August 15, 2019

13 Great Tips That Will Help You Edit Interviews Faster

Whether you’re a documentary filmmaker, video journalist, or a company producing video testimonials. you’re telling a story with other people’s own words. Making a captivating narrative requires creativity and focus on the interview footage at your disposal.

How you approach the video editing process can make or break your creative workflow. The time you can dedicate to molding together the best story vs. sifting through your footage to find the best quotes or sound bites is critical.

That’s why it’s important to improve your video editing process, especially when dealing with a project full of interviews.

Here are a few ways you can improve efficiency when editing video interviews, including best practices when it comes to organization, workflow, and video editing with interview transcripts.

Organize Footage and Name Files First

It’s extremely important to have an organized project folder. Logging your media files and placing them in subfolders will help you quickly find and identify key elements of your video project.

Create a Project Folder

Create a separate folder for every project you work on. And, always place media files in that project folder.

Any files used in a project should be copied and referenced from the project folder. This ensures media won’t go missing and you can easily transfer project media to another device.

 

Sort Project Files Into Subfolders

Arrange footage and different media types into their own subfolders. For example, creating subfolders for Footage, Audio, Images, Graphics, and Project Files is a great way to organize your footage.

Name the Media Files

Name your media files with unique identifiers, rather than rely on the camera’s default naming conventions. You can also rename your files by date, location name, or whatever makes sense for you to find footage faster.

If you have multiple interviews, use first and last names or initials to differentiate the file names. Use name extensions like “-A” and “-B” for different camera shots for the same scene. Add name extensions like -Broll to specify what shots are not part of the interview sequence and should be considered your b-roll footage.

Import into Video Editing Software

With all your media organized in your folders, be sure to create the project in the same parent folder with your video editing software.

Then, just drag and drop your subfolders into the editor bin and the program will maintain the file hierarchy within the editor. Nice and organized!

Sync and Assemble Video Clips Right Away

With all the footage in your video editing software, it’s time to start piecing together the clips. Before you start actually editing, though, you’ll want to be sure all of your interview footage is synced up with the externally recorded audio files from your audio recorder.

Sync the Interview Footage

There’s not much you can do without having all your interviews synced and ready for the chopping block. In video software like Premiere, you can easily merge a video clip with multiple audio files. Or, you can sync a multi-camera sequence that has multiple camera angles and audio tracks.

Assemble the Synced Clips

Start putting together your interview clips in the timeline. Use your audio track as your reference to ensure all the clips from an interview are true to the timecode. Don’t start trimming clips yet and don’t cut in between your master audio track.

This will enable you to order transcripts or time-coded captions files right away, if that’s part of your video editing workflow.

Keep the Interviews Separated

If you have multiple interviews, create a new sequence for each one. That way if you ever need to reference specific timecodes and/or notes from the production crew, having every interview in separate timelines will help you find specific shots much faster in post.

Edit with an Interview Transcript

You may have never edited interviews with a transcript, but once you do, it’s nearly impossible to go back. Having interview transcripts to reference when editing makes finding the right sound bites and quotes a breeze.

Benefits of Editing With Interview Transcripts

Once your interviews are assembled, you should consider ordering an interview transcript. Editing with a transcript can be a very helpful tool when editing long interviews in a short amount of time. Here are some benefits of having a transcript when editing video interviews:

  • Edit on paper: Use the transcribed text to rough-edit your interview before you touch the footage. Some of the best edits could come from your notes.
  • Identify qualitative and quantitative data: Highlight key points, metrics, themes, and important responses with a quick read-through.
  • Find specific keywords and quotes: Search a digital transcript file to find words fast.
  • Choose the best phrasing: Avoid wasting time editing the wrong take or not realizing there was better phrasing later in the footage.
  • Use time-codes: Pinpoint specific frames in the footage that you would like to reference.

Order an Interview Transcript

While spending several extra hours to transcribe your interviews sounds overwhelming, a transcription service can provide an accurate transcript of your interviews in a short turnaround time and allow you to work on other tasks in the meantime. (Like logging and assembling your b-roll footage to find those money-shots.)

You can try Rev for free and get $10 off your first order. You can order a transcription or captions file from Rev with your video or audio file(s).

In fact, you might consider sending your audio files as soon as your footage is synced and assembled. That way, you can get your transcript as soon as possible.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts can be a real time saver. Instead of spending several seconds clicking around and navigating through option menus, get the job done in one keystroke.

If you don’t know the keyboard shortcuts to your editor, here are a couple of examples:

Plus, if you really want to get fancy, you can order a keyboard sleeve with all the shortcuts labeled for you!

Save Audio Mixing and Color Correction For Last

It’s easy for solo filmmakers and amateur editors to get excited watching the footage and want to color correct and mix the audio levels right away. If you’re excited to get a glimpse of the final product, this can be a struggle to combat.

However, spending time color correcting and editing audio before you have your picture lock can waste a lot of time. You might end up adjusting clips that you’ll never use or even look at again. Since your goal is to edit efficiently, saving audio mixing and color correction for last is the best use of your time.

Optimize Your Editing Workflow

Whether you think there’s room to improve your organization of media files, the order of your editing process, using keyboard shortcuts, or editing with a transcription file, find an editing workflow that works best for you and your projects!     

Your Comment

18 Comments

Great to hear about a workflow which is similar to mine. That means I’m doing something right.
Great tip with the transcription workflow!

August 15, 2019 at 2:18PM

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At least we can call it "right" if we're both doing it, right?

