What Is Video Transcription?

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  • Written By: Alan Rankin
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 02 October 2019
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Video transcription is the procedure for creating written accounts of the dialogue and important action in a particular video. These written accounts, called transcripts, are useful for research, archival materials, and persons with hearing disabilities. Video transcription is a professional service, similar to court reporting and other audio transcription services. Some sources, such as news agencies, offer it for free. Professional transcription services will provide a transcript of almost any video for a set fee.

A transcript is a printed or electronic text document describing anything that occurs in an auditory, or sound, medium. All dialogue is included, and all speakers are identified in the transcript; pertinent sounds such as laughter or music may be indicated in brackets. It is usually prepared by a trained professional working directly from a recording of the source material. Video transcription is a special subclass of transcription that focuses on sources such as television and film. It may include descriptions of visual information and references called timecodes, which correspond to the minutes and seconds of the source video.


Video transcription is useful for academic and professional research, especially when the original video is unavailable or its use is impractical. Intensive study of a video’s subject matter, for instance, is often easier with a transcript, as pages and paragraphs can be plainly marked. The transcript can also be referenced in locations where video playback is not possible. Those with a personal, professional, or scholarly interest in a show or topic may wish to add a transcript to their files on the subject. Transcripts of meetings, lectures, and interviews can also prove useful to students, writers, or employees of a business.

Closed captioning is a special kind of video transcription for the deaf and hard of hearing. The dialogue and other auditory material from a TV show or movie are presented at the edge of the screen as they occur in the video. It can be accessed through the television or player controls and is available for a wide range of programming, even TV commercials. Captioning on live shows such as news and sporting events may be erratic, as it is being transcribed in real time. Even some video games offer closed captioning.

Many shows offer video transcriptions of individual episodes, particularly non-fiction programming such as news and talk shows. Some news agencies provide these transcripts as a free service on the Internet. Other shows offer them for a fee, usually by working with a video transcription service, which charges a set amount per minute or hour of video. Skilled professionals called transcribers can create a transcript of a show within a day of its broadcast or creation. Many of these transcription services are available to any party who is willing to pay their standard fee.


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Post 3

@umbra21 - It is a tough job, especially when you're doing it live, but even just transcribing video can be difficult. I've done it a few times and it takes a while to get the hang of it. Often the jobs are time sensitive, so you have to finish as quickly as possible.

Post 2

@pastanaga - Transcription errors happen a lot in captioning for videos as well, but that's not really surprising. Considering how quickly the transcription process has to happen, especially on live TV, they usually do a very good job.

I usually turn on the captions when I'm watching something and someone else is trying to concentrate in the room, or when I'm watching something in another language. I know a little bit of French and Spanish, but I can't always follow it on video. It helps to have the words written down as well as spoken.

Post 1

It can be pretty funny when these get the dialog in a video wrong. There are some examples of this on the internet, but you can see it in plenty of foreign films, especially when they were never distributed by a big company with professional translators.

It can be a little annoying if it's a film you really want to watch though. And even if the transcription isn't obviously bad, there's always the question of whether they have translated and transcribed it properly.

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