What Is Timecode?

Although there are a lot of applications or features that you encounter when editing a video, the term timecode always seems to appear. Timecode is a time or code assigned to a specific frame or a specific point in a video. Essentially, a timecode is like a time stamp in video editing.

However, nowadays, timecode is no longer used only for video editing. Timecodes are also now used in audio and music file editing.

Types of Timecode

There are several types of timecodes you can use when editing your video. There are two major types of timecodes: DV Timecode and SMPTE Timecode.

DV timecode is often used on digital media. DV timecode is stored on its own track and is then transferred over firewire. SMPTE is the standard timecode format used on all non-digital media. It is often stored on an audio track or integrated into the video track.

There are also two other familiar types of timecode still being used: the Drop Frame and the Non-Drop Frame.

Drop Frame Timecode throws out the numbers at :00 and :01 frames every few minutes, except at the 10 minute mark. This means that a video with a drop frame timecode will make adjustments by skipping frame numbers perdiodically. This is to keep the timecode synced with real time.

With a Non-Drop Frame Timecode, a number to 30 frames per second is assigned. This will result to an error of .03 frames per second. In a nutshell, if you use a Non-Drop Frame Timecode, your video will run approximately at 30 frames per second.

Uses of Timecode

Timecode is an essential part of video editing. The timecode assigns a specific time to each frame of video. By doing this, you can access any specific frame of the video and any edits you make to a frame will still be accurate.

You can also use a timecode to make the video in conjunction with real time. By dropping or skipping a frame, you are able to align the time of the video in real time.

Giving each frame a timecode is like stamping a frame with a special code so that each one is unique and easily searchable. You can manipulate each frame of the video, pick a scene, cut a scene and adjust the beginning or end of the frame to define it.

Creating a Timecode

A timecode is an 8-digit code and each code has a different meaning. The first number signifies the hour, then the minutes, the seconds and the last number signifies the frame number. Since a timecode moves from right to left, the number should be encoded the same way beginning with the hour.

You should also note that the hour is based on military time, which means that numbering is from 1 until 24. However, encoding the minutes and seconds is just like that of a regular clock - 0 to 59.

If you will be using a Drop Frame Timecode, use a semi-colon or period to separate the seconds and frames. On the other hand, use a colon all throughout for a Non-Drop Frame Timecode.

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