Tips for Efficient Documentary Interview Transcription

Just a simple edit, log, and notes will suffice in the case of small documentary projects. However, TV documentaries that feature lengthy interviews would require complete transcripts with every word said during the interview, who spoke the words, and time codes indicating when they were spoken. Let’s see how documentary interviews can be efficiently transcribed.

To produce an accurate documentary interview transcript, you should pay attention right from the time you record the interview.Documentary Interview Transcription

  • Make sure that the audio of your documentary is clear and free from any kind of atmospheric disturbances. You need to focus on the audio as much as the the video. Use appropriate microphones depending on the type of interview. In case of a sit-down interview, use a bidirectional microphone. If your subject needs to move around, like in the case of on-the-fly interviews, use a lapel microphone.
  • When transcribing interviews, you need to pay attention to pauses, exclamations, vocalizations which not words (for example, laugh, cry), and gestures in order to develop conventions for how the text will be punctuated. You need some conventions for linking speakers’ identity to what is being said, which seems to be simple in case of a one-on-one interview (only one person talking at a time) and more complex if the conversations become overlaid or more than one person is being interviewed. You should also identify the chunk of texts that go together and topic shifts.
  • Make the dubs of your master first to overcome the possibility of harming the master tapes while transcribing. Back and forth rewinding happens frequently when listening to the tape during the transcription, which can damage the tape and camcorder. If you have a lot of hard drive storage space, digitize all your footage and transcribe it using your computer. This will help you avoid making dubs.
  • If there is a huge amount of footage, it is not a practical solution to transcribe it using your computer. In case of large documentary projects that need to be finished within the shortest possible time, it is advisable to seek the help of an established transcription company. Experienced and trained media transcriptionists can provide full, professional looking transcripts that include the content of all of the tapes that were used for the documentary interviews along with the time codes.

A complete and accurate documentary transcript ensures that you are not misrepresenting what a person actually said. Also, documentation will make it easier to check the accuracy of narration, the statements made, and the implied conclusions. Documentaries are meant to inform viewers about the prevailing reality and hence core audience of documentaries typically comes from intellectual classes and movie-making fraternity. Documentary interview transcripts can provide them better understanding of the content.

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