How to Craft Tailored Views With Reeltime Pro’s Slot System

Reeltime Pro System UI

The main challenge of a playback operator is to serve the different viewing requirements of everyone on set. With the limitations of some playback setups, crews sometimes need to make compromises, and the signals and images shown on their monitoring devices often do not ideally serve the needs of the individual roles.

In a perfect world, it would be easy to show people just what they need to see, so they can make better informed decisions and focus on their dedicated tasks. This would significantly speed up the collaborative process, which is why we’ve developed the slot system in Reeltime Pro. Throughout this article, we’ll walk you through what the slot system is, how to use it, and how you and your productions can expect to benefit.

The Slot System Explained

You may ask: What are slots, and how do I work with them?

A slot is a container that can hold a live signal, a playback signal, or sometimes both. You work with slots by connecting those containers, which allows you to control the routing of your incoming and outgoing signals. For a more explicit answer, let’s take a look at two examples:

Example 1: Generally, an input slot represents a camera, and an output slot represents a monitoring device such as an SDI monitor.

  • The signal from camera “A” is connected to input slot “A.” Camera A connects to the system via a video I/O device’s SDI input port.
  • The director’s SDI monitor is connected to the output slot “Director.”  The director’s SDI monitor connects to the system via an video I/O device’s SDI output port. 
  • Now, you’re able to show the signal from camera A on the director’s monitor by setting input slot “A” as the source for the output slot “Director.”

Example 2: In addition to input and output slots, there are composite slots that can hold two or more live and/or playback signals.

  • Cameras “A” and “B” are connected to input slots “A” and “B” via the SDI input ports of a video I/O device.
  • The output slot “Director” is connected to the director’s SDI monitor via the SDI output port of a video I/O device.
  • You can combine the A and B camera signals into one slot. Set the layout of the composite slot “Comp 1” to “side-by-side” and choose input slots “A” and “B” as sources.
  • You can show cameras A and B side-by-side on the director’s monitor by setting the composite slot “Comp 1” as the source for the output slot “Director.”
How to Craft Tailored Views With Reeltime Pro’s Slot System
Composite Slot with a side-by-side view of the A and B camera routed to the director’s output slot

These examples already point out what matters the most: Having individual control over each of the final results shown on the monitoring devices on set. It’s not only important to provide those views but to do so quickly. In the next section, we will show you the different ways that the slot system allows you to deliver what you want and fast. So, let’s dive deeper and take a look at Reeltime Pro’s slot types.

Slot Types: Special Workbenches for Each Step in Your Process

Imagine a bustling artisan’s workshop, brimming with specialized stations, each outfitted with the specific tools required for particular aspects of the craft. The workshop’s design, with its strategic layout of workbenches, assembly zones, and storage, echoes the functionality of Reeltime Pro’s slot system. 

Staying with this image, consider each slot type as a workbench dedicated to a specific step in your process.

Inputs Slots: Your Primary Workbench

Input slots serve as your primary workbench. Once you set up everything else, you will spend most of your time working with only the input slots.

Input slots are associated with a camera signal. The camera signal reaches the input slots via the SDI input port of a video I/O device. They let you monitor and record your incoming live signals in groups or as a single camera. After recording, you can (auto-)load the last recording into the associated source slot/s for playback. A reference mode also allows you to compare an input slot’s live signal with the clip loaded for playback. You can, for example, mix and overlay your live signal with your last recording. This would help the crew to match the exact framing of the camera or the starting position of the actors.

Input slots have a unique role. They can record, playback, and on top of that, allow you to compare live and playback signals. Consequently, input slots have different modes:

  • Live: For live monitoring and recording
  • Playback: For reviewing a playback
  • Reference: For comparing live and playback signals

Remember that multiple output slots can receive signals from the same input slot, so what you’re doing on your “input slot workbench” can likely be seen by many viewers (e.g. via different output slots).

But what if you don’t want to show what you see to everyone? One solution for this is using library slots. So, let’s look at another “station” in our workshop.

Library Slots: Your Personal Workbench

You can think of the library slots as your personal workbench – where you prepare requested actions or references for review before anyone else actually sees them. Library slots are directly linked to your material storage – the clip library. Also, each library slot has its own selection in the library outline. So you can fill any library slot with any item you can select in the clip library. Therefore, you can easily prepare shots from different scenes or locations. For example, you can browse with your keyboard’s up and down arrow keys through all clips of a bin, folder, or smart group. Go through scene 5 in one library slot and through scene 7 in a second library slot.

As long as a library slot is not routed to any output slot, you can search for requested actions and prepare references for review without distracting other roles on set, and then start playback for individual viewers via output slots.

It’s nice that we can switch between our input slot workbench and our library slot workbench at will, but what if we could combine the various signals on the different workbenches? Let’s say you want to compare a library slot’s signal to an input slot’s signal on one monitor. Or, you want to do a grid view with two input slot signals and two library slots. It’d obviously be ideal to combine any signal with various composite options. Therefore, we have a dedicated workbench do to precisely that: the composite slots.

Composite Slots: Your Assembly Zone

Composite slots serve as the assembly zone – where you can create composites out of input and library slots. Similar to the library slots, you can first prepare your composite view privately and then distribute the view to the output slots. Four different composite layout options can be applied for many different use cases:

  • Side-by-Side: Create a side-by-side view of 2 slots.
  • 2×2 Grid: Create a grid view of up to 4 slots.
  • Swipe: Compare the content of two slots with a horizontal or vertical swipe.
  • Overlay: Mix and overlay the content of two slots (e.g., to compare and match the framing of two shots).

Last but not least, let’s dive into output slots. 

Outputs Slots: Your Showrooms

Output slots serve as showrooms for exhibiting the final products to your “clients.” Each output slot is associated with a monitoring device, which can be any of the following: 

  • A monitor connected via the SDI output port of a video I/O device 
  • iPhone or iPad connected via a local stream through the Reeltime Viewer companion app
  • Apple Vision Pro connected via the Reeltime Cinema companion app

Not only can you choose the source signal for your output slot but you can also select the transmission technology (SDI or local stream).

Additionally, applying filters lets you further customize each view. We will cover filters in the next section. But first, we’d like to highlight another notable feature of the output slots – the quick routing options: 

  • Set slot to follow selection: Use this option to pin an output slot to your current selection in the UI so that the output slot viewer always sees what you have selected. You can temporarily let an output slot follow your selection. For example, suppose you prepared an action for a review in a library slot, and you want to show it to the director immediately. In that case, you can set the director’s output slot to follow your selection, play the action, and then disable the follow selection option. Once disabled, the director’s output slot switches back to its original routing, for example, a live camera signal.
  • Force slot to live: Use this option to pin an output slot to the live signal of its source input slot. Use this, for example, if you want to ensure that the director always sees the live image during a rehearsal with the actors. At the same time, script supervisor is still able to review a playback from a previous take in the same input slot.

Overall, routing all signals to the viewers’ monitoring devices is made easy by way of separate inputs, outputs, and quick routing options. If you can live with a slight latency, this eliminates the need for an external video router. Therefore, you can keep your setup small and simple.

Sometimes you may want to provide a direct live feed from the camera on a monitor. In that case, you can also combine the internal routing options with saved configurations for your external video router. You can do so by using video routing configurations as “actions” in the automation manager. This allows you to automate the routing configuration change based on a specific event. For example, you can apply different configurations to ensure the director always gets a live signal without latency, despite which type of signal the output slot is receiving.

As you can see, the slot system allows a very flexible routing of your incoming and outgoing signals. You can even choose on which monitoring device your viewers can receive the view you created for them. But wouldn’t it be nice also to decide how the footage appears? Good news – Reeltime Pro has another tool that allows you to do that: the filters.

Filters: Precision Tools for Putting Your Finishing Touches

Okay, let’s take out our precision tools! With individual filters for each slot, you can tailor your view’s appearance to match the requirements of the viewer’s role or a specific use case. The first step is to choose from a range of filters:

  • Crop with offset, rotation parameters, and an auto-detection to crop out the black-bordered metadata HUD from the camera
  • Flip for flipping the image horizontally/vertically
  • Image Overlay with offset, scale, and opacity parameters (e.g., for adding a logo or watermark) 
  • Metadata Overlay with parameters for the camera metadata fields, slate info, slot mode (playback/live), clip name, and timecode
  • LUT for loading a 3D LUT in a .cube format (e.g., for applying a look if you receive an ungraded signal) 

Filters allow for even further flexibility within the slot system. Decide to add a filter to an input slot, an output slot, or maybe even a mix of both. Let’s take a look at two examples:

Example 1: You are getting an ungraded log signal straight from the cameras. The camera department provided a show LUT that you should apply to make the preview on set more appealing. In this case, it makes sense to add the LUT filter directly to the input slots so that all output slots will receive the graded image. 

