What is Timecode?

What is Timecode?

word clock and timecode. what is timecode
word clock and timecode. what is timecode

Timecode is now common throughout all of filmmaking, from low-budget to the highest budgets. Timecode helps save time syncing rushes and waiting for the clapper in post production. But there are still some misunderstandings about timecode which is what is timecode?

What is timecode? Isn't 1 second of audio just 1 second?

Timecode is just like you clock at home with a few exceptions. The clock is highly accurate and the timecode clock counts in frame instead of milliseconds. Instead of 1000 milliseconds equalling 1 whole second, the timecode will be set to a frame rate. This will determine how many frames per second of audio.

A common one for TV in the UK is 25fps (frames per second). The clock will count 25 frames and then equal 1 second and start again.

In this realm, one second of audio is constrained to frames per second which would be what the camera is recording at. This is why though 1 second of audio is always 1 second, the number of frames dictates how many frames of video there are, if these don't match then you get 'drift'. This is where the two clocks drift apart from running at the same timecode.

There are several timecode modes such as free run, rec run, ext run that will dictate how the timecode will be generated, maintained and at what points it will start and stop. learn more about timecode modes.

Important Timecode Considerations

Always make sure that you know what frame rate the camera is recording at.

True 24P = 23.98 / 23.976 and NOT 24 frames on your recorder.

You will never be able to jam timecode for slow motion shots and the frames are too high for the clocks.

If you are running without jamming timecode then that's fine, the editor will conform the sound rushes so they match a video session, I.E if the video is 25fps and you didn't use timecode your audio will be sampled into 25 frame seconds.

If you are just jamming timecode to camera, be sure to rejam after battery changes / power downs and playback just to be sure.

Timecode Equipment

I shall be following up this post with an article about timecode equipment such as lockit boxes, alternatively you can jam a camera using a timecode cable which is available from soundrolling.com store in the menu above.