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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Importance of Time Code

Time Code
Part 2 of the Production Elements Sequence

Time Code is a key element in any production. It is sometimes known as SMPTE code (pronounced Simp-Tee). SMPTE is an acronym for Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, the developers of this standard.
In video production and filmmaking, SMPTE timecode is used extensively for synchronization, and for logging and identifying material in recorded media.           –Wikipedia  
In film production, the camera assistant will typically log the start and end timecodes of shots, and the data generated is sent to the editorial department for use in referencing those shots. Imagine what the editing process would look like when they are given a years worth of film with no reference to any of the video. They would have to sit there are go through all of the video. Timecodes provide a link between production and editing and helps move along the editing process. In film or video production, time coding 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.

Unfortunately, as hunters, we do not have the luxury of toting in a lot of equipment for the production of the hunts. Therefore, for outdoor videographers, time coding is done the old fashion way, pen and paper.

The SMPTE code is displayed like this:
The numbers represent:
In the example above, this means 1 hour, 5 minutes, 59 seconds, and 29 frames

SMPTE uses military time for the coding.
Hours are numbered from 00 to 23
Minutes are in increments of 00 through 59
Seconds are in increments of 00 through 59
Frames represent a single image, the smallest increment which can be cut

Every frame of video (single image) has a time reference that is recorded together with your video. 

Why do you want to time code your video?
If you time code your video after you shoot, you can reference, right down to the frame, of the shots that you want to keep or delete for editing. Sometimes, if your editing process is long after your hunt, you can forget those clips that you filmed that you want to use and then you have to spend your time going through the entire footage. If you code your footage right after the hunt, then you will know about where your good clips and takes are to use. This will save you, or the editor A LOT of time! 
It is really important for the teams in the Campbell Outdoor Challenge to time code their footage each day, because Aaron (the editor) has to go through all the footage to score it for the competition each day. If 10 teams give him 5 hours of footage each, without any time code, he would have to spend 50 hrs going through the footage and scoring it. That is IMPOSSIBLE to score in one night!

How to Time Code:
1. Go back and review the clips that you filmed:
 The beginning (1) and the end (2) time code is located on the bottom of the screen for the high-lighted clip. A good practice is to write down the beginning and the end time code with a brief description to remind yourself or to let the editor know what that clip is.
2. While your filming, the time code is displayed on the LCD screen, typically in the top right hand corner. 

Example of how to fill out the Production Elements Card for the Campbell Outdoor Challenge Events:
Professional Video cameras will generate the time code in the SMPTE format. Most of the smaller consumer cameras do not have this feature. A way that you can "code" your footage is by writing  down the clip number and about the time of the "action" that you want to take from that clip. This is what you will also need to do for the POV cameras, such as the GoPro and etc. As for DSLRs, there clips are not that long and therefore you can just reference the clip number.
Importance of Time Code
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