9 Transcription Productivity Tips from Scribie Professionals

9 Transcription Productivity Tips from Scribie Professionals

At Scribie, we believe in the importance of quality transcription. This is why we developed our signature 4-step process.

Let me note that our quality transcripts are made possible by our network of talented transcriptionists. We asked some of our pros to share some tips that help produce consistent, high-quality transcripts. Scribie pros, Martin, Danijela, Betty, and Sarah, share insights for how to be a transcriptionist and produce excellent transcripts at Scribie.

You may be a rookie transcriptionist or an experienced pro. Either way, you’ll benefit from these insider transcription hacks from Scribie pros themselves.

How To Begin Your Transcription Journey

1. Focus On What You’re Hearing

Betty suggests that you focus on the content.

Looking back I can see that I was hyper focused on punctuation and capitalization. I spent a lot of unnecessary time on those aspects. After a couple of years doing this it seems like those aspects are now much more intuitive and I focus more on what I am actually hearing.

2. Start Slowly

Sarah advises beginning Scribie transcribers to take their time to avoid mistakes and missing important key guidelines. She says,

Learn everything you can about the guidelines and how the process works. Study the changes made to your work by the QC and learn how to improve. Starting out slowly will likely help with gaining experience and enable a better and easier path to promotion.

3. Quality Over Quantity

If you’re planning a long-term career with Scribie, Danijela and Martin also recommend taking your time focusing on producing quality content.

Danijela:

It can get tempting to start producing quantity over quality in order to make some extra money fast, but in the long term, it really doesn’t pay off. Take the time to get familiar with the program, check for words you’re unsure about online, and make sure you’re submitting your best work.

Martin:

Do not compromise the accuracy of a file for speed, there is usually more than enough time to work on a file. Double-check the file if you have to. If you can’t catch a word or a phrase at first, listen to it again, or come back to it later once you’ve reached the end of the file.

Pro tip: Martin adds, if a word feels incorrect, it probably is. Identify that which you’ll consider background conversation because transcribing this is unnecessary and almost impossible.

4. Bookmark the “Guidelines” Page

If you’re constantly referring to the “Transcription Guidelines” page, you’re not alone. Betty shares,

I was constantly referring to the guidelines on the Scribie web page which were a big help.

Ways to Select Your File for Transcription

What are some tips and tricks for choosing a file in Scribie’s transcription portal? Check out our transcribers’ responses below.

5. Assess Your Time and Energy

Betty assesses the time she has available, her schedule for the day, energy level, and file difficulty.

I have made the mistake of underestimating the time it would take me to finish a file. After hours of work I have had to cancel a file because of other obligations. I now have a pretty good idea of what I can attempt on low energy days vs. higher energy days.

6. Sort Files by Date or Length First

When Sarah gets ready to work on files at Scribie she usually sorts and samples them by date first to check for more urgent files.

Sarah:

I try to get an idea of how long the file is and how much time I have to devote to it right then. If everything sounds good, then I select it based on that criteria. If I don’t find any of the more urgent files to be a good fit for me right then, I change the sort order to length so I can try to work on something that better fits my available time, and then repeat the process of sampling before selecting the file I’ll be working on.

Transcription Tactics

These transcription tips based on what Scribie’s transcribers have learned make the process faster and easier.

7. Google for Context

Knowing the context of a recording makes it easier. Danijela suggests that you do a quick search on Google to help identify words you don’t recognize.

Martin says,

Learn to recognize the context of a conversation and the background of the speakers, which helps identify words that sound foreign.

8. Find What Works for You

Many transcribers have their own style when working on a file. While Scribie provides you with built-in tools to make it easier, it’s important that you find a process that works for you.

Once you’ve landed on something that consistently produces good quality transcripts, which you’re comfortable with, you’re free to do your own thing!

Martin:

I understand that [the built-in editor] has many tools to help transcribers, I personally do not use most of them

In other words, you’ll want to personalize your workflow and use the right tools depending on what you’re currently comfortable with.

9. Keep at It, You’ll Get Better

Many aspiring transcriptionists struggle in the beginning. This was also the case for Danijela, Martin, Betty, and Sarah. Eventually, you’ll improve and even learn new skills.

Martin:

Now, as a QC, I know what to expect from a file just by listening to snippets of it (a feature I greatly appreciate), and can therefore pick and complete a project, even from transcription all the way to QC, without much hassle.

