Software Review: prEdit

Posted on by Larry

[ This article was first published in the September, 2010, issue of
Larry’s Monthly Final Cut Studio Newsletter. Click here to subscribe. ]

(To read my disclosure policy on reviewing products, click here.)

prEdit, published by Intelligent Assistance, is another amazing product.

prEdit is a bridge product that combines the strengths of Adobe Premiere and Soundbooth with Final Cut Pro. And it supports Microsoft Excel, Apple Final Cut Pro, or Adobe Premiere.

Here’s the basic workflow:

In other words, by using a transcript, you can do a rough cut of your actual clips, without opening Final Cut Pro.

Imagine you need to save time, so you let a producer or production assistant do the first-pass rough cut using only prEdit and an auto-generated transcript.

Instead of waiting days for the transcript to be produced, then tying down a Final Cut editor for the rough cut, you can free up more expensive staff for the hard work of turning a rough cut into a watchable program, while the producer, who may know the content better, starts to shape the story.

This is amazing stuff!

Here’s how it works.

Load the clips you want to transcribe into Adobe Premiere. (This feature requires Adobe Production Premium CS4 or CS5.)

NOTE: If you have only one clip to transcribe, you can use Adobe Soundbooth. The benefit Premiere provides is that it can process clips in batches.

Click the Metadata tab in the top center of the screen.

Then, in the Browser, select all the clips you want to transcribe.

With the clips selected, click the Analyze button in the middle of the screen (it’s at the bottom of the Metadata tab and part of the Speech Analysis section.

In the Analyze window, select the language the speaker is using, and set whether you want High or Low quality.

Click OK and the transcription process starts.

The process itself take 2-4 times longer than real-time; which is MUCH faster than I can type.

When the transcriptions are done, select a clip and the text of the clip appears in the Speech Analysis window.

NOTE: Much has been written about the accuracy of these transcripts. I find that if you ignore names and proper nouns, the accuracy is pretty good. However, it isn’t perfect. On the other hand, we are not writing a book, we are editing television. My feeling is that if I can get enough of a sense of what the speaker is saying to know whether I want to use the clip, the transcript has met my purpose. And, if you exclude the cost of the software, the transcript is free and far faster than any manual transcript.

Once the transcripts are complete, select all the clips you want to move over to prEdit, and choose File > Export > Final Cut Pro XML This creates the file that prEdit can read to help you pick your clips.

Open prEdit. In the top left corner, click the Import Clips XML button and select the XML file you just exported from Premier (or Soundbooth – the process is the same).

The popup menu just below the import button lists all the clips you just transcribed.

Select the clip that you want to work with.

The text of the clip appears on the right, the logging information appears on the left.

Click once on the text and it highlights. Click a second time and the text becomes editable. Put your cursor at the beginning of the clip you want to use and press Return.

This creates an In for the clip. Find the text at the end of the clip you want to use and press Return again. This sets an Out. Click the Color popup menu to set a color for the selected clip.

Notice how each clip segment has a thin gray line above and below it? This indicates the duration of the marked clip.

Select the text for a clip you want to use and enter relevant metadata in the fields on the left.

The most important field to enter is the Person field, where you enter the speaker’s name. It is in the middle of the right-hand column. You’ll see why shortly.

Repeat this process for all the clips you want to use in your rough cut.

Click the Story View button in the top left corner.

This displays all your clips in the left column. Where you entered the person’s name, you see it on the left. This is the indicator for the clips you marked earlier.

Skim through the transcripts on the left. When you find a clip you want to use, drag it from the left side to the right.

As you do, a thumbnail of your clip is displayed, along with the relevant transcript.

Grab clips and drag them up or down to put them in the order you want. Click the Remove button if you want to remove a clip from your edit list.

If you want to watch your clips, click the Preview Story button in the top right corner. This allows you to see what you are creating and make minor trims to the In or Out of the clips

When you are happy with the order of your clips – and remember this is just a ROUGH cut, so don’t obsess too much at this point – click the Export button in the lower right corner.

From the settings menu, make sure your video settings are correct and tell it what software you want the information exported to. I was very impressed with its support for Excel, Final Cut Pro, and Premiere!

NOTE: Be sure Final Cut Pro is open, in which case this process is almost instantaneous.

Final Cut Pro then opens a dialog asking how you want the XML file imported. If you only have one project open, the defaults will all be correct.

A folder named after your Premiere project is loaded into the Browser. Twirl it open and you’ll see a new sequence, also named after your Premiere proejct, and all your exported clips.

Load the project file into the Timeline and there are your selected clips, edited in the order you specified in prEdit!

Notice the red markers with durations at the top of the sequence?

Put your playhead in any marker and you can see the transcript of what your speaker is saying at that instant!

This is flat-out incredible! As I told Philip Hodgetts and Greg Clark, the two developers, prEdit is stunningly sexy!

If transcripts, documentaries, and tight deadlines are part of your life, you need to check into prEdit.


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2 Responses to Software Review: prEdit

  1. gabriel muller says:

    Is there time code functionality with this software? Can I quickly/easily stamp timecode onto the transcript? This would be a real value for me and I imagine many others.


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