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How to get SDI Timecode into Final Cut Pro using AJA capture devices

Let's look at how you can get your footage into your system using AJA's VTR Xchange By Kevin McAuliffe

I had a reader e-mail me with an interesting question. The problem that they were experiencing was that they were in the field shooting HD, and wanted to capture the footage they shot into their edit system that they had with them, but the only VTR they had was the camera itself.  Most people might say "No problem, just hook up the HD-SDI, and capture your video and audio!" That is true, except for one problem. How do you get timecode into your system, as Final Cut Pro only understands timecode that comes down the RS-422 remote connection? Let's take a look at how you can get your footage into your system using AJA's capture devices.

One thing that a lot of people don't realize with SDI is that besides sending video and audio down the same pipeline so you only need one connection to capture V/A, timecode is also sent down the same pipeline. The problem is that Final Cut Pro doesn't see that timecode information, but that doesn't mean that your Kona capture device doesn't understand it.  On the contrary, the fact that the Kona Capture device understands the embedded SDI timecode is how you will get the footage into your system with timecode, so you can offline in the field, and online back at your office.

First, we are going to need a secondary application for this, and that program is absolutely free from AJA's website.  It's a tool called the AJA VTR Xchange Application (Version 3.0), and basically it is a capture tool that you could use if you were a graphic designer that didn't have access to an edit application.  The best part about this application is that you can capture in any format supported by your capture device, with video, audio AND timecode!


Here's how the application works. Once downloaded, double click on the compressed folder, and drag the Xchange application into your "Applications" folder. Since I use the Kona 3 on a regular basis, I put it into the "AJA Utilities" folder, so I can keep all my extra AJA applications together.  Next, double click on the AJA VTR Xchange icon to launch the program. Assuming that your SDI cable is connected from your camera (or deck for that matter), you will see your video right away in the Capture window.  If you don't see any video, you will probably need to change your video settings which are located in the "Capture" drop down menu.

Also, you will want to set a capture destination for your video that can be done in your "Preferences" window.

O.K., we're almost set to go, except for one problem.  If you look at your capture window, there is no timecode running under the video window.

Well, believe it or not, it is there.  You're just looking in the wrong tool to find it.  Using the Kona 3 as an example, if you open the Kona Control Panel, and navigate to your "Timecode" tab, you will immediately see the timecode running, and it matches the timecode on your tape.

Now, all you have to do is switch back to the AJA Xchange, give your clip a name and tape number, and hit "Capture Now".  Once you have the clip you want, click "Stop", and your clip will appear in a new playback window with timecode representative of what is on your tape.  Now, just import into Final Cut Pro, and you are all set to go!

Believe it or not, I actually use the AJA Xchange tool to capture clips that I'm going to use when I make DVDs, as it saves me from having to open and close Final Cut Pro all the time.  AJA's VTR Xchange application is an excellent, free tool that anyone who uses an AJA product should have....and use!


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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 kevinpmcauliffe@gmail.com


Related Keywords:video capture, aja capture, timecode,

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