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PART 8: TIMECODE
Using the camera switches it is possible to record RECORD RUN Time code and FREE RUN Time Code (using the User Bits). So what are they exactly and what are the advantages of each type?
If you wanted to order an enlargement of a holiday photo you had taken on film you could easily identify the picture to the chemist because it has a number printed alongside the negative. Each number positively identifies each picture.
On video tape it is time code which identifies every frame you have recorded. Time-code time is presented as a 24 hour clock at twenty five counts per second (i.e. TV frame rate). Each frame is therefore numbered in HOURS : MINUTES : SECONDS : FRAMES.
Record Run time code is similar to a counter. So, when the camera is in record - the time code runs and when you stop recording - it stops. This means that the time code will be continuous throughout the tape. (i.e. no tell tale gaps when you stopped for a break). Now your edit machines will be happy.
However, a word of warning. If you switch your camera off - then back on and start recording you may find that the time code does continue where it left off BUT there could be a few frames worth of blank tape. The time code is continuous but not contiguous! To make sure their are no breaks remember that once you have switched on - you may have to hit the EDIT SEARCH button the tape will rewind a couple of seconds, play and park on the last frame - ready to do a seamless in camera edit.
An old camera trick is to use a record-run time code of 01 : 00 : 00 : 00 for tape ONE and then a time code of 02 : 00 : 00 : 00 for tape TWO. A handy way of electronically tagging your tapes.
However, if you prefer you can also zero the time code at the start of a tape. This will indicate how much tape you've used and so you can work out how much shooting time you have left.
TO ZERO REC RUN TIMECODE…
FREE RUN or TIME OF DAY - TIME CODE
Time of day time code, also called free run timecode, does exactly what you'd expect.. It will ident each frame of video according to the time of day it was recorded. The main advantage is that as long as you wear a watch you know what time code is being recorded. On some productions a Production Assistant will log the shots, takes or important events and make a record of the time code, this speeds up time spent in the edit suite.
The disadvantage of "Time of Day" is that it will not be continuous throughout the tape. If you stop recording to change camera position and then restart there will be a break in time code corresponding to how long you stopped recording. This can be a problem when you come to edit.
With the old Beta-to-Beta tape editing you'd set "IN" points on the recorder and player. The machines rolled back(either 3 or 5 seconds) to lock up. During this time they like to see continuous time code. If there was a break in time code you'd may find that your edit machine would throw a bit of a wobbly and refuse to edit.
With Non linear editing we've found that this problem doesn't go away. When you digitised material from tape into your computer for non-inear editing - the software still like's to see some extra time code before and after each shot. These are called handles - if you check your software preferences you should be able to alter the handle length.
The only way around this problem is to ensure that that there is always a good five to ten seconds of recorded material (and therefore time code) before the action starts. This is fine for controlled shooting (eg a drama) but on shoots where you have little or no control (eg a news shoot) it can be impractical, if not downright impossible.
Another problem is if you are on a shoot over several days. Now tapes recorded on one day could have the same time code as a tape used the next day. In these situations you will have to be very careful about labelling tapes and boxes with the date.
TO CHOOSE TIMECODE…
The user bit display works on the hexadecimal system which consists of a mixture of eight numbers or letters. There are sixteen possible characters, numbers 0 to 9 and letters A to F. A typical way of using the User bits is to ident the camera and the date. So, for example you could enter…
28 : 10 : 00 : C1 this would show the date and ident the camera as Camera 1. In this way if there is a camera fault it is possible to check from the tape which camera it came from and the day the fault first occurred.
I'd recommend setting User Bits to TIME OF DAY – they are then your FREE
RUN mode. Then set Time code to REC RUN.
TO CHOOSE TIME OF DAY TO USER BITS…
From: Lanny Date: 21 March 2001
05:54 Subject: My first question
My first question deals with: EDIT SEARCH If I don't use tapes with a "chip" in them, does this END SEARCH feature still work? I'm having trouble. Once I take the tape out, I can't get it to find the end of the last recorded section. And, as you say, in order to maintain TC there must be NO BREAKS. What's the easiest way to do this? Best, Lanny CA
Hi Glad you liked the site... On the training courses I run we don't use "chipped " tapes - because they're too expensive for the training department. However, the end search seems to still work. So, I'm not sure why your camera is having trouble finding the last shot.
One method we used, to keep the time code continuous, on the VX1000 was to "pre-timecode" our tapes BEFORE the shoot.
Make sure you have a fully charged battery and put it on the camera (the battery must be able to last as long as the tape). Take a fresh tape - put it in the camera - leave the lens cap on and (if you feel like it) unplug the mics (although this isn't really necessary). Start recording. Don't forget to rewind ready for the shoot, once you've recorded timecode on the whole tape. You could try this with the PD150 - although I'm not sure whether it over-writes the timecode. Unfortunately I don't have a PD150 with me - so, I'll have to leave you to experiment. It worked for the VX1000 so it may work for the PD150. Let me know if it does.
All the best. Christina