Need to Transcribe your Media? Simon Says A.I. Gives Editors the Gift of Time.

By in Video Editing

“On every animated feature there comes a time when we steel ourselves for an avalanche of production records. We would normally bring on an additional assistant, rent an additional room and rent and set up an additional Avid. Instead we were able to work with MIGUMA to do all the heavy lifting, leaving my crew to keep their workflow going. It was a game-changer.”

This is what Julie Rogers told me when I asked her for a testimonial.

What made that glowing review possible was not an army of workers, listening, typing, copying, pasting, and marking up dailies in the Avid. It was a large dose of A.I. and a small team of freelancers, tuning up and prepping text files for the Avid.

I have worked in post since 1991 and animation since 2014. I am currently the Lead Editor on the Bob’s Burgers Movie for Bento Box & Twentieth Century Fox. When I worked as an assistant and was tasked with marking up scripted and/or improvised dialog from production records, some with multiple actors riffing off  of each other, I was stunned that the transcription and logging process was so painful. This kind of work was still done by hand.

I knew there must be a better way and decided to take this particular problem on. I figured out a 28-step process (not kidding) to use speech recognition software to get markers (locators) into Avid. It did save time but, was not good enough.

After a lot of trial and error, long nights manually correcting things, and mixed results, I discovered Simon Says (thanks Google) A.I. software specifically geared for production. Simon Says uses artificial intelligence and speech recognition technology to swiftly and accurately transcribe audio to text, in minutes, and for pennies. I found the transcription accurate, the price great, and the customer service excellent.

I gave the founder Shamir Allibhai a list of feature requests. One by one, he and his team implemented them, and my 28-step process turned into four steps. After those four steps I was now able to export the transcript to a text file that would import as Avid Locators.

Avid Locators at the start of each line of dialog, character names, line numbers and all searchable using Avid’s built in find window.

After all that feedback, I was asked to come aboard and be part of Simon Says. I did! Since joining the Simon Says team we have launched:

  • a native macOS app
  • an on-premise Mac/PC application, where the AI runs locally (no data is sent to the cloud), for those working in high-security environments (such as those who need TPN/MPAA/CDSA/SOC 2 certifications)
  • auto-translations so you can turn your subtitles into 50 languages for international distribution

As an editor, and someone who has assisted on many films, I know how important good information is AND that it really makes a difference when things can work faster. That was the goal and IS the reality. Upload a file in any major format/codec/framerate and in 90+ languages: in minutes the transcript is returned. Then make any corrections in the Google doc-like editor and export for Avid.

The quote at the start is from Julie Rogers, she’s currently editing the Ugly Dolls Movie for STX. This process helped them was because it was like they were buying “time” – we could turn around a transcribed, four-hour record, verbatim and on searchable Avid markers in a day.  It required minimal prep time for the editing room (sometimes none) and better still, no work when they got the transcripts back.

My company has done the same for Sony (Spider-verse) and an upcoming Blue Sky Movie.

The take-away for me is that time saved, is time that goes into the creative process. Get the editors better information, so they can make better choices, tell better stories.

Visit the Simon Says website and register to get free credit. Please share with me suggestions for additional features.

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Mike Matzdorff is currently helping to develop outstanding software and editing the Bob’s Burgers Movie.