About this project
The FUZE Ti: Steel Slate
Timecode slates have been a valuable time saving tool used for decades in the film industry. There are very few timecode slates out on the market so we figured it's time to shake things up. We are offering a new timecode slate option at half the price of those currently on the market and is just as accurate and robust. The introductory Kickstarter price for a slate is $550USD.
- Timecode generator supports frame rates of: 23.976, 24, 25, 29.97, 29.97DF, 30, and 30DF
- Drift between devices is less than one frame (~35ms) every 24 hours
- Sync from other timecode devices (Runs on internal clock after jamming)
- Jam or run off of an external timecode generator
- Easy to set start time and user data
- Standard 5-pin Lemo timecode input/output
- 1/4" TRS timecode input/output
- Adjustable display brightness
- 16 hour run time with display continuously lit on maximum with 4 AA batteries (Batteries not included), or run indefinitely off of an external power source 5-16V.
- Solid wood clapper sticks makes a clear and sharp snap.
- Solid and sturdy construction. The front panel is made of steel and powder-coated with white dry-erase marker surface. The back side is black injection-molded ABS plastic and houses the electronics.
- Dimensions - 8.7"W x 7.4"H x 1.6"D (8.7"W x 8.7"H x 1.7"D)
Final height may be cut down to 8 inches
- Weight - 2.5lbs with 4xAA batteries
What is timecode?
Timecode is used to identify every frame of video or motion picture, and as a time marker for audio. It is a standard set fourth by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) that allows different devices such as cameras and sound recorders to share a common time-stamp for every frame on all related media.
Why is timecode important?
If you are shooting with multiple cameras or recording sound on a separate device, synchronizing all the devices with timecode can save time needed in post to manually match up all the audio and video.
How do I use timecode?
To take advantage of timecode you need to have a good master clock. The master clock is used to jam sync all other devices. Often times the master clock is the sound recorder itself, but the slate can serve as a great master clock as well. There are many cameras and sound recorders today that have the ability to jam to external timecode sources. With an accurate timecode display on the slate, it will give you an accurate reference for cameras that lack the ability to jam sync timecode.
Once the production is finished, every frame and every audio file will have a correlating timecode stamp that you can view in many NLE editors and DAWs. Some of these software can automatically sync up all footages from multiple cameras and audio files by matching up the timecode embedded in each file.
How does this compare to other timecode devices such as Ambient slates, Lockit Boxes and Denecke slates?
The FUZE Slate uses a temperature compensated oscillator. The clock has a tolerance of +/-1ppm, capable of achieving an accuracy of less than one frame drift over a 24 hour period. Operating at temperatures from -10 to 60°C while maintaining a stability of +/-1.5ppm. Right on par with Ambient and Denecke devices. The projected 10-year tolerance of our clock is +/-3.5ppm, a mass improvement over the typical +/-10ppm temperature-compensated quartz crystal over 10 years.
How does the display look in direct sunlight?
What about those phone and tablet timecode apps?
While there are a number of cheap apps for under $10 that can generate and read timecode, they have very low accuracy due to the clock used internally, resulting in unacceptable drift over time.
What will the final product look like?
Currently the 3D printed prototypes have a very rough finish. The finish on the final enclosure will be smoother and cleaner as well. The front panel layout will be slightly different with a simpler and clearer font.
Based on the feedback from various people testing the prototype, we are looking into reducing the overall height of the slate by shortening the front panel and trimming down the clapper sticks. This is dependent on how much retooling will be required for this change to take effect.
Lastly, the printed material (e.g. the color or B/W strips on the clapper) is still being finalized with the print shop.
Is it durable? Extreme weather?
Stress tests so far include baking in the car that went up to 150F mid day and a low of 90F. It was tossed in to the freezer (had to use external power for this test, as the AA died very quickly). Both test kept timecode within 1 frame over 24 hours in comparison with one running at normal room temperature of 75F. Check out the drop test video!
What your pledge will pay for:
The funds raised by this kickstarter will pay for all the components and manufacturing of each unit. The biggest cost of the manufacturing process is the non-recurring engineering cost such as tooling for the mold and fabricating the front panel.
Everyone who contributes to this project will receive updates throughout the entire production progress. We will also post videos, available only to Kickstarter supporters, to show you the actual manufacturing process. We will visit and interview some of the companies involved in making the printed circuit boards, plastic mold injection, assemblies, testing, and more!
If this Kickstarter is successful, we will send out a survey about one month following the campaign asking for your shipping information. We will ship each unit based upon the date you joined our Kickstarter campaign.
We are proud to have this entirely made and assembled in the USA.
How much development is there left to do?
The prototype you see is a complete and working product. We have already achieved the most important feature of a highly accurate clock and worked out all the mechanical design.
We have almost everything needed to build the production units, from suppliers to manufacturers ready to go. Both front panel and plastic enclosure are made right here in Southern California. The PCB and electronic assembly are all done in Sunnyvale. The only suppliers we still need to nail down is the color print for the clapper sticks and the packaging. All of the various components come together in the end in San Diego to be assembled, programmed, and calibration. The first batch is expected to ship about 8 weeks after the project has been funded.
Shipping cost is pretty steep even in my own opinion. I've been keeping an eye on the cost from various carriers for the past several weeks and the average seems to be $150 for a single slate to most of Europe and China. I do wish myself that there was a more economical shipping rate but this was the best I could muster.
There is a special reward created for backers in Canada and Mexico since shipping within North America is much less than overseas to Europe or Australia. If you are overseas do not choose this reward or your slate will not ship until you pay the difference!
Special thanks to...
Major thanks to my family and friends for their continued support through the development of the slate. Special thanks to Adrian Zaw, Daniel McCoy, Kenneth Ho, James Moran, Jason Poon, Jon Pierce, Lily Pham, Nam Luong, Nate Fu, and Tonaci Tran for being part of building this Kickstarter campaign. To all my brothers from N 5/14, Nintendo Mattresses:-P
Risks and challenges
The biggest challenge for this project is living up to the trusted standards and reliability that Ambient and Denecke have established in the film industry. Current side by side testing shows that our slate is just as accurate with less than one frame drift over 24 hour period. Based on the specs of various components used in this slate, we are confident the accuracy will be consistent through every unit when produced in volume. We will ensure accuracy with quality control and extensive testing of each unit before they are shipped out.
The second challenge is building and testing every single unit in a timely manner. The prototypes took 2 hours to assemble per unit, and went through several days of testing. We have plans and a solid idea on how to reduce the time required for each unit while maintaining the same level of quality control. Once production actually begins, we will have to adapt and overcome any unforeseen issues that may arise. With most of the suppliers and manufactures local to California, we will be able to quickly diagnose and quickly remedy those issues. We will also hire a technician to help put out slates at a steady pace.
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