How to Transcribe a Video to Text

May 17, 2024
How to Transcribe a Video to Text

I wrote last week about how to transcribe audio to text. To my mind, the logical follow-up was an article on how to transcribe a video to text – so here you have it! I’ve run through the ins and outs of transcribing videos,  how transcribing a video can benefit businesses, and what you need to do if you want to have a go at transcribing videos yourself. Let’s dive in. 

What Is Video-to-Text Transcription?

Video-to-text transcription is the process of turning the spoken elements of a video, and sometimes other relevant sounds, into a text document. Businesses that need to create transcripts from videos have a range of reasons for doing so. In my experience, it’s often so that they can create subtitles for the video or translate it into another language.

Some companies also like to provide a text-only version of their videos to make them as accessible as possible. For a deeper dive into the reasons that businesses use transcription services, click the link below.

Read more: What Are Transcription Services and Why Does Your Business Need Them?

Key Considerations When Transcribing a Video

Those who transcribe video for a living often also transcribe audio files. The process used to transcribe a video is much the same as that for an audio recording, and often involves the same transcriptionist tools. However, there are certain key differences between the two activities, which I think warrant a moment of consideration at this point.

As such, below we’ll look at:

  • Transcribing poor-quality videos

  • Dealing with background noise when transcribing videos

  • Transcribing videos with multiple speakers

  • Transcribing specialist content

On a side note, if you’re more interested in how to transcribe audio than how to transcribe a video, it’s worth checking out the article below.

Read more: How to Transcribe Audio to Text

If you'd rather watch a video, we've got you covered.

Transcribing Poor Quality Videos

In this age of video calls, there is plenty of work for professional transcriptionists who can produce transcripts of online meetings. However, bandwidth-hungry video meetings tend to be far more prone to stutters and distorted audio than audio-only calls. Certainly based on my own experience of Zoom calls during the COVID era.

As such, those tasked with transcribing video may have to deal with more quality-related issues than those who transcribe audio. 

Dealing with Background Noise When Transcribing Video

When audio files are created, it is often with an awareness that they will need to make clear to those listening what is occurring. As such, I find that greater attention is paid to background noise reduction. Those making videos, on the other hand, rely on the visual elements to deliver the message to viewers, as well as the dialogue. As such, there is often more tolerance for background noise, which can create headaches for those later assigned to the task of video transcribing. 

Transcribing Videos with Multiple Speakers

While there are ways in which I find video transcription harder than audio transcription, there are times when video-to-text transcription is definitely easier. One is when you have to deal with multiple speakers on the recording.

With audio transcription, it can be awkward to work out who is speaking. When transcribing video, you have the added advantage of being able to see the speaker, as well as hear them. This puts an end to those moments of agonizing over who to attribute the speech to, which all those who transcribe audio will no doubt be familiar with. 

Transcribing Specialist Content

It can also be easier to transcribe specialist content from video than from audio. Again, the visual element of the video comes into play. It provides a context that is lacking from an audio file, by allowing the transcriber to see the matter being discussed, as well as hear about it.

The hugely varied nature of video transcription work means that this isn’t always the case. A video of a team meeting packed with medical terminology, for example, is unlikely to deliver any clues as to the meaning of the terms used. However, a scientific video where the concepts being discussed are also being demonstrated would provide far more visual context.

Of course, while transcribing specialist content may sometimes be easier with video than audio files, it’s still essential that the transcriptionist has relevant, sector-specific knowledge. 

Different Ways to Transcribe Videos

If you’re new to transcribing videos – whether you want to transcribe video to text yourself or are looking for a professional service to do it on your behalf – it’s worth looking at the different ways of doing so. These include:

  • Video transcription software

  • Video transcription services

  • Machine transcription post-editing 

  • DIY video transcription 

The service you choose will depend on everything from your budget and the time you’ve got available to the quantity of video you need to transcribe. I believe that each has its merits, so let’s take a look at what those are.

If you already know what you’re after and prefer to jump straight to finding the best transcription service available, click the link below.

Read more: The Best Transcription Services in 2021

Video Transcription Software

Using video transcription software is often the go-to solution for those who are short of time. Using machines to undertake the transcription process, means that the transcription can be completed far faster than if a human transcriptionist were to tackle it.

There are paid and free services available. The quality of both, however, can vary quite considerably, so I recommend doing some careful due diligence before you select the service you want to use.

Given the speed benefits of using video transcription software, this is often a good solution if you have a high volume of video that you need to transcribe in a hurry. 

Video Transcription Services

If quality is top of your priority list, then video transcription services that use professional, human transcribers are the way forward. Humans have an advantage over machines when it comes to critical thinking. They can infer from context to catch tricky words when the video is of poor quality or the speaker mumbles.

I don’t believe that there are any free professional video transcription services out there. As such, this is an option that will require a budget. However, it’s money well spent in terms of the high-quality video transcriptions that you will receive. 

Machine Transcription Post-Editing

If you’re in a hurry but quality is also key, then a blended machine/human solution may be in order. Machine transcription post-editing is where you use software to transcribe your video, then pay a human transcriptionist to edit and improve the resulting transcript.

