New Transcript/Caption Workflow in Premiere Pro

Posted on by Larry

Adobe released a new transcript/caption workflow with the July, 2021, release of Premiere Pro. While captions were a part of Premiere for a while now, the automatic speech-to-text transcription is new. Here’s an overview of how this works.

BEFORE YOU START

While you can create transcripts at any time, there are two places where transcripts will be the most helpful:

Let’s take a look at both, however, there’s a glaring omission in creating text transcripts that make them far less useful than they could be. (I’ll cover this when we get to exporting transcripts.)

TRANSCRIBE BEFORE YOU START

Both transcripts and captions are created from clips in the Timeline.

Edit the clip, or clips, you want to transcribe into the Timeline. Make sure the audio volume in the clip is loud enough to hear. And, if there are tracks that just contain sound effects or music, mute them.

NOTE: As part of the transcription process, if you assign tags to your clips – like Dialogue, Effects, Music… you can specify that Premiere just create transcripts of Dialogue clips. This means you don’t need to mute other tracks.

NOTE: To mute a track, click the M icon in the track header for that track.

Select the timeline, so there is a blue box around it, then switch to the Text panel and click the Transcript button in the top left.

NOTE: The Text panel is new with this release of Premiere Pro. There used to be a Caption window in its place, which is now gone.

Click the Create Transcription button to start the transcript process.

The Create Transcript window appears. Most of the time, the defaults are fine but, if you are working with a language other than English, be sure to set the Language menu correctly.

Then click the blue Transcribe button to start the process.

Premiere extracts the audio from the sequence and sends it to the Cloud for transcription. As well, Premiere displays screens indicating the transcription process.

After a bit, which varies depending upon the length of the clip, the transcript appears.

To change the name of the speaker, click *** Unknown and select Edit Speakers

To change the name of the default speaker, click the pencil and add the new name.

To add an additional speaker, click the Add Speaker button.

NOTE: This window is very small. I added five new speakers and didn’t realize it because they weren’t displayed in this small space. To see a new speaker, scroll down using the small scroll bar to the right of the X.

To delete a speaker, click the X next to their name.

When done, click Save.

To change the speaker associated with a paragraph of the transcript, click the speaker name and pick the correct name from the list.

To edit a transcript, say to change a word, correct a spelling or add punctuation, click the paragraph you want to change and, like any text editor, edit it.

When the time comes to do something with that transcript, you have two choices:

Export Transcript is used to create a .prtranscript file that can be opened in the Transcript panel using the Import transcript option. Use this when moving the transcript from one Premiere system to another.

NOTE: Use Import Transcript from this same menu to import a transcript that was exported from another Premiere system.

Export to Text File. Use this option to create a .txt file for proof-reading, to share with a client, or to create written content for your video.

NOTE: Select Display pauses as […] to display pauses as ellipses so that the transcript shows where there are gaps in the dialog. This is very useful to know where you’ll probably need B-roll.

The problem – and it is a BIG! problem – is that the exported text file does not indicate speakers or timecode. So it essentially useless as a guide for client review or creating rough cuts.

It is my hope that Adobe fixes this before too long – because transcripts are not very valuable unless we can reference them back to the source footage or sequence.

NOTE: Adobe does allow searching for text associated with a single clip in the Text window. But that’s not the same as leafing through transcripts for multiple clips.

CREATING CAPTIONS

The second major use of transcripts is in creating captions. The first part of the process – creating and editing the text itself is the same.

Once a transcript is created and edited, coverting into captions is amazingly easy. Click the Create Captions button.

The Create Captions dialog appears. Most of the time, I just accept the defaults, but you are welcome to tweak.

Several things happen at once:

At this point, adjusting and trimming captions is the same as earlier versions of Premiere.

NOTE: When trimming captions, always use the red Roll tool. Trimming with a yellow Ripple tool will knock all downstream captions out of sync.

SUMMARY

The new transcript/caption workflow is fast and easy. Best of all, Adobe is building the cost of transcription into your monthly subscription fee; at least for now.