Danijela:

Even after working at Scribie for more than a year, I am still learning so much, whether it be new expressions, dialects, or simply an interesting new topic being discussed on the recordings.

We’re a Bunch of Friendly People

Danijela wants to urge fellow transcribers to not be afraid to ask questions, while Betty finds Scribie’s live chat feature “invaluable”. Danijela says,

Ask questions. Join the Slack community or write emails to the staff. If you’re unsure about anything, it’s much better to ask than to try and make sense of something on your own and risk making some major mistakes. Trust me, nobody will laugh at you for asking questions on Slack. I like to believe we’re a bunch of friendly people. Don’t forget, we were all rookies at one point!

She continues,

I’ve learned a lot in this year, but I love the fact that I’m still learning and that the Slack community is constantly updating us with various tips and tricks on how to become even better.

Interested in a freelance transcription job online? Join our community of Scribie pros!

Google I/O Announcements: What This Means for Podcasters, Video Producers, and Businesses

Android Live Captions - Google I/O 2019

Wondering what Google I/O’s 2019 announcements could mean for your business?

We follow the variety of developments from major technology players like Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon. We monitor trends to stay on top of the latest and greatest, making sure that we’re in the position to deliver the best transcription service offering.

Recently, the latest installment of Google I/O concluded. This annual developer conference showcases developments around hardware, software, services, and other updates. On stage during the main keynote, Google mentioned the following notable features:

  • Live Captions, which can automatically create captions for audio and videos. The feature can be used offline.
  • Podcast episodes will now show up in Google searches.

When enabled, Android Q’s Live Captions feature adds real-time captions to any audio or video playing on your phone.

Source: The Verge

At Google’s I/O developer conference, the company also quickly mentioned that Google Search would begin indexing podcasts. If you’re a podcaster, your episodes appear as playable and actionable entries within relevant search results.

If you’re wondering what that looks like, check this out:

Source: NiemanLab

Implications of the Emerging Tech

While it’s evident that it’ll be easier for folks to find podcasts online, it’s unclear what this means for the podcasting community. Google shared little about this announcement.

Definitely, though, this is solid proof that captions and accessibility are becoming a cornerstone in modern society. For instance, more successful video streaming sites and social video posts now noticeably include captions.

Why do captions matter? Captions and transcripts are critical for reaching a wider audience (including hard-of-hearing, non-native English speakers, and those who prefer watching without sound). In fact, 85 percent of social videos are watched with the sound off.

When it comes to watch time, subtitled videos increase view time by more than 12% and are watched an average 91% to completion. In comparison, videos without subtitles are only watched 66% to completion. When subtitles are included, 80% more people watch videos to completion.

The Reality of Live Captions

If you’ve seen YouTube’s auto CC feature in action, you can guess the accuracy level of live captions.

The University of Minnesota Duluth shares,

“YouTube automatic captions typically provides about 60-70% accuracy, which means that 1 in 3 words can be wrong. This accuracy rate will be improved with good audio quality and simple content, but worsens when there is background noise, accents, or multi-syllable words.”

Should you use an automated transcription service such as Google’s Live Captions?

For producers, this means that your productions could display captions with embarrassing or crucial errors.

Source: Imgur

Transcription software doesn’t have language inference systems. Without this tech, the machine won’t be able to make corrections based on context, as well as identify different speakers, appropriate paragraph breaks, punctuation marks, capitalization, quotations, and more. Live Captions’ capabilities are also pared down to accommodate your phone’s memory. (Speaking of which, this feature will be available on select devices only).

Privacy and control are concerns as well. Whenever one uses free (gratis) services, there’s a question of how the operation is funded. For example, you can use TikTok as a free video sharing platform, but agreeing to their terms means giving them permission to use your videos for their online ads.

Another thing, your live captions and automated transcriptions cannot be downloaded and saved for later review. They also can’t be edited. The Verge mentions in a Live Captions report,

“They’re there when the content is playing and gone when it’s done.”

There also seem to be no plans to let Live Captions support transcriptions.

The Cost of Low-Quality Transcriptions

While there are reasonable use cases for free, automated transcripts, it’s not for everyone. You’ll easily end up paying far more for the cost of errors.

Brands would lean towards high-quality transcripts to remain compliant with brand guidelines. TV Show subtitles, for example, can benefit from a transcription by hand.

Some content, such as medical and scientific papers are high stakes and need to have a human review and type out the correct findings. Manual transcription is also crucial for court transcripts, depositions, and other legal documents.