Thanks for the comment! I hope the transcription workflow is helpful for your future projects.

August 15, 2019 at 5:23PM

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Austin Canary
Content Marketing Specialist
47

I love the tip about the transcription workflow! Got me thinking though how to automate it. I new of rev.com, but then I found temi.com, which is very affordable. I tried it out and it was pretty accurate! FYI - I'm not affiliated with temi.com in any way, just another filmmaker/editor/cameraman like everyone else here!

August 15, 2019 at 4:28PM

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Glad you like the transcription workflow! It's helped me cut down so much time editing. Thanks for the comment!

Also, Temi and Rev's automated transcription service are both powered by the same Rev.ai speech recognition engine—they're one in the same and priced accordingly! I use Rev's human-powered transcription and captioning services when I need that extra accuracy.

August 15, 2019 at 5:30PM

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Austin Canary
Content Marketing Specialist
47

Try Trint.com if you do a lot of transcription. It's £48 a month for unlimited transcription including export to standard subtitle files and a extension for Adobe Premiere.

August 16, 2019 at 3:36AM

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James Harding
Video Production Manager
15

I wasn't aware of an unlimited plan by Trint. In the US, their service costs between $12-15 an hour for AI transcription. Their subscription models cap you at a certain upload volume before charging you per hour.

With no subscription or contract, Rev automated transcription services are offered at a consistent $0.10 per minute, or $6 an hour. :)

August 16, 2019 at 11:24AM

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Austin Canary
Content Marketing Specialist
47

My comment below outlines how to transcribe video for free using Google Docs. Check it out!

August 16, 2019 at 9:19AM

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Upload your interviews to Youtube. Download the captions that are automatically generated the next day. Then flick down your timeline to each question and add the time stamps into the transcript. It won't be 100% word accurate, some words will get misinterpreted, but if your audio recording is good quality it does a pretty good job. And it's free.

August 20, 2019 at 6:32AM

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Neal Boyle
Director
1

Organise your files - Always,
Sync and Assemble Clips - Without Question
Edit your interview with a transcript - Definitely especially if you didn't film what your editing
Save Audio and Colour Correction for last - Correct
Final Assembly into a finished video with motion graphics - NOPE! How I do that, that's a trade secret ;)

August 16, 2019 at 3:45AM

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James Harding
Video Production Manager
15

That's where the real magic happens!

Or, at least some form of creative thinking to beat a delivery date. :)

August 16, 2019 at 11:50AM

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Austin Canary
Content Marketing Specialist
47

You can transcribe interviews for free using Google Docs. Just open Sound Settings in Windows and set your input device as Stereo Mix which will listen to your audio out as an input then open Voice Typing in Google Docs and hit play on your interview timeline. It's not perfect but it's free and with a few corrections you've got a transcription!

August 16, 2019 at 9:17AM

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That's a clever way to get decent speech-to-text on a budget, for sure!

What I like about paid transcription services is that, even with AI, I can get a timecoded transcript with proper grammar, sentence structure, and broken up paragraphs! Saves me from having to format the document myself for easy reading—and the fact that I don't have to sit there and play out the audio in real-time (which can take forever vs a 5-min turnaround). Which, in my opinion, is worth the 10 cents a minute for most projects!

August 16, 2019 at 11:31AM

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Austin Canary
Content Marketing Specialist
47

Hard to disagree with that, I've found transcription services useful as well especially on long interviews. Having Timecodes included makes a big difference for quickly locating bits. For my shorter interviews though Google Docs has been a great $$ saver!

August 16, 2019 at 1:00PM

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Seamus you can also use Youtube to automatically produce captions, for free, with no need for real time playing of the interviews. See my post above.

It's not word perfect, but its not for publishing and you don't need a word perfect transcript for editing. Ten minutes of formatting and you're good to go.

August 20, 2019 at 6:47AM

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Neal Boyle
Director
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These are all great tips.
I’ve been editing interviews for close to ten years now and the biggest tip I can give is to use pancake editing in premiere (google it). Also, if you learn your shortcuts you shouldn’t have to touch your mouse.

For the past six months I’ve been having a real issue with playback in my timeline. Audio continues to cut out as I’m playing through the timeline so I have to stop and go back to that point. It’s killing me. Anyone got any tips for this?
I’ve tried clearing the media cache. I use proxies with 4K footage but it still happens. Even with 1080p!

August 19, 2019 at 9:59PM

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regnis mada
Film, Life Story & Marketing Coordinator
79

Pancake editing is an awesome editing tip for Adobe Premiere! Thanks for the comment!

August 20, 2019 at 11:33AM

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Austin Canary
Content Marketing Specialist
47

Using Premiere Pro, I tend to correct/grade footage and process audio first before any cuts. I figure that saves me time later and I don't have to manipulate individual clips. Even adjustment layers sometimes get tangled up in a busy timeline. Also, I feel I can edit better when the clip looks and sounds as it should. But that's just me, and its more of an aesthetic choice rather than a workflow hack.

August 20, 2019 at 3:46AM

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I have adjusted color and audio upfront as well—when I knew what I wanted from the start. It can definitely help from having to adjust individual clips later in the editing process, so I can totally understand for the skilled color correcter to move this step up a bit!

I've generally stuck to adjustment layers and audio fixes later in the edit. The reason I suggested to hold these steps for last is to ensure that the main focus is on shaping the narrative and that you don't over-edit clips that may not even make the chopping block.

Thanks for the comment, Ali!

August 20, 2019 at 11:21AM

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Austin Canary
Content Marketing Specialist
47