Many camcorders and high-end video decks record timecode, which marks specific frames with unique addresses. Timecode is important whenever you want to capture exactly the same frames that were identified or captured previously, as in the following tasks:
You want to log clips before you capture them.
You plan to capture clips using batch (automated) capture.
You want to recapture clips because the original files became corrupted or were deleted.
You plan to export sequences to another system by using EDL.
You’re using a system in which you edit quickly with low-resolution captures, and later recapture the clips at full resolution and quality for the final version.
You plan to synchronize captured video with audio recorded separately.
Unlike the numbers on time counters found in home VCRs, timecode is recorded onto videotape as part of the video signal. If footage lacks timecode, you can add it by copying it with a camera or deck that writes timecode. You can then log or capture the video from that device.
For best results, timecode should run continuously from the beginning to the end of the tape; it shouldn’t restart from zero anywhere in the middle. In editing, if you log a capture In point such as 00:00:01:09 but that number occurs on the tape two or three times because of timecode restarts, Premiere Pro can’t be certain which 00:00:01:09 is the place to start its capture. It can easily capture the wrong clips from tapes with discontinuous timecode.
To ensure unbroken timecode, you need to either shoot it continuously or stripe your tape with it before shooting.
To ensure that you always shoot continuous timecode, record at least 5 seconds of extra video past the end of the action in any shot. If you review a clip in the camera, be sure to rewind the tape back into that 5-second margin before recording again. Your camcorder reads the timecode from the frame on which you stop and begins recording timecode with the very next frame number when you start your next shot. Be careful; if you leave a gap between the last frame of the previous shot and the first frame of the next, the camcorder begins writing timecode at 00:00:00:00 again.
Choose timecode display format
By default, Premiere Pro displays the timecode for any clip that was originally written to the source medium. If a frame has timecode 00:00:10:00 on tape, the timecode displayed for it after it has been captured is 00:00:10:00. Source timecode often makes logging clips easy. Source timecode is shown for a clip regardless of the timebase of the sequences in which it is used. When the timebase of the clip differs from the timebase of the sequence, source timecode can make logging footage easier. For example, a clip shot in 24p has a timebase of 30 fps and 30 fps timecode. Premiere Pro shows the original 30 fps timecode for that clip, even though it is used in a sequence with a timebase of 23.976. However, you can change this default to instead show the timecode for every clip starting at 00:00:00:00.
Also, you can determine how Premiere Pro displays the frame count when a Frames or Feet And Frames display is chosen for a panel. You can make the frame count for every clip start at 0 or at 1, or you can have it converted from the source timecode. If a frame in a 30 fps clip has a source timecode of 00:00:10:00 the Timecode Conversion option gives this frame number 300. Premiere Pro converts 10 seconds at the 30 fps frame rate to 300 frames.
Change how timecode is displayed
The timecode display format for the Program Monitor (including the instance in the Trim Monitor) and Timeline panels always match one another. Changing the display format in one of these panels changes it in the other.
Stripe tape or replace timecode
You can ensure continuous timecode by recording timecode onto the tape before you use it. This process is called striping the tape. Striping is not necessary if you follow recommended shooting practices, but it can protect you from accidentally breaking timecode by miscuing a tape in your camera.
- Before you record video on a striped tape, play about 30 seconds of it from the beginning. Verify that the camcorder is reading the timecode you striped before you start shooting. The 30-second empty lead on the tape also helps in batch capturing.
Check your camera’s settings whenever changing tapes, especially when reinserting a tape you had begun shooting previously. Though you may want to use different settings for different tapes, it’s best to use the same settings from beginning to end of each tape. These should match the settings used when first striping that tape.
If your source footage is in DV format and its timecode isn’t continuous, you can replace its timecode by making a DV copy, or dub, of the tape. The DV device making the copy records new timecode that is continuous, so you can then log and capture video, with the new timecode, from the copy.
This technique does not work when dubbing to the DVCAM format or using a Panasonic AG-DV2500 as the record deck.
- Begin recording the new tape and then start your original tape playing. Let the camcorders or decks run until the entire original tape has been copied.
Scene Detect recognizes the starting and stopping points for each shot by looking for jumps in the timestamps. Because copying a tape this way creates a single clip with a continuous timestamp, you can’t use Scene Detect when you capture the copy in Premiere Pro.
The timecode of source video is captured when you use device control. Timecode capture with controllable analog devices depends on the precision of your tape deck. If your tape deck cannot read the timecode accurately, you may have to calibrate your system or manually assign the timecode to your movie by matching frames.
Timecode is visible in the tape counter only on equipment that can recognize timecode, unless the timecode has been burned in or recorded over the picture in a copy of the tape. Most analog home VCRs cannot read or write timecode.
Set timecode manually for a clip
You can change the timecode from that recorded by Premiere Pro. For example, you captured footage from a DV copy of a Hi8 tape originally recorded with RCTC (Rewritable Consumer Time Code). The DV copy, and the video files on your computer copied from it, carry the DV timecode, not the original RCTC. For convenience in referencing shot logs made for the original Hi8 tape, you want to reset the timecode to the original RCTC numbers.
As you capture and edit video, you enter timecode values many times. For example, you enter timecode values to set In and Out points for clips and to navigate a Timeline panel. Premiere Pro provides many ways to enter timecode.
In Premiere Pro, the duration between the In and Out points includes the frames indicated by the timecode. For example, if you enter the same timecode for the In and Out points of a clip, the duration of the clip is one frame. When entering timecode, you can substitute periods for colons or type numbers without punctuation. Premiere Pro interprets the numbers you type as hours, minutes, seconds, and frames.
- To set a specific timecode, select the timecode, type a new timecode, and then press Enter/Return.
- To adjust the current timecode by dragging, drag the timecode horizontally. For example, to set an earlier timecode, drag to the left.
- To adjust the current timecode by using a relative value, type the plus sign (+) or minus sign (–) and the number of frames to add or subtract. For example, to subtract five frames from the current timecode, select the entire timecode, type –5, and then press Enter/Return.
View timecode as a burn-in
You can display clip timecode within the video preview of the clip by applying the Timecode effect to that clip. You can display timecode within the video preview of any part of a sequence by applying the Timecode effect to a transparent video clip. then trim the transparent video clip for the period when you want the timecode visible. Onscreen timecode is commonly referred to as burn-in timecode. It is used in rough edits and proofs to give frame-accurate reference points to editors and their collaborators.
View source timecode in the Program Monitor
You can display the source timecode in the Program Monitor preview for clips in a sequence as you edit:
If you trim a clip, the clip’s source timecode is displayed.
If you perform a slide edit, the new source media In and Out points for the adjacent clips are displayed.
If you perform a slip edit, the clip’s new source media In and Out points are displayed.
View timecode in the Timecode panel
You can view timecode in the Timecode panel. To view the Timecode panel, choose Window > Timecode.
You can view the following in the Timecode panel:
If you have the Source panel selected, the Timecode panel will display source timecode.
If you have the Timeline panel, or the Program panel selected, you can choose to display sequence timecode, or source timecode from the panel menu. You can choose which audio or video track’s timecode to display from the panel menu, as well.