Techniques for Avoiding Multiple Occurrences of the Same Timecode
Number on a Single Tape
Duplicate timecode numbers on a single tape can be one of the most frustrating
experiences during logging and capturing. Make sure the camera operator is aware of
these pitfalls before shooting, especially when using a consumer camcorder.
Note: A camcorder may automatically shut off after sitting idle for several minutes to
conserve battery power. One solution is to use AC power with the camcorder, though
this isn’t always practical.
Here are some techniques for avoiding reset timecode counters when shooting with
consumer DV camcorders:
Â Prerecord a video signal (preferably black) on each tape before production to create a
continuous timecode signal on the entire tape.
This is called blacking a tape. You can do this in any camcorder by pressing Record
with the lens cap on and the microphone disconnected (to avoid recording any
audio signals). The more professional solution is to use a DV deck and its internal
black generator. Some DV decks also allow you to choose what timecode number
your tape starts with.
Â Dub your tapes so that you copy the video and audio information, but not the timecode.
The dubbed tapes become your new source tapes, and you can capture from these.
Â During production, pay attention to the position of your tape.
Camcorders attempt to create continuous timecode by quickly reading the last
timecode number written on tape. The process of generating new timecode based
on the last stored timecode number is referred to as jam syncing timecode. However,
if the camcorder doesn’t see a timecode or video signal on the tape (for example, at
the beginning of a blank tape), the timecode counter is reset to zero.
DV camcorders tend to be fairly good at finding the last timecode number on tape
as long as the camcorder has not been powered off. If the camcorder is powered off,
the best solution is to rewind the tape by a second or two so that the camcorder can
jam sync the timecode already written on tape when you start recording again. In
theory, this technique can remedy most potential timecode problems. In practice,
however, it can be difficult to always remember to rewind, or you may rewind too far
and then spend time cueing your tape to make sure you don’t record over part of
the previous shot.
One helpful tip when using this technique is to record several additional seconds
well past the end of each shot. If your camcorder is powered off and on, you can
rewind a few seconds into the previous shot without worrying that you are going to
record over important footage.