Transcribing your video tapes

There are two types of production schedules.  Tight and brutal.  Either way, you need all the time you can manufacture, and one way to ease the time strain is have written transcripts of all the video you’ve shot.  I believe that if you do not transcribe tapes the minute you return from a shoot – it will bite you in the ass during the editing process.

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve worked for production companies that do not transcribe tapes they’ve shot.  For me, that’s like throwing your cell phone into a bin with 600 other cell phones and hoping you’ll recover yours just by the ring tone.  Chances are you’re going to waste a lot of valuable time trying to find it and you’ll more than likely get frustrated in the process.

If the budget is tight, then you’ll be doing your own transcriptions.  If you’ve got an intern, get him or her to help.  If you’re lucky to work for a production company that has a Production Assistant assigned to you, get them to do it.  It really doesn’t matter, as long as it gets done.

Why am I so adamant that transcriptions get done immediately?  Oh, let me count the ways.

If you just use the tape logs and not the transcripts you’ll end up stringing together sound bites on a time line and not telling the most compelling story you can.  It will waste hours, you’ll be completely frustrated, and you’ll invariably end up shuttling back and forth through the tape, swearing that so and so said such and such somewhere around here – I think.

With transcriptions you have a basis for organization, and over half of all production is based on organization.   With a transcript you can easily create a paper edit, which is statistically much faster to create, and easier to cut and paste.  And as you begin to cut and paste, the story you want to tell, will begin to take place, and you will have the potential for an incredible segment.