The word “transcription” is a Latin word that comprises two words, “transcribere” and scriber. Transcribere is defined as across while a scriber is known as a writer. In a layman’s language, transcription is creating transcripts from an already recorded audio/video file to serve different purposes. Today, Transcription services used for transcribing webinars, seminars, interviews, court hearings, lectures, meetings, and other different purposes.
I can’t really remember when it happened, but I remember how cool it was when I first used a voice recording device. I was surprised because how is it possible that I could say anything and this little gadget called a voice recorder would capture my voice and play it back. This is because of the growth in technology and the reason the transcription process is a thing in this world. Anyone can record anything from speeches, lectures, podcasts, and later on, transform them into a written format through transcribing it.
What is audio transcription?
Audio transcription is basically a notation in writing of any form of audio. It might be recorded audio or a live speech. In a transcription as a process, there has to be the availability of the human voice or voices which are denoted and then written on a piece of paper or typed into a word document. Most audio transcription is a notation or record of an audio recording of one or more human voices speaking or communicating with each other. However, transcription is also used to notate sounds. A good example would be when nonverbal communication is used in audio/video files.
While transcription is notating human voices in audio recordings, you will find audio files with different numbers of speakers from time to time. You will get audios with single speakers, other times two or more speakers.
Single speaker audios are known as a “dictation” audio files. These are usually speeches or webinars or lectures where its only one person speaking throughout audios. These kinds of audios usually have only one speaker from the start of the audio to the end.
Two people speaking together on the same recording is often known discourse as a conversation, but in transcription work, this is usually referred to as an ‘interview’, specifically a one-to-one interview.
Three or more people conversing or discussing something on audio in transcription is referred to as a focus group, workshop, or conference. As a transcriber, it is important to know what kind of audio you are working on so you can capture all the different speakers in the audios.
Who does transcriptions?
Depending on who you ask, the answer would be a transcriber or a transcriptionist. These are words used to describe an individual who does transcription as a profession. The word transcriber is mainly used in UK English, while the word transcriptionist is used more in American English. The two mean the same thing, though. Transcribers are usually highly experienced typists who have extensive audio typing experience and can follow a voice speaking very often at a relatively fast tempo, and to note and accurately record what has been said.
Facts and Stats About Transcription.
Below are some factual things about transcription that will blow your mind off, not literally though. They will give you a small insight into what to expect when you get into transcription.
- Human beings usually speak about 150 to 170 words in a minute, which equates to 10,000 words in an hour. Now try to imagine how long it will take you to type out 10,000 words because it will definitely not take you the same hour you used to say them out loud. Transcription and talking speed is not the same, and it will never be the same. You can speak 150 words in a minute and end up typing it out in 5 minutes or more, depending on your typing speed. 10,000 words will most definitely take one, five to six hours to type them out.
- Another fact is that one hour of audio can take up to 5 or 6 hours to transcribe. Individuals typing speed and talking speed are not mutually exclusive, and unless you are using a speech to text software, transcribing an hour audio file will take you more time than you can imagine.
- Typing speed determines how long you will take working in an audio/ video file, but it does not guarantee the accuracy of your transcripts. When you start transcribing, you will hear people say that you need to work on your speed, you need to learn how to type fast so you meet your deadlines and whatnot. Typing speed is great, but accuracy is greater. These two skills are mutually exclusive in transcription, and if you have both you will definitely make a killing in the world of transcription.
- Way back then in 1980 when transcription became a thing, transcribers would type 20 words per minute, and that was considered slow while typing 40 words a minute was considered as the best typing speed. Fast forward in 2020, typists are doing a minimum of 120 words per minute and this is the best typing speed so far. This, of course, has been made possible because of the technological developments that we have seen as a world all those years in between. Right now, typing out 70 words in an hour is considered a medium speed. Imagine how good you have to be, to be considered the best typist in the world.
- Transcribing may look easy, but it is more than what meets the eye. A professional transcriber should have good reading and writing skills, great listening skills, and expert punctuation skills. All these are skills that will help you in coming up with incredible transcripts which are accurate and which your client will be pleased with.
- Foot Pedal: As the name suggests, this is a tool that is used on the foot. With a foot pedal, you can focus on typing as your feet pause, rewind, or play audio/video files. It comes in two types and that is USB and Serial. Depending on what your PC takes, you can choose either of the two.
- Grammarly: As much as Grammarly is a good transcription tool, writers also use it because it helps in checking the quality of grammar on your articles and transcripts. It is used by transcribers, writers, and editors to detect grammatical errors in text and correct them. As long as you have an Internet connection Grammarly automatically detects and highlights your grammatical and spelling errors, which makes it easy for anyone to correct them.
- Headphones: This is another important tool you need when you decide to take up transcription. People can argue that as long as your PC has a speaker you won’t need headphones, however, that is not true. A good set of headphones are important for transcription because they help in regulating all the other background noises on audios that would otherwise make transcription a task. You can purchase wireless headphones, noise-canceling headphones, on-ear headphones, etc.
- Freemake Video Converter: This is a must-have tool for a professional transcriptionist, which converts video and audio files from one format to another. Audio and video files are usually in different formats and depending on what format your transcription software takes, a free make video converter will come in handy in helping you convert your files to the right format.
When is transcription used?
Transcription is a service that is very versatile, which is used in different set up to serve different purposes. Below are some different set up where transcription is used.
- Subtitling: Subtitling is a film localization process where written texts of the original film audio are placed at the bottom of a screen for easy interaction. These texts might be translated in order to serve a particular foreign audience. In order to get these texts, transcription is needed to create a script from the original film.
- Translating: This is the transforming of written words from one language to another. For this to happen a script must be present and that is where transcription comes in.
- Website Videos: When localizing your website trying to cater to different foreign markets, you need to translate your videos and the only way that is possible is after you have created a script. With transcription, you can create your scripts and translate them easily.
- Court Hearings: Any form of transcription done in a court is referred to as legal transcription. Transcription is needed for the many live recording of court proceedings so that they can be stored for future cases and references.
- Market Research Interview: As we mentioned earlier, you will meet different interview audios that will need to be transcribed, and one of those is market research interviews.
These are just but a few, but there are very many setups where transcription would come in handy. Transcription is a wide topic, but this article outlines some basics that need to know.