Free online transcription software?
May 1, 2016 9:36 PM   Subscribe

I have some interviews to transcribe- some audio only, and some video, each about 45 minutes long. Is there any free or cheap app or software that can take the whole file at once and spit out a reasonably accurate transcription?
posted by pseudostrabismus to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I can't offer up anything free, but just this weekend, I suggested a friend try to handle the transcription of some really exhausting work-related (for freelance) interviews. He often does it on his own, either manually or with a Dragon or Siri software setup, but it cuts into his productivity, and the services he'd used previously were much, much more expensive. He tried it yesterday morning and sent me a message in the evening after they'd sent back the transcription; he was excited that the cost was less than a third of what he normally pays and it was equal or superior in quality.

If that's too pricey, have you tried uploading the video (and audio with a static picture) to private, unpublished links YouTube? YouTube does it's own transcription, and while it's definitely not perfect, it could give you a starting point from which you could clean things up. Here are some articles on how to do that:

MakeUseOf: How to Transcribe a YouTube Video

Lifehacker: Use YouTube for Instant and Free Transcription

Google/YouTube also has a support page for Tips for Creating a Transcript File

Good luck!
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 9:57 PM on May 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

IBM Watson is supposed to do this but I haven't had occasion to try it yet so I can't vouch for its efficacy.
posted by macdara at 4:13 AM on May 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Apologies that this isn't a software recommendation, but I think Fiverr offers some of the cheapest transcription online. Rev is great (I transcribe and caption for them and their quality control is very good) but their $1/minute is quite a bit compared to the $5 per 10-15 minutes that seems to be the going rate on Fiverr.

And IMO the youtube auto-captioning is pretty atrocious, but probably the closest free thing to what you're looking for.
posted by moons in june at 11:44 AM on May 2, 2016

Have not used these myself, can't vouch for them, etc.:

ResCarta toolkit is open source software. It is used more for getting text out of digital collections with OCR--also does audio transcription for audio.

Popuparchive also does machine transcription, not exactly cheap but apparently trusted by many public radio programs.
posted by jyorraku at 9:11 PM on May 2, 2016

Response by poster: Thanks for all the answers!

YouTube's transcription is what I ended up using. Some notes for other users:

My MP3 was long (over an hour) and it took some finagling to get it on YouTube in its entirety in a single video (I had to verify my account and try a few times before the upload finally stuck).

At first it looked like YouTube was going to refuse to caption it at all because it was so long, and there was nothing to indicate that the captions would ever appear. But about 48 hours later, I checked back and the captions were there, so be patient if your file is long.

I downloaded the timecoded caption file from YouTube and used some random online program to convert it to Plain Text. It was annoying to manually remove the timecodes, and the unpunctuated, unattributed caption text required quite a bit of editing, but the overall word accuracy was about 70%, which was good enough for me and much faster than typing it from scratch would have been.

YouTube was also helpful when I went back in to clean up the garbled parts. It has a "make your own captions" area with a videoplayer that allows you to slow the speed of the playback, rewind and fast-forward easily, and type as you go. I found that a playback rate of 50% speed matched my ear and finger speeds well, which meant I was able to finish the transcript in a little over double the realtime length of the video, and for free. Worked for me! Thanks again!
posted by pseudostrabismus at 11:38 AM on May 12, 2016

« Older Footage of people with bipolar, schizophrenia...   |   How do you find a really good professional... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.