Video Transcription

Etranscript’s service offering was recently expanded to include video transcription. I had up until this point only transcribed digital audio. After receiving a number of enquiries for video transcription, I decided to purchase the requisite software and equipment. As both the software and equipment required was only available in the US, the purchase was expensive but I believe it has been a worthwhile investment.



I was apprehensive at first, wondering what issues I was going to come up against while learning the new software. I am happy to report that there have been no major issues as yet, other than expensive bandwidth constraints in South Africa. However, the workaround would be to have your DVD delivered to my home-office for transcription or merely extract audio from the video file and send the audio for transcription by means of the encrypted transfer service offered by Etranscript.


Nevertheless, it certainly makes the transcription of group sessions such as hearings and training sessions a lot easier to transcribe, especially when the camera is operated and redirected to focus on each speaker. Attributing names to voices is no longer a complex and cumbersome process of making sound bites for accurate voice-name attribution. I do suspect, however, that it will be a long time (if ever) before businesses will use video recording as opposed to audio recording for conferences and meetings.


Using audio alone for the recording of a 10-member meeting presents some challenges to the transcriptionist. I use audio software to make sound bites of each voice and this certainly helps to make accurate voice-name attribution but it is not perfect. This system only works if all members remain seated in exactly the same position and always project their voice in the same direction. A voice that is captured speaking directly toward the microphone can sound significantly different when the person turns to speak to someone at the other end of the table. This is the primary contributing factor to the increased turnaround time for the transcription of group sessions. The benefits of making a video recording of a meeting or training session would therefore be the reduced cost and improved accuracy of the transcript.


We recently transcribed a video of a meeting held between parties who were attempting informal mediation to resolve a number of issues. The transcript produced from this video included thumbnails of the diagrams drawn on the flip chart and the whiteboard (this cameraman was definitely awake). Besides the fact that it was very interesting work for me, I’m sure the transcript will be a valuable tool during the parties’ preparations for court. (Yup, the mediation was unsuccessful.) However, Etranscript’s client was very happy with the transcript and believes he will now be using the camera more often. Excellent idea!


I have also been transcribing videos of interviews to be used in the making of a local documentary film. In total, there were about seven hours of video (and an additional two hours of audio). I transcribed all the video and my colleague transcribed the audio. We were able to complete the entire project in one working week. We now look forward to seeing “our work” on local TV.


Please contact Etranscript to discuss your video transcription requirements.