Thank you for helping make the online world more accessible to all! When heroes like you help transcribe videos and podcasts, you are making the online world more accessible for the Deaf or hard of hearing, or translating content for those who don't speak the native language that the content is in.
In this post you'll learn how to transcribe videos and podcasts using Crowdscriber's free transcription software. Our subtitle editor makes transcribing fast and easy. So let's get started!
Wait...What? There's free transcription software?
Read about Crowdscriber's awesome free tool.
Transcribing in 6 Easy Steps
If you are new to Crowdscriber, I recommend also reading the post on the Layout and Settings for the Subtitle Editor. It shows you where everything is.
There are six easy steps to follow when transcribing a chunk for a video or podcast. Whether you are transcribing your own content or helping someone to make their content more accessible, the process is the same.
Each video or podcast is broken into chunks, which are 2 minutes or less. You have 12 hours to complete a chunk. If you don't, not to worry, it just gets put back into the pool of chunks and someone else can claim it later. That's the beauty of Crowdscribing!
1. Claim Your Chunk
The first thing you need to do is claim your chunk. The content curator will have provided a link. They may have emailed the link direct to you, tweeted in the Twitterverse, posted somewhere like Facebook or in a forum like Discord.
No matter how you got it, it's all the same. Just click on the link, and it will bring you to a screen where you can claim your chunk by entering your email.
Why do we need your email? It's just so we can send you your very own beautiful little chunk. You can create an account, but you don't have to. We're easy like that.
If you plan on transcribing regularly, creating an account lets you access your chunks in one place.
First and most important, make sure to check the language that you'll be transcribing in. On this page it will say which language the content creator would like.
Enter your email and click Continue. It won't take long and you will receive an email from us with the link to your own two-minute chunk. If you don't get it, check your junk mail just in case.
The Email Link
The email you receive will look like this. Double check the language and comments, and then click on the link to start transcribing.
If at any point you stop transcribing your chunk or close the subtitle editor window, don't worry! Just come back to your email and click the link, and it will bring right back to your work. It autosaves everything you do!
2. Choose Auto-Caption or Not
If auto-captions are available, you will see this pop-up before you start.
If the video or audio track is in English, Crowdscriber can pull the Auto-Captions if they are enabled.
So what's the deal with auto-captions?
Auto-captions are pulled from YouTube or Google. They convert speech to text by applying an algorithm to the audio...but it’s not always accurate.
Should you choose auto-captions or not?
It's really a preference for each individual transcriber. If you have never transcribed before, you can try both and see which you like better. Here are some Pros and Cons.
Again it comes down to preference.
If you are a fast typer you may want to start from scratch so that you can listen and type. You'll spend less time editing subtitles.
3. Read the Comments
The content curator may add some comments or instructions that will be important to you as a transcriber. They may include things like: how to spell names, technical words, acronyms, who the speakers are and more.
Always check the comments before you start. It may help you transcribe, especially if there are words or names you aren't familiar with.
If you don't see the blue comment bubble, that means the content curator doesn't have any comments or instructions for you. Transcribe away!
4. Adjust the Playback Settings
Before you begin transcribing, it is important to adjust your playback settings. You can find them on the right side of the screen under the gear icon.
You can choose between two options, Continuous Playback and Interrupted Playback.
Whenever you make a change, don't forget to click Save.
Continuous playback doesn't pause at a set interval. This means you have to manually pause the video/audio.
Continuous playback is great if you are a fast typer or you are reviewing the subtitles and just doing minor tweaks at the end.
With interrupted playback the video/audio will pause at a predetermined time (chosen by you).
Choose which option you like. If you choose Interrupted Playback, you can start with five seconds and see how it goes.
Interrupted playback is great for listening to a 5 second or so part and typing what you hear. It pauses automatically, and you can then press play, or use the hotkey (TAB) when you are ready to continue.
Below the gear icon, you will see this symbol. This is the playback toggle between Continuous and Interrupted Playback.
When it is orange, continuous playback is on. When it is grey, interrupted playback is on. This is a quick way to switch between the two. When you are first starting try out both and see what you like.
You can even slow down the audio/video with the speed control, found right above the timeline. A combination of Speed Control and Continuous Playback could be the winning combo for you!
