Working with Auxiliary TimeCode

Posted on by Larry

[ This article was first published in the November, 2006, issue of
Larry’s Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe. ]

Isazaly Mohd Isa, in Malaysia, wrote the following technique on how to sync an external audio source to timecode in Final Cut:

I’m not sure if this can help, but here’s a way I would normally get my audio to sync with timecode data on FCP:

  1. Add “5-pops” by using TONE GENERATOR AUDIO and place a single-frame “sound pop ” every 1 second before the actual AUDIO/MUSIC begins. This duration can be adjusted if you want to create a “stand-by” mode for cameras to start recording.
  2. Add a layer of VIDEO SLUG on the empty video layer.
  3. Place a TIMECODE GENERATOR video filter, choose frame-rate (fps) and apply it to the VIDEO SLUG to render a timecode. Adjust the text to the desired size.
  4. Output the source onto a MONITOR/TV (or you can export it as an iPod movie!). Output the audio source onto speakers (for music video recordings!)
  5. Cameras can easily shoot the monitor (or iPod screen), which provides them with visual timecode before the actual music starts.

Larry replies: This is a good technique to use when you need to provide a timecode reference to cameras that don’t support external timecode. The benefit of having a camera shoot the monitor is that you can get an accurate visual timecode reference recorded in sync on your tape.

Keep in mind that Final Cut also supports multiple timecode channels within a clip. So, you can add this additional timecode info to your projects.

Here’s how:

  1. Select the clip on the Timeline you want to modify, or load the clip from the Browser into the Viewer.

  3. Choose Modify > Timecode

  5. Select whether you want to modify the timecode at the current position of the playhead (Current) or from the first frame of the clip (First). 


  7. Turn on which of the two auxiliary timecode tracks you want to modify

  9. Enter the Timecode and any other reference values you want to track.

Changing a clip to display auxiliary timecode, instead of its source timecode, can only be done in the Browser. Here’s how:


  1. Control-click on any Browser column heading to reveal all the hidden Browser columns.

  3. Select Show TC. The Show TC column will appear to the left of whatever column head you first clicked to display the menu. 


  5. Control-click the word Source in the Show TC column and switch it to the timecode you want to display.

Final Cut will then display and use this timecode when editing this clip in both the Viewer and the Canvas.

As a tip, changing timecode is best done at the start of a project on the master clips in the Browser, rather than after all the clips have been edited to the Timeline.

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