Obsidian for documentary scripts with lots of media

I make science documentaries. They involve organization of both written research, media. (video, images, charts, etc.), and the creation of a video script with scenes and metadata.

Just to engagement bait a bit, a lot of you have probably seen them. :grin:

These films use a lot of b-roll and stock footage, sometimes hundreds of clips. So a big part of my creative process is figuring out where to place media in the script.

The first system I built was using google docs.

  • Write script in google docs
  • Media uploaded to cloud media library.
  • Add comments on individual sentences with
    • media to be placed here
    • editing notes
    • captions, etc.
  • Record Voiceover
  • Submit to editor and he figures it out.

The big problem is the comments on google docs are not structured or searchable. So there’s no way to keep track of or get an overhead view of what media goes where.

Then I tried scrivener. I built a pretty good system there. Some advantages:

  • I could keep all of the research files, and script in the same browser.
  • Multipane editing Great for going back-and-forth
  • better organization of the script, I could split it up into segments with Metadata, and have lots of different views available.
  • The card view is great for visualizating a film. I add screenshots of media as thumbnails to all of the scenes and get a good ovehead view in card view.
  • Slightly more robust comment functionality for notating media placements and editing notes.

But obviously scrivener is a bit clunky and not very good for media management.

I am an absolute newb to obsidian, but just seeing some demonstration of its functionality I have a feeling obsidian could be revolutionary for this process. I can kind of picture an organized database of notes, script, and media alias files synced with the cloud library. All on one living canvas where I can really map out the structure of a film.

So my questions:

  1. Any advice?
  2. any helpful templates or links you can point me towards?
  3. Not sure if it’s appropriate to ask here, but if someone was an absolute wizard with obsidian, and is very confident they could build this functionality and help me get setup. I’d probably pay you a couple thousand bucks to help me.

Very cool! I have been using Obsidian for writing/planning an animated 3d short film. Since I am working alone, I can’t say that I rely on or even necessarily need everything to be on the cloud, but I understand that you are likely part of a large team and definitely see that being a key factor. Perhaps canvas could display media previews of these storage locations as website embeds.

Anyways, I agree that the canvas is key. I have been anticipating it for so, so long. It appears you arrived just on time. But in my experience before, I was able to build a decent system of organization using tags, links, and folders, which Dataview was able to extend. Like you mentioned, using metadata and having plenty of different “views” can be liberating. Obsidian’s query blocks are quite powerful in their own right especially using regex and/or the various search operators.

Another cool feature is being able to actually link to production files regardless of whether they are stored within your vault or not. This can just save navigation time sometimes and I see it as kind of a fail safe for when you return to something after being away from it for a while, assuming it hasn’t been moved, since these links are not automatically updated. I imagine you have a much more solid and sophisticated naming convention and organization system in place, and likely won’t need that, but it is worth knowing for when you are early in a project and going in a lot of different directions, storing things all over the place.

Anyways, good luck! I’d be very interested to hear more about what you come up with, and obviously am very curious about whether I’ve seen one of your films before.



I’m interested in this as well. I’m not clear how you are using Canvas though, could you provide a screen shot?

+1 for me as well.

I used Google Docs much in the same way with commenting B Roll.

Now in Obsidian I am wondering if there is a method that would allow me to add all highlighted sections/ italics/ bold etc into a data view at the bottom of the document to list the sections that need b roll. From there I would add the b roll details in the Dataview chart with metadata menu

Just thoughts, would love any advice or input

My take on this would be to use decorated tasks (or custom checklists) scattered througout the scripts, as this would give me the following options:

  • a clear indication in the source script of where I’d need some action
  • allow for easy gathering/querying using dataview in an action list, with the option to easily go back to the source of the task
  • visual enhancing (or hiding) if need be

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