Time Stamping Your Video Files



How to time stamp Sony MPEG-2 video files with DVMP Pro

One of the most frequent uses of DVMP Pro is to time-stamp video files that were shot on Sony camcorders, so this tutorial steps you quickly through all you need to know if you just want a date and time stamp to be permanently overlaid on your Sony video files. And you can do this on Windows 7, Windows 8/8.1, Windows 10, Vista or XP.

You can also time stamp other file types such as AVCHD, MOV, MP4, MOD, HDV and DV, and there are separate tutorials available for some of these - just click one of the file types to jump to the corresponding tutorial.

This tutorial applies to Sony camcorders that record in standard definition MPEG-2 format onto a memory card, hard drive or DVD disk (the video file names usually end with .mpg). If your Sony camcorder is an AVCHD model and you record in high definition, then you need to look instead at our How to Time Stamp AVCHD video files with DVMP Pro tutorial.

The tool which does the time-stamping in DVMP Pro is called the Burn-In Time Stamp tool because "burn-in" is the technical term for writing information permanently across video frames - and that's exactly what time-stamping does.

DVMP Pro can also stamp (or "burn-in") lots of other info onto camcorder video files, and if you want to know more about this see the Burn-in Metadata section of the online help and the corresponding options for all of the detailed info.

But in this tutorial we are just keeping it simple and showing you how to time-stamp your files.

In most cases you will probably want to time-stamp several files in one go, and you can do this by using DVMP Pro's "Batch Processing" window. So let's being by starting up Batch Processing ...

1. Start up Batch Processing

Start up DVMP Pro, and click the menu File > Batch Processing. The Batch Processing window will then appear

Batch Processing can be used for several purposes, so we need to select which operation we want. In the Operation drop-down choose "Burn-in Time Stamp".

Now we need to select the output folder where all of the time-stamped files will be created. So click the Browse button and the Select Folder dialog box will appear - choose the output folder (create a new folder if you want) and click the Select Folder button.

Now we can add the input video files to the list of "Files to be processed". We can do that in two ways. Click the Add button and use the file selection dialog to choose each file. You can select multiple files by Ctrl-clicking, and ranges of files by Shift-clicking. Then click OK and the files will be added to the list. You can then click the Add button again to select more files and they will be added to the end of the list.

The second way of selecting the input files is simply to click-and-drag the files from File Explorer or Windows Explorer and drop them onto the Files to be processed list box. The dropped files will be added to the bottom of the list.

Remember that all of the input video files must be "camera-original" (i.e. files copied directly from the camera without any further processing). The vast majority of video processing software does not understand the time information in camcorder video files. Consequently, if a file has been though any form of processing, filtering or transcoding, then the software that performs that processing will have thrown the time information away - so its output files will contain no date or time information. This is why only camera-original files are supported by DVMP Pro.

If any of the files that you try to add to the list is not supported by DVMP Pro, they will not be added to the list and an error message will tell you how many files have been rejected.

You can change the order of the files in the Files to be processed list simply by clicking and dragging a file and dropping it at the new position. You can Ctrl-click or Shift-click to select several files to be dragged. If the list contains lots of files, you can drag to the top or bottom of the list and it will automatically scroll up or down.

If you want to remove one or more files from the list, click (or Ctrl-click or Shift-click) to select the file/s, then click the Remove button. If you want to remove all of the files from the list, just click anywhere in the list then press Ctrl-A to select all of the files, then click the Remove button.

If there are any files in the list that you do not want to be time-stamped (but you prefer to leave in the list for now) then just un-check the check box to the left of the file name.

2. Choose the settings

OK, now we have got the Batch Processing window ready with a list of input camcorder files, we can now move on to choose how we want the time and date stamp to appear on the video frames.

In the main DVMP Pro window, click the menu Tools > Options and click Burn-in in the left-hand pane. The Burn-in options page appears with a set of controls that we will quickly run through.

In Burn-in Mode, select All frames.

In Text Layout, select Advanced.

Basic Text Properties lets you set the brightness of the date/time stamp text and the brightness of the text outline - 100% is brightest white and 0% is darkest black. You can also set how transparent you want the text to be - 0% is completely opaque and 99% is almost completely transparent. To begin with, set them to 90, 10 and 0 respectively.

Ignore the Items to Burn-in which are fixed and unchangeable for time stamping. The Rec date and Rec time will always be shown checked - these items mean the date and time that the video files were recorded by the camcorder.

Now click Positioning in the left-hand pane. This page contains a set of controls for setting the position that the date and time stamp text will appear on the video frames. Ignore all of the items on this page except the Rec date and Rec time items.

The X% value gives the horizontal position of the date or time stamped text. 0% is the left hand edge of the frame, increasing to 99% at the right hand edge of the frame. The Y% value gives the vertical position of the text, where 0% is the bottom edge of the frame increasing to 99% just beneath the top edge of the frame.

