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DV Filmmaking by Ian David Aronson

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How Timecode Makes Nonlinear Editing Possible

Timecode, which was briefly introduced in Chapter 8, identifies each frame of audio and video in your project. Timecode measures a tape in hours, minutes, seconds, and frames, placing a unique timestamp on each frame of footage. This means that if you’re shooting video at a standard 30 fps, timecode can accurately identify the location of recorded material down to 1/30th of a second. Timecode appears in a standardized format, written as hours:minutes:seconds;frames. For example 01:15:20;05 means 1 hour, 15 minutes, 20 seconds, and 5 frames from the start of the tape. See Figure 9-3.

The timecode field in the Final Cut Pro timeline.

Figure 9-3. The timecode field in the Final Cut Pro timeline.

There are two timecode formats: drop frame and non–drop frame. NTSC Figure 9-3. The timecode field in the Final video, the North American broadcast standard, uses drop-frame timecode. Drop-frame timecode is made to conform to a broadcast hour and, using a complicated series of calculations, periodically drops a series of frames to run at 29.97 fps instead of an even 30 fps. Drop-frame timecode is written with a semicolon separating the seconds from the frames (HH:MM:SS;FF); non–drop frame timecode, as in the example in Chapter 8, uses all colons (HH:MM:SS:FF).

In the past, independent video producers often used non–drop frame timecode, because it was very hard to calculate which frames to drop, if ...

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