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Working with timecode

From: After Effects CS5.5 New Features

Video: Working with timecode

Timecode is used to log source media in hours, minutes, seconds, and frames. It's embedded into footage directly when recorded to a medium such as videotape and preserved by a number of formats. After Effects can now read and work with this embedded timecode, making it simpler to organize and edit source video clips without the need for a separate app. The upgraded timecode effect also reads embedded timecode. So here I have some source clips. I'm going to press to Tilde key. That's the one just above the Tab key, to bring that panel up full screen, and let's take a look in this Trek A 01 folder.

Working with timecode

Timecode is used to log source media in hours, minutes, seconds, and frames. It's embedded into footage directly when recorded to a medium such as videotape and preserved by a number of formats. After Effects can now read and work with this embedded timecode, making it simpler to organize and edit source video clips without the need for a separate app. The upgraded timecode effect also reads embedded timecode. So here I have some source clips. I'm going to press to Tilde key. That's the one just above the Tab key, to bring that panel up full screen, and let's take a look in this Trek A 01 folder.

Now, there are a lot of clips in this folder, which is why we're not distributing this project as an exercise file. Now, if you're familiar with previous versions of the Project panel, you'll notice a few new columns in here, specifically these In Point, Out Point, and Tape Name columns are new ones. This is all data that was recorded to these clips when they were captured, which happened in a different app, and it's embedded right into the file and it's just data that's very useful that you never could get previously in After Effects.

Now, what's cool about this is, for example, instead of organizing the clips by Name, I could choose to sort them by In Point, and now I have them in shooting order, and so as I'm going down and choosing my selects, if I remember that oh yeah, that was the one that was shot a little bit later in the morning, I think it's going to be this one, etcetera, that type of data is there. Now, accompanying this is a new Timecode effect as well. So I'll drag one of these clips, the one I just chose, to a new comp and you'll see that this comp now actually has a time that's not 0.

So in fact, it took the data directly from this clip and populated it right into the comp by default. Now, of course you can change that. I'll go under Comp Settings and I could change Start Timecode to whatever I like, including 0, or you can live it like this if you like. There is also a Timecode effect that I mentioned previously. Let's take a look at that. So under the Text category is the Timecode effect, that's where it has always lived, but now what it does is pick up on that same timecode.

Now, there's not a whole heck of a lot else that this effect actually does, but just the ability to burn window timecode right into a clip, and of course you can move it around if you want, if you want it centered at the bottom you can do that, is pretty useful. Going back to the Project panel, I have this other folder up here and I just want to show for comparison purposes here are some files that came from a different camera that records to physical media and it started all of its clips at 0.

So not every source clip is going to have this data. If you don't see it, it doesn't mean that the effect is not working. It just means that it wasn't present. Formats that support this include QuickTime, AVI, P2, MPEG, RED, XDCAM, Wave, and DPX. So although you probably won't use After Effects to log all your source footage after a shoot, timecode makes it possible to find and share specific edit points precisely, instead of waiting for selective clips from an editor, eye matching frames, or attempting to do the math on your own to figure out where a useful take begins.

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After Effects CS5.5 New Features

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Mark Christiansen
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