What's the best (free) software to automatically transcribe a 50-minute speech?
October 16, 2008 7:26 AM   Subscribe

What's the best (free) software to automatically transcribe a 50-minute speech?

What's the best (free) software to automatically transcribe a 50-minute speech?

I gave a speech extemporaneously that was recorded. I need to write a new one, and would like to base it on the one I've already given. I just need to get the basic points of what I said -- perfect transcription not necessary.

This is very time sensitive project, and would prefer to find a free solution.

posted by chefscotticus to Technology (6 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Also, the recording is current in an .MP3 format.
posted by chefscotticus at 7:31 AM on October 16, 2008

Cheap, Easy Audio Transcription with Mechanical Turk

Not free, but cheap and accurate.
posted by nitsuj at 7:41 AM on October 16, 2008 [2 favorites]

Express Scribe, but transcription can be painful and time-consuming if you've not done it before. Also a footpedal really helps.

Castingwords is a service that uses Mechanical Turk in the background and I've been very happy with. Not free of course. Charges per minute instead of per word which a lot of other services do.
posted by idb at 8:29 AM on October 16, 2008

The Express Scribe thing looks cool (when coupled with a footpedal or using the hotkeys to rewind a bit). I was coming in to suggest something similiar with using Winamp and its keyboard controls but Express Scribe looks more polished and purpose written.
posted by mmascolino at 9:37 AM on October 16, 2008

Mechanical Turk is people doing piecework to transcribe your audio, often in the third world. You get what you pay for.

ExpressScribe is software that helps you do that work. I love it and use it all the time. It does not "automatically" transcribe anything at all.

There is no such thing as even halfway reliable "automatic" transcription software. The very best stuff -- Naturally Speaking-- still requires training the software, loading a pre-chosen vocabulary, and plenty of human checking and error correction for accuracy. It also requires a nearly pristine recording with no background noise to speak of. And it costs a lot of money for a good reasons.

Lots of people think software to do this should exist as a free download somewhere and are perplexed it doesn't show up when they google SourceForge. They are dreaming or watching too many science fiction movies. The challenge of producing such an application has not been fully me -- certainly not automatic accurate transcription of a wide range of different speakers' natural discourse -- and won't be for some time to come.

Get ready to spend hours, or get ready to spend money. Ain't no free lunch in this diner.
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:59 PM on October 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

PS -- if you use ExpressScribe, get a USB footpedal from AltoEdge (same company) for $80 at the same time (the software is free). It will save you $80 worth of time in a week.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:00 PM on October 16, 2008

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