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Broken Timecode

Broken Timecode

Broken timecode can cause problems. Final Cut Pro 4 has a new feature that can be activated from the General tab of the User Preferences. You can use a pop-up menu there to tell FCP what to do if it encounters timecode breaks. You can have FCP create a new clip automatically, abort the capture, or warn of these breaks after capture. I think the best route to take is to create new clips. (Even better, log all the clips first, or simply scan the tape to make sure it doesn't have any apparent timecode breaks.) If you choose to create new clips, these new clips always have the proper timecode attached to them. This is critical to a recapture process or an EDL creation for transfer to another NLE or linear online editing system.

However, it's best to avoid this problem when you shoot in the first place. If you rely on FCP's new timecode breaks feature, you will not get the first few seconds past the timecode break to come into your system. You can either record a new tape end to end with your lens cap on before you shoot with it, or always make sure that each new scene's recording starts a few frames over the last scene shot. Pausing between scenes rarely causes breaks in timecode, but rewinding to view scenes just shot or powering down the camera to move to a new setup might cause this problem. Lower-level DV cameras have no way to set timecode starting points, so it's best to record over the last frames of video you want to preserve rather than start again on unrecorded areas of your tape, which resets the timecode to 0.


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