Media and entertainment are the two biggest global industries today, that’s a fact, and technology in film is forever evolving with the likes of streaming sites (think Netflix) making it easier than ever to watch your new favourite series from the comfort of your own home.

Even if revenue has declined in the movie industry, consumer demand is greater than ever before. 2015 was known as “peak year” where the UK boasted a turnover of around £4.15 billion.

But that’s not all, Box Office revenue for films produced in the UK also spiked in the same year, producing around $9.4 billion worldwide, dropping to $6.5 billion the following year.

Did you know that over the past 10 years independent UK film makers have created over 2,500 productions between 2007 and 2015 alone?

It’s easy to see that the demand for movies will always be present, whether it is a full length feature of a short film, a horror or a love story, the need for reliable post-production transcription is also growing at expediential rates.

Transcription services are mainly used by TV and film production teams, more than any other industry in fact. Besides the obvious reasons to pursue a professional, transcriptions benefit a number of procedures during post-production including video editing, focus group recordings and depositions.

We had the chance to catch up with Louise Tapia, CEO of transcription specialists Take 1 TV, who explains the ins and outs of a post-production transcript, how they benefit the production team and why it’s always important to consider working with professionals.

A post-production transcript in a nutshell

So, what is a post-production transcript? It’s essentially a 100% accurate word-for-word account of a movie, documentary or online video and is a crucial element to the smooth running of the post-production process.

Transcripts are usually only ever produced after the production process is complete, in order to maintain the post-production budget and to save precious time.

Some question why transcription isn’t a scene by scene process, but this would actually be a pretty pointless exercise. For example, what if a specific piece of dialogue is cut from the final production, what if certain pieces of dialogue change during editing?

That’s why seeking the advice and expertise of a professional is recommended. Many post production teams decided to cut out the middle man and manage the task in house by producing the transcription themselves, but mistakes are often made and more time has to go into the process than you’d expect necessary. Quite simply, less experience = less quality.

Having a script written is one thing, but a post-production transcript covers many elements, including:

  • Onscreen captions
  • Music cue titles
  • Specific scene-by-scene details
  • Timecodes & timestamps

Imagine trying to manually identify a specific scene within a full feature movie, this couldn’t be easier thanks to the trusty duo of timecodes and timestamps.

What are timecodes and timestamps?

Timecodes are a series of numbers in a sequence via a timing system. They are added into the post-production process to facilitate note logging, organising files and searching for specific scenes or dialogue.

Timestamps are a little different. They are used predominantly to sync transcription text with specific scenes or frames. This makes the job 10x easier for the editors to locate segments that they need to edit during the post-production process.

How crucial are transcripts during post-production?

Transcripts offer a number of benefits for the whole production team during post-production.

Picture this. Your independent film is to be shown at three festivals in three different countries all speaking different languages. With a transcript in place, you simply send it to a reliable translator making the process quick and simple.

Transcription also makes the subtitling process easier than ever. Whether they’re being added within the movies primary language or any other, the subtitles benefit an audience that who may experience hearing impairments.

Therefore, outsourcing to a professional to create the transcript is often recognised as the sensible choice and contributes to the overall smooth running of the production process.

Is hiring a professional essential?

Sourcing a professional transcription service is wise. They’re qualified, fully trained and therefore reliable. Transcription is usually just one of the services on offer, others include:

  • Translation
  • Captioning
  • Subtitling
  • Meta Data lists

We’ve personally had past issues whereby production companies with minimal budget understand the benefits of transcription, but would rather keep the task in-house. Somewhere along the line they needed to edit an online video that wasn’t compatible with the device/browser where the short was to be viewed.

Professionals with the right knowledge are able to take files of all formats and encode them, which saves the editor and production team a lot of time. Encoding essentially means converting one format to another, also ideal for web applications with closed captions.

In many cases the encoding process is also used to compress large files that may not be suitable in their original form, this helps to reduce how long the video takes to load meaning the viewer gets the most out of the experience. Imagine how handy this would be when working towards a strict deadline.

Transcription: An Editors Dream?

Editors are under a lot of pressure, no matter how big or small the production, the final cut is in their hands. Many obstacles are thrown at them during including adding special affects, imagery, colour correction and music – each of which are essential to the life of the feature.

Once all processes are complete and it’s time to distribute, video editors often provide both as-produced and as-shot scripts (along with the complete production of course).

An as-produced script is inclusive of all scene breakdowns which include detailed descriptions, act breaks, speaker identifications and 100% accurate dialogue.

Therefore, it doesn’t matter if you’re part of a huge production for a blockbuster movie or a small local documentary on a tiny budget, accurate transcription is a task that requires concentration, skill and precision.

Is it an editor’s dream? We think so.

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About 

Louise Tapia is the managing director at Take 1 TV. Her role is to take responsibility for day to day management of the company, as well as the development and execution of their ever ambitious business plan. Take 1 TV are specialists in providing transcription, captioning and translation services for a range of major production companies across the UK and USA (National Geographic, BBC, ITV).