Set the X% and Y% values for the Rec date and Rec time items - this will be a first estimate at present.

Now click Appearance in the left pane. This page allows you to set the font, text size and bold/italic properties of the stamped text. You can also choose which language you want the date and time to appear.

In the Rec date/time locale drop-down list, choose the required language/locale (or just leave it as your native locale).

Choose the Font and Text height - note that the text height is expressed as a percentage of the frame height. Also select bold and/or italic if needed.

If you want fine control over how the date and time text is formatted, check the Custom rec date and Custom rec time boxes, and then type a formatting string into the edit box beneath. The formatting string can contain ordinary text and several formatting codes which control how the elements of the date and time will appear. See this section of the online help for a list of these formatting codes and some example formatting strings.

As you type the formatting string, some example text appears beneath showing you what the date or time stamp text will look like, with the formatting codes expanded. Also if you change the font or the Rec date/time locale, the example text will change to show you what the date/time stamp will look like in the chosen font or language.

As we are only interested in doing a simple time-stamp, just ignore the Custom text and Logo image file boxes for now.

3. Choose the output file type

Finally we can now choose what output file type we want. You can choose either WMV or AVI file type - and these have a separate set of options that you can adjust.

WMV uses Microsoft's VC-1 encoder and is useful for producing files for playing back on your PC. It is very processor intensive and can take a while to encode, but requires a lot less CPU power to play back.

AVI is more flexible and allows you to choose between many video compressors that are already installed on your PC. It also allows you to choose "Uncompressed" video for highest quality (but very large file size).

If you select WMV, then choose the Quality setting you want. The greater the value on the slider the better the video quality, and the bigger the output WMV file. If you wish, you can also check the Resize video to box and set a new pixel width and height for the output file. Also, check Include Audio Stream in Output WMV file if you want the date/time stamped WMV file to contain audio. Un-check it if you only want it to contain the video frames without any audio (i.e. silent).

If you choose to include audio, and the input file has audio in the AC-3 format, then the AC-3 audio is stored unchanged in the WMV file. This means that multi-channel AC-3 is stored with all of the channels preserved. But note that Windows Media Player 11 (and later) may be unable to play WMV files that contain AC-3 audio - this is because it uses "Media Foundation" instead of DirectShow to play WMV files and is therefore unable to use DirectShow AC-3 decoders. For the same reason Windows Movie Maker may be unable to import the WMV file. If you encounter any of these problems, try checking the Store audio in PCM format checkbox which will store the audio as PCM instead (or use a different media player).

If you select AVI as the output file type, you must now choose a video compressor. The Output AVI Video Compression box allows you to choose what type of video compression you want the time-stamped file to have. The time-stamped file will always be an AVI file but it can contain the stamped video using any of a huge range of video compressors.

Click the Select button and a Select AVI Video Compressor box will appear that contains a drop-down list of suitable compressors that were found on your PC (it may take a few seconds for the list to be gathered).

Choose a compressor from the list. If you want the best possible quality (always a good idea if you later intend to import the time-stamped AVI file into a video editor or DVD authoring program) then select Uncompressed or Lagarith. You may have to download and install Lagarith if it is not already in the list. "Uncompressed" means that the date/time stamped video frames are NOT re-compressed at all and should contain all of the detail of the original video frames. Lagarith is a lossless compressor which is effectively the same as Uncompressed, but the data is compressed in a way that loses hardly any of the original detail. The Uncompressed and Lagarith files will be very large (Lagarith less so) so make sure you have lots of disk space available - high quality uses lots of disk space!

Due to their large file size, Uncompressed and Lagarith AVI files are not suitable for real-time playback on a PC - they are likely to skip or freeze on all but the most powerful computers due to the large amount of data that must pass through the system as the file plays. That's OK because they are not designed for real-time playback - it is their excellent quality that makes them ideal for importing into video editing and DVD authoring programs.

If you are happy to lose a small amount of detail but end up with smaller stamped files, then choose one of the other compressors in the list. You will need to experiment with these to get your preferred combination of quality and file size. Some compressors have their own quality settings and you can experiment with these.

For more details about selecting an AVI video compressor with some recommendations, see the AVI Video Compressor Recommendations topic of the online help.

Check Include Audio Stream in Output AVI file if you want the date/time stamped AVI file to contain audio. Un-check it if you only want it to contain the video frames without any audio (i.e. silent).

Leave the remaining check boxes beneath un-checked for now. But if you encounter problems with the audio or sync of the final time-stamped AVI file, you can try checking the Store audio in PCM format checkbox. See the AVI Audio Settings section of the online help for more details about this.

