Transcription speed
Thread poster: Suzette Martin-Johnson

Suzette Martin-Johnson
Canada
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
Dec 25, 2007

Merry Christmas all!

Just a quick question... Are there any transcribers out there? Do you have any idea how to estimate the time it will take you to transcribe a tape recording? I have done it several times both for personal doctoral research in English and Spanish and once in while on a freelance basis (particularly for Jamaican patois, which is even more complicated as it is not officially a written language), but I inevitably underestimate the time it will take me - even when the recording is clear. Help! This can obviously be problematic at times - do you just tell them an hourly rate and let them know the total afterwards, or do you know how much time you'll take, based on previous experience?

Thanks....


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Juan Jacob  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 13:56
French to Spanish
+ ...
It's up to you. Dec 25, 2007

You should have an idea, depending on the material of course (Technical, legal, etc., do they speak a lot, and so on).
Let's say: 5/10 minutes work for 1 minute record.
Make your numbers.
Ja!


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Paul Merriam  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:56
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
It varies Dec 25, 2007

Tapes vary considerably in clarity, depending on the speakers (some people mumble, others enunciate clearly), the acoustics (trying to listen to two people talking in a nightclub is harder than listening to a speech given to a rapt audience) and the subject matter. In addition, some tapes have long periods of time where nothing's going on. ("Let me put you on hold" is followed by three minutes of easy listening music.)

I really don't recommend quoting without hearing the tape first.


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Jiri383
Germany
Local time: 20:56
Member (2005)
English to German
+ ...
My 2 cents ... Dec 26, 2007

For my largest transcription project ever, I was paid for the "minutes of recording" - so the rate was fixed before I started. I think this was a good way because both the client and I knew what to pay/earn. If this is option for you of course depends on how fast you can type. And of course some parts of a recording take more time than others, as was already said: people mumble, there are background noises, the recording quality is bad etc. But you said you've gathered some experience in transcription, so why don't you try it out and see how long it takes you on average to transcribe one minute of recorded material. That way, you should get an idea of your output. On that basis, you can suggest either an hourly rate or a rate that is based on the minutes of the recording.

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Suzette Martin-Johnson
Canada
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks all Dec 26, 2007

Thanks, guys - for replying in this busy holiday season!

I particularly like the per-minute billing suggestion. I always listen to the tape before quoting, but I think the idea of timing yourself for a minute to see what your average speed is would work out the best. Even when the tape is very clear, it can be very time-consuming indeed in my experience. Hearing clearly and understanding is very different from having to type it out. I can now see clearly how I could bill per minute of tape based on what I know to be my output, and my usual hourly rate.

Juan, I think your five to ten minutes per minute of tape is a good guide. If it's super-easy with pauses, 5 mins. Ten minutes for the much more complicated stuff!


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Juan Jacob  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 13:56
French to Spanish
+ ...
Good! Dec 26, 2007

1 minute tape, 5/10 minutes work.
Ja!


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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 12:56
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Previous post Dec 27, 2007

I think 5-10 minutes per minute of tape may be under-estimating it. See this previous post: http://www.proz.com/topic/58672.

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Suzette Martin-Johnson
Canada
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Tina Dec 27, 2007

I was wondering if I was the only one who thought that sometimes. To be honest, I just timed myself as suggested earlier with a job I was working on, and while some segments of the tape were about 5-7 minutes for one spoken minute (nice clear speech and long pauses), one of the speakers was so fast and so emotional, and the language he was speaking in was more of a dialect that is not easy to put on paper.. I think that one was more like 12-15 minutes for one minute's speech. The job is over, but it really wiped me out!!

However, I'm happy to say that generally if the recording is clear and in English, it would be very rare for it to take me anywhere near 12 minutes if I'm concentrating and taking appropriate breaks...

Can't believe I'm chatting on proz at 6am!! I need help!!


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