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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Mysteries of Transcription

One of the things that keeps us on our toes as general transcriptionists is you never know what to expect from one day to the next. Besides the myriad of topics that come across our desks, it’s also hard to plan exactly how long a file will take you until you get started.

For instance, have you ever had a perfectly clear, production-quality file that just takes you way too long? Shaina, Tara and I regularly work on files for a particular client that are like this, and we can’t pinpoint exactly what it is that makes them take so long.

Or maybe you’ve had a file that sounds decent enough, but when you start transcribing, you realize it’s more like Charlie Brown’s teacher, “Wah-wah-wah-wah-wah.”

On the other hand, have you ever had a file that sounds just awful when you first listen to it, but once you get going, it’s goes especially fast?

One way I deal with this is to transcribe the first 5 minutes or so of each file when it comes in (because I often have 3, 5 or more files in my queue) so that I know how hard or easy it’s going to be. This doesn’t account for changes mid-audio or technical jargon that may appear halfway through, but it does help me calculate a more realistic speed as I’m making my schedule.