all the details down is vital. I’ve got more on this in a minute.

Jam Syncing
Deity-TC1 - Jam Syncing Timecode

For serious content creators, the Deity Microphones TC-1 can make editing videos easier, quicker, and cheaper. This small, portable device adds timecodes to your multicamera shoots, streamlining the post-production process.

Jam Syncing
Tentcle Sync E MkII - Jam Syncing Timecode

The Tentacle SYNC E is an easy-to-use, reliable timecode and sync tool that works in almost any setting. Whether your shoot is simple or complex, it’s the perfect companion. Focus less on setup and more on being creative.

DISCLAIMER: I am an Amazon and Skimlinks affiliate and by using the link above I will earn a commission. However, it is at no extra cost to you and will help the site to run. Thank you for your support.

What to do in Post-Production

Talking of Post-production. I said I’d show you what to do now you’ve got footage synced by timecode and I will. I also should add here that this will save you time, like a lot of time but you should always still ensure you sync clap or have a clapper board on set and do so before rolling just as a backup.

Create multi-camera sequence - timecode jam syncing

Head to Premiere, import your media and right click in the project panel and create new mult-camera sequence. Now choose to sync by timecode and decide whether you want to put them in a new bin or not. A new timeline will be created with those clips in sync. You can also use a multicam sequence to switch between cameras quickly and easily if you need to.

It’s also worth noting that if you go with a Tentacle Sync device that they have their own sync software similar to the likes of Red Giant Plural Eyes called Tentacle Sync Studio for you to be able to sync large amounts of shots by timecode.

tentacl sync app - jam syncing

Hours Saved!

How easy was that?

All that time spent looking for the clap in the waveform and trying to manually align the shots is a thing of the past and not to mention the dreaded days where there is no waveform to use to sync.

Timecode syncing or jam syncing as it’s referred to in the industry takes less than 30s on set once you know what you’re doing and yet can save you SOOO much time in post. Now that’s working smarter, not harder and gives you a huge amount more time to be creative.

Now, as I mentioned pre-production is vital for getting all your ducks in a row and reducing the chances of mishaps on set or in post. A flawless production process from brief to deliver is what you want to achieve and that’s exactly what this tutorial is all about.

Video Production Pipeline Workflow

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