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Pulp Diction from SONNYBOO

Timecode Burns

by Peter John Ross


Wanna know a trick to save your expensive DV camera from getting editorial wear & tear ? (especially all you Canon GL1 owners, or people trying to pay off their GL1’s)

After the shoot, when you have all your footage, and your tapes all numbered, MOST people log their footage as they go using their non-linear editing program (Adobe Premiere, Final Cut Pro, or Avid). Which is really cool that you can mark IN & OUT points, and you can make a digital LOG of your footage on each tape.

But you are running a master tape in a deck or a camcorder, rewinding, fast forwarding, and playing multiple times. That’s wear and tear on your equipment, your irreplacable master tapes, and it’s extra time.

Here’s the “not so secret” tip, but surprisingly most people don’t know about it….

Make a VHS tape with the TIME CODE showing onscreen. (Most camcorders will allow you to select DATA or TIME CODE output in the menu or on the remote).

Now you can rewind, fast forward, play over and over again your raw footage – and not risk your master tapes OR your camcorders.

The next step is to watch and log your takes or footage and write down on a piece of paper the TIME CODES of the IN & OUT points of only the footage you need. And important step when logging is to think about the FILE NAME you are going to name each clip. The official name for your sheets of paper is an EDL (Edit Decision List). You can basically “edit” your whole piece using the paper edit selecting angles and takes. You use your EDL’s to make the editing decisions and make an “offline” edit.

All of this while only wearing out the heads of your $29 VCR as opposed to your $2,000 GL1 (which some people are still making payments on)…. Not to mention watching the footage again, making yourself more familiar with the raw, unedited takes.

At this stage you can then use your NON LINEAR software to type in the IN & OUT points you wrote down and use the FILE NAMES you made up for each clip and then tell the computer to “CAPTURE” the footage and it will record all the footage from the whole tape (or even multiple tapes if you like) to your hard drive.

Make sure to save the BATCH CAPTURE LIST. It can be handy later on (like after you edit your masterpiece, delete all the raw footage and want to make changes a year or two later…. And you can just load up the list & re-capture. Unlike me on my first few projects, and it’s way too much of a hassle because I don’t have a capture list or even a paper EDL to refer to, so I am completely screwed and can’t re-edit unless I start from scratch, but I’m only a little bit bitter).

Please note the OTHER benefit – hard drive space. If you do an offline, paper edit from your EDL’s, you are only capturing the footage you need, as opposed to capturing takes & footage you DO NOT need, and filling your hard drives with large video files you don’t use.

So you get to

PRESERVE the life of your camcorder
PRESERVE the life of your Master Tapes
Get the SAFETY of being able to recapture & re-edit your footage without effort
Become more FAMILIAR with your footage
SAVE valuable Hard Drive space

TIMECODE BURNS – this is an old, but very effective technique.


About award winning filmmaker Peter John Ross & Sonnyboo Productions – Founded in 1999, Sonnyboo short films have played on 3 continents and at over 50 film festivals world wide. Projects directed by Peter John Ross have appeared on Tech TV, National Lampoon Networks, Movieola the short film channel, The “U” Network, and Vegas Indies TV. Sonnyboo films have been noted in such publications as RES Magazine, Ain’t It Cool News, Camcorder & Computer Video magazine, Film & Video Magazine, LA Weekly, Film Threat, the Village Voice, & Internet Video Magazine.


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