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Vertical interval timecode

A form of SMPTE timecode encoded on one scan line in a video signal.

Vertical Interval Timecode (VITC, pronounced "vitsee") is a form of SMPTE timecode encoded on one scan line in a video signal. These lines are typically inserted into the vertical blanking interval of the video signal.

With one exception, VITC contains the same payload as SMPTE linear timecode (LTC), embedded in a new frame structure with extra synchronization bits and an error-detection checksum. The exception is that VITC is encoded twice per interlaced video frame, once in each field, and one additional bit (the "field flag") is used to distinguish the two fields.

A video frame may contain more than one VITC code if necessary, recorded on different lines. This is often used in production, where different entities may want to encode different sets of time-code metadata on the same tape.

As a practical matter, VITC can be more 'frame-accurate' than LTC, particularly at very slow tape speeds on analog formats. LTC readers can lose track of code at slow jog speeds whereas VITC can be read frame-by-frame if need be. Conversely, at high speeds (FF/rew.), the VITC is often unreadable due to image distortions, so the LTC is often used instead. Some VCRs have an auto-selection between the two formats to provide the highest accuracy.

VITC is 90 bits long: 32 bits of time code, 32 bits of user data, 18 synchronization bits, and 8 bits of the checksum. It is transmitted using non-return-to-zero encoding at a bit rate of 115 times the line rate. (The unused 25-bit times are to leave room for the horizontal blanking interval.)

Key Terms

bits
exception
form smpte timecode
ltc
scan line
vertical interval timecode
video frame
video signal
vitc
vitsee

Additional Resources

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Acronymn

VITC

Synonymns

Vertical interval timecode
(none found)

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Sources & Credits

Last modified on July 23 2019
Content adapted from Wikipedia
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