Here’s the definition according to Webster:
A coded signal on videotape or film giving information about such things as frame number, time of recording, or exposure.
Doesn’t say much for us visual learners, let’s dive in really quickly. So let’s picture we’re at a movie set and the scene is about to get filmed, the director calls for the department’s to be ready, says rolling and then someone gets a weird board with numbers changing in front of the camera and makes it clap. Action!
That board is called a clapboard, we’re in the 21st century so we have really cool updated ones available. But for some, low budget ones are just as great. I, for one, love my traditional chalkboard clapboard, but others use those expensive digital ones that sync up with all the equipment.
Coming back to the topic; those numbers that are rolling on the digital clapboard are what we call timecode. We can also see these numbers at the bottom of the filmed footage when the editor is in the process of organizing his or her workflow to be able to cut the scenes and shots needed. Sometimes, the timecode makes it all the way to the screening cuts of the film or episode for timing purposes. Obviously, once the audience sees the film or episode those timecodes are removed since they’re mostly distracting to say the least.
One aspect of using timecodes that I find amazing, is how easily you can sync up audio with video if you had to film a shot that required you to record voice overs or dubbed audio even after having filmed the video. Mostly seen in action shots or shots that have too many environmental noises. (There’s a video somewhere around the Net of #HughJackman recording audio for #Logan )
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