Creating DVDs With Burnt-In Timecode... After The Fact!!
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Creating DVDs With Burnt-In Timecode... After The Fact!! By Kevin McAuliffe

Writing these articles has really got me thinking about different ways of doing things.  Recently, I was asked how to put burnt-in timecode onto a DVD that had already been authored, and there was no time to re-render and re-compress. With the speed of MacPro towers these days, editor logic tells us that the easiest way to do this would be to go back into FCP, drop a Timecode Generator Effect onto the timeline, re-render (as it is not realtime) and recompress for your DVD.  Simple and straightforward.  But we don't all have MacPro towers, and in alot of cases, the process of rendering the effect in FCP and encoding for DVD (on slower machines) can take hours and hours (or days and days) to complete. I sat for a few minutes thinking about this problem, and that there had to be an easier way to get around it without having to spend all that time doing everything again, and then it hit me.  Subtitles.

In a previous article, I had written about using STL files to create subtitles for DVD Studio Pro, and in this situation, you could easily use it to create "burnt-in timecode" at the bottom of your screen. The best part of this tutorial is that once you have created the STL file, you can save it in your back pocket for future occasions where clients ask you for burnt-in timecode at the last minute.

The only thing that is extremely important to remember about this tutorial is that you want the timecode stamp on your MPEG-2 file to be the same as the timecode in Final Cut Pro, and the same as your STL file, so that everything will line up easily. For the purposes of this article, we'll use 01:00:00:00 as our starting timecode, as that is the default in Final Cut Pro, and can always be your starting timecode no matter what your project. We are also going to assume that you have already output and compressed your show for DVD with the one hour timecode stamp and have your DVD built, and your client has just asked for the burnt-in timecode.

What you do
Everyone will have shows of varying lengths, so the time it takes you to do this will vary slightly. First, open a new TextEdit document.  Second, paste the below information into it:

$FontSize = 32
$VertAlign = Bottom
$HorzAlign = Center
$FadeIn = 0
$FontName = Helvetica
$Bold = false
01:00:00:00 , 01:00:01:00 , 01:00:00:00
01:00:01:00 , 01:00:02:00 , 01:00:01:00
01:00:02:00 , 01:00:03:00 , 01:00:02:00
01:00:03:00 , 01:00:04:00 , 01:00:03:00
01:00:04:00 , 01:00:05:00 , 01:00:04:00
01:00:05:00 , 01:00:06:00 , 01:00:05:00
01:00:06:00 , 01:00:07:00 , 01:00:06:00
01:00:07:00 , 01:00:08:00 , 01:00:07:00
01:00:08:00 , 01:00:09:00 , 01:00:08:00
01:00:09:00 , 01:00:10:00 , 01:00:09:00
01:00:10:00 , 01:00:11:00 , 01:00:10:00

You have just created the first ten seconds of "burnt-in timecode". For me to create the first minute of timecode took about 10 minutes, as I had changed the seconds value from zero to fifty-nine. Once you have created the first minute, the rest of the duration of your show will be easy to create, as you can simply copy and paste the first minute's worth of numbers, and simply change the minute values from zero to one, one to two, etc. To do an hour long show should take you no longer than about a half hour's worth of button mashing. You can also change the font by simply replacing "Helvetica" with a font you have on your system. You can also change the font size, vertical and horizontal alignment, and boldness of your font by simply adjusting the values to reflect what you want.  Once you are done, simply save your file as a rich text file, go into DVD Studio Pro, right click on your subtitle track and select "Import Subtitle File". The best part about this entire process is that you can keep the "burnt-in subtitle" file tucked away on your system, and pull it out anytime a client asks you, at the last minute, for a timecode burnt DVD.

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Kevin P McAuliffe is currently a Senior Video Editor working in HD post production in Toronto, Canada. He has been in the television industry for 12 years, and spends his days onlining on a Final Cut Pro HD. Kevin's high definition onlining credit list includes concerts for Coldplay, Sarah McLachlan, Barenaked Ladies, Snow Patrol, Sum41, Paul Anka, Il Divo and Pussycat Dolls, to name a few. Also, Kevin is an instructor of Advanced Final Cut Studio 2 at the Toronto Film College. If you have any questions or comments, you can drop him a line at

Related Keywords:timecode , DVD authoring, burnt-in timecode, DVD Studio Pro

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