You can rewind using the hotkeys SHIFT + TAB. How many seconds back, is up to you. You can adjust that under the gear icon with the other playback settings. Don't forget to click Save when you make a change.
5. Creating & Editing Subtitles
When you transcribe videos and podcasts, the process is broken into two parts. Creating your subtitles and then Editing your subtitles. If you opted for auto-captions then the creation part is already taken care of, now it's just onto editing.
To start creating subtitles is simple. Play the video (play button or TAB), listen to the video or audio, and type what you hear. Hit Enter to save the subtitle. Note: Wherever you hit Enter, the subtitle will be placed behind the red timeline marker.
Try to avoid long sentences. A subtitle can range in size, however, you typically do not want a subtitle that is more than two lines and longer than 88 characters. Just think how you would read it.
If you need to rewind to hear something again, you can use the video scrub bar, grab and drag the timeline, or use the hotkey SHIFT + TAB (we'll get into more hotkeys later).
Keep going until the two minutes of your chunk are done. Now it's editing time!
When you edit subtitles, you can fix any text, split and merge subtitles, and adjust the timing of the subtitles.
One key editing job is making sure each subtitle lines up with the audio. Also make sure the subtitles aren't too long, or are just a flash on the screen.
Auto-captions will require more editing of the text. Words can be misheard by the speech-to-text algorithm. It sometimes doesn't add correct punctuation, capitalize words, and names can be misspelled.
At a very basic level, just double-click on the subtitle you want to edit. That will open the subtitle in the subtitle editing area. Now you can edit the text, and hit Enter to save.
By hovering your mouse over the subtitle, you get some other options.
These GIFs will show you how these moves are done.
Advanced Editing - Hotkeys
Using the Hotkeys will make transcribing videos and podcasts so much faster and easier. Your hands are on the keyboard already for when you are typing. Why not keep them there?
To see the list of hotkeys at anytime. Just click on the light bulb icon on the right side of the screen to see them all.
Let's go over what each hotkey can do for you. Once you understand how to use them, you'll absolutely love them.
Play / Pause
No big explanation here. TAB once to play, TAB again to pause.
SHIFT + TAB
This rewinds the playback. How far back depends on what you set in the playback settings.
If the video is playing when you rewind, it will continue playing after rewinding.
If the video is paused, playback will remain paused after rewinding.
Adjust to Current Time
CTRL + [
This is generally used once subtitles are already entered. So more in the reviewing phase when you adjust the timing of the subtitles.
When you use CTRL + [ , the start of the next subtitle will be adjusted to where the playhead is (the redline).
If the red line is in the middle of a subtitle, that will become the subtitle's end at the same time. Below is an example.
Edit Current Subtitle
CTRL + ALT + ⇧
Edit Current Subtitle is also great for reviewing . If you are reviewing the subtitles, whether it be your own, or auto-captions, just use CTRL + ALT + ⇧ (up-arrow). Whichever subtitle falls under the playhead (red line) at that moment will become editable.
The subtitle in the timeline will turn grey, meaning you are in edit mode for that subtitle. Now you can edit the subtitle. Hit Enter when you are done editing to save your changes.
CTRL + ALT + S
There are actually two ways to split a subtitle. The first way was mentioned earlier, which is by using your mouse on the timeline with the scissor icon.
The second way is to use the CTRL + ALT+ S hotkey while editing a subtitle. It will split the subtitle into two, placing all the text before the cursor in the first subtitle, and all the text following the cursor into the second.
Shift Text Left/Right
CTRL + ALT + ⇦/⇨
Shift Text Left and Right is a super handy feature. What it does, is sends the text from left or right of the cursor, into the next subtitle to it (left or right).
For example, when working with auto-captions, sometimes the subtitles created don't account for pauses or the end of sentences.
Rather than splitting one subtitle into two and then merging the next two subtitles together, you can do it all in one step with CTRL + ALT + ⇦/⇨.
The GIF below will give you a better idea.
The overflow period is the extra three seconds that may appear at the beginning and/or end of your chunk. It is there to allow you to determine the word or context of the sentence if the chunk happens to start or end mid-word or mid-sentence.
The overflow period technically belongs to another chunk, which is why you’re prevented from adding or resizing subtitles beyond your chunk’s start and end time.
