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transcription services round-up

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Bob Cole
transcription services round-up
on Feb 16, 2012 at 2:52:17 pm

I have been delighted with all of the individuals and companies who've done transcription for me, but I thought it might be time to ask here for some guidance, because price has become an issue. (I am trying to persuade all of my clients to get their interviews transcribed as a matter of course, and I think they would do it, if the price were right.)

I've been paying in the neighborhood of $2-2.50/minute, and would like to pay less. Currently I have about 12 hours of material for transcription, with more coming. If you are happy with a service which is priced well, could you please share?

I prefer "verbatim" (all the "uhs" and "ums") transcripts, with time code.

Thanks!

Bob C


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Nick Griffin
Re: transcription services round-up
on Feb 16, 2012 at 3:03:40 pm

Bob-
One of the more cost effective solutions I've heard of is getting voice recognition software, training it to your own voice, then with the source material playing back in headphones, repeat what you've heard into the software. Of course it's not 100% accurate and will require some cleaning up and no, it doesn't have to be you doing it, but it's one way to get transcriptions for a lot less money.


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Bob Cole
Re: transcription services round-up
on Feb 16, 2012 at 3:24:06 pm

I've tried that (with Dragon Naturally Speaking 9 Standard) and may give it another shot, but as you say, clean-up is required, and it took so long that I decided to hire a service. I've been thinking about upgrading that software and trying it again.

Thanks for the suggestion.

Bob C


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Mark Suszko
Re: transcription services round-up
on Feb 16, 2012 at 3:25:05 pm

I wonder where you heard THAT idea, Nick:-)
You know, it's amusing to me that I suggest that method at the office several times a year and they never buy into it, preferring to stay with contracting a phone-encoder-loop hookup to a live transcriptionist. OTOH, she does fairly accurate work at a ridiculously low price.

I don't know much about Adobe Premiere, but doesn't it now have an automatic transcription ability from scanning the audio?


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Todd Terry
Re: transcription services round-up
on Feb 16, 2012 at 3:56:41 pm

I think the voice-recognition and clean-up would be the way to go... for very short projects...

But Bob has 12 hours of footage. Even just the "first pass" reading (before the laborious clean-up) will take 12 hours in real time... whereas even at $2.50 a minute to have someone professionally transcribe it, that's only $1800. I'm sure for almost all of us, 12 hours of our time is worth far more than $1800 (if you have other billable projects to work on, of course). If you have down time or are just killing time watching the clock, then it might be worth a do-it-yourself job... but otherwise it's a lose-money job.

I don't have any alternate suggestions, which I realize was the object of Bob's original post (I've apparently suddenly become one of those annoying people who chime in with the answer to a question that wasn't even asked)... but it seems to me that $2.50 a minute is a heckuva good bargain for professional transcription.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Steve Martin
Re: transcription services round-up
on Feb 16, 2012 at 5:02:55 pm

Hi Bob - oops... hold on while take a sip of my adult beverage!

(OK, for all the young ones that aren't familiar with the "Hi Bob" drinking game from the Bob Newhart show, my apologies as I show my age)

Where was I? Oh yea, transcripts...

We use ProductionTranscripts.com and have been pretty darned happy with them over the years. They price one-on-one interviews at $1.50 per minute. We simply export the audio to an MP3 and upload to their site. Within a few days we get the word doc back. If we send the file as a video with TC window burn, they'll include TC notes at the head of each question or paragraph - making it easy to cue up the shot in the edit suite.

If you less than perfect audio (i.e., difficult accents or lots of background noise, etc...) their rates go up.

Hope this helps!

Steve

Production is fun - but lets not forget: Nobody ever died on the video table!


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Nick Griffin
Re: transcription services round-up
on Feb 16, 2012 at 8:59:25 pm

Steve-
That sounds like a bargain rate. Wonder WHERE their people are located? To be accurate with US English I would hope they would be US-based, but in this day and age who knows?

Todd -
Yes of course you are right, but I didn't say that Bob himself had to be the one using this technique. Sorry if that wasn't clear. Isn't that what "Hey, kid. Wanna earn a couple of hundred bucks?" is for?

