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source timecode and other timecode features in After Effects CS5.5

After Effects CS5.5 includes many changes related to how timecode and time values are used, interpreted, displayed, and preserved on export.

For a video demonstration of these changes, see this video on the Video2Brain website.

Chris Meyer shows the most important of these changes in this video.

The biggest of these changes is relatively simple to state but is still a big deal: After Effects can now read, use, and preserve timecode information in source files. This is one of those things that we have been wanting to do for a long time, and we got quite a few feature requests about it.

For details of the expression changes related to source timecode, see this page.

Here’s a list of changes regarding timecode and time values:

  • The Timecode effect can now read source timecode, which can be useful for all sorts of things, including adding burned-in timecode (BITC). This effect has also been given better controls for color, opacity, and blending with the original layer.
  • Settings for time display style have been changed in several ways. Whether timecode is shown as dropframe or non-dropframe is no longer a project setting. Each composition can be set to use either dropframe or non-dropframe timecode, in the Composition Settings dialog box.
  • The upper-left corner of the Timeline panel now shows a dual-time display (top line being the current time display such as timecode, and the bottom smaller line showing the alternate display such as frames). The bottom line also shows the current composition frame rate.
  • The Indeterminate Media NTSC preference specifies how imported items are interpreted if it is not clear from the contents of the file whether they use dropframe or non-dropframe timecode.
  • Added columns in the Project panel for showing In point, Out point, and duration for trimmed footage items in the Project panel. This is in addition to columns added for media start, media end, media duration, and tape name, which were added as part of the expansion of support for source timecode.
  • Added Layer Sub-objects method sourceTime(t = time), which returns the source time corresponding to time t.
  • Added ntscDropFrame method to Comp and Footage objects to return true if the item uses NTSC dropframe format for timecode.
  • Added optional ntscDropFrame argument to the timeToCurrentFormat method. Default: ntscDropFrame = thisComp.ntscDropFrame
  • Added Display Comp Time animation preset in Animation Presets > Text > Expressions category.

For complete details of what’s new and changed in After Effects CS5.5, see this page.

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