6. Review & Submit Your Transcription
Once you have added all the subtitles and edited them, it's good to go through them one more time. Here are things to look for:
Awesome job! Now that you've reviewed it all and are satisfied with your transcription, it's time to submit!
Submitting a Chunk
Submitting a chunk is super easy. Submitting a chunk is super easy. Just click the big button that says SUBMIT CHUNK and you’ll be presented with a confirmation popup where you can confirm your submission.
You can add any comments you may have for the content curator. This is purely optional. What would you put in here?
For example, if you had trouble understanding some of the language, or couldn’t make out certain words, then you can indicate that in the comments so the content curator is aware of it. Then click Submit!
Claim Another Chunk!
If there are more chunks to be completed for that video or podcast, you will be given the chance to do another chunk if you want. Totally up to you.
Thanks again for your help transcribing content to make it more accessible to everyone. Below are some frequently asked questions that might answer some queries you may have.
If your question is not answered here, please start a conversation using the Intercom at the bottom right of your screen in the subtitle editor, or send your question to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will do our best to get back to you as soon as we can.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long do I have to transcribe my chunk?
Every chunk will expire after 12 hours. If you have not submitted subtitles for your chunk before the expiration period, it will return to the pool of available chunks for another transcriber to pick up. Any subtitles you may have entered before expiration will be lost.
Be sure to only opt-in once you have enough time to transcribe your chunk; the chunk sizes are kept small to ensure no single person is committed to a lengthy transcription process.
Why are there "suggested videos" over the YouTube video I'm transcribing?
Unfortunately we have no control over those. That's a YouTube thing.
Basically what you are seeing and interacting with is a YouTube player. So it will act like YouTube, and will only appear when the video is paused.
You can X out of them just like on YouTube if they bother you.
What happens to my chunk after I submit it?
Once your chunk has been submitted it will be reviewed and must be approved before it can be included in the finalized published transcription.
The publisher can make any final edits or adjustments if they choose, or if your chunk is deemed unacceptable, it can be rejected and returned to the pool of available chunks for someone else to pick up.
How long should a subtitle be?
Try to avoid long sentences. A subtitle can range in size, however, you typically do not want a subtitle that is more than two lines and longer than 88 characters.
What should I do if I cannot make out a word in the video?
Try your best to make out the word. If you still cannot understand it then place [...] in place of the word.
Let the content curator know in the comments before you submit.
If two people are talking and one person is affirming the first talker with “Ya, Mmm Hmm, ok, …” should I include that in the subtitle?
No, you can leave this out since it is not an important part of the speech
Should I include repetitive words?
You can generally omit repetitive words if they are unintentional.
For example, if someone is giving a speech it is common to hear the speaker repeat the first word in their sentence. Eg. “The,….the main objective of...” would simply transcribe to “The main objective of…”.
Should I include sounds or background noise?
Only include sounds if they add meaning to the conversation. Omit meaningless sounds, repetitions, and jargon.
Use all CAPS for any sounds or background noise.
What should I do if I’m not familiar with the technical terms being used?
Don’t worry if you’re not too familiar with the subject matter or some of the terms being used.
Check if your chunk has any comments associated with it as the content curator may have provided you with some of the spelling and meaning of the terms or acronyms being used.
You can also use a search engine to look up any spelling or meanings of words you don’t understand.
If you still can't figure it out, let the content curator know in the comments.
What should I do if two people are talking at the same time?
If one speaker is making the dominant argument you can just include that. If you feel they are both important then you can annotate the sentence with the speaker’s name with square brackets. Eg. [John]: this is my argument. [Jane]: this is my argument.
How should I translate proper names?
If you are translating from a language that uses the Latin script into a language that also uses the Latin script you can use the name from the original language, or translate it directly.
If you are translating into a language that does not use the Latin script, you should transliterate instead.
Consult the official transliteration systems for your particular language.
Should I translate directly word-by-word, or just convey the main idea?
Use your best judgement. In many cases, translating word-by-word sounds unnatural and may not work for certain videos.
If the content of the video is very technical then translating word-by-word may be the best option, otherwise concentrate more on translating the main idea of what is being said and feel free to substitute certain words and phrases with the most appropriate equivalent even if it is not a literal translation.
Be sure to check to see if your chunk has any instructions associated with it, which may provide you with a particular style-guide to follow.