Adding timecode to clips or projects is a great way to allow clients to review your projects and relate their comments to a specific time in the project. (This process is also called “timecode burn-in” – or “burning in timecode.”) This technique explains what you need to know.
Here’s where we are headed – the project timecode, plus identifier, is placed at the top of the frame with a translucent black background. (Thanks to Dr. Vint Cerf and Alcatel/Lucent for allowing me to use these clips.)
NOTE: The timecode generator in Final Cut Pro X displays project timecode. it does not display the source timecode of the clips in the project. Also, this generator can only be applied to Timeline clips, not clips in the Event Browser.
FCP X simplifies the process of displaying timecode. Here’s how:
1. In this example, I’m using just one clip. However, the process is the same, regardless of how many clips or layers are in your project.
2. The Timecode effect is a generator. So, click the Generator icon in the Toolbar (in this screen shot it is blue and under the cursor). FCP X ships with 26 generators.
3. While you could navigate to any generator using Categories, I find it easier to find things using the search box at the bottom. Type “timecode” to display the timecode generator. (You don’t really need to type the entire word, just enough to find the effect you are looking for.)
4. Drag the generator so it becomes a connected clip stretching from the beginning to the end of the project, or just a portion of the project, for which you want to display timecode. Be SURE it is on the highest layer.
5. This is the default setting of the timecode generator: hours:minutes:seconds:frames centered as a lower-third with a solid black background. You could stop here and export/share your project with your client and the timecode would be burned into the project video.
However, let’s see how we can modify this effect further.
6. To add an identifier – say a project ID, or version number – open the Inspector (Command+4) and click the Generator tab at the top. Here you can format the text, or, in the Label text entry box, add a prefix to serve as a label for this project.
7. To change the position of the timecode, you need to use the Transform controls. The easiest way to do this is to make sure the Timecode clip is still selected, then click the Transform button in the lower-left corner of the Viewer.
8. Drag the timecode image where you want the numbers to appear in the frame. When you are happy with the location, click Done.
9. To change the opacity of the black background, click the Generator tab, again, and twirl down Background and adjust the Opacity slider. For backgrounds like this, I tend to prefer around 60% opacity.
Because this effect is a separate clip, you can remove the timecode burn-in easily in one of two ways:
1. Delete the generator clip in the Timeline. This permanently removes the effect.
2. Select the generator clip in the Timeline and type V. This makes the clip invisible, but allows you to type V again to redisplay it. This option is a good choice when you want to hide the timecode temporarily – for example, to edit the project – then redisplay the timecode – for example, to export another review version of the project.
When you have clients that need to review projects in progress, this is a great technique to keep everyone in sync.
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