Transcription software
December 7, 2015 9:51 PM   Subscribe

I'm doing voluntary work as a translator and subtitle editor, and I'd like to be more efficient with my time. Details under the cut.

My current process is watching the video of the 20-30 minute lectures while translating it (play, pause, play, rewind, play, pause to check technical term, etc), then pasting paragraphs of text on aegisub and adjust timing once everything is on a notepad file. This is not the problem, translating is. I'm not a fast typist, particularly on laptops, I was decently fast and error free on a regular keyboard, but even after 5 years I still make a buttload of errors, and I think this one already has some heat damage again, making some keys harder to register.

That said, I'd welcome was some sort of transcription software where I could load an audio source and loop a variable number of seconds, say, 20, and pressing a key (like Control or Tab) would move on to the next 20 second loop, allowing me to translate without having to go back and forth from VLC to notepad.

- Windows 7
- Loading just audio is fine, although video wouldn't harm
- No fancy text formatting options needed, or even subtitling options (or course, if there's a subtitle editor that has something like this...)
- No "slow down audio" ideas; I've tried that once, and it was even more distracting.
- I don't need -or want- any automatic transcription/translation service - from experience, occasional ambient noise with less than ideal sound sources, translation needing some touches to synch with the speaker is saying, hard to translate idioms, technical jargon, etc, I'd spend more time cleaning up than the few hours I'm taking now (most things I've found on google are like this, and why I'm asking).
- Oh, yeah, also, I'm translating to English. Judging from voice recognition in my android, I'm pretty sure nothing good will come from Portuguese.
- Buying anything (software, foot pedal, human services) is absolutely out of the question. My wallet is strained enough to the point even a $1.99 game from GOG is too much, and this is not something worth investing, at least for the time being.

Is there something like this?
posted by lmfsilva to Technology (12 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
There's an ongoing effort to transcribe the Metafilter podcast -- the wiki page has info about their setup, which might be the kind of thing you're after(?). They use Fanscribed.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:03 PM on December 7, 2015

Have you tried Transcribe ? It's $20 bucks for the year BUT there's a free trial.
posted by jessca84 at 10:15 PM on December 7, 2015

F4 is pretty good and works with a foot pedal for extra efficiency. If you have an edu address the educational discount makes it pretty cheap. I think there's a free trial. (I have a free trial code I haven't used in any case so memail e me if you need it).
posted by lollusc at 10:25 PM on December 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Express Scribe covers all your criteria. You transcribe in the same software that is playing your audio. You can set the hot keys to whatever you want. I have up (play) down (stop) right (ff) left (rewind). You can ctrl+t to timestamp, and a bunch of other functions I don't know about. It's the best.
posted by moons in june at 12:47 AM on December 8, 2015 [4 favorites]

I use NCH Express Scribe like the person above, and I'm a professional transcriber. I play in Express Scribe but I type in word for the AutoCorrect functions as that makes me faster. Highly recommended. Being able to move the hot keys around is brilliant, too, and has saved me from injury!
posted by LyzzyBee at 4:13 AM on December 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

Came in to third Express Scribe. I work in transcription and recommend it frequently to customers. (although if the money situation should turn around and you're able to, a usb footpedal off ebay will make it SO MUCH easier!)
posted by mittens at 5:05 AM on December 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Definitely look into the USB footpedal. Once you become accustomed to using your foot to start/stop/rewind, you'll wonder how you did transcription any other way. I can almost guarantee your workflow/efficiency will improve by at least 25-30%. They're about 25-30 USD online. And Express Scribe recognizes most major brands.
posted by kuanes at 5:10 AM on December 8, 2015

I don't know about the software or the process etc. What I *do* know about is keyboards, and your response about laptop keyboards just jumped off the screen. You can easily get a cordless USB keyboard or a bluetooth keyboard and use them instead -- I've gotten to where I'm okay with laptop keyboards but that took a lot (a heck of a lot) of time getting used to and I'm typing this using a bluetooth keyboard.

You can get into a decent USB wireless keyboard for twenty bucks, easy, buy one from a goodwill store used for half that. I know you say ANY $$ is out of the question but surely someone involved in this process will be willing to put out a few bucks to make it happen easier/better.
posted by dancestoblue at 5:14 AM on December 8, 2015

Response by poster: (I'll be looking into your suggestions shortly with some comments, but thank you all)
posted by lmfsilva at 7:08 AM on December 8, 2015

I have translated from a video source plus an existing transcription (I've never done the transcribing from a foreign language myself). I've also done a little English transcribing.

I use a Mac and VLC for the video. I haven't bought a USB pedal yet, although I've thought about it. Things may be different on Windows, but at least on the Mac, you can set up VLC with system-wide keyboard shortcuts. You can also define durations for short/medium/long forward and reverse jogs; combined with some shortcuts, you can really improve your productivity because you're not switching between programs. I've found that keyboard shortcuts for a 2–3 second jog backward, forward and play/pause cover 95% of my needs. Some of this requires deep digging in VLC.

If your keyboard isn't working, get an external keyboard. I know you said money is tight, but even if you are giving away your labor, your time is worth something.
posted by adamrice at 9:01 AM on December 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I've used Express Scribe for the occasional transcription project for ages, but be forewarned that Express Scribe tends to come bundled with a lot of bloatware, and even with that awareness it's hard to prevent all of it from insidiously installing itself. Last time I had to do an install was about 3 years ago, and it wound up installing an unzip utility that hijacked WinZIP. I was never able to figure out how to get back to unzipping via WinZIP.

I've not used it, but you might give the online app oTranscribe a shot before installing Express Scribe.
posted by drlith at 5:42 AM on December 10, 2015

Response by poster: Hi again, sorry for taking so long, but well, this is useful voluntary work, but yikes. This is something I really must be on the mood for.

Express Scribe has one major issue: separated play/pause keys. It has a play-pause (or something) function, but it plays, pauses for a few seconds, and then resumes. However, if I was a pedal-using transcriber, I'd use it in a heartbeat. For some reason, I couldn't get global keys working on VLC. But I'm kicking myself for not thinking about using the multimedia keys and mediaplayer.

So, for the time time being, I'm sticking with oTranscribe. It does what needs to be done, and I don't even need to download the lecture.

Thank you all.
posted by lmfsilva at 2:30 PM on December 14, 2015

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