Award-winning filmmaker Rogier Kappers needs to transcribe a huge amount of interviews for the creation of his new documentary. He used to hire students and transcribers to manually transcribe his interviews so that he could find the best quotes and storylines. Now he uses AmberScript, which automatically converts his interviews into text. He uses the AmberScript editor to highlight striking quotes, to find a compelling storyline and to generate automatic subtitles so that he can find the golden nuggets among hundreds of hours of video and audio.

About Rogier Kappers

Rogier Kappers is a renowned Dutch documentary director and producer. He has 25 years of experience in creating and producing high-quality documentaries. His most famous documentary, Lomax The Songhunter, won him the Golden Calf (the highest Dutch film prize), and an Emmy nomination.

Currently, Rogier is producing “Glass”, a story about his dream of being a street musician. 

Transcription - to Find the Needle in the Haystack

When creating high-quality documentaries, filmmakers and producers usually conduct long hours of conversations and interviews to gather insights they can use to build a striking storyline. Usually, only a small fraction of the conversations are used in the final film piece and it is a tedious process to find those fragments that make the difference between a mere documentary and an award-winning piece of art. Just like finding the needle in the haystack.

Transcription of the conversations helps to call quotes back to memory, to find audio- and video fragments and to build a storyline that captures the attention of the viewers. Within the transcripts, the most compelling elements are highlighted. Afterwards, those audio and video elements are put together in the final version of the documentary. 

Manual vs. Automatic Transcription

For earlier documentaries and projects, Rogier Kappers used to hire students and transcribers to help him transcribe up to hundreds of hours of audio and video material. This process was a complex project in itself as multiple transcribers have to be managed to work together. When so many people are involved, it is difficult to manage deadlines, to generate standardized transcripts and to maintain a high level of quality Rogier reported. On top of the complexity, manual transcription can be costly and usually takes 4-5 hours of work per hour of interview.

For his most recent documentary, Rogier started using AmberScript.

AmberScript delivers automatically generated transcripts in only a fraction of the time that manual transcribers use. Rogier can then quickly scroll through lengthy conversations to refresh his memory and to find those fragments that are useful for the documentary. The search function makes it possible to find moments in conversations where a crucial topic is discussed. “AmberScript changes the way you can approach transcription. Before automatic transcription, you had to listen again and again to get to the right point in a conversation. Now you can simply click on the search function and you have an overview!”

What’s more, automatic transcription can save a lot of time, stress and money. In order to transcribe all his material, Rogier now pays only a fraction of the cost that he budgeted for earlier documentaries. 

Although it’s not yet 100% perfect, automatic transcription is always better than the way we did transcription before” Rogier indicates. “It’s definitely faster and cheaper. Also, it is so much less work for yourself because you don’t have to manage all those transcribers, you don’t have to pay an agency but you can still find all the relevant pieces in your audio and video material”.