Tuesday, August 29, 2017

YouTube Transcripts

David Pogue:

Believe it or not, YouTube creates a written transcript for every single video. Just click More and Transcript and boom!

What’s cool is that you can use this feature as a great way to create free transcripts of your own recordings.

Given its native software and focus on accessibility, this is the kind of thing I’d expect Apple to do. Indeed, Clips does use speech recognition, but it’s for adding titles on top of the video, not transcribing what’s there. And I don’t think there’s anything like this in iMovie. I don’t know what Apple uses for the WWDC videos. Meanwhile, Google has implemented what looks like an impressive interface in the browser.

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But it's worth noting that YouTube's auto-caption isn't all that accurate.

I posted a few videos of my daughter's marching band performance, and YouTube's auto-transcript of the pre-performance announcements ranged from typos to silliness to the obscene (e.g. transcribed "bigger" as something unprintable).

Don't ever rely on auto-caption. Take the time (for me, it was a few hours) to review and edit the transcription so it prints what is actually said.

But to be fair, it's not just YouTube. I've seen tons of auto-transcription errors on TV, both on live broadcasts (like the nightly news) and on pre-recorded content (like dramas and comedies). The former, I can understand. The latter is inexcusable, since those shows are scripted and the people doing the captioning should be given a copy of the script (but I assume they are not, given the nature of the errors).

And this has been going on for a very long time. I remember episodes of Star Trek where "ablative armor" was transcribed to "a blade of armor", and where the alien race "Cardassian" was transcribed as "Kardashian" (that one always makes me laugh).

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