using source timecode

F-Laloe wrote on 10/12/2019, 5:01 AM

Since this forum provides such useful information, I am tempted to ask another question: in VMS, is it possible to visualize the source timecode and use it for synchronization during postproduction? For the moment, I have not found a way to visualize it. If it is impossible with VMS, does Vegas Pro allow this?

The reason I am asking this question is that I am planning a multicamera recording of a classical concert piece, with several takes as you usuall do when you record a CD. Once audio postproduction is completed, synchronizing the various video tracks could be a terrible task if no common timecode is available (using for instance Tentacle products during recording in order to set the source times of the cameras and the audio recorder).

Thanks Franck

PS I am using the most recent version of Windows10 VMS.


Musicvid wrote on 10/12/2019, 10:40 AM

You want to physically slave your cameras and audio recorders using freerun SMPTE timecode with genlock. There should be an xlr connector on each camera/device.

Multiple clocks adrift are not a recipe for success, except you may have some luck with the audio using Pluraleyes if they've got it working in 17. You could be weeks trying to line everything up yourself by hand. Been there, it's not fun.

F-Laloe wrote on 10/12/2019, 11:26 AM

Thanks very much for this comment and help!

My question was actually not so much about the synchronization of timecodes of cameras, but on the visualization of timecodes in VMS: even if I have perfect source timecodes but cannot see them in the postproduction software, it will not help much.. Do you have any info on this point? Incidentally, I am more optimistic than you about the possibility of physically separate synchronizations (without XLR cables reaching every camera): with good quartz clocks, you can keep a time scale with a very good accuracy for one day or more.

I did not know about Pluraleyes, thank so much for informing me! It seems to be an impressing piece of software. If I understand its functionning corectly (frow what I found on the web), it looks for correlations in the audio files, and then synchronizes them. Very clever. In my case, this means that I should, first make the postproduction of the audio file by selecting and mounting the appropriate excerpts, then use the audio tracks of the various cameras to synchronize their files (including the videos) with the mounted audio file. Probably possible, but not so easy. As you say, I could spend weeks...

Best Franck

Tim L wrote on 10/12/2019, 11:38 AM

In the Video FX tab you should be able to locate an FX called "Timecode".

If you apply the Timecode FX as a media FX (apply it to the original clip in the media tab, not on the timeline) it will show the camera timecode from the original clip.  This is probably what you want.  But I think it has to be applied and removed for each individual clip.  I don't know if there is a way to select multiple clips in the Media tab and apply Media FX to all at once, or remove from all at once.  (But I have a pretty old version of Vegas.)

Also, if you right-click on the clip in the media tab and select properties, you can customize the starting timecode for that media -- in case some clips are off and need to be manually adjusted.

Otherwise, if you apply Timecode FX to an event on the timeline, it shows the timecode relative to the start of the event.  For example, if you have a 1 minute clip taken from the center of a 5 minute shot, the timecode will show 0:00;00 at the left edge of the event, and 1:00;00 at the right edge.  (Probably not very useful.)

If you apply the Timecode FX to the track header (Track Fx), it will show the timecode referenced to the start of the project.  Essentially showing the timeline position -- same as your cursor while editing.  But it appears only where you have media on that track.

If you want a continuously appearing timecode for the whole project, which is really easy to turn off later, apply Timecode FX as a "Video Output FX" using the icon at the top of the video preview window.  This will show the timeline timecode throughout the project, and will be composited even in places that don't have media.  This is good for a "review & comment" render so that someone can note problems or changes they want in the piece.

Musicvid wrote on 10/12/2019, 2:16 PM

First, sorry for mentioning Pluraleyes. It is only for Vegas Pro.

Timecode fx is not timecode.

Source timecode comes in different flavors, if  it is present at all. It's not a requirement.

Only proper SMPTE timecode with an indexed first frame can be accessed in Vegas. There is no other standard data format for Vegas to show you. Again, to be useful, it must be referenced to a single freerun clock generator.

As for optimism taking care of unslaved sources for you, be sure to give yourself plenty of extra time, and good luck!

F-Laloe wrote on 10/13/2019, 7:48 AM

- To Tim L: thanks for the explanations about the fx time code. They are certainly useful to a beginner like me, who is just discovering the functionnalities of VMS! Nevertheless, what I need for my project it not a timecode generated by the editing software, but source timecodes (inserted during recording) that can be read in the editing software, which is a different problem.

PS reading again your message, I realize that I may have misunderstood it when I wrote the message above. You mention the "camera timecode", which is probably exactly what I mean by "source timecode". I have to make more tests to see, but if I understand correctly I need to use Vegas Pro, not VMS.


- To Musicvid: I was actually very happy to learn from you about Pluraleyes, and that it may couple to Vegas Pro. Concerning the stability of separate time code generators, I still think that you are slightly pessimistic.Drifts of less than 10 to the minus 6 can rather easily be obtained with small (temperature stabilized) quartz oscillators. For instance, Tentacle claims a stability of less than 1 frame over a day; competitors probably have similar specifications. Amusingly, according to what I read on the web, Tentacle writes the timecode on the left audio track of the camera, and then provides a software to convert it into more standard timecode. Needless to say, to do that, the camera must have a microphone input.

