Creating a video is relatively easy. Making a well-edited one, however, can be much more tedious and time-consuming. Playing back the video to cut all the gaps, pauses, stumbles, repeated words and do-overs can take hours of screen time.
That’s where Descript comes in. Upload your video, wait a moment while it creates a transcription of the words spoken in the video, and then edit your video by revising the words in the transcription. It’s a vlogger’s dream! And a podcaster’s, too, since it also works for audio, but we’ll get into that in another tutorial. In this tutorial, you’ll learn the basics of how to edit video in Descript.
Check out the screencast below to see Descript in action and read the steps that follow. You’ll learn how to use Descript to upload your video, revise it based on the transcript, and export a finished video.
If you have made just one video, you know all too well how painstaking the editing process can be. If you've made a lot of them, you've suffered the consequences of either spending a large chunk of time editing your video yourself or farming it out to an editor who, more often than not, returns a video that’s not exactly to your liking and sends you back to the computer anyway. Thanks to Descript, the times they are a changin'. Its transcription-based video editing is speedy, precise, and downright revolutionary.
Here are a few key features of Descript:
- Its AI-powered transcription is fast and accurate, with 95% accuracy.
- Editing video is simple, precise, and efficient using the text transcription or the timeline.
- Exporting and publishing edited video is a breeze.
- Descript is relatively affordable ($15-$30 a month, 20% less if you pay annually).
You can try out Descript by activating a free trial, which includes three hours of transcription, as well as access to other Descript features not discussed here (20 screen recordings and the ability to record, edit and mix one project). Buy monthly access by subscribing to a Creator plan at $15/month or a Pro plan at $30/month, or purchase an annual plan to receive a 20% discount.
How to Use Descript
1. Create a Project and Import Footage
To begin editing a video, import it. Create a new project by clicking on + New Project in the upper right-hand corner.
Give your project a name and click Create Project.
Then either drag and drop your video or choose a file on your computer. The 27-minute 1920x1080 30 FPS file we uploaded—a video of artist Amy Hook-Therrien being interviewed by Taylor Long—took about four minutes to upload.
2. Create a Transcription
Right click on your video file and click Transcribe file.
In the window on the bottom left, click Detect speakers and enter the number of speakers in your video. Our video has two speakers: artist Amy Hook Therrien and interviewer Taylor Long. You also have the option to select the kind of transcription you want:
- Automatic: An AI-based transcription that's 95% accurate
- White Glove: A professional, human transcription service Descript offers that has 99% accuracy (costing $2/minute and average wait time of 24 hours)
- Import transcript: The ability to upload your video's transcription, should it already exist, which Descript then syncs to its corresponding audio.
If there is more than one speaker, as the transcription gets started, it will detect multiple speakers. Click Identify speakers.
Descript then detects the number of speakers in your video and asks you to identify them.
As the speaker’s voices play, Descript prompts you to give their names.
A window pops up to let you know the speakers’ labels have been added to your transcription.
And voila! After a few minutes, depending on the length of your video, a transcription has been created. (Our 27-minute 1920 x 1080 30 FPS file took a mere three minutes to be automatically transcribed.) Notice that the timeline also contains a Wordbar that corresponds to the words in the transcription.
3. Edit Your Video Using the Transcript
To navigate through your video, you can scroll through the text just like a regular text-based document, or you can use the tool bar at the very top to play, pause, and go forward or back in five-second increments.
Now for the cool part (or another cool part, I should say): editing short cuts that will save you loads of time. Click on the Wrench icon at the top and select Shorten word gaps.
The left panel shows where there are gaps in conversation. It also lets you enter the number of seconds each gap should be shortened to. Click on each gap Descript identified and listen to it. If it should be shortened, click Apply. You can also decide to Apply to all, but we recommend listening to each gap before deciding to do so. (In our video, a laugh, which we wanted to keep, was identified as a gap.)
You can also remove filler words, such as “um,” “uh,” “like,” “you know,” “sort of,” as well as repeated words. Click on the Wrench icon and select Remove filler words. The left panel shows where it identified filler words in your transcript. You again have the option of going through each instance and choosing to Delete, Ignore, or Apply to all.
To remove filler words without introducing cuts in the video, enable the toggle to Delete audio without affecting video before you click Apply. Doing so detaches the audio from the video and creates a multi-track sequence, comprising one track of the preserved video and one track of the clipped audio.
To make cuts in your video, simply select the words in the transcription and tap Delete. Once you do so, an edit boundary (a gray dotted line with an upside down triangle at the top) will appear and the text will be gone. In our video, one of the speakers loses her train of thought, so we selected all of that text.
And then we tapped Delete. You can see in the timeline just before the playhead where the video has been cut. To revert a deletion, place your mouse at the clip edge and drag it. There you will see everything you deleted should you want to restore it.
To fine-tune a clip boundary, click and drag the edge of the clip. To add or remove silence between words, click and drag a word in the wordbar.
4. Fine-Tune the Audio
To add a fade on a clip, hover over the clip boundary and a white handle will appear above the clip. Click and drag the handle across the audio clip to adjust the fade.
To add a crossfade to a clip, grab the handle at the beginning of an audio clip and pull it back toward the previous audio clip.
To adjust the volume of a clip, right-click on the clip and select Show clip properties and adjust the volume in the Clip Properties section on the right. Note that you can also adjust the opacity, scale, and position of the clip within the frame in this section.
5. Export Your Edited Video
To export a video, click Share in the upper right-hand corner and select the Export tab. If your video is finished, with no further editing needed, select Video.
If you used Descript to make a rough edit and you’d like to do some fine-tuning in another application, select your preferred format and then click Export.
Descript's export provides you with an XML-based edit record, which you can then import into FCPX or Premiere Pro for further editing.
Embrace Transcription-Based Video Editing
It might take a second to get used to transcription-based video editing, but it's worth the minor effort. It will save you immense amounts of time, and it also allows for multi-user editing and commenting, multi-track recording and Zoom integration, and audio auto-leveling, which we didn't get into here. Possible downfalls: It requires an Internet connection and only supports English translations. The former allows for cloud-based technology, which enables collaboration, and the latter we are hoping Descript will solve with time.