How to Reset the Avid Timeline Start Timecode

Avid users can sometimes become bewildered by the timeline start timecode. Depending on your version of Avid, the default starting timecode for a sequence can be one of many things, but it is rarely ever zero. One might ask why the program would want you to start anywhere else.

Step 1: Understand Preroll

In Avid Media Composer, the starting timecode for any sequence is 1 hour. In Avid Xpress, it is 30 seconds. Though it may seem like it is only natural to start at absolute zero, the reason for these numbers is preroll. When you end up writing your sequence to a tape, you will not want the sequence to start at the very head of the tape. Any tape always has a good amount of nothing at the head of its roll in order to avoid damage to the actual content. 30 seconds of preroll is usually a safe bet, hence the Xpress default. Media Composer sets you at 1 hour just to keep things at a nice even number while still giving you space for preroll.

Step 2: Reasons to Change

You could come up with all kinds of reasons to change the starting timecode on your timeline. There are a few that might make sense. For one, if you are in Xpress, you could find that this 30 seconds is interfering with your sense of timing as you edit. Perhaps you keep forgetting that there is an extra 30 seconds at each time stamp which can get confusing. So, you could change it. It is also possible that you are going to link up to another program that would require a starting timecode of zero. To get everything synced properly, you would need to match the timecodes.

Step 3: Changing the Timecode

The easiest way to change the timecode is to right click on your recorder window. Select "Get Sequence Info..." from the drop down. You will find an option to adjust the "Starting Timecode". When you enter a new time, you need not worry about typing the colons or semicolons; Avid will do that for you automatically. Just type numbers. Alternately, you can go into the bin with your sequences in it. Enter "Text" view and scroll over to where it says "Starting Timecode". Here, you can also type in just the numbers and Avid will figure it out for you.

Step 4: Changing It Back

If you found a reason to change your timecode to zero and did so, you may want to change it back. The demand for preroll is probably more pressing than any reason to have your timecode at zero. You will want to keep this need satisfied. As for your other needs, change the timecode temporarily, then be sure to change it back to something open on the front end.

The timeline's timecode seems trivial when you are cutting, but in the rest of post production, you will need to stay aware of it. Adjusting it is easy, but make sure you have sound motivation to do so.

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