Compressor: Burned-in Timecode

Posted on by Larry

Logo-Compressor.jpgBurned-in timecode permanently displays the timecode of a clip as you play it back. It is very useful when reviewing dailies or other in-progress videos where accurately referencing the time of a frame within a clip is helpful.


To modify a Built-in setting, you first need to duplicate it by right-clicking the setting you want to modify.

To modify a custom setting so that it always adds timecode, select it in the Settings panel.

To modify a setting that’s already applied to a clip, select the setting name, which is located just below the clip name.

Whichever you choose, you need to select the setting you need to modify.


With the setting selected, open the Inspector (the gray bars at the top right corner of the Compressor window).

Then click the Video tab.

Scroll down to the bottom of the Video window, and select Timecode Generator from the Add Video Effect popup menu.

Set the position from the Position menu.

Adjust Opacity for best readability. Add a label, if you want. For example, I’m flagging these clips as “Day 1 – A cam:”.

Click Select to change font, font color or font size. (Remember the image displayed in the Preview window is most likely smaller than the actual video.)

When you are done making changes, there’s nothing to save, as Compressor saves settings instantly.

Simply sit back and admire your results.  Done.

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11 Responses to Compressor: Burned-in Timecode

  1. stu aull says:

    So a question here Larry –
    does your settings allow the clip’s ORIGINAL TC to be displayed? Or is this “zero’d out” as many TC Generators do vs TC Reader…

    Obv in many cases, seeing the native TC of the clip(s) is most valuable as a reference.

    Stu Aull

    • Larry says:


      This displays source timecode, with the ability to change it to any other number you prefer.


  2. dan Shanno says:

    It seems this used to work, but in latest FCPX 10.4.4 and compressor 4.4.1 combo, timecode is 0:00:00:00 at start and does not grab source start {09:58:30:00}, and does not allow offset

    • Larry says:


      I just checked this on Compressor 4.4.3 and it works correctly. Make SURE that “Start timecode at 00:00:00:00” is NOT checked as part of the video effect.

      Also, I discovered that many stock footage clips reset timecode to 00:00, rather than use the original timecode.


  3. Is there any way to add a black bar behind the numbers, for increased readability?

    • Larry says:


      Not in Compressor, but this can be done in Final Cut Pro X.


      • KatieB says:

        You can actually add a black bar behind the TC. But it isn’t simple- you have to create a black box on a transparent background in Photoshop, save it as a Tiff, and bring it is as a ‘watermark’- this will give you the effect you want.

  4. Ray Blewitt says:

    Hi Larry,

    Always appreciate your help, Thanks. I’m having the same problem as earlier…FCP X 10.4.6 and Compressor 4.4.4 won’t recognise source TC from clip, just runs from zero. Start timecode is turned off.

    Thanks in advance, Ray

  5. sterling says:

    This doesn’t work for me either btw. I can see the correct source under the preview, but the TC viz is starting at 00:00:00:00 no matter what I do.

    • Larry says:


      Remember this feature is simply mirroring the timecode in your media file. The default timecode setting for project files is 00:00:00:00, regardless of what timecode the individual clips are using.

      I suspect this is why you are seeing the timecode you are.


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