Time Code Transcription

transcription with time code

Flawless Transcription offers time code transcription services starting at $2.15 per audio minute.

Types of Time Code
  • MP3 or WAV audio files with SMPTE time code embedded into the right or left channel of the audio track. 
  • Broadcast WAV Format (BWF) or MP3 — The time code is in the metadata of the file.
  • A QuickTime or Windows Media video file with burn-in TC.
  • QuickTime video file with a time code metadata track that is viewed in QuickTime Pro.
  • Send us a list of the starting time code for each audio or video file.
  • Time stamp your transcript by starting your transcript at 00:00:00.
What is Time Code Transcription?

Time code is time as it relates to your video footage. For example a lot of videotapes or memory cards begin at 01:00:00:00. Then tape number two would start at 02:00:00;00, tape three at 03:00:00;00 etc.

The default time code in non-linear editing software such as Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere is 01:00:00;00.

So if you were to fast forward 10 minutes and 30 seconds on tape one then your time code would read 01:10:30;00. Most transcription software programs cut-off the last two digits, frames of a second, so it would read 01:10:30.

Why is Time Code Useful for Transcription?

When time code is on a transcript you can use it to reference where things are being said. So if you have a 50 page document you can easily locate on your tape where the good soundbites are. If the time code reference was not there you would spend a lot of time fast forwarding and rewinding trying to pinpoint where things were said.

Formats Explained

Time Stamping

One very basic form of time code is time stamping, which is an elapsed time. You would start your transcript at zero or 00:00:00;00 and time stamp the document every 20 to 30 seconds.


Another method is SMPTE time code. This is analog time code signal that is typically placed on the right channel of a stereo output wave file. SMPTE is a little complex and dry but if you’re interested in finding out more this is a handy resource.

One drawback of SMPTE is most transcription software cannot read SMPTE and you need to buy audio splitters and converter boxes to get the SMPTE signal onto a Word document in numeric form.

Audio Meta-Data

Having time code in the meta data of your audio files is another way of implementing time code transcription. Broadcast wave files allow you to enter in the time code information and they are easily viewed using a software like Wave Agent. You can also add time code in the notes of an MP3 file.

Video Burn-In

The most popular method is time code burned into a video file. So the transcriber, as they watch the video, will have a visual reference of the current time code. You can easily do this in Final Cut Pro when you export your footage. Apple explains burn-in time code in their Final Cut Pro Manual.

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