Transcription of recordings
What is transcription of recordings?
Professional transcription of audio or video recordings – as we are talking about this type of transcription – consists in the most faithful transcription of the content of a recorded conversation or statement into a written text in a text file. This could be rewriting recordings of a court hearing, an interview (including the transcription of FGIs and individual interviews), conferences, lectures, presentations, and even dialogues in a series for subtitling purposes. Transcription services are widely used by journalists, researchers and students, as well as for the purposes of the courts and the hard of hearing.
There are basically two types of transcription:
- Standard transcription: this is a type of service involving transcription of recordings and subsequent editing and smoothing, for example for taking notes and recordings of conferences, interviews or presentations.
- Full transcription: Includes transcriptions of recordings which are an exact reflection of what was said, with all errors and interjections.
Why do we need transcription?
It is often necessary to analyse a given recording. However, it is usually difficult to find the right section of a lecture or interview – thanks to transcription, you can simply use the search function in a text editor to find any word that would take ages to find in an audio or video file. Since audio files cannot be searched quickly, a transcription service is often a necessity.
Transcribed recordings also make it easier to archive or access speeches. Think back to your student days: who would devote time to listen to hours of lectures when you could simply read them? Transcription services are also constantly used by journalists editing interviews – a transcribed recording of an interview not only allows them to significantly reduce working time, but is also indispensable to do their job reliably. Some of the most popular types of recordings that our specialists receive are:
- voice notes,
- trainings, lectures, conferences, business meetings,
- podcasts, webinars, movies and shows – both internet and TV ones.
Transcriptions of court hearings
In the Polish judiciary, it is admissible to include a recording of a conversation or an event as evidence in court hearings, particularly in family cases concerning the division of property, alimony or the establishment of parental authority. Each recording used as evidence in a case must have a transcript, i.e. a written version of the recording. Such a transcription should be prepared with special care and with regard to the participants of the conversation, as well as with the use of time stamps before the utterances.
The transcription used for court purposes takes into account all environmental sounds and emotions of the interlocutors which – in addition to the spoken words – may be relevant to the case or necessary to understand the context of the utterance.
Transcription of recordings in a foreign language
Due to the international and multicultural nature of the world of business and science, meetings and conferences are often held in a foreign language, and companies record videos for their employees in English – so that everyone can understand them. Academics use transcriptions to complete grants or write papers that rely on sources – and these, after all, need to be accessible and easy to process and analyse.
Working with foreign language recordings is more complex than working with Polish, as it requires verification by a person fluent in the given language, and sometimes translation into Polish. Due to the complex nature of such services, the slightest slip at one of the stages may render the target text – and thus the results of the analysis, study or message – untrue or inconsistent with the author’s intention.
Why is it worth outsourcing a transcription to specialists?
Commissioning a professional transcription service of the recording to a specialist is a guarantee that the service will be performed reliably, correctly and in accordance with its purpose and – importantly, especially in the case of transcription for the needs of the courts – with the regulations. Transcription specialists also guarantee appropriate stylistic correction of the text to make it legible, fluent and comprehensible, because the spoken word differs from the written one. It is full of repetitions, slips of the tongue, mistakes, interjections and other elements that should not (usually!) be included in the transcription. Transcription is not just the transcription of every word that can be heard on a recording – it is a whole range of related services, the proper provision of which requires experience and skills. And such orders are our specialty. Here are the most important aspects you can be sure of when hiring us to prepare a transcription:
- High quality of prepared texts thanks to experience, acquired skills, as well as professional equipment and convenient working conditions, which are extremely important for the transcriber’s activities.
- Linguistic correctness, accuracy and attention to detail, so that the text is appreciated by even the most demanding customer.
- Saving time and energy from the often tedious task of transcribing and replaying a single moment of a recording several times; our transcribers will ensure not only a satisfactory completion time, but also related services – text editing and proofreading.
Disadvantages of free software for transcription of recordings
While free transcription software can create a text file from a recording to a certain extent, it cannot modify the text or understand the context, emotions and intentions. Free software will therefore not be suitable for any professional transcription application – whether it is transcribing an interview recording or transcribing conversations for court purposes. It should also be borne in mind that recordings converted to text by machine always need to be checked by a professional who will make possible corrections – after all, we rarely speak slowly, clearly and fluently, and a computer may not understand us well. After all, it’s just a computer. Apart from the limited number of functions offered by free software, it is worth noting other obstacles that this form of transcription will cope with less well than a professional transcriber:
- Accent and unusual speech, which also consists of the rate of speech – some software allows you to work in different languages, but this may still not be enough if regionalisms, dialects or country-specific pronunciation are present.
- ‘Clarity’ of the recording – any kind of noise, interference or additional noises that are not part of the speech needed to be transcribed will be quite a challenge for the software, which will not be able to detect words surrounded by background sounds.
- Limited vocabulary, especially in the case of cultural nuances, proper names or other context-dependent expressions.
- Formatting – automatic transcription is only able to translate audio text into written text, thus excluding any editing – punctuation, syntax or style. It is much more difficult to make such changes after the complete transcription of the text is done, so the transcriber makes the most necessary corrections while transcribing and the holistic editing takes place at the end of the whole process.