I need to transcribe some stuff, get some audio from A to B
July 23, 2009 12:00 PM   Subscribe

My library is doing oral histories with a Canon HD video camera, then migrating them into iMovie to eventually edit and burn to DVDs to store. I've been tasked with the tech-side of this, a job I'm woefully unqualified for. I need help converting iMovie files into some sort of audio format to transcribe them!

Right now, the priority is to transcribe the audio from the iMovie files to print out and bind into books. I found this free software that looks perfect, and bought a USB transcribing foot pedal. Since I'm doing this on a new MacBook, I downloaded the OSX version of the software, although I suppose if I have to I can run the Windows version in Parallels. The audio formats I can use are wav, mp3, aiff and dct files. What's the best way to do this? I can export from iMovie to a 3gp Quicktime video, but as far as I can tell, there's no way to export the audio to any of those formats from either iMovie or Quicktime. Please help, so I can spend the next several months of my job listening to kooky zoo stories!
posted by booknerd to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I just finished transcribing 40 hours of video for my dissertation. The best transcription software I've found is Transana . Alas, it is no longer free (now $50 I believe), but it obviates the need for a foot pedal and you can shove mpeg video files directly into it. No audio conversion required - that should save you a ton of time.
posted by mrmojoflying at 12:12 PM on July 23, 2009

Oh, and if you were looking to create audio only files, I used Adobe Premiere (I think you can still do this in the free trial version, but I could be wrong). However, if you are only converting to transcribe, I think this is not the best use of your time or resources.
posted by mrmojoflying at 12:14 PM on July 23, 2009

Quicktime Pro can export sound from video easily. File > Export As...

If you don't have QT Pro, find a friend with any of Apple's pro applications (Final Cut, Logic, etc.)—they'll have it.

I also imagine that you can do this with iMovie, but I could be wrong.
posted by reductiondesign at 12:14 PM on July 23, 2009

Best answer: QuickTime Pro lets you export the audio channel separately to a range of .wav and .aiff files.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 12:14 PM on July 23, 2009

Also, you didn't ask this, but if the library intends on these files being accessible in the future, you'd all be wise to store them on media other than a consumer burned dvd. Variety of reasons.
posted by mmdei at 12:39 PM on July 23, 2009

Response by poster: Ah, mmdei, I know you're right. Since it looks like buying Quicktime Pro is the best solution to this question (unless someone knows a way to do it directly from iMovie to save the export step), can I piggyback on this question and ask if anyone has suggestions for the best way to archive them? File formats, media, etc.? Luckily having a bound paper copy will at least ensure that they're always readable, but we'd like the video to be available for generations to come, as well.
posted by booknerd at 12:51 PM on July 23, 2009

Ah, mmdei, I know you're right.

we'd like the video to be available for generations to come

I've seen numbers as low as 5 years for the expected lifetime of consumer-burned DVDs. For your application, that's an eyeblink. Unfortunately I don't really have a good substitute.
posted by madmethods at 2:09 PM on July 23, 2009

Someone PLEASE feel free correct me if I'm wrong here, but as far as file formats are concerned, I believe that preservation standards for digital moving image formats are still very much evolving. In other words, I don't think there's one good answer--instead, choosing a format is a matter of weighing different factors, including quality and the potential for the format to become obsolete.

As for long-term storage, I agree with madmethods and mmdei--optical media like DVDs and CDs, even high-quality ones, have a short shelf-life and are not generally considered to be reliable for long-term preservation. Instead, putting your data on a server or servers and backing it up regularly is a safer practice.

That said, here's one resource that might come in handy: the Library of Congress Digital Preservation page. It provides detailed file format information, tips for small-scale preservation programs, and preservation news.
posted by safran at 2:33 PM on July 23, 2009

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