Embedded Timecode

Marc Wojtanowski, sound recordist, says:

Embedded timecode brings the mysterious art into the 21st century - it makes the electronic timecode noise disappear and with it all the problems - too low a level does not work, nor too high a level. Compress your mp3 too much and yet again it doesn't work; don't compress enough and you will be up all night downloading, which often sets deadlines back.

By using embedded timecode and choosing Words for your transcriptions, all the risks and worries vanish. You just need a sound recordist with an audio recorder that will produce timecode embedded audio files. Many are in use, the most popular being those made by Sound Devices and Zaxcom. There is no need to record the timecode because it is just there, hidden in the 'metadata' of the sound file.

I send it wirelessly, but a cable can be plugged in from the camera to the recorder. In fact many of these recorders have an autoload function which means that, when the camera record button is pressed, the audio recorder picks up that the timecode has started to roll and starts recording - never missing a word.

Because the timecode is not actually being recorded, there is no need to set a level, which not only makes it completely reliable, it means the file can be compressed very heavily indeed, which makes for much faster upload times.

Many of these audio recorders are also able to generate a sound report file automatically. This is usually an Excel document which lists all the timecode ins and outs, plus any information input in the camera's userbits. The recordist can also add other useful information, such as the interviewee's name, good takes and false starts.

This technology is tried, tested and easily available.

Marc Wojtanowski, Sound Recordist
marcsw@me.com; +44(0)7971 200667


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