Who Needs Transcription Services?

Who Needs Transcription Services - ATC Blog
Many organizations rely heavily on transcription services to have written records of events, create reference materials, make content searchable, write books, and of course, increase revenue. The list of advantages and segments can be infinite, but as a start here are six industry segments that can benefit from transcription services:

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Computer transcription misleads even as it impresses

With speech-to-text transcription, what are you really saving?

[Patrick Emond contributed to this post]

Last week, IBM trumpeted  their latest achievement in automated speech-to-text: a record-low error rate of 5.5 percent. But always, especially with regard to saving money on transcription, you have to read the fine print.

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Confidentiality IS a no-brainer!

Confidentiality IS a no-brainer - ATC Blog

Oy, the paperwork, the legalese, the “CYA” that’s now REQUIRED when running a transcription service…or any type of service, it seems.  It’s truly never-ending, and we spend hours upon hours reviewing agreements of all kinds with major institutions while they perform risk assessments of ATC’s downtown Boston office space.  Our founder, owner, and president Sandy’s favorite is showing off his circa 1940s Brownie box camera that sits perched on a high shelf in his office impersonating part of our state-of-the-art video security system.  He was thrilled the day one of the younger risk assessment people actually thought it WAS part of the security system.  What’s the reason for all of this, you may ask? It’s the “confidentiality conundrum” that truly isn’t a conundrum…a confidentiality agreement is a no-brainer.  So…does a confidentiality agreement automatically guarantee confidentiality?

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StoryCorps’s National Day of Listening

Story Corps National Day of Listening - Audio Transcription Center Blog

Thanksgiving is around the proverbial corner, and this holiday is typically a wonderful opportunity for friends and families to reconnect.  People being together offers a perfect time for stories to be passed around the holiday table along with helpings of stuffing and mashed potatoes. The potential for these stories to be handed and passed from generation to generation is at a peak while everyone is together.  What better way to collect, share, and save these stories from potentially being forgotten than by recording, archiving, and transcribing them for posterity?

We believe that StoryCorps’s The National Day of Listening is the perfect excuse to talk, listen, record, and transcribe.

We live in a special time when we’re not just able to orally pass stories down the line, but we’re also able ensure their archival longevity through the recording and transcribing of these personal and oral histories.

Take the time to find a quiet space, and set up your digital recorder.  Test the device to make sure you are recording properly.  Then, hit the record button and listen to and record the story.  It’s that simple, and it will be a gift  to read and listen to for generations.  This year, StoryCorps suggests honoring a veteran, and offers suggested conversation starters right on their website.

Don’t lose out on your family history and question yourself after it is too late.  We speak from our own missed opportunities.

Wishing you a peaceful Thanksgiving, and the opportunity to listen to, record and transcribe a new story never heard before.

In full disclosure, the Audio Transcription Center has partnered with StoryCorps on transcription of their audio recordings for their published books, Listening is an Act of Love, All There Is, and Mom , that we are humbled and proud to have participated in. 

Michael Sesling                                                           Sandy Poritzky
Director                                                                           Owner/President
michael@audiotranscriptioncenter.com                      sandy@audiotranscriptioncenter.com
(617) 423-2151                                                              (617) 423-2151

Our Transcriptionists: Part of the 47% Honor Roll!

Our Transcriptionists - Audio Transcription Center Blog

What do you do with people who have a keen sense of hearing, ridiculously fast fingers, one hell of an accurate mind, but prefer not to interact with the public?

What do you do with people who prefer to interact with words and ideas instead?

What do you do with people who prefer a job that offers near instant gratification?

What do you do with people who prefer producing high quality transcripts out of a poor audio recording?

What do you do with people who prefer leaving their work at the office?

What do you do with people who get their jollies by beating unrealistic deadlines?

Since 1966 we’ve found a home for these anomalies of the working world, and we’ve been able to build our highly educatedand culturally diverse team of transcriptionistsfrom this truly amazing group of oddballs.

Give the Audio Transcription Center a try, and see the difference it makes in the accuracy of your transcripts and the speed of your work flow.  (As well as helping to bring down the unemployment rate…)

 
Lastly, please remember to VOTE November 6, 2012! 

Michael Sesling
Director
michael@audiotranscriptioncenter.com

Sandy Poritzky
Owner/President
sandy@audiotranscriptioncenter.com

Beating unreasonable deadlines since 1966!
Never a charge for RUSH service!

Transcripts, timecoding, and you

Transcripts timecoding and you - Audio Transcription Center Blog

As the Director of the Audio Transcription Center, I am routinely in meetings with Sandy Poritzky, the owner who started this firm in 1966.  Over the course of my 5 years with the firm, I have listened numerous times to Sandy’s arguments for time-coding transcripts and had many an argument about the topic.

“Michael, my boy,” he’ll say, “why don’t we have time-coding as a standard for all client transcripts?”  “Sandy, the challenge with time-coding is that there is no standard,” I’ll tell him, and then we’ll get into a debate for the next 35 minutes about time-coding.