Say you need to transcribe a YouTube video to text. There’s plenty of software out there that can transcribe a YouTube video, including software that’s available for free. That means you can undertake your YouTube video-to-text transcription quickly and at no cost. A human YouTube transcriber can then work through the transcript, improving its accuracy and correcting the mistakes the software has made.

The result? A higher quality YouTube-to-text transcript than you could achieve through machine transcription alone, but at a lower cost than if you had relied solely on human video transcription services. 

DIY Video Transcription

I’ll explain a little more about how to get a transcript of a video yourself below. This is an excellent option for those who have the time to work with their video, transcribe it at their own pace, and who have an interest in the transcription process. It’s a great option for those with no budget for transcribing video, as the only major cost involved is your time.

Even if you want to buy your transcription pedal to work with the video, undertaking the transcription yourself isn’t going to break the bank. 

Transcribing Video to Text | DIY

If you want to know how to transcribe a video on YouTube yourself – or any other video content, for that matter, then you can follow these five simple steps: 

  • Learn the transcription basics 

  • Set up your transcribing tools

  • Prime your text expander 

  • Transcribe your video to text

  • Proofread your transcription

Learn the Transcription Basics

If you plan to transcribe videos, be sure to take a quick crash course on how to present a transcript first. You’ll need to know how to lay it out clearly, how to annotate any parts of the video that are unclear or where there is background noise, how to timestamp your transcript, and more. 

Set up Your Transcribing Tools

Once you’re familiar with the requirements of the task at hand, it’s time to set up your transcribing tools. The most important element of the process is having a quick and efficient way to play and pause your video. Whether you do this with keyboard shortcuts, by flicking between windows, or using a foot pedal, it needs to be set up to work smoothly and not interrupt your flow, otherwise it can become a real-time drain.

My personal preference depends on the length of the video I’m transcribing. If it’s just a short job, I find the play/pause button on my keyboard is more than adequate. However, if I’m settling in for a longer transcription session then it has to be the foot pedal.

You’ll also need suitable software to play the video and a decent word-processing program. 

Prime Your Text Expander

My other essential transcription tool is a text expander program. These nifty little bits of software allow you to create your snippets of text to speed up the typing process.

In a transcription context, this means you can set up expandable snippets for everything from the names of the speakers to key phrases that come up repeatedly in the video. All you have to do is type a couple of letters and the software will expand the phrase.

Say you want to know how to get text from a YouTube video about learning to be a remote worker. You can program your text expander to insert ‘remote working’ every time you type ‘rw.’ You can create as many snippets as you like. This can make a notable difference to the overall time transcribing your video takes. 

Transcribe Your Video to Text

With your setup sorted, it’s time to start typing. The accurate transcription of videos requires the transcriber to listen carefully, so make sure you have minimal distractions and can sit and focus fully on the task at hand.

Having said that, remember to take regular breaks to maintain that focus. It takes around four hours to type up one hour of video content. Keep your mind fresh by breaking up the time and you’ll find you work more efficiently. 

Proofread Your Transcription

Transcribing a video doesn’t end the moment you stop typing. Once you’ve typed up your transcript, it’s time to proofread it. Sit down with the transcript in front of you and play the video from start to finish. Read through your work as you go, correcting any typos or other mistakes along with way. Only once this process is complete can you be satisfied that you have an accurate video transcript. 

Transcribing Videos with Tomedes’ Video Transcription Services

If the idea of learning how to transcribe a video to text fills you with dread, don’t worry – Tomedes is here to help. Our high-quality transcription services are at your disposal.

All of our transcriptionists are experienced professionals and we take pride in offering a range of sector-specific expertise. So whether you need medical, legal, technical or some other form of transcription, we’ve got you covered.

Tomedes’ video transcription services include:

  • Transcription needs analysis 

  • Transcriptionist matching

  • Video transcription 

  • Quality assurance 

Transcription Needs Analysis

We’ll discuss your transcription needs, including volume, any multilingual requirements, and the type of transcription you require (verbatim, edited, intelligent, or phonetic).

Your dedicated account manager will establish precisely what you need and by when. Then we’ll make it happen. 

Transcriptionist Matching

Key to our process is pairing your video content with an appropriate transcriber. We will match a transcriptionist to your job based on relevant experience and, if you’re in a hurry, the speed at which they can transcribe. 

Video Transcription

Our professional transcribing service delivers accurate, high-quality video transcripts produced by human transcriptionists. Our focus is on working both rapidly and accurately, so that you receive transcripts you can rely on in line with your deadlines.   

Quality Assurance

We take quality seriously when we transcribe video. Each transcript is proofed to catch any typos and ensure that it is 100% accurate. We are happy to supply a video transcript example if you would like to see a sample of our high-quality work. 


If you need someone to transcribe from video for you, you need to choose between:

  • Using transcription software

  • Using professional human transcriptionists 

  • Using a combination of both of these

  • Undertaking the video transcribing work yourself 

Personally, I believe that the most reliable transcriptions are those produced by human hands. What are your thoughts on the matter? Feel free to leave a comment below to share your views.

By Ofer Tirosh

Ofer Tirosh is the founder and CEO of Tomedes, a language technology and translation company that supports business growth through a range of innovative localization strategies. He has been helping companies reach their global goals since 2007.



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