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Absolute Time Code

Absolute Time Code (ATC) is generally recorded in the subcode (see WFTD archive “subcode“) or control track region of any digital tape. This is the code that digital tape machines use to locate specific points on a tape for autolocation or other functions. In some machines it is even used to synchronizes the tape to other equipment. ATC is precisely accurate and usually conforms to the IEC standard which is easily converted to the more commercially used SMPTE time code. Unlike SMPTE, ATC always begins at zero at the beginning of a digital tape and increments one frame at a time until recording stops. Some DAT machines have the ability to function without ATC on a tape while others simply will not play a tape without it. These days most all machines record it automatically so it will always be on every tape.

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