Example 2: The script supervisor wants to see all relevant metadata, including the camera HUD and status info, but the director wants to view a clean image. No problem – add a crop filter to the “Director” output slot and a metadata overlay filter to the “Script” output slot. Now, the director sees the clean cropped image while the script sees the uncropped camera signal with metadata overlays. Regardless, they both see the same input signal. Good to know: If the output slot “Script” shows a composite slot with a side-by-side view of both cameras A and B, the metadata overlay is automatically applied to each composite source.

How to Craft Tailored Views With Reeltime Pro’s Slot System
Output slots with tailored views: The director receives a clean image from camera A while the script supervisor receives a side-by-side view including metadata from cameras A and B.

The filters are another neat helper to serve the individual needs of everyone on set. Now, all viewers can make well-informed decisions while focusing on their current tasks. Speaking of which, how do you keep focused on your current task as a playback operator? Let’s take a look at the window layouts!

Multi-View Window Layouts: A Separate Room for Each Workbench

Sometimes, it’s good to be in one big area where you can quickly switch between your workbenches. But often, you may want to focus on your current task and spend a longer time at only one workbench. Reeltime Pro’s multiple window layouts let you switch quickly between separate “rooms” for each of your workbenches.

The main view layout provides access to sections with each type of slot, slot settings, filter settings, and other essential application components. This allows you to quickly change between the different types of slots, so it’s convenient for setting up views.

However, when everything is set up, you may want to stay at one of your workbenches to focus on your current task. Hence, Reeltime Pro offers a dedicated multi-view for the input slots, library slots, and output slots. Let’s again look at examples of when the multi-views become handy:

Example 1: You work only on a small MacBook Pro display, but you should monitor each camera’s signal simultaneously to make sure that the footage is correctly shot, recorded and that there is stable video quality. You can use the input slot multi-view layout to see each active input slot in a separate viewer window including all playback or recording controls.

How to Craft Tailored Views With Reeltime Pro’s Slot System
Multi-view window layout for input slots

Example 2: While the crew is setting up the next shot, you can use the time by preparing actions for review in the library slot multi-view. If you need to predefine a play head position for each of your library slots, it’s beneficial to see all views in one UI layout.

Example 3: If you are wondering what all the viewers on set are currently seeing (or you want to double-check), you can see all output slots simultaneously in the output slot multi-view.

Keep in mind that the window layouts can be changed with a keyboard shortcut or a Stream Deck action, allowing you to switch between windows, or ‘rooms,’ quickly.

In summary, the multiple window layouts blend seamlessly with the slot system by providing a dedicated room for the type of slot you want to focus on.

Slots vs. Views: Why Less Is More

Last but not least, you shouldn’t mix up slots with “views” in conventional playback systems. 

Reeltime Pro’s 3-channel option allows you to work with a lot more than just 3 views. It gives you 3 input slots, 6 library slots, 2 composite slots, and 6 output slots. Each slot is actually a separate view, and you decide who should see it. With Reeltime Pro’s 6-channel option, you get 6 input slots, 9 library slots, 4 composite slots, and 9 output slots.

Consequently, the slot system offers much more flexibility since creating additional views within the slots doesn’t cost extra. For example, by using library slots, you avoid showing everyone on set when you are searching for an action. Furthermore, the differentiation between input and output slots makes it easy to add different views from the same camera signal for multiple viewers.

Benefits of the Slot System

In this article, we shed light on Reeltime Pro’s slot system and its related feature set. We pictured it as a workshop with a dedicated layout for playback operators that provides a highly customized outcome for all roles on set. Let’s wrap up the benefits we covered.

The slot system lets you…

  • Be flexible: Decide who sees what, on which device, and how the footage appears.
  • Stay focused: Avoid distracting the crew with redundant content or irrelevant info.
  • Maintain a transparent overview of all signals: Monitor incoming and outgoing signals (in sections or separate multi-view layouts).
  • Handle multi-tasking: Simultaneously provide playback for one viewer and a live feed for another. Prepare playback privately while the crew is watching another live or playback signal.
  • Work with small setups: Input and output slots paired with flexible routing options allow you to work without video routers.
  • Optimize scalability: Ability to share one view with multiple viewers or keep one more view/s for personal browsing and searching purposes.

Overall, the slot system innovatively handles video playback and related requirements. You and all your crew members benefit from flexible and transparent routing and viewing options, and you can elegantly provide tailored views for the individual creative roles on set. So enhance and accelerate your collaborative processes now by taking advantage of all the benefits Reeltime Pro’s slot system offers.

About the Author
Wanja is a product manager for Pomfort's on-set applications. With a longtime background in the film industry, he puts a special focus on the user’s experience and constantly works on evolving the products to ensure integration with recent workflow requirements and new technologies.