In the ensuing battles in his office, Sandy, in his inimitable fashion argued that we need to come up with a standard for time-coding that would be included in all client transcripts.  On the counterpoint, in my inimitable fashion, I argued that every client’s needs are so different that there can not be any standard inclusion of time-coding in transcripts.

To be fair, Sandy’s belief is that time-coding should be a standard offering in transcripts, and he understands that every client has very different needs in how time-coding should be included and used in transcription.

Five years later, the battles still linger on, but we now have a conversation with clients about their specific transcription requirements and how time-coding can be a major time-saver in reviewing and editing your transcripts in the long run.

Quite basically, time-coding is beneficial for clients on a few different levels.  One way is for clients to be able to sync up their transcripts with their audio/video files, so that visitors to an online oral history project may synchronously watch the video recording and read the transcript.

For instance, have a look at the website of the Kentuckiana Digital Library, which offers their video footage with a synced transcript.  As Doug Boyd, Director of the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History at the University of Kentucky Libraries writes in his article, “Achieving the Promise of Oral History in a Digital Age”, published in Donald Ritchie’s The Oxford Handbook of Oral History [Oxford University Press, 2011], “By embedding time-code into the transcript, we enabled time correlation between the transcript and the audio or video, yielding an integrated final product where the components work together…Additionally, we created a customized software solution to more easily (albeit still manually) embed time-code markers into the transcript.  The decision was made to embed these markers at one-minute intervals throughout the transcript.  The five-minute interval proved to be, still, too much text to scan while trying to determine the specific location of the information being sought in the audio file.”

We also work with numerous production companies that are sending in their video footage prior to editing.  These clients actually have us time-coding their transcripts at even shorter intervals, so they can easily and efficiently edit sound bites by reviewing their newly time-coded transcripts.

Additionally, if a client sends in an audio file with with poor quality audio, and we are unable to transcribe a word that is said, we’ll put (inaudible) in place of the unknown word.  Time-coding these portions becomes an added feature to help a client easily locate the “inaudible” content in their audio, and review to see if they are able to replace the “inaudible” content with the word that was said.

So in the end, there is no standard need for our clients in how time-codes should be inserted in transcripts, but there certainly is reason to find the time-code formatting that will make reviewing, editing, reading, and watching your content that much simpler.

Malcom X: A Life of Reinvention – Manning Marable

Malcom X A Life of Reinvention - Manning Marable - ATC Blog
 On April 4, 2011 Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention was published, and the magnum opus of Manning Marable’s life’s research was finally in print.  Sadly, for those who do not know, Dr. Marable passed away 3 days before the book hit the shelves.  Thankfully, he was able to see the book in print before he passed away. 

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Reality Check: Transcription Vs. Speech Recognition Software – The Showdown

