"I love how simple it all is."
-- Glenn Ficarra, director (neXt, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Focus)
When you put a DISH receiver on your camera, it becomes a timecode zombie. It mindlessly follows signals from a global cabal of satellites in space. No more drifting. No more jamming. No more free run. Satellites are in control. Sound and picture are in sync.
DISH is a zero-configuration timecode generator. When I first started working in film, I thought--how hard can sync be? Then I saw what they saw: rows and rows of cryptic switches. Line Level? Time Of Day? Free Run? User Bits? Drop-Frame? What if I get one of these wrong? With my background in cognitive science, and a decade at Silicon Valley startups including Tesla, I decided to make the experience more humane.
Sync needs a master clock. It so happens that governments and private companies have put satellites in orbit that transmit very accurate time. You can get precise UTC time anywhere in the world. No more asking, "Which master are we jammed to?" "Is this one running as master or slave?" "Are we running Time of Day?" "When did you last jam this one?"
"It's such an obvious idea that it should already exist!"
--Daniel García, assistant editor
From here, we went down the list and asked, do we need this option? You can survive without control over user bits (DISH puts the date there, BTW, because it knows precisely what day it is). You don't need to worry about free run/record run. Pretty soon, the only control left on DISH was an on-off switch. And then we deleted the switch: DISH turns on as soon as you plug in an output cable. In the words of Antoine de Saint Exupéry, "perfection is attained not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing more to take away."
"I have the feeling that you are onto something good."
--Peter Graf, sound engineer
Now for the controversial bit: DISH locks down the frame rate and output level. DISH is always on 24 FPS and mic level. This is where people give me this look: are you for real? I am. The differences between 24fps and 23.98, 30 and 29.97, drop-frame and non-drop-frame, etc., trip people up. To avoid this confusion, DISH puts the timecode on an audio track. Audio streams are inherently continuous, and can take timecode at a different rate than the video in the same file.
"Because it plugs into an audio channel, you don't need any special timecode input--especially if your camera has no timecode input--as long as there's an audio input. You can now synchronize any number of cameras using this device."
--Bill Bennet, ASC
"The PixE5s found the timecode instantly and displayed the Time of Day in the timecode window. It worked perfectly. I love the simplicity -- no worrying about "drop frame" or "non-drop frame" or framerate. Just plug it in and it works."
--Theo Lipfert, educator
Recording linear timecode (LTC) on audio tracks is not controversial. From the start, SMPTE designed LTC as an audio signal--it is an audio-frequency, biphase code with zero DC bias. A number of video editors, including DaVinci Resolve and Avid Media Composer support it natively. For NLEs without native support, a number of utilities exist on the market.
In case none of the existing utilities work for you, we have our own, a free, open-source application, LTCsync. LTCsync runs on Windows, Mac and Linux. Since DISH generates standard timecode, LTCsync works equally well with files you record with our equipment or any of our competitors'. We hope to use your feedback to continue improving our software. You can download a pre-release from GitHub.
"Honestly I am as excited about open source LTC syncing software as I am about the device."
--Paul Katzman, production sound mixer
"This will change the world we live in when it comes to production."
--Matt Martin, DP
"Sync is just one more thing to worry about. I want my camera guys to focus on the story."
--Adam Moffat, producer
"I like making narrative projects with as few crew as possible. The fewer steps we can do in post the better. Timecode sync always sucks and this seems like a great way to stop worrying about it."
--Connor Rickman, director
"Clapperboards are the WORST, I can’t believe we still use them in the digital era. Any progress to get rid of them is great!"
--Edwin Street, director
We've done the research. We've done the development. We've asked casual users and industry veterans for feedback. We've incorporated their feedback into DISH.
Now we're looking to you, our audience, to tell us if DISH is useful to you--and if we should make a real production run.
Risks and challenges
We have a successful track record on Kickstarter. Whenever a project was funded, we delivered rewards on spec and on schedule. We've sunk the development cost into the project before we brought it to Kickstarter. We've de-risked the technical risk as much as we could.
Another way we de-risk this project is by staying frugal. Some Kickstarters spend 40 cents of each dollar on ads and marketing. They spend 40% of the money you give them to sell the product to you. Our marketing budget is $0. If the product photography looks like something Ari shot on his desk, that's because he did. We didn't spend $30,000 making a snazzy video--instead, we crowdsourced ours from supporters as far away as the Canary Islands. We hope you'll forgive our imperfect lighting and focus on their authenticity instead. Instead of spending your money on marketing, we're putting all our resources into engineering and manufacturing DISH.
The big question now is--how many people want one. YOU get to tell US if the world is better with DISH. Get the early-adopter discount and help make the world a better place!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (31 days)