Back in August of 2005 I wrote a post, Transcriva makes transcribing (almost) fun, in which I reviewed the first version of Transcriva from Bartas Technologies, a delightful Macintosh application I’ve been using since then for transcribing audio and video interviews. Last year Bartas released the long awaited Transcriva 2 upgrade ($29.99 per license, free trial download). This version changes how some things work and adds several new features including video support, which I’ve been looking forward to since that first review way back when, since I use it to transcribe video interviews (when I don’t have the budget for professional transcription). Even though working with audio only has been acceptable, being able to see the video in order to include notes about framing and what the interviewee is doing in a walk-and-talk or demonstration oriented interview is a nice plus and saves time reviewing the video after doing the transcription.
In my original review I wrote, “Transcriva transforms the process of transcribing interviews from a tedious chore into a graceful process with an efficient chat-like interface using keyboard shortcuts that is especially powerful when transcribing an interview with multiple speakers.” And that is still true. Bartas’ tag line for Transcriva is “Manual transcription with automatic transmission” and I’d say that’s a better way to put it. The program offers user-configurable keyboard shortcuts so your hands never need to leave the keyboard. You can control playback speed to match your typing speed. After a pause, when you restart the media it automatically jumps back a user-settable number of seconds to make it easier to take up where you left off. It even works with a Foot Pedal (via software interface) if you’re set up with one. The program has a Follow-Along feature that will highlighting the related sections of the transcription as the media file plays back. Clicking on the transcription text jumps to the related point in the video or audio file. Transcriva can handle just about any type of audio or video you can play with QuickTime. When you’re done transcribing, you can export the text as a plain text (.txt), RTF (.rtf) or Microsoft Word (.doc) file.
This new version, in addition to adding video support, offers other significant improvements over the first version: media files are no longer read into the applications own document, saving both transfer time and disk space, and transcriptions are nicely organized in folders on the left hand side of the interface and you can choose where the root folder lives. It’s Mac-like interface continues to be a fine feature of the program. Another cool feature in this version is that it can use a live audio and/or video recording as the source media, so while you record a live meeting you can type notes that will be attached to the media being recorded at the time you wrote the notes.
There are two features I’d like to see in a future version of Transcriva: First, the ability to set a time code offset in a file. Right now all transcriptions start at zero and the time code is the time since the start of the audio file or video clip. It would be nice in some situations to match the actual time code of the media file being transcribed. While this is not a serious issue on my current project using P2 media (in a file-based world referring to clip name and time from start of clip works well most of the time), however, when working on videotape based interviews it would be nice to be able to create transcripts that match the time code of the original media. Second, I’d like to see the program extending the shortcuts beyond media control, navigation, and options to include words and phrases that come up often during an interview. Perhaps it could be modeled on the word completion feature in BBEdit and programming environments like Flex.
Transcriva has made my work easier and I’m pleased with it. My experience with Bartas Technologies has been very good, with quick responses to questions and bug reports. If you need to transcribe interviews, and you’ve not yet found the right tool, Transcriva 2 might be it. Give their free trial a spin and see for yourself how much easier it can be to transcribe interviews with this simple and powerful program designed specifically for the Macintosh. For filmmakers transcribing interviews or preparing subtitles, Transcriva 2 is probably a good candidate for the job.