Video Transcription

Documentaries rely heavily on audio transcription to transform interviews and conversation into a malleable form. Many new automated transcription tools have recently arrived on the scene, many with tight integrations to Final Cut and other editing software. Here’s a list of a few I’ve found most promising.


Assembly complete!

A quick note to say not only has work re-started on my latest film, but I’ve also (finally) finished the first full assembly! This is a major milestone. It’s the first time all the material I’d like to see in the film is collected in order on a single timeline. Now I can see the shape of it.

A process that ended up being tremendously helpful was to allow my intuition to make poetic associations between visuals, largely based on mood and emotion. Then I might write some music to match the mood, and edit a scene in that flow. This led to some surprising discoveries of connections between material and, I hope, a much more interesting film to watch.

It’s been a long, iterative process. I’ve been through three or four major reorganization of the material. As it stands the film is two hours and 40 minutes long, with 90+ scenes. Time to start cutting it down to just the essence!


Phase 1 Complete! Begin Phase 2.

Fifty-one weeks after my last day in Argentina the process to organize, import, transcode, sort, log, keyword, transcribe, translate and most importantly review and annotate 128 hours of footage is complete. My bullet-point notes add up to 87000 words, 350 pages of observations and insights. My plan was four months. It took almost eight. It’s a tedious process, and though I learned a lot and experienced some spine-tinglingly-great moments, I’m very glad it’s done.

Now on to the next phase of creative work: to transform a few moments from the mountain into 90 minutes of movie magic.


Editing Begins

The pre-edit checklist:

  • New burr grinder, for consistent, tasty quality
  • Slightly leaky but functional coffee machine
  • nearby coffee shop for emergencies
  • 7 terabytes of data neatly organized and backed up
  • Workstation set up and monitors calibrated
  • Post workflow researched and tested
  • Slide scanner prepped for distraction during long renders (yes! finally get to bring in some of my slide film from 2006)

… and I’m ready to start editing! Here’s where I’ll be spending the next six weeks:

Not the greatest picture, I guess… ah well. I’ve finally been able to set up a standing editing workstation, something I had back at my old job. I had the maintenance guys find an old countertop and install it at standing height. It helps keep me alert for the long stretches… this isn’t quite as fancy (two cardboard boxes and a leftover shelf) but it’ll do the trick.

Editing is my favourite and least at the same time. I enjoy seeing the story form from the raw, but the long hours without fresh air get to me… and my attention span has decreased with my approach to old age :)

I’ve found a nearby river for some peace, and I’m within walking distance of an old heritage home with a coffee shop inside. I feel well prepared and I’m looking forward to tackling the story challenges ahead of me.