Join Amy DeLouise for an in-depth discussion in this video Interview transcript workflow, part of Script Writing for Nonfiction Video.
- Working with interview transcripts is a key part of your job as a nonfiction script writer. I spend a lot of time working with interviews and I'm sure you do too, and it's just so much easier if you can scroll through a piece of paper then scrubbing through footage in real time or, frankly, even double time. So, here are a couple of tips on how to work with interview transcripts. Transcripts save you a lot of time, as we talked about, so it saves you money. A lot of people ask me when I'm doing speaking engagements around the country, well, how do I find a transcriber? Well, here's the thing, if you live somewhere where there are lawyers, there are transcribers, because there's no such thing as an kind of judicial process that doesn't include transcriptions.
So, the good news is, you're going to be able to find a transcription service, even if they aren't officially for video or television. There's lots of people out there and it's usually easy to upload either wav files or mp3 files to their website for them to transcribe for you. If you're not in a rush, you can output these files from your edit system after you've ingested your footage and it's easy to rip those files off and email them out. If you're in a rush, which I feel like I always am, then I like to record them in the field, and it's frankly good to have another backup for your audio anyway.
So, let's talk about how you would go about that. Most sound devices that you'll use in the field will be able to include audio metadata that's really useful for your transcripts. That might be the person's name, their title. I particularly like to have people spell their name and say where they're from, because I can use all that information in the script. A couple of devices will also allow you to pull time code in and that can be very useful for your transcripts. TIme coded transcripts allow you to much faster access to where things are going to be and frankly, when you're doing replacement sound bites, maybe for one of those multipurposed workflow issues that you have, it's going to be really helpful to have the time code.
Some devices don't have time code capabilities and so, you'd need to record time code onto the audio tracks. Or I've even had a circumstance where the transcribers, if you can give them the starting point, especially if you're recording time of day time code, if you can give them the starting hours and minutes of that person's interview, they can basically ballpark the time code for you and insert it into the transcript. Either way, it's really helpful to have what the person is saying on paper because in just a minute, we'll see exactly how you can use that to make your scripting process go much more quickly.
Let's take a look at how to use a transcript while writing your script. Well, here I have an example on the left side here of an interview with this wonderful young woman, Maria and over here, is the script that I'm working on. So, what I frequently do, if I don't have time code, I might just reference the page in the script. So, in this case, on page three, I want to use this little section where she's talking about really not being able to breathe and not being able to even walk upstairs. We're establishing the challenge in the narrative arch here and so, Maria's doing it nicely for us.
We don't have to lean on the narrator to do it. So, I'm just going to cut and paste and I put my bite right over here. "Before, I had trouble walking up the stairs." Now, I've got a little technique that I like to use. It's just very simple. It's this little double slash. I just put a double slash in when I'm going to cut from one sound bite to another sound bite. This is my way of telling the editor this is not a continuous sound bite, so don't think that it is because then she might be looking for it and it's not there. So, here, I say page four, so we know we're cutting from page three to page four of the interview.
"When I was told I wouldn't see my 18th birthday, "I decided I had to find a bariatric surgeon. "That was the only way I was going to live." So, this is a key turning point in the script. By putting together these two bites, we're making that happen through real people interviews instead of through the narrator. So, this is just a good example of how you want to rely on your transcripts, and, of course, in this case, I have transcripts of all the different people who were interviewed for this video and so it's easy to go back and forth between them. One of the great things about having transcripts that you've both saved into your own computer wherever you are as a script writer, but also, you've saved onto the hard drive with all your footage, is that if you ever need to do another version of the show or revision of the show, bang, you can get it done really quickly.
So, here's an example of where transcripts came in really handy. We wanted to be able to do an update of a video for an arts organization when they got a new executive director. This was easy to accomplish because we already had transcripts. In fact, we had transcripts with time code, so I was able to go back to my original script. So, here we have some examples and I greyed out the areas where I wanted to take out the person who I needed to replace and then I was able to replace it with another sound bite on paper. Obviously we have to test this and practice in the edit room, but on paper, I'm able to change it in the script.
So, I was able to replace a couple of different sound bites and then easily go through and see where this person needed to be swapped out and I could just easily go back to the original transcripts and do that. Then once we got into the edit room, we made sure that the timing actually worked and obviously, you have to make sure the sequence still plays properly and there might be some adjustments to make to the visuals but at least it was a very simple process to say oh, sure, we can easily replace those three sound bites and find three replacements that have about the same length of time.
That's one of the things that's so great about using transcripts. Gives you a lot of flexibility as a writer, so you're not busy worrying about screening footage, but you're actually thinking about how to put the story together.
In this course, you'll learn how to write nonfiction scripts that work with a variety of budgets. Taught by Amy DeLouise, a passionate educator who has scripted hundreds of award-winning videos, it's packed with tools and tips for every level of writer and producer. Her script-to-screen workflow will help you develop your story goals and structure, create a narrative arc, work with sound bites, find the right tools to write your script, and pitch your script to clients and stakeholders.
- The benefits of scripting
- Defining your story goals
- Building a story structure, including point of view, characters, and style
- Creating a compelling narrative arc
- Creating a treatment
- Building shooting vs. editing scripts
- Writing before interviewing
- Working with script writing software
- Creating a script template
- Using storyboards for script pitches