Tuesday, March 1, 2011

McDictate Speech: godsend for documentary makers

A few years ago I finished my first feature documentary which I directed and for which I did the camerawork. My 70-year old mother did the research and together we edited the film. (along with a very capable film and documentary editor) We co-produced this no-budget doc and although it was selected for the Dutch Film Festival and aired on a major Public Broadcaster, we did not even break even. But I'm not complaining- the film is here and here to stay.
Since there was no money, we did everything ourselves: preproduction, production and in postproduction we were thankfully assisted by aforementioned editor.

A very important part in making documentaries is spotting your footage and writing out all the interviews, word by word. You forget so much of what has been filmed and said, that being able to read back what has been shot and said, creates new insights and story perspectives. Moreover, you can actually search for specific words and scenes like: 'mother' when you are editing a sequence about your protagonist's childhood, for instance. You can imagine what a timesaver that is compared to rummaging through 150 hours of footage.
In our case, my mother wrote out every interview we shot. There were 16 of them(!). She spent weeks and weeks writing out the interviews. Now it's a few years later and I am in the final stages of my new documentary I am Innocent and there is somewhere around 40 days of footage and 30 hours of interviews. There is no budget to pay someone to write out the interviews so I am looking at long, midnight hours of typing... but wait... McSpeech Dictate to the rescue!
I was sceptical of how it would work in practice but this software is first class! All you need is a USB mic, the software and a Mac. There is a 5 minute training session for the software to analyze your speech (just read a text into the mic) and you're ready to go. I've spent only 30 minutes with it so far, and it works like a charm. This will save documentary makers a lot of work. At only US $249,- this is a bargain. Highly recommended. (sorry I didn't find this earlier, mom)

MacSpeech Dictate in practice from Filmersblog.nl on Vimeo.


  1. Hi Jeroen.
    Very cool software.
    Finally in english.
    I hope this will lead to a lot more traffic for your blog worldwide.
    Its funny, I now find myself checking out your blog before I check Mr Blooms site, He doesn't seem to be bloging so much recently.
    Keep up the good work,
    I would still like to know more about that Zeiss Jena set of lense's you recently found.
    Have you used them yet?
    Are you planning to mount them 550D or Lumix.
    What was the mount on that set, M42,contax,ETC.?

    Grz Neal NOS Den haag.

  2. Thanks for your kind words, Neal. I used my lenses once in the park but nothing I wanted to put up on the blog.(I forgot my viewfinder...) I'm waiting for my adapter and see how they work out with the GH2. It's M42 but has EOS adapters. I've also been looking to see if EOS-adapter to GH2-adapter was an option -so I could have both adapters on and would only have to change once if I changed camera's- but that's not going to work.
    Hope to post some lens-footage soon! (has your slider arrived yet?) Jeroen

  3. No Not yet.Still waiting.Shipping was estimated as 1st 2nd march. I guess a week or 2.Will let you know when it gets here.
    grz Neal