The volume of video content uploaded to the internet every day is immense. Transcribing this content can produce benefits for users and audiences, but often this content lacks a quality transcript. Don’t make this mistake. Try these five tactics for producing high-quality transcripts of your recordings.
1. Prioritize audio quality.
Audio quality has to be your priority when considering transcription. Even the best transcription services will not be able to create quality transcripts from poor recordings. Record in an environment with limited background noise. Make sure there are minimal echoes, ambient sounds, and other disturbances common to daily life (lawnmowers, barking dogs, loud neighbors). Watch your settings, too. The recording should maintain consistent audio levels throughout.
2. Use the best equipment.
To elevate your audio quality, you are going to need quality equipment:
Microphone – Use the right microphone for the job. There are three types—dynamic, condenser, and ribbon—so learn which ones suit your recording situation. To help determine what will work best, answer some simple questions: How many speakers are involved? How much background noise will there be? Where will the sound be coming from—front of the room, back of the room, or all over?
Studio – The area where you record is integral to getting a high-quality result. A studio is ideal, but you might not have access to one. A spacious room with high ceilings, walls that are soundproofed, and concrete floors will work well. If this proves hard to find, then look for a quiet space without echo. For a DIY studio, hang thick blankets around your microphone or place it in a sound booth to limit the sound reverberating from the walls.
Software – To edit your recording, you will need software. Several robust editing programs can be downloaded for free, including Audacity, Pro Tools First by Avid, or, if you use a Mac, Garage Band.
3. Hire a transcription service.
If you rely on a computer to transcribe audio or video to text, the resulting transcript will lack the consistency and authenticity of a text by a human transcriptionist. A professional transcription service will capture nuances in language and dialects, apply proper grammar and capitalization, ensure correct spelling, eliminate non-speech sounds, and identify speakers.
To make sure you have a quality recording, plan ahead. Preparing scripts for presentations and speeches will ensure clear enunciation, which will help your transcription service produce an accurate transcript.
5. Adhere to legal guidelines.
Federal accessibility laws often require that transcripts be made available. If you’re going to invest in a transcription service or professional transcriptionist, make sure they follow best practices. There are two primary sources for transcription guidelines. The international standard for web accessibility is set by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which promote making web-based content available to any users, including those with disabilities. Guidelines from the Described and Captioned Media Program can also be helpful.