A high-frequency signal that allows the accurate "locking" of film audio and video equipment.

A timecode (alternatively, time code) is a sequence of numeric codes generated at regular intervals by a timing synchronization system. Timecode is used in video production, show control and other applications which require temporal coordination or logging of recording or actions.

Video and film timecode

In video production and filmmaking, SMPTE timecode is used extensively for synchronization, and for logging and identifying material in recorded media. During filmmaking or video production shoot, the camera assistant will typically log the start and end timecodes of shots, and the data generated will be sent on to the editorial department for use in referencing those shots. This shot-logging process was traditionally done by hand using pen and paper but is now typically done using shot-logging software running on a laptop computer that is connected to the time code generator or the camera itself.

The SMPTE family of timecodes are almost universally used in film, video and audio production, and can be encoded in many different formats, including:

  • Linear timecode (LTC), in a separate audio track
  • Vertical interval timecode (VITC), in the vertical blanking interval of a video track
  • AES-EBU embedded timecode used with digital audio
  • Burnt-in timecode, in human-readable form in the video itself
  • CTL timecode (control track)
  • MIDI timecode

Keykode, while not a timecode, is used to identify specific film frames in film post-production that uses physical film stock. Keykode data is normally used in conjunction with the SMPTE time code.

Rewritable consumer timecode is a proprietary consumer video timecode system that is not frame-accurate and is therefore not used in professional post-production.

Other time code formats

Time codes for purposes other than video and audio production including:

  • Inter-range instrumentation group time codes (IRIG) is used for military, government and commercial purposes.
  • DTS time code is used to synchronize the optical DTS timecode track from a projector to the CD-based DTS audio tracks.
also known as
  • Time Code
  • Rob's Timecode Calculator on current360.com
  • Timecode and Frame Rates: Everything You Need to Know on frame.io
  • Adobe Premiere Pro CC Tutorial: How to add a Timecode Stamp or Timer to your footage (video) on youtube.com
Adapted from content published on wikipedia.org
Last modified on July 20, 2019, 11:38 am
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