Monday, October 12, 2015

Transcription, to be simply put, is converting an audio file into the written file in certain format. For some reasons, this transcription activity will really source a lot of energy to bestow. The nature of one transcription to another translation project is quite different and sometimes unpredictable.

You may, one day, be asked to transcribe a sermon involving one voice only and sometimes an interview of many people within. Yes, that is the transcription and isn't it that hard to transcribe an audio of many people speaking within? Answering yes is not correct and neither is no. We would like to share with you our recent case we managed to cope with.

We were asked by one of our fellow translation companies to transcribe an investigation report concerning the crime committed by an Indonesian female labor. In the beginning, we were wondering how the audio file would look like and we imagined that it would consist of many people in it and yes, what we thought was correct.

We then analyzed the audio file and we came to a conclusion that we had to accept that job offer. In the audio file we were working on, we found 5 real characters; an interpreter, 3 male police officers and a suspect; an Indonesian female labor - An interpreter interchangeably speaks English and Indonesian, and 3 male police officers speak English, while the suspect speaks informal Indonesian and sometimes Javanese. It was challenging, really challenging.

Our strategy
If we treat the job individually, we literally need to hire 3 people at the same time to transcribe that audio file; one English native speaker, one Indonesian native speaker and one Javanese native speaker. This will surely absorb much money and time to spend. We then decide to hire one Indonesian native speaker (at the same time able to really understand Javanese) to do the transcription of Indonesian and Javanese parts. For English part, we got our client to have it transcribed by English native speaker. It was done by client.

Time spent
How long does 1-minute audio file have to take for transcription? It really depends on the content of the conversation and this includes the speed of the speakers and audio quality. We worked on a 55-minute audio file recently with 5 speakers within and it took us 2 days to complete. It was done by professional and the result was with accuracy guarantee. It may take more time, depending the content of audio, speed of the speakers and audio quality.

The result
Our client was satisfied with our job and sent the file for further step (translation) after they reviewed it. The secret was simple. As we are a translation company working in a team, we hire a professional transcriber (meaning that the one who did the transcription was a real professional (freelance professional transcriber)). After the transcribed audio is complete, we then ask our in-house transcriber to check the result. After everything is confirmed to be okay, we send the transcribed audio to the client for their process.

Our tips and tricks

  • Transcribe only an audio file you fully master. If you are an Indonesian native speaker, work on Indonesian transcription project only. There is no single proved reference that we are not allowed to transcribe an audio file of non-native language of ours, but believe in us, this will spend more time and energy than you do an Indonesian transcription or your native language.
  • Provide a very quiet and peaceful place to listen as you need to really focus on the audio and convert it into the written format (you listen while typing and it is not an easy task).
  • Ask the outsourcer for a format to be filled in and if they do not have one, suggest yours.
  • Use media player that suits you most and headset instead of active speaker. Brand is not a matter. The convenience you get while using it really matters.
  • Reject whatever transcription job of tight deadline. Propose your deadline if possible.


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