🎥 The Best New Way to Edit Multimedia — Wonder Tools
Descript is easy enough for beginners and a time-saver for anyone creating audio or video.
Descript is the best new multimedia editing tool for anyone who isn’t a professional multimedia editor. Read on for why it’s so useful, a summary of its best features, caveats, alternatives, and resources.
Summary: 6 things to know about Descript
Use it to: Edit a YouTube video, a podcast interview, or social videos.
Best features: Automatic AI-powered audio fixes and easy editing.
Platforms: Works for Windows and Mac. Not for mobile devices.
Pricing: Free for one transcription hour/month, then $12 to $24/month.
Caveats: Uneven template quality; screen recording lacks advanced features.
Alternatives: Runway, Adobe Podcast (not public yet), Kapwing.
How to edit with Descript
Import your audio or video and within a few seconds, Descript creates a transcript. Edit the text as you would in GDocs or Word. Delete an expletive, for example, and the corresponding audio disappears.
It used to take months to learn new audio or video editing software like Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere. With Descript, you can start within 30 minutes.
🛎️ Discover more time-saving resources in recent Wonder Tools posts: The New Notion AI, Scrintal for organizing ideas, and 3 new AI editing tools.
🌟 Descript’s 7 most useful features
1. Automatic fixes
Eliminate filler words. Descript automatically detects filler words like “umm” or “uhh." You can accept or reject suggestions to keep your audio sounding natural.
Get studio-quality sound anywhere. If background noise or a poor microphone mars your recording, Descript's AI can automatically improve the quality.
It’s easy to correct missing or misspoken words. Just type in a correction and Descript’s AI-powered Overdub feature can fill in the audio with a model of your own voice. That saves you from having to re-record something just to fix a small error. This feature grew out of Descript’s 2019 acquisition of Lyrebird, an early generative AI startup.
3. Collaborate Live
Edit with a colleague just as you’d work together on a Google Doc. No need to send big files or USB drives back and forth.
4. Flexible exports
After editing, send your piece directly to YouTube or a podcast-hosting service. You can also download an audio, video or transcript file.
5. Easy reformatting
Seamlessly turn an interview into an audiogram — a visual representation of audio — for sharing on Instagram, Twitter or any other social platform. Tip: Headliner is a great alternative for making audiograms.
6. A Library of Goodies
Descript has free background music, images, and video clips you can use in your multimedia. This is handy if you want a visual to accompany something in an interview or video piece but you haven’t shot your own footage.
7. Simple screen recording
The built-in screen recorder means you can create a teaching or presentation video from start to finish within Descript. Record anything on your computer and then add material from Descript’s library or your own visuals or audio.
🧵 See my expanded Twitter thread on the most useful Descript features
🎨 3 projects to try with Descript
Narrate a slide deck or a video explainer. Simple screen recorders like Loom.com — though great for quick video messages — don’t let you to layer images and video on top of your screen recordings. You can do that easily with Descript, then reformat your video to distribute to fit multiple platforms.
Edit an interview or demo video. I now use Descript to edit interviews I share in this newsletter (e.g. with Readwise’s co-founder & Scrintal’s CEO) and videos I create for my YouTube channel, which I’m expanding. Descript lets me focus on the substance of a video by editing the transcript rather than getting bogged down by technical details.
Share short social media teasers. You can create multiple sub-projects from anything you're working on in Descript, making it easy to cut together trailers, teasers or excerpts. The audio improvements you make when editing carry over to anything you excerpt from your original edit.
📺 Watch Descript’s 2-minute video demo👇
The library of title & annotation templates is more limited than what you’ll find in pro editing software, but you can make your own templates.
The screen recording isn’t as robust as other dedicated tools like Screenflow or Screencast-o-matic. It lacks advanced effects and detailed annotations.
Descript isn’t designed for hosting online meetings or recording remote interviews. I use Riverside.fm to record online interviews. I then export the footage to my laptop before importing it into Descript for editing. When I tried to send the footage directly from Riverside to Descript, I hit a bug.
Runway is an AI-powered video editor with unique features like built-in AI image generation, but it isn’t as simple as Descript.
Kapwing is an easy-to-use Web-based video editor with a variety of templates. It doesn’t enable text-based editing, but my daughter found it easy to learn in third grade, and it’s less intimidating than pro software.
Adobe Podcast (formerly Project Shasta) is still in waitlist-only mode. Like Descript, it enables text-based editing. For now, try out its AI capabilities with excellent new free tools for:
Resound is another option for removing filler words. Just upload an audio file you’ve recorded. Free while in beta.
Audacity is a free, open-source audio editing tool for anyone who likes old-style audio editing. It has advanced features for pros & help for beginners.
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💎 Learn more about Descript
Descript’s help center is excellent. The YouTube channel has helpful videos and a terrific 3-min demo video. To get going quickly, jump into the short interactive tutorial (log-in required).
Ashley Hamer’s list of 20+ AI-powered editing tools is a useful collection.
Descript is a very powerful tool. A bit of a learning curve, but nowhere near the likes of Premiere, etc and much more reasonably priced, to boot!
Ah, just the info I needed! Can't wait to try this out.