Why & How We’re Modernizing Paper Edits for Filmmakers

Prabhas Pokharel
January 2022

Why & How We’re Modernizing Paper Edits for Filmmakers

Documentary Filmmakers, Still Making Paper Edits? We Built A Better and Faster Way

Paper edits are an essential step of the production process for interview-based filmmaking — whether you're making a documentary film, telling branded stories, editing interviews, or "lightly scripted" content Paper edits let you quickly put together a coherent story from hours of material before moving into a video editing application to put the visuals together. And they're great for collaboration – everyone can work with word processors, so you can involve a wide variety of stakeholders in the process.

But paper edits can also be extremely frustrating and cumbersome to work with.

Even though they make it smooth to get to the first pass of the story, there's no guarantee that what looks good on paper also works as video. The "guess and check" process inherent to paper edits can introduce a lot of unnecessary iteration and slow down the delivery timeline. The process of creating a string-out from paper edits – timestamp by timestamp – takes forever, and is tedious work. And if you're working collaboratively, it's a nightmare once you move from paper to video. You either have to re-train everyone on a new video-based feedback process, OR mark up the paper edit according to video edits, get feedback on paper, and translate back. Ugh.

What if you could keep what makes paper editing great, and get rid of the painful parts? That's exactly what we've created with Reduct.Video

Reduct delivers super accurate and fast transcription for your footage. We stitch transcript and video precisely, so you make paper edits with instant playback. It requires no video background and is packed with collaborative features so anyone can be a part of the process. And with our NLE integrations, turning over the paper edit into string-outs is a few clicks, not days of tedious work.

In this post, we discuss how Reduct has modernized the paper edit workflow, and explain how to use our platform to get to a rough cut 10x faster than with traditional video editing tools.

Reduct's word-based video editing platform requires no training because it lets you edit video in the same way you'd edit a word document. To see how you can use Reduct to speed up video editing and improve team collaboration, get started with a free trial.

Traditional Paper Edits – gotta love them, and yet...

Unscripted, and "lightly scripted" content

A quick sidebar before we go on – we are talking about the documentary-inspired paper editing process, which is useful for unscripted or lightly scripted content. These kinds of paper edits are often not appropriate for small video editing projects, inexperienced editors, or filmmakers with scripted footage.

Unscripted content is exactly as the name sounds — footage that's shot without a script, like interviews or observational footage. Think documentary filmmaking. "Lightly scripted" content is footage that has a loose script – prompts and questions to guide natural dialogue, not a screenplay to act out.

Making paper edits can be useful for those teams working with unscripted or lightly scripted footage because paper edits:

  • Let filmmakers review lots of footage at once — you can easily analyze large batches of material and put together complex narrative(s) from what you captured.
  • Allow teams to leverage the easy-to-use nature of paper to structure and restructure the story — in the old days, teams would actually cut the transcript into strips and physically rearrange them into a new narrative.
  • In teams with separate creative / story production & post-production departments, paper edits allow the story producers to work efficiently and hand off a proto-edit to post-production.
  • Make it possible for clients, producers, and directors to participate in the process since everyone can use word processing software and add comments.

Despite so much to love, paper edits are also awful in other respects, creating unnecessary iteration and delays.

Not everything that looks good on paper looks good in the video — Is the person looking at the camera? How is the tone of voice and inflection? Is the emotional cadence right? It can take weeks to discover some of these issues. There can often be a huge delay between the "guess" of the paper edit, and the "check" of the assembly cut.

After paper edits are wrapped up, they have to be turned into assembly cuts for further editing. This is a tedious process that can take 3 or 4 days depending on the length of the content. If your paper edits don't work on video, you may have to repeat the paper edit process, send the requested edits off to the video editor, wait for edits to be made, and re-review.

Translating the paper feedback process once you get to the video is also not straightforward. You either have to re-train everyone on a new video-based feedback process or maintain synchronicity between the paper edits and the video edits every time a change is made. Oof.

How Reduct Provides A Better Way to Do Paper Edits

In Reduct, video footage and transcripts are stitched together, word for word. You can just click on any word – whether in the original transcript or paper edit – and instantly play the video back.

The best part about this is that any time you make an edit on paper, you can play it back and instantly check that it works. Hollywood cinematographers have called it a "thrilling" way of working with transcripts.

Instead of tediously reproducing timestamps in an NLE, our integrations turn days of work into a few clicks. Using our Premiere Extension, you can even re-link back to high-resolution source footage (including multi-cam footage!) when importing the paper edit into your NLE.

Reduct's collaborative features, including share pages and Presence, also help teams in their collaborative process. (We have more coming soon: Contact us if you are interested in extending paper editing-like collaborative workflows through later stages of editing.)

Let's talk more about how to do paper edits in Reduct.

Making the Paper Edit in Reduct

After you upload your video files to Reduct, we begin the transcription process – you can choose between human or computer transcription. Computer transcripts offer state-of-the-art accuracy (currently in the 85% range), are editable, and ready in about 15 minutes. Our professional human transcription services offer highly accurate transcripts (99%+) that they can trust, and we guarantee a 24-hour turnaround no matter the length of your video footage. (Computer transcripts are available as a "draft" for any human transcription.)

