Digital Paper Edit

Experimental tool that allows producers to create 'rough cuts' of audio and video programmes, working from an automatically generated transcript.


Can we enable journalists to assemble digital 'rough cuts' of their audio/video interviews from an automatically generated transcript?

The purpose of Digital Paper Edit is to enable journalists to quickly and easily generate ‘rough cuts’ of audio and video programmes that can later be refined using craft editing software.

Web interface with a left-side panel showing an automatically generated transcript with a piece of highlighted text and a pop-up window with an 'Add to Transcript option. A right-side panel showing a media player and the final programme script below.

An early version of the Digital Paper Edit interface.

The Digital Paper Edit web application uses the BBC's internal speech-to-text service to automatically generate time-coded interview transcripts.

When journalists assemble their final scripts by highlighting, cutting and pasting from these automatically generated transcripts, the tool preserves the time codes from the original audio or video content. It then generates a media preview based on the journalists' final script.

The preview can be exported in a format that is compatible with craft editing software, so that specialised audio and video editors can refine the 'rough cut' once a producer has already selected the content they want in the programme.

The opportunity

Traditional production workflows typically involve the following steps:

  1. Manually transcribing interviews with corresponding time codes;
  2. Cutting and pasting segments of the transcribed interviews into a master document, either in a word processing application or using physical paper;
  3. Importing interview audio and/or video into a craft editing software programme, such as Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere Pro;
  4. Using 'skim and search' methods to navigate to the time codes corresponding to interview segments in the master segment and cutting them to the appropriate length.

The benefits

Digital Paper Edit will allow video producers with no knowledge of video production software to efficiently create initial cuts of a documentary or long-form programme. This frees up specialised editors to focus on making refined versions of programme packages.

In addition to time-saving benefits when producing long-form programmes, we believe this tool could also improve the efficiency of creating shorter content clips, such as daily production for the Six and Ten News.

Open Source Resources


  • We will soon begin user testing our initial prototype, working with journalists across various BBC radio programmes.


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