ScriptSync is Baaaaack!!! …And PhraseFind Too!

By in Video Editing

As many of you know I have been a big fan of ScriptSync since it was first developed almost 20 years ago. Originally designed for Hollywood scripts, editors of every genre soon adopted the technology; with the addition of PhraseFind, the game of editing changed forever. There is no question that anyone who has used these two features can cut their overall edit time down by weeks. Tell that to the producer who questions the budget when adding these features to your Media Composer.

Back in the day, with ScriptSync and PhraseFind – life was beautiful. That is until that fateful day when Version 8 of the Media Composer software did not contain these two powerful tools. Boy, was that a dark day. Fortunately there were a few workarounds (see my Vimeo page) but the fixes were never an elegant solution.

Well that’s not the case anymore – finally with version 8.8 of Media Composer the two most powerful features of any NLE have been licensed and incorporated back into the software; it’s game changer kids, a game changer.


I was lucky enough to get an early release of the two options and boy does it feel good not to be stuck on version 7 of Media Composer any longer.

TOP OF MY LIST: I can now edit the copy in my transcript. What, you say? Won’t that screw up the markers and pull your clip out of sync with the copy? Well, NO! The programmers at Avid were way ahead of you there. You go into “Edit Mode”, which has its own little icon, and BOOM! – a blue highlight to the left of the copy lets you know you are in “Edit Mode” and can correct or add copy as you wish, and the MARKERS MOVE DOWN THE COPY AS YOU TYPE!!!!

Wow that is so cool. I am working on a project that the intern transcribed and did not include the copy of the questions. Now the intern can fix that, at night, alone, in the dark, while I’m off at some cocktail party…

One little user issue that I have found is that I tend to forget to turn OFF “Edit Mode.” Then you can’t use ScriptSync like you are used too. The blue highlight to the left is your signal that you need to turn “Edit |Mode” off after you have added or corrected copy to get the tool working as expected. Not a big deal, operator error…

The original incarnation of ScriptSync would not display clips in the correct aspect ratio. It wasn’t that big a deal, but it feels better now that they appear correctly.

Finally, the interface  is clean and includes options like line numbers and interface rows to help with longer lines of text. The background can be white, or the color of your bin setting. It all looks very sharp.

“ScriptSync is back baby! And I love it. Like an old friend…”

—Steve Audette, ACE

Having said that, the script bin window UI feels a bit “work in progress” if you know what I mean. In the old days the bin window was subject to the margins of the text file that was imported. That’s no longer the case – the text file margin is what you expect, but the bin is HUGE, taking up most of your Bin Monitor. Now, you CAN bring the left side of the bin over, and the bin window DOES remember the size and layout as you save it, but selecting text to copy out of the script window and into a Final Draft or Word document (or Google Docs) can be a bit tricky, as the window in which you are selecting is really quite wide (in fact, the left side of the bin window is not locked either, as you select text, so it can get confusing where you are). Also, the lasso feature to select text is a bit off when you hit the top or bottom of the bin window. The interface stutters and hesitates as it scrolls up or down past the text displayed on screen. These are not deal breakers for me as this too is so powerful, but I hope they get worked out over time.

PhraseFind, the little sister to ScriptSync is also BACK!! I have never used this tool as much as many of my fellow editors but boy, I will in the future. Recently we were cutting the Frontline documentary and a large part of the narrative was told in the voice of new reporters and talk radio. It would have been very handy to search for phrases and review the best ones for the cut, rather than listening to one at a time in a bin.  This is going to be a big part of my future cutting. NO transcripts required!!!


For my fellow editors that are new to this software, you might find that there is an initial pause as you do your first search where Media Composer seems to take its time to give you a list of phrases, but all future searches come up strong and fast.

Both these tools are invaluable for any editor that has copy, so unless you are cutting art films or silent films I really cannot think of a reason you should not add these two options to your tool kit and start kicking you-know-what in the edit room.

Get Upgrade & Support Plan Free

From now until the end of December, if you purchase or upgrade to the current PhraseFind and ScriptSync Bundle, you will get a one year Upgrade and Support Plan for Media Composer absolutely free.

Steve Audette, ACE has been making documentaries for over 20 years. With more than 60 film credits, his work has contributed to many Emmy Award-winning documentaries, as well as Peabody, Polk and DuPont Columbia Award-winning programs. In 2016 Steve was nominated for an Eddie Award from American Cinema Editors, in the category of Best Documentary Television Editor for the Frontline documentary “The Choice.” In 2015 the FRONTLINE documentary Steve edited “United States of Secrets” won overall Best Documentary at the News and Documentary Emmy’s.