My main concern, therefore, is not so much creating the timecode than using it during postproduction. If you think that Vegas Pro will do the job, this is very interesting.

I am grateful for you help!


PatB wrote on 10/13/2019, 12:37 PM

With Vegas Movie Studio 16 Platinum, something that might work for you:

On the 'Project Media' tab, you can add additional columns to display in list view. Right click, view and select "Timecode In" and "Timecode out". When the source media file contains a metadata field with a run timecode (free running or record run) from the camera and VMSP can read it, it should display this embedded timecode. If the camera does not write a timecode into the media file, VMSP will simply display a relative timecode starting from zero.

To view time code on the timeline: Options / Preferences / Video / 'Show source frame number on event thumbnail as' = 'Timecode'. If the embedded camera timecode can be read, it will be displayed on the event thumbnail on the timeline. By changing the in point of the event on the timeline the thumbnail TC display is changed so you can 'align' to a particular embedded timecode.

For instance, with Lumix FZ2000 (FZ2500) in avchd, a specific 'Time Code' metadata field is written by the camera (in mode free run or record run) and is displayed in VMS16. I used exiftool ( to examine the meta data of the MTS file.

Musicvid wrote on 10/13/2019, 2:16 PM

BTW, timecode sync and multicam only works in Vegas Pro as well, not Movie Studio. I've been under the impression we were on the Pro forum, my bad.

Giving us the specs on an external t/c generator is no different than internally generated timecode from a pro camcorder. Used them for 20 years (my production list, if you're interested, is in my signature).

Unless your devices are:

a) identical, or:

b) slaved with a wire,

There will be drift. Instead of calling it pessimism, I call it experience, since I did my first few shows on DVCAM this way, without slaved devices. Optimism notwithstanding, it is possible to get peak-accurate audio with frame-accurate video, depending on how much time you are willing to invest.

Here is an example of one that went right in Vegas Pro -- 36 body mics, 9 stage mics, 8 orchestra pit mics, 3 boards, six subs, 2 cameras, 2 recorders, running freerun nondrop SMPTE with genlock and Pluraleyes door to door, took me three weeks to sync and master. It was well worth the time.

Give yourself plenty of time.


Musicvid wrote on 10/13/2019, 6:56 PM

Thanks to @PatB for showing us how to display SMPTE for AVCHD in Movie Studio. The problem is still to generate one master timecode for all sources, rather than display many after the fact, one for each source.

F-Laloe wrote on 10/14/2019, 9:47 AM

Thanks very much to Tim L and PatB for their very interesting messages. I have just tried to do what PatB suggests, and almost succeeded. In fact, I have seen some time codes by the methods he suggested. For the moment, all timecodes I see start from zero, which seems to indicate that my camera reinitiates it at every take, but I am not sure yet. Since I am not familiar with VMS, it make take a little time until I really understand what is going on.

To Musicvid: yes, your message clearly illustrates very clearly why the clocks of your cameras have too much drift to be used for proper synchronization. This is probably because the quartz of your cameras are not temperature stabilized, and maybe because of temperature gradients, or changes in time. Therefore, the solution you are using with synchronization cables is indeed the best solution in your case.

You are clearly an expert, and probably a professional; I am only a beginner and an amateur. When I make recordings, I do not have access to a professional studio, the time of the musicians is always very limited, and it would be hard to install wires running everywhere in the recording room. This is why I was thinking of another solution. With little synchronization devices containing temperature stabilized quartz clocks and attached to the cameras (the specs say that the drift remains below one frame per day, but I have no experience) it should also work perfectly well. If it does, my problem should not be registering time codes, but rather exploiting them during postproduction. But I certainly agree that, in your case, your solution is best.


Musicvid wrote on 10/14/2019, 11:00 AM

Give yourself plenty of time.

F-Laloe wrote on 10/16/2019, 3:28 AM

All right, I think that this discussion can be closed after the excellent advice provided by all of you. I was able to follow the recommendations of TimL and PatB, to see timecodes in the media windows, the time line, and the preview, etc.. This is great, and gives me some familiarity with the features of the software.

Also, I now reallize that the amateur cameras I have been using until now do not seem to write timecodes. This problem could probably be fixed by uning the Tentacle little devices, which use the left audio channel to write timecodes, and their software that converts these pseudo timecodes into real timecodes. Of course, I could also buy better cameras!

To Musicvid: thanks also for your help and for including your production list in your signature. It is very impressing!


PS Frustrating: I tried to tag two messages as "solutions", but the system does not want to take more than one single message as a solution.

WILLIAM-DOMB wrote on 3/4/2020, 5:12 PM

The more I read of all these notes, the more confuuuused I get. I want to see the SMPTE timecode my original camera wrote to the individual clip. That in itself would be great. Even better would be to have that timecode be able to be output in a box on the final video, so it would be possible to see precisely where during the original shoot the video occurred.