One of the biggest caveats when using the UltraSync BLUE used to be that there is no way to have it automatically set time of day from an app. Why is this an issue? Well, if I was using another timecode system, such as options from Deity or Tentacle Sync with other cameras or audio devices, you couldn’t set the timecode value as time of day on the UltraSync BLUE or through any app. The reason I would want to do this is so that I would be able to use the UltraSync BLUE and other timecode devices from different companies so that they could all record the exact same timecode.
Well, after reaching out to Timecode Systems late last year, they have now updated the iOS UltraSync Blue Slate app to Version 1.8 so that it will Jam current time from the app to the UltraSync Blue.
I am not going to just take somebody’s word for it so I decided to do some tests.
Yes, you can set the UltraSync Blue timecode to Jam Current Time using the iOS UltraSync Blue Slate app. This works as advertised.
All you need to to is click on the icon on the main screen.
You then are greeted by a new screen where you can select Jam Current Time.
When you select this option, you will see that the timecode display value changes to a spinning series of dots. This means it is sensing a different timecode value to the UltraSync BLUE.
After a few seconds, the time that is set is the same as that of the device that you are using to run the app.
So what happens if I want to use the UltraSync BLUE in conjunction with other timecode devices from manufacturers such as Tentacle Sync and Deity? Well, let’s find out.
Both the Tentacle Sync and Deity timecode products can be set to the time of day using an app, and while that is fine, you do want to make sure that you have one master device that you are jamming all of the others too. The problem with using the Ultrasync BLUE with other timecode products is that you can’t sync it to another master device, so setting it to time of day is the best option you have.
What I will do is use a Tentacle Sync E mkII connected to a camera and another Tentacle Sync E mkII sending timecode into a Deity TC-SL1. I will also set up an UltraSync Blue ending timecode over Bluetooth to a Nikon Z9. I also used the UltraSync BLUE to send timecode to a ZOOM F3 Audio Recorder.
As I can use the same device, in this example an iPhone, to send the exact same time to all of the devices in theory then should all match up. I will reiterate that I am jamming all of the Tentacle Sync E mkII to one master device. They are not individually set to the time of day.
The issue I discovered when using the Ultrasync BLUE with other timecode devices is that the timecode didn’t match up. The timecode being shown on the Ultrasync BLUE was routinely about 9 frames ahead of the other devices and the ZOOM F3 was showing that it was 7 frames ahead. Now, initially, I thought that this could be an issue because the Tentacles are being hard-wired to devices, but if we look at the Tentacle app and then look at the Deity TC-SL1 that is receiving timecode from another Tentacle they are in sync.
You would think that because the UltraSync BLUE is receiving the exact same time from the exact same iPhone that everything would be perfectly synched, but at first glance it doesn’t appear to be. There isn’t any way on the UltraSync BLUE to offset the timecode. If there was you could just dial in the difference to solve the issue.
As the apps and audio recorders/Z9 are not genlocked or world clocked all the clips should be within a frame duration of each other but because the frame edges are not locked the devices could slip 1 frame either way of each other.
With this in mind, I bought clips from all of the devices into an NLE and I found that there was no more than a frame difference between any of them. This tells me that there is certainly a display issue on the UltraSync BLUE and the devices it is connected to which means it doesn’t appear to be showing identical timecode.
It is great that you can finally use the UltraSync BLUE with other timecode devices from other manufacturers. This certainly lets you integrate devices such as the ZOOM F3 and the Nikon Z9 into your existing timecode ecosystems. While it isn’t a perfect solution because you really want to jam all devices to one master, it does help solve a problem that was previously there.
If you want to see my in-depth review about using the UltraSync BLUE Bluetooth Timecode with the Nikon Z9, Atomos Connect devices, and the ZOOM F3 you can here.