Descript has launched a revamped interface for its desktop app designed to make the often arcane process of editing audio and video simpler for non-specialist creators and businesses. The five-year-old San Francisco-based company also announced it has raised $50 million in a Series C round led by the OpenAI Startup Fund.
The company billed the new interface as “its biggest product update ever.” The Descript app works on both Windows and Mac, and can be used offline for downloaded projects, but does most of its heavy lifting in the cloud, boosted by artificial intelligence tools.
“The stage is set for video to take its place alongside text as something everyone uses to create and communicate — the only things holding it back are the tools,” said Descript CEO Andrew Mason in a release. “With the new Descript, we’ve replaced the drudgery of timeline editing with a tool that’s as familiar as the word processor — so you can make, edit, and share video without breaking your creative flow.”
The biggest change is a shift to what the company calls “Scenes,” as part of its broader “Storyboard” interface update. Rather than force editing through a traditional timeline of audio and/or video tracks, each Scene represents a bit of dialog to which an image or video is attached. The Scenes can be reordered, and text within them edited, shortening the attached image or video.
Among the other new functions are:
- a library of stock media that includes “millions” of assets in video, GIFs, GIF stickers, images, sound effects, and music;
- templates that can quickly set up layouts, title sequences and clips for social sharing;
- a recorder that now automatically breaks up multi-person recordings into multiple tracks for easy editing and export into DAWs such as Logic Pro and Premiere Pro;
- a green screen function that can quickly clip out the subject of a video from the background and substitute a new background from the stock media or other sources;
- A writing mode that can be used to create a script with attached video and images that in turn can leverage the program’s speech synthesis capabilities to create a cloned version of the creator’s voice, add other text-to-speech voices, or do a live overdub.
The program also has simplified functions to improving recording quality, the ability to automatically remove “filler words” such as “you know,” conversion to vertical and square social-media formats, as well as subtitles, screen and webcams recording, and collaboration capabilities.
The pro version costs $30 a month, and many of the gee-whiz capabilities are only available through that subscription tier.
The program is one of an emerging class of AI-powered content-creation tools designed to reduce the barriers to entry and complexity for non-specialists. Many are either part-time creators or have that responsibility as part of their work duties, particularly in smaller organizations. The program can either be used for editing video content or audio-only projects such as podcasts and audiograms.
For those classes of content creators, whose numbers are burgeoning across the internet, powerful professional software packages from companies such as Apple
Also notable is the company’s latest funding round, a particularly large raise amid a bad economic climate for tech firms as layoffs and spending cuts hit even the biggest companies. The $50 million Series C round brings to $100 million the amount of investment capital Descript has raised. Backers of the company’s latest round include some of tech’s biggest names.
The lead investor is a fund backed by OpenAI, a non-profit focused on integrating artificial intelligence into creative purposes, most famously with its DALL-E 2 text-to-image generator. The organization is backed by Microsoft
“We started the OpenAI Startup Fund to accelerate the impact companies building on powerful AI will have on the world, and we’re particularly excited about tools that empower people creatively,” said OpenAI COO Brad Lightcap, who manages the startup fund. “It’s clear from using Descript and talking to customers that Descript is breaking down barriers between idea and creation by extending video editing capabilities to an entirely new class of creators.”
Other participants in the Series C Round include Silicon Valley heavyweights Andreessen Horowitz, Redpoint Ventures, Spark Capital, Twitter and Medium founder Ev Williams, Justine “iJustine” Ezarik and Daniel Gross. Descript CEO Mason is co-founder of Groupon.