Engineers have been trained since time immemorial that with multiple sources of video the best thing is that they are always locked together and timed to a common reference – ideally station black & burst (or TriSyncs nowadays). The reasons for this are numerous, but a couple;
- Studios cameras into a vision mixer have to be locked to achieve clean cuts between the cameras – it would look rubbish if you had a frame roll every time you cut between sources. The same is true of sources into a continuity suite etc.
- In the case of Avid for the longest time you had to make sure the VTR was locked to the same reference as the Media Composer (all the way from v.7 ABVB systems in the mid-90s to the last revision of Adrenaline in 2007!) otherwise the audio and video capture portions of the machine would free-run WRT each other and within minutes you’d be loosing frames of sync.
So – I had a coffee and chat with a pal this morning who works for a big facility that has won an archive digitising project and they are using the BlackMagic DeckLink 4K card to allow them to ingest 4 x DigiBeta tapes at once. The capture software is ToolsOnAir and they found that after the first clip was captured the second clip would be a frame out of sync, and progressively worse after that – unless you re-booted between captures! It turns out that if the four VTRs are allowed to free-run then you don’t get the problem. Perhaps processing the vertical syncs places a burden on the card/software and if it happens simultaneously on all four inputs trouble ensues?!
It reminded me of a situation with a big broadcaster who was distributing their regional variations over Astra on a single multiplex. The stat-mux was very unhappy with material that was (for the most part) identical; only the ad-breaks differed. Most video cuts occurred at the same time across all six SDi feeds. The solution was to apply a two frame delay between all the sources (so o/p 6 was now 12 frames late WRT o/p 1).