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Timecode on Set and in Editing


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#1 Chris D Walker

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Posted 26 July 2008 - 07:00 AM

Before I write anything else, it was either three posts each with one question or one post with three questions. I chose the latter so that's why it's here.

Question 1: Knowing that SMPTE timecode reads as 30Hz audio in NTSC and 25Hz in PAL regions, is it possible to record with different speed increments such as 48Hz or 60Hz? Or is it confined to what I've just mentioned?

Question 2: What is the highest number that timecode can possibly display based on the 00:00:00:00- hours, minutes, seconds, frames system?

Question 3: If someone were to shoot more than a million feet of film or a hundred hours of video for a production, what's the protocol for arranging all the footage in an off-line edit?

Thanks for any responses.
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#2 Phil Connolly

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Posted 26 July 2008 - 10:01 AM

Question 1: Knowing that SMPTE timecode reads as 30Hz audio in NTSC and 25Hz in PAL regions, is it possible to record with different speed increments such as 48Hz or 60Hz? Or is it confined to what I've just mentioned?

Question 2: What is the highest number that timecode can possibly display based on the 00:00:00:00- hours, minutes, seconds, frames system?

Question 3: If someone were to shoot more than a million feet of film or a hundred hours of video for a production, what's the protocol for arranging all the footage in an off-line edit?

Thanks for any responses.



1: not sure but I'd have thought 60 fps timecode would be needed for 720/60p HD


2: generally timecode is 24 hours so the highest number would be 23:59:59:29 for 30 fps


3: multiple tapes can have the same timecode, you just need to make sure the tape name or number is different. When you digitise into a non linear edit system such as Avid or FCP, you log the tape number as well. So the protocol is number your tapes and make sure no two tapes have the same number and this number is correctly entered into the edit system during the offline.

When you come to re-conform the footage for the online the Edit system (FCP, Avid, Smoke etc) will ask you for the correct tape number when it re-digitize the shot.

Most post houses have their own tape numbering system with a 5, 6 or 7 digit bar code numbering system - so that if used correctly, many productions can be edited in the same building without the tapes getting mixed up.

Same deal with film - give each roll its own number.

Incrementing the timecode by an hour for each tape is good practice but if your shooting multiple cameras and using time of day timecode - its not always possible.
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#3 Michael Collier

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Posted 28 July 2008 - 05:37 PM

I have always done time of day as tc on set if I am running a double system. If not then I go with record run that hopefully holds its continuity throughout production (if not its not a big deal, its just nice for roll A001 to have a low tc, and the last roll to have the highest tc). I keep tapes logged with roll numbers, so that scripty can make notes that conform. If there are two cameras, it usually means there is a double system, and I try and jam all cameras to eachother and to audio tc (or better yet have them hard wired to a genlock so they are always in phase). Then I give each of the rolls numbers based on their camera (roll A42, B27). As long as the tape number, scene and take corresponds to the scene, take, camera and roll in scriptys notes, then TC should be useful no matter what the tc actually is. TC at that point will be to sync audio and to redigitize media.
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#4 John Sprung

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Posted 28 July 2008 - 06:26 PM

Shooting with run-stop code is nice if you're recording picture and sound on the same tape. It reduces the number of duplicate codes you have. If you have to sync multiple machines, camera(s) and/or sound recorders, then time of day is best. Jam them together in the morning, and again after lunch.

What we do is transfer circled takes to dailies selects reels, retaining flex files that can be traced back to the camera and sound originals. We give reel #1 hour 1 code, reel #2 hour 2, and so forth up to reel #20 hour 20. If we have to go beyond that, we start again with reel #21 hour 1, and so forth. MOW's and mini series can go over 20 or even 40, 60, etc., reels. Code on the selects reels is continuous.

60p is generally given 30 Hz code, and you just track the frames as if they were A and B fields. We hardly ever encounter that, as we work in 24p.




-- J.S.
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