Linear Timecode (LTC)

What is Linear Timecode (LTC)?

Linear Timecode, often abbreviated as LTC, is a form of timecode that is used in the video and film industry. In essence, it’s a method of tracking time, providing a precise “address” for each frame of video or film. It’s encoded into an audio signal, allowing it to be recorded and synchronized across multiple devices.

The Importance of LTC

An LTC is used extensively in the video production and post-production process. It’s essential for synchronizing video with other elements like audio and special effects. It’s also crucial for logging and identifying specific frames in a video. Here are some key uses:

  • Synchronization: LTC allows video editors to sync multiple video sources, audio tracks, and other elements accurately.
  • Logging and Identifying Frames: Every frame in a video has a unique LTC, making it easier to identify specific moments or sequences in the video.
  • Automation: With LTC, editors can automate certain processes like switching between cameras at specific times.

How Does LTC Work?

LTC works by encoding timecode into an audio signal that can be recorded onto a track or channel. It uses the SMPTE (Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers) timecode standard. The encoding process involves converting the time data into binary digits, which are then transformed into an audio signal.

The LTC consists of Hours, Minutes, Seconds, and Frames. The format is HH:MM:SS:FF. For example, 01:23:45:12 represents 1 hour, 23 minutes, 45 seconds, and 12 frames.

Decoding the LTC

To use the LTC, it must be decoded back into time data. The decoding can be done using a timecode reader, often found in professional video editing software. The reader converts the audio signal back into binary digits, which are then transformed into the original time data.


Understanding and using LTC is crucial for video editors, filmmakers, influencers, and YouTubers. It provides an efficient way to synchronize, log, and automate video production and post-production processes. By mastering the use of LTC, you can streamline your video projects and ensure precision in your work.

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