Who are manual transcripts for?

If you’re still on the fence between human vs. machine closed caption and transcription services, this summary may help:

Manual transcription services are ideal for enterprises and established brands, as well as the following industries:

  • Research
  • Media
  • Education
  • Marketing
  • Legal

Despite the cost of manual vs. free automatic transcription, a skilled transcription specialist can save you money. Mistakes by automated transcription software can be costly. A missing punctuation mark once caused a NASA rocket’s engine failure and ended up costing $620 million. Yikes!

Setting Your Work Apart

Your audience can distinguish auto-generated transcriptions and give it generic, baseline treatment. Accurate and well-written captions or transcripts are a mark of quality productions, created mindfully with empathy towards audiences.

Live Captions, as mentioned earlier, also can’t be downloaded as a copy for repurposing or post-production editing.

As an editor, you might also miss the time-codes and timestamps feature provided by transcription services.

Although Live Captions does improve accessibility, it doesn’t help your SEO. Google knows if you didn’t invest in transcription, giving higher-quality productions higher SERP ranking treatment.

Human Parity

Speech and voice recognition software is advancing, but human transcribers are better at discerning the context of a webinar, podcast, or any type of video content.

There's a technical term used in AI called human parity. It measures how close AI is to humans in terms of performance. Automatic transcripts may be quick, but they eventually need intervention by hand for an error-free copy.

Scribie, a professional transcription and closed captioning service, has a unique defining feature that helps guarantee 99% accuracy: Scribie’s Four-Step Process. (Usually, other transcription services only offer a single or two-step process that leave room for errors.)

Sribie’s quality assurance system is meritocratic, meaning each subsequent step is accomplished by a more skilled transcriber. This is why Scribie’s system can be described as a super-human parity system.

Fun fact: Each second of the audio is played an average of 8 times before being delivered to the customer.

On top of those, as a Scribie customer, you’ll be able to edit your transcript in our online editor, save your transcribed file in various formats, and/or upload them directly to your content-sharing platform.

See the difference for yourself. Upload your audio/video file.

How To Correct Automated Transcripts With Our Editor

We provide a browser based-editor which can be used to quickly correct the automated transcripts. Click the Edit Transcript button to launch it.

Scribie Editor

The first thing you will notice is the audio waveform at the top. That is the audio player.  Clicking anywhere on it will take you to the corresponding word in the transcript.

The first row of buttons are the controls. Each button also has a corresponding keyboard shortcut so that you don’t have to use the mouse which saves a lot of time. The important shortcuts to remember are CTRL+P to play/pause and CTRL+O to rewind (CMD for Mac).

The second row of buttons are some controls for the text editor. Hover the mouse over the button to get a description of what the button does. It’s mostly self-explanatory.

You will also notice some text underlined in blue and red. The red ones are spelling mistakes. Run the spell check to correct those. The blue ones are where our speech recognition engine was not confident enough and so those may be mistakes. You can right click on those and choose Play Word to check the corresponding audio.

The following are the list of corrections which tend to be required in the automated transcripts:

  • Mistakes: These are words which are incorrectly transcribed. Most of these words will have blue underlines.
  • Speaker Turns: Our speech recognition engine misses around 40% of the turns. So some paragraphs may actually have two speakers in them (we are working to improve it).
  • Punctuations: There may be some missing periods. The commas and other punctuations are mostly correct, although we only provide the start quote. The end quote has to be manually inserted.
  • Capitalization: Some of the capitalized words may be wrong. Some other words may need to be capitalized.

We recommend the 2-pass approach to make the corrections. First play and check the blue underlines. Those are the low-hanging fruits and you can get them out of the way fast.

Next, play the audio from the beginning and make corrections as you go along. Whenever you notice a mistake, pause, make the correction, and resume play. Rinse and repeat till you reach the end of the file. Increasing the playback speed can also help in cases where the accuracy is more than 80%.

Once you are done with the edits, Click the Download button at the bottom for the Word Document or other formats.

Editor download files

Effectively, it takes around 3-4 times the duration of the file to correct the automated transcript, if you include the time for replays. It is also easy to lose focus on long files. So, remember to take breaks. Without the automated transcript, you may have to spend 8-10 times the duration of the file.

Of course, if you do not have the time, our transcribers will be happy to make the corrections for you. We guarantee 99% accuracy for our manual transcripts. Please do try it out.