In the golden age of Hollywood, the typical shooting ratio for feature films was roughly 10:1. However, with the scope of modern day movies, the hours of raw footage have increased to over 20 times that. Mad Max: Fury Road, released in 2015, had a shooting ratio of 240:1. Translated, this means the video editor took 480 hours of raw footage and condensed it down to a 120-minute feature film. Simply put, it takes a long time to edit film.

Fortunately, advancements in efficiency are beginning to grow in the film and broadcasting industry. More and more production is taking place on a file basis rather than traditional tape, and that alone has begun smoothing out the process. Another (and perhaps less complex) way of saving time during production is using transcripts for the editing phase. There are several cases where transcripts are incredibly helpful, like legal depositions, on-air interviews, focus group recordings, documentary filmmaking, and talking head interviews, among others. When there’s so much footage to sort through, transcripts cut down on the time it takes to produce film by simplifying the editing process.

Timecodes

Timecodes have been part of the film industry for decades, whether in found footage movies, documentaries, or even your home movies from childhood. Timecodes are used to sync up multiple cameras or match audio tracks recorded separately to video. Although using timecodes as reference points for relevant content during the editing process can save some time, it still takes quite a while to sift through the hours of raw footage. Not to mention, we lose productivity when switching between tasks. It can take up to 25 minutes to reorient yourself in work and achieve the same flow when moving between two tasks or more.

This problem can be solved with a transcription of the film or audio, but really only if that transcript has timestamps that sync up with the timecodes in the original video. When the timestamps are added by third party transcriptionists, the producer can go through and make comments that in turn the editor can translate to greater efficiency. This is especially true because the editor doesn’t have to switch between viewing footage and editing footage, saving that potential productivity lost.

Revision

Rewrites and even reuse of footage demand revision, and with the nature of the film industry, those tasks must be efficient. Consider Stanley Kubrick, a director notorious for getting as many takes as necessary for the exact shot he wants. In fact, in the movie The Shining, Kubrick filmed 148 takes of Halloran explaining the Shine to Danny. Using transcripts allows editors stuck in the Hollywood hot seat to scroll quickly through every take and find the footage a producer has deemed the “right” material. For example, if Kubrick wants the last take, but watches the footage and changes his mind, he can simply mark the transcript rather than telling an assistant the timestamp for the take.

Transcripts are also helpful to have even after post-production, especially in the television industry. Because TV shows often re-air or are redistributed for streaming services rather than broadcasting, the placement of commercials can change. Having a transcript allows the editor responsible for reissuing the material to scan the episode and insert new commercial footage with more ease.

Adding transcripts to your production workflow can boost efficiency in the time it takes to denote, plan, and edit. Although transcription services are available online, it’s crucial that when making this transition, you can count on accuracy and speed.  Just like a director would never count on a computer program to edit their film, editors should look for human transcription services that can deliver reliable transcripts that make sense in context. A good service will act on demand, have a higher accuracy rate, and often offer a much faster turnaround.

 

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