Automatic Transcription VS Manual Transcription. Time, Effort, and Cost

Automatic Transcription VS Manual Transcription.  Time, Effort, and Cost

What is manual transcription?

Manual transcription is defined as the process of representing oral text, either audio or video files, into a written text format. A common example of manual transcription is the use of a stenographer in a courtroom setting. In such a setting, the stenographer details everything that is happening with a manner of accuracy and efficiency that is difficult to match. Human transcriptionists are expertly trained in not only deciphering the audio or video footage at hand but also in typing and recording in the most effective manner possible. There are both pros and cons to enlisting in the services of a manual transcriptionist.

What are the pros and cons of manual transcription?

The most obvious pro of manual transcription is the level of accuracy that can be achieved. As many human transcriptionists have dedicated years to their craft, they will have reached a level of skill and expertise that will be extremely difficult to match by the use of a software program or machine. As such, there are still certain scenarios in which a human transcriptionist may be the preferred option. Aside from the example of a stenographer, many academic settings may require the use of a transcriptionist, as students or professors may want to relate back to the content that was spoken or viewed during a lecture or presentation. Due to the complexity of the language that may be used in such lectures or presentations, an automatic transcription program would undoubtedly struggle to pick everything up.

Alternatively, the cons to manual transcription are the cost and time that it takes to complete a job. To illustrate this, a skilled and accomplished human transcriptionist can take as long as 10 hours to transcribe a single hour of an audio or video file. This is due to the fact that the variables in audio and video files will differ from one another. For instance, if a transcriber is listening to a file with a single speaker that is speaking in a language or accent that is familiar to them about a simple topic that would not require further research, the process can go quickly and smoothly. However, if you were to change only one variable in this scenario, say the subject matter is very dense and complex, or more than one speaker at a time, then a transcriber would have to account for this by taking more time.

As it relates to cost, transcriptionist rates generally range from $1.00 to $2.50 per audio minute for their services. As such, a human transcriptionist will simply not be economically feasible in certain business contexts. For example, a law firm looking to transcribe 30 to 40 hours long audio recordings related to a case would have to pay an enormous amount for the average transcriptionist to complete the job. What’s more, this process would more than likely take weeks if not months to complete.

What is automatic transcription?

Alternatively, automatic transcription enlists in the services of a software program to perform transcriptionist services. These programs allow users to upload audio files and enlist in the services of AI technology and machine learning capabilities to complete the job. Automatic transcription programs are unique in that they allow people to access transcription methods who may not have had the money required to pay a transcriptionist their hourly rate. Much like manual transcription, there are both pros and cons to opting for an automated transcription approach.

What are the pros and cons of automated transcription?

The primary pro of automated transcription is that the process saves a significant amount of time and money. To illustrate this point further, CaseGuard Studio can be used to automatically transcribe hours of audio files in only a matter of minutes. This speed could never be attained by a human transcriptionist, who will invariably be more nuanced and methodical in their work than a machine would. As such, there are certain situations in the business world in which having a person perform manual transcription on an audio file is not the most efficient way to get the job done.

To give an example of this, as content creators on social media continue to grow in reach and popularity, their videos will inevitably be shared with people in other countries who do not speak the same language as them. In order to comprehend the content contained in these videos, they will need to be transcribed first. However, due to the frequency with which content creators upload their work to popular platforms such as Youtube and Twitter, it would be impractical to have a single transcriptionist complete all of the work required to efficiently transcribe the videos.

Conversely, the primary con to using an automatic transcription program is 100% accuracy is not yet an achievable feat. As machines struggle to pick up context when analyzing and transcribing audio files, automatic transcription programs will inevitably miss to catch certain words and phrases. This is two-fold if the words and phrases are particularly complicated or technical in nature. For example, an automatic transcription software program would struggle to accurately transcribe a 3 hour lecture at a leading university concerning human anatomy. As this lecture would more than likely contain large swaths of academic jargon and terminology, the software system would commit some level of error that would have to then be corrected by human inputs.

A second con to automatic transcription is that it is challenging for machines to recognize language that is spoken with accents and dialects that are outside of the framework of textbook language. What’s more, as the English language is considered difficult to decipher when compared to other languages, there are some English conversations in which automatic transcription will never be a feasible option. Research has found that speech recognition software is significantly less accurate for people who do not speak traditional textbook English.

Below is an example of automatic transcription using CaseGuard Studio software.


Combining Manual and Automatic Transcription

In many scenarios, a combination of these two methods will likely garner the greatest and most comprehensive results. A human transcriptionist for instance could choose to use an automatic transcription program to begin the job, and use their knowledge and experience to clean up any mistakes and enhance the overall quality of work. In the end, the decision to opt for manual transcription versus automatic transcription will hinge upon the specific needs of your business or organization.