You can learn more about Reduct's video to text transcription services in our other post.

Once your transcript is ready, you can start reviewing. Here's where Reduct makes things really convenient.

As you review, you can use our Highlight feature to highlight all of the most important and memorable moments in your transcript (a.k.a. Everything you may want to use for your video project).

This works just like it would on paper or in a word document — you use your cursor to highlight text. Then our software does the heavy lifting by pulling all of your highlights as video clips and saving them under the Highlights tab. (For those of you who are familiar with video logging, you can think of using highlights as logging all of the important moments in your footage.)

Pro Tip:You can also add tags to Highlights as you review your transcript to categorize clips, group related research findings, identify patterns amongst video footage, and improve organization. Read our other post for more tips on editing interview videos.

You can use your Highlights to put together a story from your footage. Our Reels builder lets you drag and drop video clips into a sequence and preview your story as you go. You don't have to worry about making perfect cuts, either, as our software creates seamless transitions between clips so your footage flows.

After you've laid out the rough cut, you can use our Strikethrough feature to do some light polishing before pushing your video into another editor for more advanced touch-ups. Strikethrough lets you edit out sections of video, like tangents, or small phrases and filler words by striking through transcript text.

When you make a cut, our software automatically removes that footage from your Reduct Reel. But don't worry, all cuts are non-destructive so you can undo changes at any point.

You can work with teams on Reduct Reels and communicate on edits in real-time (more on that below), and we let you rearrange as many times as you need until you've made the perfect rough cut.

Got a story that's almost there, but needs a phrase or two to make the transition? You can use Reduct's Fuzzy Search feature to scan back through all of your footage and make sure you've found all of the content that's relevant to your story. You can use Fuzzy Search across all of your transcripts, and it's really useful because it searches by concept instead of limiting your search to exact terms — for example, if you search "sports" it'll also bring up results related to football, basketball, and baseball — so you can quickly find everything related to your search query.

Then if you find any additional footage you want to include, you can make a highlight and insert the video clip into your highlight reel in just a couple of seconds.

You can also insert text slides to your reel if you want to include more information for viewers or add titles/transitions between clips. You can also use title text slides as placeholders for multi-cam or b-roll footage before exporting to Adobe Premiere Pro or Apple Final Cut Pro X.

Note: Reduct automatically adds captions to your Reduct Reels by pulling transcript text. You can disable captions if you want or download the corresponding SRT file to use on other platforms.

Bringing your Paper Edit into Adobe Premiere (and other NLEs) when paper edits are wrapped in Reduct, the next step is to take them into your NLE, reconnect to your source footage, and continue with the video editing process.

Reduct works best with Adobe Premiere Pro. A common way for video editing software to connect to an NLE is by using XML files, which have some inherent limitations. Reduct uses this XML-based workflow for Final Cut Pro, but integrates natively with Adobe Premiere Pro via an extension.

Our Premiere Pro extension allows you to copy and paste a link to a reel (ie, your paper edit) in Reduct and import it into a Premiere timeline. In the process, you can re-link the footage in Reduct to high-resolution source files in your Premiere project. This means that you can re-link paper edits made in Reduct to multicam footage in Premiere.


Once your video is in Premiere, you have access to all of Premiere's features for working with multicam footage. Your post-production team can now use Premiere to add in B-roll, tighten up the storyline, and do all of the visual and cinematic editing they do to create the final cut of your story.

Collaborating with Teams in Reduct

As we mentioned earlier, Reduct speeds up the video editing process by allowing you to get all hands on deck when building the rough cut and providing tools to facilitate team communication.

For starters, everything in Reduct is done on the cloud, so all of your teammates can join your video projects by simply creating a login and jumping into Reduct. You can use permissions to add team members to your video projects and control exactly how they contribute. You can find more details on user permissions here.


Our Presence feature lets you track what other users are doing in real-time so you can work on video analysis and editing in unison without stepping on each other's toes. Our collaborative video editor lets you get lots of minds around how the story should be told and makes the entire rough cut video editing process smoother.

Reduct also makes it easy to share Reduct Reels with external collaborators for feedback. We simplify sharing by assigning every Reduct Reel a unique share link. You can send this share link across email platforms, messengers, and workspace collaboration tools.

End users are directed to the Reduct platform where they can view your reel with its interactive transcript. Viewers can then send you comments and you can make the appropriate changes based on their notes. We provide unlimited sharing so you can run through the feedback process as much as you need without extra fees.

Try Reduct for More Efficient & Collaborative Video Editing

Reduct was created to make it easier to work with video: Our platform delivers high-quality transcripts and lets you edit video footage by editing the transcript. This not only makes video editing more accessible for non-video editors, but it also has huge benefits for experienced video editors who want to streamline their process.

Our video text editing tool lets you shave weeks off your video production timeline by allowing storytellers to get farther along in the editing process much quicker. Instead of spending days, if not weeks, in the rough cut stage, you can work with all of the relevant stakeholders in your project (i.e., producers, directors, other editors) to get input sooner, make higher confidence edits, and create high-quality stories.

To see our platform in action and learn more about how Reduct can supplement your video editing workflow, get started with a free trial.

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