ScriptSync Demo

I just returned from a two-hour introduction to ScriptSync, put together by Keycode Media and presented by Avid’s Michael Krulik. The demo was quite well thought out, with laptops available to everybody present and a good projector so we could follow along. Krulik did an excellent job and, as a bonus, went over several other new or recently added features. I’ll go over some of that in an upcoming post.

I came away impressed with the scripting features, but not totally convinced. The technology is slick, simple and intuitive. You export your script from Final Draft and import the resulting text file into the Media Composer. You then select a portion of your script and drag clips to it, and the script gets “lined” with those clips. Then you simply turn on ScriptSync, and it automatically listens to the sound, reads the script and marks everything up.

The process is quite quick — over 20x real-time in a very informal test I did. Once the script is lined you can use it to select takes or readings and, if you’re game, cut from it. Once you’ve got a rough cut you can navigate to any point in the sequence and, with a keypress, jump to that portion of the script and compare takes. All in all, it’s quite functional, and I imagine that for certain shows it’ll be a lifesaver.

There were a few caveats. ScriptSync can’t deal with dialog that isn’t in the script. If an actor goes back and repeats a line or section ScriptSync won’t figure that out. You have to create a subclip for the repeat, or you’ve got to mark (or “mimic”) that section by hand. And it can’t deal with adlibs. The solution is to enter the adlib a word processor, cut and paste it to into your script and then do your mimic — you can’t actually edit the script itself. In addition, ScriptSync puts several marks in each hunk of dialog, one for every line of text. So, if a speech is five lines long, you get five marks and you have to delete them by hand. Finally, ScriptSync works best with a very well formatted script, where all the dialog is indented properly. If there are mistakes in the indentation there will be mistakes in the mimic.

These aren’t fatal problems, but they mean that script entry is still going to require some hand work. Nevertheless, the people in the class who had used Avid’s old manual script features thought the new version was miraculous and would save a lot of time.

Bottom line: if you like the idea of working directly from the script, it just got a lot easier to do. I’m eager to try it. Line-by-line editing feels pretty rigid to me, but having the script organized this way might get interesting for recutting, especially when you want to quickly compare alternate readings.

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