The New Paradigm: Fast, Great and Free

For my entire production life, I’ve heard the trope that you can have any two of “Fast, Good or Cheap,” and it has been true that entire time. Except that today’s release of Lumberjack Builder version four completely breaks the paradigm. For the first time you can have Fast, Great (accurate) transcripts for free, completely breaking the long held “truism.”

Lumberjack Builder is the onl, text-drive video editor for video professionals, and the one with the longest history. When editing video using the text from transcripts is the core of your app, the cost of transcripts is very relevant to the success of the app.

The history of transcription has adhered to the Golden Triangle: “Fast, Good, Cheap, pick two.” With the first release of Builder, before the modern era of AI transcription, Lumberjack members had to bring their own transcripts in a world of $1-2 a minute transcription. It was slow, taking more than 24 hours usually, it was good because they were done by humans, but it was expensive and few could afford transcription. We didn’t even get to pick two!

Advance a couple of years and AI transcription became available. It was usually faster than run time, accuracy was acceptable and became better, but at 35c a minute for the built-in transcription service in Builder at version two, cost was still a significant barrier. Fast, good, and cheap adhered to expectations of only being able to pick two.

My partner Greg Clarke and I have always held the view that transcription would inevitably become good and free. That’s why Lumberjack System is a membership, so we could continue to add features and apps at no additional cost to members. Since our first release in 2014, with an iOS app and the Lumberyard app, we’ve added three more desktop apps, including the innovative Builder NLE, and added hundreds of new features.

With the release of Builder version four today (Dec 8, 2022) the vision of being able to offer free transcriptions is a reality. Builder now has a speech-to-text AI ‘model’ built-in, which means Builder can deliver fast,* really accurate at better than 99% accurate (in English) transcription at no additional cost. Fast, Great and Free.

*Speed of transcription is particularly fast on Apple Silicon, typically about six times faster than real time, while a 2019 iMac runs at just faster than real time.

Unlimited, highly accurate and free transcriptions rewrite the old paradigm. Fast, Great and Free is the new paradigm, and while this is the first example I’m aware of, I expect that AI will continue to demolish the old rules and replace them with a new era of Fast, Great and Free.