This new speech-to-text transcription and caption workflow in Adobe Premiere Pro is fast and easy to use, with the potential to be extremely helpful. But Adobe also needs to add the ability to export timecode and speaker names along with the transcript for this to be truly useful.


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17 Responses to New Transcript/Caption Workflow in Premiere Pro

  1. Jeff says:

    I was so excited to try the new speech-to-text transcription, and so disappointed when I opened the txt.
    file and saw that there was no timecode or speaker references. A glaring omission, indeed. On the bright side, I compared the Adobe transcription to a Sonix transcription of the same interview and can report that the Adobe transcription was slightly better in a few places with word recognition and slightly less accurate in some places with speaker recognition; par for the course with cloud transcription comparisons. I’m crossing my fingers that Adobe fixes the timecode and speaker issue in a timely fashion. It would be very cool if they eventually introduced some of the more advanced editing features that Sonix provides, but you can’t expect everything for free 🙂

    Larry, I wish you an easy move and hope you settle in well in your new location.

    Jeff

    • Larry says:

      Jeff:

      Thanks for your comments and kind words.

      Yes, I was REALLY surprised that, for a feature that went through such a long beta, the inability to export timecode and speakers was not corrected sooner.

      This is a nice feature, but this needs to get fixed.

      Larry

  2. David S says:

    Good walk-through, Larry. You saved us some serious wasted time.
    The speech-to-text is a great feature, almost. The omission of TC makes this useless for our rough cuts, as you mentioned. I’m hoping Adobe will soon add the ability to select “Export to text file with TC” in the export window.
    Until then, we will not be using this feature very much. Transcription services such as 3Play are great for captions, allow editing within their interface, and are quite inexpensive for shorter projects.

  3. Mark Suszko says:

    Does the captioning give punctuation and capitalization, or do I have to go back thru the entire dang thing and manually fix every consarned sentence? If no, then this is hardly an improvement over bumming free captioning off youtube, unless it’s considerably faster. About how long did sensei take to transcribe/caption a half hour of speech?

    • Larry says:

      Mark:

      No service does punctuation correctly – Adobe is no different from anyone else. So, yup, proof-reading is essential. The big differences to Adobe vs. YouTube are:

      * Tight integration into Premiere
      * Higher accuracy – YouTube is notorious for bloopers
      * Instant convertibility into captions

      Larry

  4. I’m testing the transcription feature on a recent interview. Results will be back in about an hour. I’m curious about security in the cloud though. Who has access to the transcript besides me?

  5. Lon says:

    There is a workaround for the missing TC from the text file export of the captions, though it is a bit kludgey. If you create captions from the transcription, you can then export the captions as an .srt file. If you edit the captions before exporting the .srt, you can combine the two-line default clips into larger paragraphs. Which essentially is what the transcription text export should have been. The editing of the captions into essentially a timecoded transcript is just a bit time-consuming.

  6. Evan says:

    Can PP import a txt file with the speakers transcript that does not have timecode,
    analyse it – ideally offline, and create captions (closed or open) at the right timings & export to srt?

    • Larry says:

      Evan:

      No. Captions require timecode. There’s no way to sync a text file with project audio to create captions unless timecode is part of the import.

      Larry

  7. Steven Gowin says:

    I found the “kludge” method too with .srt files but the timecode notations happen at intervals so short that reading the transcript is hard. Hopefully export to text WITH timecode will happen soon.

  8. Shane says:

    One work around for the Timecode missing with Transcription… And that is to convert and use the Captions. Merge what you want together and export an SRT. Open in a text editor, add the speaker names and save it off

    • Larry says:

      Shane:

      The only problem with this approach is that if you are handling a client two hours of rough footage to help find selects, all that timecode gets in the way of reading the transcript. And getting rid of it is not easy.

      Larry

  9. If you open the SRT file that premiere exports in another subtitle program like Annotation Transcriber you can output an RTF with time-code file that at least gives you the TC for reference for review purposes. This is also handy for creating multiple language translations for a wider subtitle coverage.

    Ideally Premiere should build in support for RTF with time-code.

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