221: After Effects Trick: Timecode Simplified

How to Enter Duration of Composition in After Effects

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How to enter the duration or length of a composition the easy way in Adobe After Effects

Note: Video tutorial below this article.

Reason for Tutorial (The Conflict):
It can be confusing and difficult to navigate timecode.The numbers are small and separated by semi-colons. Sometimes you delete the numbers or semi-colons and lose track of whether you are in minutes or seconds. There is an easy way and this has been one of my favorite little tips that I never forgot.

For free trial of After Effects:

Timecode Tutorial (Duration of Composition):

  1. Open After Effects
  2. Create New Composition
  3. Go to Duration (length of composition…numbers are called timecode)
  4. The whole trick is to simply enter a number followed by comma (see below)
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Create New Compostion

How to Read Timecode:

Hours; Minutes; Seconds; Frames

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How To Read Timecode

The Timecode Trick:

To enter the duration simply type in a number followed by Comma (,)
Do not use semi-colons or try to put cursor in exact position
Simply select all the numbers and type how long you want the composition in seconds, followed by the comma.

Timecode Cheatsheet

One Comma = Seconds
Two Commas, Minutes, Seconds
Three Commas = Hours, Minutes, Seconds
Four Commas (don’t really need it) = Hours, Minutes, Seconds Frames,

  1. One Comma (Seconds)
    30, = 30 seconds
    45, = 45 seconds
    180, = 3 minutes
  2. Two Commas:
    2,30, = 2 minutes & 30 seconds
    5,35, = 5 minutes & 35 seconds
  3. Three Commas:
    1,30,45 = 1 Hour, 30 minutes & 45 seconds
  4. Four Commas (4th comma not really needed):
    2,45,25,12, = 2 Hours, 45 minutes, 25 seconds, 12 frames

Side Note on Drop Frames

If you type 60, that is 60 seconds or 1-minute
The duration will read 0;0;59;28
This is because the frame rate is 29.97 and drop rate is active. This is normal.
Don’t worry about the frames. Just enter the duration you want followed by comma. (60, will give you a 1-minute composition)

Frame Rate: 29.97 Frames Per Second
Time Entered: 60, (60 seconds or 1 minute)
After Effects Calculation:
60 seconds minus 2 frames = 59 seconds and 28 Frames(0;00;59;28)

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Video Tutorial:

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