5 Tips for Transcribing Documentary Interviews

April 15, 2020

5 Tips for Transcribing Documentary Interviews

Think of a topic, any topic. Whether it's about birds or even competitive tickling, there's probably a documentary about it. The thing is, without a doubt, creating those documentaries was a creative feat. There would be hours and hours of material to go through just to form a clear, cohesive narrative. From the script to the cinematography, to the music and the sound effects, until the final touches. To solve this predicament, filmmakers depend on video transcriptions of their interviews so they are guided and they can easily digest the information they have gathered to be able to sketch out the story they want to tell. 

However, transcribing multiple interviews and other footage isn’t a walk in the park either.

Check out these five tips to help you out when transcribing multiple documentary interviews: 

  • Always fact-check

Documentaries are made so that viewers will become aware of a certain issue, or be educated about a specific subject, or be inspired to take action. With such an impact it could bring, there is a need to always fact-check. Research terms, verify data, confirm claims so that in the end, you’ll be confident that all terms or statements are accurate. Getting the wrong information in an interview can derail the whole documentary. You need to make sure that every name, data, date, and more are accurate. 

a male subject is being interviewed in a forest by a female interviewer with DSLR camera and tripod for a documentary interview

  • Include everything

To prevent misunderstandings, it’s best to transcribe everything in verbatim. This includes even the false starts and most especially the non-verbal sounds such as laughter, cries, and pauses. This allows you to get the full context of the situation, the ideas, and the emotions involved in the conversation. You’ll avoid interpreting anything the wrong way. 

This also allows for a more authentic transcription that can help documentary filmmakers and crew set the mood and the direction of a particular scene.

  • Add in timecodes

As expected, documentary films and interviews is not a simple walk in the park. There will be a lot of processes and a lot of back and forth. You will need to check the transcript and the video again and again in order to go over a thing or two. Did you spell it right? Did this person said this particular statement or was it someone else? Save yourself all the trouble and insert timecodes. You’ll have a quick reference for review or a bookmark of details that are essential for the film.  

  • Back it up

Technology is wonderful in many ways, but it also has its faults. Issues with hardware pop up all the time.  There are chances of files getting corrupted with no explanation. Important documents disappear out of the blue. All your hard work can go down the drain in an instant, so for your own sake, don’t forget to save your work and always have a backup. 

  • Get help

The list of things that must be accomplished can get overwhelming, and there’s just no time to transcribe. If this is ever the case, transcription companies are there to give you a helping hand. Hire trustworthy transcription companies like TranscriptionWing, where your files are completely secured, and then receive great quality transcripts of your interviews.

Transcribing documentary interviews is beneficial for all. It supports the writers, editors, and producers during the production process. You can easily find the right quotes, the right people, and the right timing.

Video captions formed from transcriptions can also be a tool for viewers to better understand your documentary. People sometimes prefer captions over voiceover alone because there are instances or factors which make it hard for them to focus on just the dialogue. Also, those who are deaf and hard of hearing will have full access to the content and understand the message being portrayed. This task might seem tedious and painstaking, but the result means no one is ever left out.

Image source: Rodrigo Souza in Pexels, Maximilian Hofer in Pixabay

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