Working with scenes

Scenes work like slides in a presentation. They allow you to divide your composition into discrete segments and then add visual elements like titles or overlays. Basically, you’ll add a scene anytime you want to change the visuals in your composition.

Audio-only compositions do not use scenes

Please note that scenes are not displayed or use them in compositions set to audio-only.

Before getting started with scenes

It’s important to note that, to get the most out of Descript, you kind of need to rewire your brain around how scenes work — especially if you’ve worked in other video editors.

In tools like iMovie, Final Cut Pro, Premiere, or Camtasia, you do most of your editing in a timeline. But in Descript, you’re hardly going to touch the timeline. Instead, you’ll use the script and scenes to edit your video. The script works like a doc. Scenes work like slides in a presentation tool, like PowerPoint or Keynote.

Getting your head around those concepts is key to video editing in Descript. Holding them in your mind will help you understand everything that follows on this page.  

Adding scenes to your composition

  1. Add script content (video with spoken audio, or just audio) to your composition — either by importing and transcribing a file, recording your script content directly in the app, or writing your script from scratch using the writing tool.
  2. Place your cursor in the script where you want to add a scene boundary.
  3. Add a forward slash / to your script. Or click on the slash icon to the left of your script.


Creating an empty scene

You can add an empty scene to your composition. This is helpful when your script media isn't ready, but you want to start laying out visual layers, or for unscripted content – like b-roll with music or ambient audio – that you want to play over a section where there is no script. There are a few ways to do this:
  • Clicking on the slash icon to the left of a blank line your script
  • Adding two slashes (/) to an empty line in your Script editor
  • Clicking the + icon to the left of the Script Editor and searching for “scene” in quick actions.

Adding visuals to your scenes

Drag and drop a file from your computer onto the Canvas


Dragging files into empty scenes

If you drag a file into an empty scene that doesn't have any script track content, that file will added to  the script track. From then on, any additional files you drag into the scene will be added as a layer in the scene, rather than being placed in the script track.

  • Select the + button next to the left of the script to view a list of media you can add to a scene.


  • For project files, drag and drop the file onto a scene thumbnail, or select the project file and select Add to scene to the right of the Media Library.


  • For stock media and templates, drag and drop the media onto a scene thumbnail or the related script, or click on the preview thumbnail in the Media Library. Clicking the thumbnail will add the media or template to the scene your playhead is on.


  • For shapes and text, select the visual you want to add to the scene from the dropdown menu.


You can also use the range tool to select a portion of your script from the Timeline and add media. This will create a new scene from the select range and add media as a visual or audio layer.  

Adjusting layer properties

Once you've added a visual to a scene, you can adjust the visual's properties from the Canvas and Properties Panel.

  1. Select the scene thumbnail to the left of your script.
  2. Select a visual layer from the canvas and adjust its properties:


You can adjust a layer's properties per scene if it spans multiple scenes. If you want a layer’s properties to be the same across all the scenes it touches, select Apply to all scenes in the Properties Panel. This button will show up right after you make changes to the layer.


Adjusting scene properties

You can also adjust the entire scene’s properties from the Properties Panel. Click on a scene thumbnail to view and edit its properties.


Extending layers across scenes

You may find that you have visuals — for example, captions or text — that you want to extend over multiple scenes. While you could copy and paste the visual element into each scene, you can also extend a layer across multiple scenes from the Timeline:

  1. Select the visual in the Canvas.
  2. Drag the clip’s edge in the Timeline to extend it.


Was this page helpful?
0 out of 1 found this helpful