Reality and Documentary

Lumberjack System was initially developed for a reality TV show. It allows for easy, efficient logging that has huge benefits in developing story for reality and documentary projects.

Live Logging

For Reality and Documentary, Lumberjack System enhances the workflow by Live Logging during the shoot for almost instant organization, and a head start on story beats.

Logging real-time with Lumberjack ensures that interviews, activities and b-roll are logged and that the logs are available to the editor with 100% accuracy and minimal effort. A tiny investment during the shoot and you can start the edit with fully logged clips in well organized Bins or Events.

Live Logging will save you more than $180 for every hour of footage you shoot, just by logging during the shoot, instead of in an expensive environment. Check the Return on Investment (ROI) here.

Lumberjack goes beyond Event/Bin organization and provides you with selects string-outs to kick-start your editing.

All that Live Logging is available in Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro X within seconds of importing your media (via the Lumberyard app), but will also automatically align with your transcripts in Builder NLE: a better way to work with transcripts.

Editing Text with Transcripts

Lumberjack Builder NLE is a text-driven video and audio editor for building stores with transcripts. Builder NLE solves the problem of working with transcripts to create Stories, not just obtaining the transcripts. (Although you can order transcripts in Builder and get them back faster than real time.)

As there is no conform time when returning to your NLE, Builder will save you about $500 for every conform you don’t have to do! Check the Return on Investment (ROI) here.

For Builder NLE we rethought the entire way we work with transcripts.

  • Transcripts in minutes in 30 supported languages, and only pay for the minutes you use
  • Or use your own transcripts in any language
  • Keyword text ranges and identify People
  • Powerful (and unique) Keyword Manager
  • Comprehensive search tools to find exactly the quote you need for this Story beat
  • Drag-and-drop paragraphs to make a story. Trim, edit and re-order until it’s perfect.
  • Send to Premiere Pro CC or Final Cut Pro X for finishing.

Download Lumberjack Builder NLE.

Operational details for Builder NLE are in the Builder Help.

Lumberjack in Action: stories from real world projects

Live Logging for Reality and Documentary - in Detail

When I first had plans to produce a reality TV show on, and about, a solar boat journey, I quickly realized that the only way we could meet our production goals, was to log as we shot.

That simple insight, along with the lessons learned from Final Cut Pro X, grew into today’s Lumberjack System, which now supports Premiere Pro as well.

In addition to that basic Keywording mode, Lumberjack now has Story mode for building story string-outs from logged Bins/Events. Lumberjack Builder is designed for documentary workflows using transcripts.

Simply click a few checkboxes during the shoot, and you'll
start the editing process with well organized media and
a head start on the editing.

Before you shoot an interview, set up the keywords for the people, places and topics you plan on covering during the interview while your at a full size keyboard.

Keyword Mode

During the shoot you can easily add and log additional keywords as they come up.

Similarly you can add a b-roll activity keyword and content keywords for the shots as they're taken.

The footage is imported to your NLE as usual.  XML is exported to the Lumberyard application where the keyword ranges logged are matched with the footage information in the XML using the time-of-of day from both.

You can also choose to have Lumberyard create string-outs (pancake timelines) for People, Places or Content keywords.

Back in FCPX there will be a new, fully logged event, with folders for the Location, People, Activity and Content keyword collections.

In Premiere Pro there will be logged Clips with Markers with time ranges, representing Keyword Ranges. Markers are colored to indicate the type of keyword being represented:

  • Blue Markers represent Location Keywords
  • Purple Markers represent Person Keywords
  • Yellow Markers represent Activity Keywords
  • Orange Markers represent Other Keywords

If you selected them, you'll also find string-outs for each person or content keyword selected, which not only gives you a read on where the main stories lie, but also a starting point for editing to begin. You'll notice that each person is identified with a basic title drawn from then person keyword, to avoid confusion.

That's the basics of Lumberjack Keyword Mode - click a few checkboxes during the shoot and you'll be
more organized than you thought possible in the time,
and have a head start on finding and editing the main themes of your project.

Story Mode

Because projects can extend over many years, Lumberyard offers Story mode. Take already logged Bins/Events from the NLE - whether they've been keyworded in Lumberjack Keyword Mode, or entered in the NLE, back to Lumberyard to string-out keyword-based timelines for the logged content. Get a head start on finding the main story themes from the entire project, while still logging as the shoot progresses.

Logged Clips are Well Organized in Seconds

Starting by importing your media to your NLE. Create Multicam or Synchronized Clips (if appropriate) and export XML to Lumberyard. What is selected will be exported.

The Lumberyard app works transparently with Final Cut Pro X XML and XML from Premiere Pro CC.


In less than two minutes, the Lumberyard app has processed the logs and sends a logged Event back to Final Cut Pro X.

All of the keywords are organized to make the select you want, easy to find:


Selects String-outs (a.k.a. Pancake Timelines) to Kick-start Your Editing

Starting with a well-organized Event puts you ahead of the game, ready to start assembling the selects logged in the field into preliminary string-outs.

Sort by duration - as above - and you can immediately see the topics with the largest amount of media. You can generate select string-outs for:

  • Person's Activities (One compound clip for each person with all their logged Activities)
  • Person's Other Keywords (One compound clip for each person with all their logged Other Keywords)
  • Activity (One compound clip for each logged Activity)
  • Other keywords - Content Keywords (One compound clip for each logged Other Keyword)

Within the string-out Lumberyard will (optionally) add a basic lower third title to identify each speaker, the first time they appear on screen. This example shows all the times interview subjects discussed the "Golden Age of Drag Racing":

In this next example, the string-out is for all mentions of "Multi-engine Dragsters".

A string-out is no substitute for an editor's skill, but getting started is easier than with an empty timeline!

Builder NLE for Editing Video with Transcripts

Builder is a broad suite of tools for using transcripts to build stories for documentary or reality television.

Lumberjack Builder NLE won a NewBay Best of Show Award from Digital Video at NAB 2018!!
We couldn't be happier or more proud that we happily "blew" people's minds!


Lumberjack Builder NLE solves the problem of working with transcripts, not just obtaining them, and builds on work we did in 2010 on an app called prEdit and our incorporation of transcripts into FCPX in 2015.

Which lead us to the conclusion that even a perfect transcript into FCP X isn’t all that helpful, nor is Premiere Pro, despite the Text Panel. 
Neither NLE has transcript-friendly tools.

In Builder NLE we rethought the entire workflow. Starting with transcriptions:

  • Transcripts in minutes in multiple languages, or use existing transcripts with regular time stamps
  • Comprehensive tagging (Keywords) support, and a unique Keyword Manager
  • Edit Stories by editing text. As we use familiar text tools, you're also editing the video and audio for a conform free workflow.

Read more about the Builder NLE, or watch the short video above.