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VidTips - Time Code

Time code is used to electronically label each frame of video. Videotapes last up to 20, 30, 60 and 90 minutes. With 30 frames a second, a 60 minute tape has approximately 108,000 frames (30 frames a second X 60 seconds X 60 minutes = 30 X 60 X 60 = 108,000 frames). In order to keep track of all those frames, the camera labels each frame by giving it a special number.
The number consists of hours, minutes, seconds and frames: 00:00:00:00. So for a shot that begins 5 minutes, 3 seconds, 20 frames into the tape, the time code is 00:05:03:20. A shot that is 1 hour, 12 minutes, 45 seconds, 22 frames into the tape is 01:12:45:22
Warning: If you run the tape passed the time code and then begin recording, a gap will occur in the tape and the time code will start over. This will confuse the computer when it comes to digitizing the tape. There will be identical time code numbers on the same tape and the computer will not know which shot you want. Also, the gap will be confused with the end of the tape and stop in the middle. Make sure you have a continual line of time code on the tape.

Blacking the tape
To make sure there is a continual line of time code, some people will record with the lens cap on. This creates a black space separating footage while maintaining a fixed line of time code. When the tape is used in production, the time code will remain consistent and there will not be a break in the time code.
If you record black after every shot, then you can rewind the tape onto the black and the time code will be picked up where it is in the line of recording.

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