Working with scenes

Scenes work like slides in a presentation. They allow you to divide your video project 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. This article walks you through working with scenes in a video project. 

Scenes are only available in video compositions

Note that if your composition is set to audio-only scenes will not be displayed or used in the composition. All video compositions will have at least one scene at the start unless you add more.

Adding scenes

GIF demonstrating how to add scenes in Descript

  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 a new 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 scene with music or a title scene– 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

Adding visuals to your scenes

Drag and drop a visual elements or file on your computer onto the Canvas, on a scene thumbnail in the Scene rail, or over your script in the Script Editor. 

GIF demonstrating add a visual to a scene in the Canvas

Alternatively, there are other ways you can add visuals to scenes:

  • Select the + button next to the left of the script to view a list of media you can add to a scene.
  • 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.
Creating a Scene and Adding Media Simultaneously

You can add media the selection toolbar in the Script editor. This action creates a new scene over the selected range and adds the media as layer in the scene. 

Adjusting layer properties

Image showing how to adjust layer properties

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

If a layer extends across multiple scenes, you can modify its properties in each scene individually. To apply a change to the layer in all scenes at once, click Apply to all scenes which appears in the Properties panel immediately after you adjust 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.

Screenshot showing steps for viewing scene properties

From here, you can:

Extending layers across scenes

You may find that you have visuals — for example, captions or text — that you want to extend over multiple scenes. 

Screenshot showing steps for extending a layer across scenes

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