Transcription vs Speech Recognition Software Audio Transcription Center Blog
If anyone reading is a fan of the game show Jeopardy!, you already know that this week, IBM super-computer Watson is taking on legendary past Jeopardy! champions (and human beings) Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter in a Human vs. Human vs. Machine grudge match, and we now know Machine has won!
Congratulations to Watson.
We don’t have a super-computer, or a fancy game-show soundstage, but we are bringing you the results of our Human vs. Machine faceoff. Can human transcriptionists from the Audio Transcription Center (ATC) slay the Dragon? Read on and find out!
(Full disclosure: we’re a transcription company that has been in business since 1966. Successful speech recognition software could put us out of business. Just so you know.)
Championships have been won in Boston: the Red Sox have won World Series, the Celtics NBA Championships, and the Bruins Stanley Cups, all just five minutes from our very offices. So it is fitting that our office be the site of this titanic Human vs. Machine bout!
First of all, I will introduce the Machine… wearing a green cardboard box, from Nuance Software, Dragon Naturally Speaking 10, Home Edition, or as we prefer to call it “Team Dragon”. (Version 11 has been released since we began testing; and we will put it to the test at a later date.)
And in the other corner, wearing headphones, torn jeans and flexing their fingers… the human transcriptionists of the Audio Transcription Center (ATC), specifically four randomly-selected competitors from our staff of dozens of versatile, multi-talented transcriptionists. All four, collectively known as “Team ATC”, were eager to take on the challenge.
“But wait,” you exclaim! “Dragon only works with one voice at a time, this is an unfair fight!” Correct. But rather than automatically claim victory, we decided to level the playing field by having both competitors work with only one voice, who would be speaking on a variety of subjects.
Dragon Naturally Speaking (or “Team Dragon”), as well as our team of terrific transcriptionists (or “Team ATC”), would be transcribing the voice of… me. Your humble blogger, formerly heard on college radio and occasionally behind a karaoke machine, would be the voice that would take both competitors to their limits!
Let’s begin the match, shall we?
First of all: speed of delivery
Team Dragon: walk to the store, purchase the software, come back to the office.
Team ATC: walk to the subway, purchase subway ticket, come to the office.
Advantage: We’ll call this one a tie.
Speed of installation
Team Dragon: 32 minutes for “complete installation”. The DVD-ROM was a very bright shade of orange.
Team ATC: less than 10 minutes for installation, and that includes pouring themselves a cup of coffee while the computer boots up. Occasionally wears bright colors as well.
Advantage: Team ATC.
Speed of training for first-time use
Team Dragon: 39 minutes, from first launch until the program was ready for prime-time, including entering the serial number at least 4 times.
Team ATC: About two hours, including filling out at least 4 pieces of paperwork. We’re thorough that way.
Advantage: Team Dragon.
So far, before we’ve introduced actual transcription into the contest, we’re tied at 1-1. It’s a close match in the early going…
Now, let’s bring in some actual audio. Specifically, about 1,135 words, spoken over about 7 minutes, on a variety of subjects, by yours truly.
“But wait,” you exclaim. Again. “’Team Dragon’ has to be trained to recognize your voice! It’s designed to improve as you use it more!” Correct. Whereas ‘Team ATC’, none of whom have ever heard my voice on a recording, can hit the ground running immediately. Advantage: Team ATC.
Back to the audio: our four transcriptionists each took one pass at it, transcribing it verbatim (with ums and ahs). Once done, the audio was given a real-time review, and time needed to perform corrections was noted.
Transcription time for “Team ATC” for seven minutes of audio, spoken in a quiet room, clearly and methodically: averaged out to 20 minutes.
But how did it look, you ask? There was an average of two errors in the 7 minute file. Out of 1,135 words, that’s over 99.8% accuracy before review. Review time averaged out to eight minutes, for a total score of 28 minutes.
Now, for the first round with “Team Dragon”. For the first round, I once again spoke slow-ly and meth-od-ic-al-ly. I also spoke punctuation and carriage returns in their appropriate places, as per instructions.
Dictation time for “Team Dragon”, first round? 16 minutes. Which sounds fast, until you realize that reading the audio into a recorder at ‘normal’ pace took less than half that time.
But how did it look, you ask? Not so good. Review time took 18 minutes; with over 60 errors (versus two!), for a total score of 34 minutes, and around 94% accuracy or roughly 15 errors per page. Which sounds good, until you remember that this is one voice, speaking slow-ly and meth-od-ic-al-ly. Which most of us don’t do in our daily lives.
 
Advantage for round one: “Team ATC”.
Before the competition, and in between rounds, while “Team ATC” was eating lunch or going for walks, “Team Dragon” was in training, as I read and corrected material from various sources into the software. Song lyrics, blurbs from dust jackets, chocolate bar wrappers… “Team Dragon” was being further trained to recognize my dulcet tones.
For round two with “Team Dragon”, I changed a setting to speed up the process; Dragon has a setting which inserts commas and periods in logical places. That indeed shaved a few minutes from the dictation time: dictation now took 11 minutes.
But how did it look, you ask?  Still not so good. There were over 40 errors; review time took 13 minutes (which was, again, longer than the dictation itself), so over 96% accuracy or roughly 10 errors per page. Which, again, sounds impressive, until you compare it to 99% accuracy.
Total time for round 2, including review time: 24 minutes. Which means…
Advantage for round two: “Team Dragon”.
So what have we learned? That speech recognition software can, with repeated training, be accurate enough that your dictation time, plus your review time, can be faster than a human transcriptionist.
So “Team Dragon” wins? The robots are taking over?
Uh, no.
If your audio input consists of one voice, and only one voice, and you have enough access to that one voice to allow Dragon to become further accustomed to that one voice, then by all means, stop reading now, and become a proud supporter of “Team Dragon”.
For everyone else, “Team ATC” is still miles ahead. “Team ATC” can transcribe your all-hands meeting, with its 27 participants from the CEO to the intern. “Team Dragon” can’t.
“Team ATC” can transcribe your interview with your Nana where she talks about the old country; and because the Audio Transcription Center (ATC) can match your interview subject matter up with the right member of “Team ATC”, you can get a transcript with 99% accuracy or higher, even though we’ve never heard your voice.
 
“Team Dragon” can transcribe you or your Nana, at lower than 99% accuracy, and only knows what it’s been programmed about the old country.
And most importantly, the human beings at the Audio Transcription Center (ATC) can consult with you before your project even begins, and work with you to help you get the most out of your limited transcription budget.
When and if “Team Dragon” catches up to us, and is able to transcribe the material our talented, smart human beings are able to transcribe, quickly and accurately, we will be the first to jump on the bandwagon. Until “Team Dragon” puts us out of business.
But for now, if you call the Audio Transcription Center (ATC), there are no machines to train, no dragons to slay, just friendly, helpful customer service, a second-to-none transcription staff and a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
Next in line for us is a white paper that will help you find your best transcription solution, even if it is (gasp) not us!
by Patrick Emond