Swift transcription for your documentary interviews

How Doc Filmmakers Can Automate Transcription with Simon Says

Documentary filmmakers are deeply curious people. You're driven by a desire to understand why people do what they do. What's their origin story? What formative experiences contributed to their life's work? What's the driving force behind their passions? Whether you're showcasing the achievements of a prolific creator, revealing never-before-seen details of a national event, or investigating an environmental crisis, your curiosity is what drives your exploration of a subject.


A feature-length documentary, or even a short, can encompass dozens to hundreds of interviews. Some people try editing directly off the timeline but after just a few interviews it can be tough to keep all the interviewees and their quotes organizedÔøΩ was it Jill who gave the best backgrounder on the factory or was it Jennifer who mentioned it?

Though you will use just a fraction of a recorded interview in your final film, transcripts are often the best way to digest the primary research and start to sketch out the edit. As you craft your narrative arc, you advance your story by using the right supporting quotes from the right people at the right time. These quotes will form the spine of your film. Many filmmakers often do paper edits based on the interview transcripts and their other footage before they go into post.

Unfortunately, transcription is tedious, frustrating, and expensive. It remains unclear why transcription companies charge so much, have such a wide range in quality, and take so many days to turn a recorded interview into the written form.

At Simon Says, we have worked hard to solve this problem with automated transcription, applying speech recognition to your audio and video files.

How it works:

1. Upload your interview files;

2. Pay: the cost is based on the interview length and is 17¬¢ per minute on pay-as-you-go� or only 8¬¢/minute if you subscribe to a monthly plan.

3. Immediately, the interview starts to transcribe live on screen and is completed swiftly.

4. Make edits; bookmark and annotate key quotes; and export.

Transcription happens in real-time or even faster. If your file is 30 mins, it will be completed in less than 30 mins.

What about timecode-synced transcripts?

It's annoying that the traditional transcription companies lure you in with low prices and then try to upsell you and charge unreasonable fees for providing something so simple such as timecodes for the transcripts.

Plus those companies know that timecode doesn't start at 00:00:00;00 except for that first time you unboxed your dSLR and raced out to test itÔøΩ they know that, right?

Simon Says does. We provide timecoded transcripts for no additional cost and we provide timecode-synced transcripts. The latter means that if your file begins at 3:18:04;04, we automatically start the transcript timecode at 3:18:04;04 and match the frame rate to your files. Our site auto-reads the timecode track in the uploaded file so you don't have to do all that math. Additionally, you can also manually set the start timecode.

Simon Says auto-detects start timecode/frame rates (when using original files). You can also set start timecode manually.

Simon Says' features that are relevant for documentary filmmakers:

1. Create Projects: upload multiple interviews into the same project to stay organized.

2. Any audio/video format/codec: we handle the gamut of formats and codecs across audio and video types.

3. File size: this is production, obviously your files are large! Upload files up to 5 GB in size.

4. File length: we have no restrictions. 4-hour interview with the documentary's subject? No problem.

5. Cloud drives: If you sync and share files via Dropbox or Google Drive, we can easily (and very quickly) import from there.

6. Confidential: your interviews are private. A human never touches your content; Simon Says is a machine transcription service using speech recognition. If you want to delete a project, you can do so and your associated files will be immediately removed.

7. Timecode sync: as mentioned, Simon Says auto-reads the original timecode track in an original file you upload; alternatively, you can set the timecode start time manually.

8. Bookmarks and annotations: highlight that meaningful dialogue and make notes as to where the quote may go and how it may be used.

9. Import into Adobe Premiere Pro or Apple's Final Cut Pro: export XML from Simon Says straight into your post production tool. We also support other formats like Word, Excel and SRT. Make your highlights and then import those bookmarks directly to your timeline.

Are you ready to craft the story of your insightful film based on the meaningful dialogue in your interviews? Simon Says will get your footage swiftly transcribed so you can go back to putting your mark on the world.

Save time, money, and frustration: sign up to Simon Says.

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