Tooling Around: oTranscribe

Earlier today I conducted an interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson in relation to his upcoming keynote at the DevLearn Conference and Expo. I conducted the interview by phone and recorded the conversation so I could capture the conversation and transcribe it later on. This is the first time I have conducted a formal interview with the intention of transcribing it after the fact. I opened WORD, started playing the MP3 file, and the dance began.

Play recording, Listen, Pause recording , Move hands from mouse to keyboard, Type, Move hands to mouse … REPEAT (with a frequent REWIND thrown in for good measure)

After about 5 minutes of frustration and profanity, I realized their had to be a better way. A few searches later, I came across a nice solution: oTranscribe.

CaptureoTranscribe, which is still in BETA as of this writing, describes itself as “A free web app to take the pain out of transcribing recorded interviews”. I think that description is spot on. It’s a browser-based app (currently Chrome only) whose beauty is in it’s simplicity.

When you launch the app you have one action: Start Transcribing. When you do, you will go to the transcription page. You have two primary options at this point. You can upload an audio or video file, or you can link to a YouTube video. Once that’s done, you’re ready to get started.

The biggest asset to oTranscribe is that it’s all based off the keyboard, completely eliminating the mouse and the need to jump from the media player to the text editor. You hands never really need to leave the keyboard. All of the player functions are linked to the ESC and function keys.

CapturePlay and pause are controlled by the ESC key. You start playing and start typing what you hear. If you fall behind the audio, hit escape to pause and catch up. I especially liked that when you unpause the playback, it resumes about 2 seconds earlier then where you paused. If you need to rewind or fast forward a bit, use the F1 and F2 keys. You can also slow down or speed up the playback speed of the file using F3 and F4 (though some YouTube video do not support this).

The actual text-editing options are limited, by design. You can only Bold or Italicize text using the standard CTL-B and CTL-I shortcuts. There’s also a word counter and a handy Timestamp function (CTL-J) that will insert the current playing time of the recording into the text copy.

Being a browser-based app, there’s no local saving option. The text is automatically saved to your browser history every minute or so, and tou can manually save to the browser history via CTL-S. You can review all of the recent save states and restore previous versions if necessary. You can download the text as a markdown file or plain text, and you can also send the transcript directly to Google Drive.

This app was extremely helpful, and made writing up the transcript of my conversation with Dr. Tyson very easy. I don’t need to transcribe often, but I can see oTranscribe being extremely useful for those that do.