The Transcribinator

Transcribing is the kind of frustratingly labour-intensive task that makes me realise humanity still has a ways to go before being at risk of being enslaved by sentient AI overlords.

However, I’ve come to realise that is a necessary part of the editing process. For those of you who are unaware, transcribing is the process of converting speech into text. When faced with large chunks of footage, such as after shooting a series of interviews like I recently have, figuring out how to go about editing it all can be a daunting task.

Transcribing helps because it allows you to edit before you even import your footage into your timeline. Known as a paper edit, having the words written out in front of you makes it much easier to figure out how you’re going to structure your interview. This is because it’s faster to read two sentences next to each other than having to scrub back and forth in the timeline to hear if your cuts work.

On top of this, if you have the time and patience to do the transcribing yourself, the words will be seared into your brain via repetition-based monotony. This might not seem like too much of an advantage until you’re actually editing and your nice clear text become ambiguous clips in the timeline. Trust me, it helps.

Transcribing is a fairly time-consuming process (please see previous comment about lack of robot overlords). So even though there are a few tips and tricks to speed up the process, be aware of this when planning your project. The biggest tip I can give you to help reduce the workload is to run your interviews through a speech-to-text converter. This allows you to go through and make corrections rather than writing it out from scratch; the better your audio quality, the less changes you have to make.

There are loads out there, but my software of choice is VoiceBase. Although you have to pay for it, you get $60 free credit which I’ve only used about $10 of in the year I’ve been using it.

So, to recap, transcribing is a painstaking but necessary part of editing which, when done properly, will end up saving you time in the long run.


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