Man versus machine is an age-old question, especially regarding automation, productivity, and accuracy. Humans are capable of extraordinary feats of cognitive intelligence, but the human mind can’t possibly compete with the speed and efficiency of technology.
Several businesses have tried to automate the video transcription process, including these 3 Dovetail alternatives, but does machine transcription trump human transcription? It depends.
How to Determine Which Transcription Method You’ll Need
Before looking at the costs of both methods (hint: human transcription costs a lot more), ask yourself the following questions to see which transcription method you’ll need.
What type of transcription do you need?
Automated transcription software is easy to use. All you need to do is upload a file to receive a verbatim transcription. Human transcription can provide timestamps and exclude unnecessary speech for you, whereas you’ll have to implement these features manually when using software.
How accurate do you need your transcription to be?
Although automated transcription software is getting better with time, it isn’t always reliable when several speakers are talking at once or overlapping each other.
Machines also have issues transcribing when a speaker has a heavy accent or slurs their words. If there’s background noise present, the machine may not pick up the speaker at all.
Fortunately, human transcriptionists can deal with these challenges. Even if a portion of the video is unintelligible or difficult to hear, a human can determine what may have been said based on context clues, cadence, tone, speech patterns, or body language.
When do you need your transcript completed?
Most transcription software can produce full transcripts either instantly or within a few minutes, depending on the length of the video. However, you will need to look over the transcription once it’s done, as it’s likely to contain a few errors, including misheard or unintelligible words.
Humans will be much slower than machine-based transcription software, but they’re more accurate. On average, it takes a professional transcriptionist 2-3 hours to transcribe one audio hour, but many will take 4-5 if they have other projects, are interrupted, or are just starting out.
Do you want your transcription to be done a certain way?
Newer machine transcription software can actually format your transcripts to your specifications, but you may need to do a bit of tweaking before you receive the product you want. Human transcriptionists can implement your specifications as they’re transcribing your audio.
Will you need to transcribe your content regularly?
If you’re a business that wants to transcribe multiple text documents in a month, it’ll be cheaper and more efficient for your team to use software. If your software of choice offers hybrid translations (machine transcriptions with a human editor), you could save a lot of money.
On the other hand, if you need to transcribe a couple of videos per month or you’re only transcribing for personal use, a human can provide the hands-off approach you’re looking for.
Overview: When to Use a Machine vs. Human Transcription
Let’s take a look at how both transcription methods size up:
For an immediate turnaroundAffordable and great for startupsGreat for large content producersGreat if you don’t have specificationsClear audio files are necessaryMust spend time editing files
Includes all machine solution pointsExcept: Human editors can edit your content and can provide the positives included in the human transcription list
Can offer accurate captionsCan adhere to federal requirements for accurate captions.Accuracy improves brand perceptionHuman editors edit for youHuman editors can boost SEOHuman editors can work with all audioHuman editors can identify multiple speakers, accents, jargon, and dialect Human editors can identify contextual elements and body languageGreat for formally published worksGreat for translating languages
Both methods have their uses, but hybrid solutions are typically the best option for businesses.