The Best Documentary Editing Tool Money Can Buy


One of the most common questions we get is “What is the best editing software” and we always answer “It depends on your project.”  But there is one area where Avid MediaComposer beats the competition – well, actually has no competition, and that’s its dialogue searching plugin, ScriptSync.  It costs extra but could be money well spent.

Most people have some inkling of how ScriptSync works with scripted projects: you import your script and ScriptSync goes through all the takes and phonetically matches the dialogue with the script.  Not only can you search for every line in your movie, you can also search for every instance of the word “the,” for example.  You’ll get a highlighted list that links to the video itself, so with a simple click you can load the video clips with that dialogue into the viewer.

This is a beautiful thing.  But what many filmmaker do not realize, it that ScriptSync also works for documentaries.  Instead of a script, you load transcripts for each interview into the system, and then you can type in some words and find all the instances that your interviewees talked about, “treason” or “Trump,” for example.   (No politics here, folks.  Just the first words that popped into my head today.)  If you only have a few short interviews, you may not find this feature that useful, but if you have 15 or more hours of interviews, which is likely on a feature documentary, then ScriptSync is indispensable.

Last year when Avid released Media Composer 8, it was not compatible with ScriptSync and that caused an uproar among editors who live by it.  But happily that compatibility has been restored with MC 8.8.  On a complete side note, CVS Pharmacy has confusingly come up with a prescription service, also called ScriptSync.  Hmm.