Example: Create a file with burned-in timecode

This example describes how to create custom settings, as well as how to add video effects to your settings through the example of creating a “window dub.” The general idea presented here can be extrapolated to create custom settings for a wide variety of other workflows.

When sending copies of an edited movie to colleagues such as composers, sound mixers, visual effects artists, and other creative collaborators, it’s often useful to add a timecode window visible in the frame (traditionally called a window dub), so your colleagues can easily reference specific frames and ensure accurate timing for the work they are completing.

Preview area showing clip with burned-in timecode

This effect can be created within Final Cut Pro X, but Compressor allows you to add the timecode window at the transcoding stage as well. In Compressor, burned-in timecode (BITC) is added as a video effect.

Add a timecode window to transcoded video

Because a window dub is not intended to be consumed as final output, this task will create a small file suitable for sharing, rather than a high-quality file intended for mastering.

  1. In the Settings pane, choose New Setting from the Add pop-up menu .

  2. In the dialog that appears, choose QuickTime Movie from the Format pop-up menu, type “Window Dub” in the Name field, type “Small H.264 with BITC” in the Description field, then click OK.

    The new Window Dub setting appears in the Custom area of the Settings pane, and the General inspector displays the basic properties for the setting. (If the inspector pane is not visible, click the Inspector button in the upper-right corner of the Compressor window.)

  3. In the inspector pane, click Video to open to the Video inspector.

  4. In the Video Properties area, choose “Up to 854 x 480” from the “Frame size” pop-up menu.

  5. Click the Change button in the “QuickTime settings” property, then make the following changes in the Standard Video Compression Settings window:

    1. Choose H.264 from the Compression Type pop-up menu.

    2. In the Motion section, set the Key Frames setting to Automatic.

    3. In the Data Rate section, click “Restrict to” and enter 1000 kbits/sec in text field.

    Note: If you’re familiar with customizing compression settings, you can modify the setting’s properties in this window to your liking. Otherwise, leave the rest at their default settings.

  6. Click OK.

  7. In the Video inspector, choose Timecode Generator from the Add Video Effect pop-up menu.

    The Timecode Generator controls are added to the bottom of the Video inspector.

  8. In the Timecode Generator controls, do the following:

    1. Choose Lower Right–Title Safe from Position pop-up menu.

    2. Type “TCR” in the Label field.

    3. Control-click the “Text color” well, and select a bright yellow color.

    Tip: TCR is the Industry-standard abbreviation for “Timecode Reader,” and bright yellow is a good choice because it will show against both dark and light backgrounds. Feel free to experiment with other settings to suit your particular needs.

    The custom setting is saved with the timecode effect applied.

When you apply the Window Dub setting to a media source file, the transcoded output file will have a timecode stamp burned in.

After you apply this custom setting to a job, you can select the output row in the job and then further customize the settings for that job by changing the values in the Video inspector. For example, you can change the location of the timecode numbers, color, font, or other properties of the job. Changes made to the setting for an individual job will not modify the saved custom setting.

Tip: This is a great setting to save as a droplet. For more on creating droplets, see Create and use droplets.