Transcription of audio and video content and how to do it well
The easiest way to remember what a transcription is, is that a transcription produces a script, or something very much like a script. When we transcribe audio or video, we write out exactly what is heard. Sometimes, this is literally word-for-word, to the extent that it even includes things like ‘ehh’ or ‘hmm’. This is called a verbatim script. A transcriptionist can also clean up the spoken words, removing those quirks of natural speech and writing out a smoothly flowing version of the original audio. This is known as edited, or clean transcription.
When transcription is needed?
There are many reasons a transcription may be needed. For example, transcribing audio content for the deaf or hard of hearing. Being a brand that offers accessibility alternatives to those with hearing impediments not only enhances corporate social responsibility and improves the brand image, but has the potential to open up services to a whole new audience.
Transcribing audio for subtitles or closed captions
To create subtitles or closed captions, you will need a full transcription document from the video. We’ll then use the transcript to add timecode marks that will reference what is being said at concrete times in the video. This means that the subtitles or closed captions will appear on-screen at the exact time they’re supposed to. The transcript may need to be condensed further to work as subtitles, as there is a character limit implemented.
Transcribing audio for voice-over
We transcribe the speech when the final voice-over needs to be time synced to a video. This means the timings of the voice-over speech will match up with specific timings in the video, and therefore be in sync with what is happening on-screen. This is a common requirement when translating the voice-over in corporate videos or explainers.
Transcribing for translation purposes
The first step of translation is always transcribing. Once we have the timecodes in place for subtitle or voice-over use, we can then use that same transcription document to create as many different foreign language versions as required. The timecode stamps will stay the same in every language, and will mark where each section of speech starts and ends. This is important, as the translator may have to condense the translation to fit in with the voiceover or subtitle timings, so that they still match up with what’s on-screen. A verbatim transcript can be kept for legal, technical, or as a professional reference.
How do you create an audio transcription?
Transcription work is performed by a trained transcriber, and the method used will depend on the intended use. Will the transcription be used for reference only, or will the transcription also need to be timecoded so that it can be used to create a voice-over script or subtitling document? If the transcription doesn’t require timecodes to be added, the transcriber won’t need any specialist software. In this case, any trained audio typist should be able to produce the transcription. However, if the video is being created from a video for voice-over, or subtitles translation, the transcriber will need the right software and training to timecode the script appropriately.
Typically, transcription for subtitling work is much more time intensive, as the timecodes must be logged in hours, minutes, seconds, frames. And the transcriber will need to allow enough time for the viewer to read each subtitle on-screen.
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