Mark-
Of the MANY good ideas we've all gleaned from you over the years I sincerely don't remember you offering this gem. Not saying you didn't, but I first heard about it a decade or more ago, back in the day when the voice recog software was no where NEAR as good as it is today.

The biggest problem I have with the whole idea of a transcript, necessary as it may be for some clients, is that (in my humble experience) too often words which are written don't work nearly as well, especially edit as well, when spoken. It's kind of like the older clients who want a window burn so they can do a paper edit. The last time someone asked me for that I offered him free use of an under-utilized workstation and taught him how to mark ins and outs and then hit log. Ohhh so much better a use of everyone's time. (IMHO.)


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Steve Martin
Re: transcription services round-up
on Feb 16, 2012 at 9:11:36 pm

Hey Nick,

I have no idea where their people are, but I think the company is in LA. Nonetheless, I have been pleased with the results. Not perfect, but very very good.

I agree that using transcripts is no substitute for a real editor making good decisions. But it's a good tool if you have hours and hours of interviews and you need a sound bite about a topic. A quick search for a word or phrase in MS word will yield a bunch of results along with the TC of where to find. From there, we can make a choice as to whether the clip works or not. Saves us 2-3 days worth of making and labeling sub-clips.

Of course, your mileage may vary...

Production is fun - but lets not forget: Nobody ever died on the video table!


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Andrew Dodson
Re: transcription services round-up
on Feb 16, 2012 at 10:28:14 pm

Hi bob - give Leah at transcriptdivas.com a tingle - she should be able to sort out a good price for you espec. if you can send through in one bulk lot.

Disclosure - I work for Divas.

Kindest regards to all
Andrew


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Bob Cole
Re: transcription services round-up
on Feb 17, 2012 at 2:05:04 pm

[Nick Griffin] " too often words which are written don't work nearly as well, especially edit as well, when spoken."

Absolutely right. Which is another good reason to do it your way (repeating the lines into Dragon or similar software) - sometimes you just have to do the hard slogging to find those moments. There may be a facial expression, a hitch in the throat, or even a pregnant pause, which words on a page can't convey.

Of course, there is a totally different approach which avoids transcripts entirely: make notes of the best takes during the interview. I know producers who never even look at the whole session - just the parts they mark during the session. I've never used one, but there are timecode-equipped clipboards which enable the interviewer to mark every soundbite which he/she likes. At the end of the day you have a list of outpoints. I wonder whether any of you have used one of those, and found it useful. Although the physical timecode clipboards are expensive to buy, it seems to me that if you used time-of-day timecode, an iPad app would be able to do that job pretty easily and cheaply.... Just a suggestion to you software mavens (I'll buy one!).


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Todd Terry
Re: transcription services round-up
on Feb 17, 2012 at 5:23:42 pm

[Bob Cole] "there are timecode-equipped clipboards"

Yep, "ScriptBoy." The nice thing of course is that they do jam with the camera's timecode, but they are wildly expensive.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Bob Cole
Re: transcription services round-up
on Feb 17, 2012 at 6:34:21 pm

Right. Way too expensive, imho. But if your camera has time-of-day timecode, it would seem fairly easy to have an iPad app which just records a tc mark every time you tapped the screen.


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Bob Cole
Re: transcription services round-up
on Feb 20, 2012 at 1:04:18 pm

Thanks! Looks great, "but".

It does about 100x what I need, and I'm not sure from the website and video whether it will work for quick, unobtrusive notation of good interview answers. Tapping on "note" brings up a keyboard - I don't want that - and tapping on "circle" will "circle a take." We don't do "takes" for each interview question. All I want is time-of-day timecode, a little button to tap, and a list of the timecodes for each tap. Can this app be dumbed down to do that? (I'm assuming that the "clock" setting is for time-of-day.)


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Martin Curtis
Re: transcription services round-up
on Feb 21, 2012 at 10:49:39 am

[Bob Cole] " Tapping on "note" brings up a keyboard - I don't want that -"

I suppose you could type in "x" or something and leave it at that. I just found the app by putting "iPad app which just records a timecode mark every time you tapped the screen." into G00gle.


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