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Digital Video Hacks
By Josh Paul
May 2005
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Fix Timecode Problems on an Existing Tape
Broken timecode will cause you headaches in the long run. Fix it early or invest in Excedrin.
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If you have timecode that jumps from one time to an earlier time, you will encounter problems when digitizing your footage. For example, if your tape's timecode is 00:34:23;00 and jumps to 00:00:00;00, you have a problem. It is best to fix problems in your process as early as possible. One way to avoid this problem is to black and code your tapes ahead of time.

Some people attempt to overcome timecode problems while digitizing by using tape numbers to indicate which breakpoint to locate. For example, tape TCP001 would be the section of tape before the jump and tape TCP001.1 would be the section of tape after the break. They continue to increase the last number for each break. Not only does this approach not solve the problem, but it might cause additional problems in the future with tape numbering and EDLs .

If you are going to fix timecode on a tape, you have to transfer it to another tape or onto your computer. The process of transferring your footage can cause you to lose quality, which you do not want to do. You only want to fix the timecode.

Digitize and Output

If you have only your digital video camera, all is not lost. You can still fix your timecode problem by using your editing system to digitize your footage and then performing a digital output. To create a digital copy of your footage, you have to digitize your tape using the same codec it was acquired with. For example, if you are using DVCPRO, you should capture your footage using the DVCPRO setting.


There are different types of digital video. You should be aware of which type you are using. Most consumer digital video cameras record DV, but there are also DVCPRO, DVCAM, and HDV formats.

You should also make sure you have enough hard drive space to hold a complete tape. For DV, you will need approximately 13GB of space per hour of footage.

To digitize your footage, connect your camera or deck to your editing system. Once connected, you need to capture the footage from your tape to your system. Each editing system is different, but the end result is the same. Here's how to get started in a variety of popular editing systems:


Tools → Capture

Final Cut

File → Log and Capture…

Movie Maker

File → Capture Video


File → Capture


Switch to Camera mode and then click the Record button


If your editing system allows you to Ignore Timecode Breaks, enable that feature.

Once you have digitized your footage, place the entirety of it on a timeline and then export your footage to a new tape:


Clip → Digital Cut

Final Cut

File → Print to Video…

Movie Maker

File → Save Movie File…


File → Export → Export to Tape


File → Share → Videocamera → Share button


You could record back out to your original tape, but if something goes horribly wrong, such as an ugly power surge, you could lose your footage.

Just like using two cameras or decks, when you output your footage to tape, you will have an exact digital copy of the footage on your master tape… except for the timecode problems.

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