Transcribing Interviews

Here’s one of the less interesting bits of making a documentary: Transcribing interviews.

I’ve spent most of today transcribing the interview with Chad Koeplinger.

This is the first time I’ve done anything like this and at the moment I don’t have the budget to hire professionals so I’m doing as much as possible by myself. I tried to skip the time-consuming task of transcribing interviews but soon found that planning and editing without transcripts would take many multiple times longer. So I bit the bullet and decided to transcribe interviews myself.

My first attempt was to use FinalCut ProX’s marker feature but found that I would need a printed sheet later. At the moment FCPX doesn’t have a way to print and the xml export messes up the timecode.

My second attempt was to set out a spreadsheet and insert the timecode and description manually. This proved tricky and frustrating to switch between applications to pause and play the video during typing larger sections.

Finally I looked into dedicated transcription software. I found InqScribe.

It’s a joy to use. The tab key pauses and plays, ⌘; inserts timecode into the text, clicking on the timecode jumps to that place in the file. By exporting a tab-delimited text file, I can import into a spreadsheet and format print-ready sheets to quickly flip through, make notes and decide which footage to use.

Chad’s interview is 01:15:57 (just over an hour and a quarter) His transcript runs to 11 pages.

The process, while time-consuming, was so hassle-free that I transcribed an interview with EJ Miles, which is much shorter, around 15 minutes. That transcript is just one page. Already, seeing the printed sheets, I can see how they will help me clarify ideas, narrative themes and hopefully make for a much more engaging end product. I’ll post my progress here as I go.

In my list ready for transcription, I have interviews with Jordan, Lee, Miles and a short one with Valerie we did in San Francisco last month.

I have a couple of cool interviews with guest artists scheduled in the next few weeks.

Thanks for reading,



  1. Pingback: Transcribing Interviews: an update « FST: On the Shoulders of Giants
  2. Pingback: FST: On the Shoulders of Giants

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