How to Use Apple Compressor to Change the Timecode of a Video Clip

Posted on by Larry

Even if you don’t own – or like – Apple Final Cut Pro, you can use Apple Compressor to manipulate media in ways other software doesn’t. For example, use Compressor to change the timecode of a video clip.

NOTE: Compressor is a stand-alone application with a one-time price of $50 available in the Mac App Store.

This started with an email from Jeff:

“OK — this timecode stuff is killing me. I am shooting [legal] video depositions and my camera embeds the actual time of day into the timecode. However – doing a remote deposition via Zoom does not do that. So how can I start the timecode in FCP X at the exact time we started the recording (clock time)?

“I have tried changing the project timecode to start different (it still starts at 00) and using the offset (really confusing).”

The short answer is that you can’t change timecode in Final Cut, but you can in Compressor. However, you can’t just replace the timecode track, you will also need to create a new clip.

When you select a clip in Final Cut, the Info Inspector displays its starting and ending timecode, along with the duration. However, while you can select the time and copy it to the clipboard, you can’t change it.

For that we need Compressor. Here’s how.

Drag a clip into the middle of Compressor, then click the name of the Job to select it (red arrow). In most cases, this will be the name of the clip you just dragged in.

In the Inspector, on the right, change the starting timecode to whatever you need (red arrow). Enable drop frame timecode if your video runs at 29.97 or 59.94 frames per second.

From the Settings panel (top red arrow), drag an encoding setting on top of the job name (lower red arrow). The setting name appears below the job name.

Because this video file will become your new master, choose either ProRes 422 for material shot with a camera or ProRes 4444 for material created on the computer. (You can choose other options, but ProRes is always a good choice for any NLE.)

NOTE: In thinking about this further, for video depositions and other projects where the source image quality is not the reason for the video, ProRes LT will provide excellent images at a smaller file size.

Verify the location and file name are what you want (red arrows). To change the Location, right-click it. To change the file name, click it with the mouse.

Click Start Batch to begin the conversion.

When the export is complete, the video quality will be preserved and the timecode replaced.


To burn-in timecode – as illustrated above – so that it is permanently displayed in the video, select the encoding setting (ProRes 422 in my example).

Click the Video button at the top of the Inspector (on the right side).

Scroll down to the bottom of the Inspector and click the menu for Add Video Effect.

Choose Timecode Generator.

This panel determines the location and format of timecode.


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2 Responses to How to Use Apple Compressor to Change the Timecode of a Video Clip

  1. Jeff says:

    Interesting – I was able to do it by putting in the start time in the project menus – and adding the time code to the existing clip, and then changing from source to the project frame rate in the time code menu. Then the time code starts where you set it in the project!

    • Larry says:


      You are correct in that the Project pane allows you to set the project timecode to any arbitrary time. But this doesn’t change the timecode of the clips IN the project. However, if all you need is to have a timecode reference that matches the recording time of the original video, this works.

      If you need to change the timecode of the clips in the timeline, that would require using Compressor. I haven’t found any way in Final Cut to change clip timecode.


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