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SMPTE Time Code

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The Music Telegraph
Text 2019-04-13

▲ SMPTE Time Code

© Pro Tools Expert



 

SMPTE (Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers)

 

 

SMPTE Time Code

Developed by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers in the late 60’s, SMPTE timecode is essentially a series of numerical codes that can provide integrated systems and their human users with a reliable and accurate positional reference. (see the Top picture  )

 

 

SMPTE LTC (Longitudinal Time Code)

LTC is an encoding of SMPTE timecode data into an audio signal

 

- Time Code (TC) can be read @ any speed and in any direction (play; FF or REW)

- 80 bit code in every frame

- 4 major frame rates:

i) 30 FPS (Frames Per Second) = NTSC b&w STD (U.S. standard)

ii) 29.97 FPS (Drop Frame) = NTSC color STD (*NTSC: National Television System Committee; U.S. standard)

iii) 25 FPS = EBU (European Broadcasting Union) video (European standard)

iv) 24 FPS = Film

 

 

▲ Syncing video to audio files in Pro Tools     



 

*Equipments:

1) Reader/Generator

- Generator = Creates outgoing TC & display it

- Reader = Recognizes & Displays incoming TC

 

▲ SMPTE Time Code Reader/Generator

© ESE 



 

2) Synchronizer

- Compares TC from master & slave(s) and controls slave transports to chose to the master and lock to it

 

▲ SMPTE Time Code Synchronizer

© JL Cooper Electronics



 

3) Control Panel

Has several display screens that display:

- Master TC

- Slave TC

- Numeric keypad entries

- Status (Assigned slaves chasing or locked record ready)

- Macros ('Macros': same as computer function key - eg. F1 ~ F12: assignable function keys in computer, usually have minimum 6 macros)

- Transport controls for master (with assigned slaves) and for independent (Not assigned to the master)

- Rew | FF | Stop | Play | Go-To

 

 

▲ Control panel in Pro Tools

© Pro Tools is Awesome



 

*Offset: ability to lock machines that have different time codes

*In Analog: Pre-stripe the code onto highest # track. Leave next highest # track. Blank as a guard track

*Never copy TC: Always Re-Generate it (by) - take TC from machine #1. Play into RDR(Recorder), XFER (Transfer), RDR - GEN (Generator); you now have fresh code to send to machine #2

*Time Code can be read at any speed & in any direction (play; FF or REW)

 

 

▲ SMPTE timecode can be extracted as an audio signal from a recording track on a video cassette recorder (VCR) or audio tape machine   

© University of California, Santa Cruz 



 

 

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