For the purposes of this tutorial, ignore the MPG and MPG for DVD output file types. Currently these are only available on Windows 7 and Vista. You can find out more about these output types and which versions of Windows you need to use them by reading the MPG output settings topic of the online help.

We can now proceed to time-stamp our camcorder files.

4. Time stamp the files

In the previous steps we set the required position and size of the time-stamp text, and chose the type of the output file. So we are now ready to actually time-stamp a file.

To begin with, choose just one small mts (or m2ts) file to be time-stamped - just a few seconds in length will do. Leave that file checked, and un-check all of the other files in the list. That means you will be able to see the results quicker and decide whether you need to change any of the settings that were discussed above.

Now click the START button.

A Confirm Settings for Time Stamping box will appear that contains the same settings as we already set above. If you wish, you can change any of these now. If you have forgotten what these settings do, look at Choose the Settings above for a reminder.

Click OK to accept the settings.

The time-stamping now begins. The Overall Progress bar shows the progress through the whole stamping operation, and the Output log pane shows progress messages for each file as it is time-stamped. The contents of the Output log pane will also be found in a Batch-log.txt file in the Output folder that you chose earlier.

When the time-stamping operation completes, the Output log pane will show how many files have been processed, and if any have failed for some reason. If there are one or more failures, scroll back through the Output log to see if there are any explanatory error messages.

The time-stamped files will be found in the Output folder and will have the same file name as the input camera-original video files, except that "-burn" is added to the end of the name (e.g. myfile-burn.avi).

If you had checked the Store audio in PCM format check box, and the Output log contains error messages about a missing AC-3 audio decoder, this means that your computer does not currently have an AC-3 audio decoder installed on it. You can easily remedy this - see these instructions for AC-3 Audio Decoder Recommendations.

Play the stamped AVI or WMV file in a media player of your choice, for example Windows Media Player, VLC or Media Player Classic Home Cinema. Don't try to open a stamped file with DVMP Pro because DVMP Pro only plays camera-original files - time-stamped files are obviously not camera-original. As the stamped file plays, ignore any jumping or skipping that might occur if you are using the AVI output type and Uncompressed or Lagarith compressors (see the explanation about that above). If you see any error messages, read the notes in the previous section.

Press pause in your chosen media player, and examine the position, font, size, style etc of the burned-in time stamp text. If you feel that any of these need to be changed, close the media player then return to DVMP Pro and change the required settings, and then perform another time-stamp by clicking the START button again. Repeat this until you have the required results.

If the camcorder's clock had been set wrongly or you had changed time zones when the recording was made, then you may find that the time-stamped date or time is incorrect. In that case you can easily adjust it to the correct date and time by going to Tools > Options > Metadata Sources and check the Adjust Date and Time option. Then use the spin controls to add or subtract the required number of hours, minutes, seconds, days, months or years - whatever brings the date and time to the correct values. Next time you perform a time-stamp, all of the files in the file list will have this adjustment applied to them. It's always a good idea to check the date and time setting on your camera before you make a recording, but if you forget then the Adjust Date and Time feature is always there to come to your rescue.

When everything looks OK, tick the check-boxes of all of the files in the list that you want to time-stamp and click START for your final full time-stamp operation.

Additional Notes

Please note that the Batch processor will never overwrite any existing files, so each time you run the time-stamp operation, if the output file names already exist then the new time-stamped files will have a numeric suffix added to end of their file names to make them unique. Consequently, if you need to repeat the time-stamp operation several times, keep an eye on the contents of the output folder as it will quickly fill with old time-stamped files - so delete the old time-stamped files if necessary to make room for the new ones.

Also, remember that although the AVI file format is one of the most versatile and ubiquitous video file format, its method of storing the Display Aspect Ratio (16:9 or 4:3) of the video frames is not widely supported by some video editing software. DVMP Pro does store the correct display aspect ratio in the time-stamped AVI files. However, if these files are imported into video editing or DVD authoring software that does not fully support display aspect ratio in AVI files, the software may in some cases get it wrong! This should never be a problem if your camcorder shoots in "square pixel" resolutions such as 1920x1080 or 1280x720. But if your camcorder shoots in 1440x1080 (non-square pixels) you may have to manually set the display aspect ratio to 16:9 within your editing/authoring program - for example, in Adobe Premiere the "Interpret footage" command does just that. Alternatively the editing program may allow you to set "rules" so that imported 1440x1080 files are always interpreted as 16:9.

If you only want to time-stamp a single file, then you can do this from the Tools menu (instead of in Batch Processing) by opening the camera-original video file by clicking the File > Open menu. The file will then begin to play. Then click the menu Tools > Burn-in Time Stamp.

For more detailed help on how to time-stamp camcorder video files, see the following sections of the online help:

For more details of how to use Batch Processing see the following section of the online help: