Can Your Video Transcription Service Handle Complex Content?

March 18, 2019 BY JACLYN LEDUC
Updated: June 12, 2019

If you produce videos that contain complex content like biology, chemistry, law, finance, calculus, philosophy, or medicine, you’ll need a closed captioning vendor that delivers accurate captions regardless. This is a common challenge faced by colleges and universities that produce lecture capture recordings or other eLearning videos for STEM courses.

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When clearly-spoken, common English speech can be successfully transcribed with a combination of speech-to-text technology and human editing. However, complex content can be a challenge to transcribe and may be prone to more errors even when the speaker and the video’s audio are crystal clear. This is often due to the unfamiliar words and language associated with STEM subjects. In this case, you may need a video transcription service that can provide near-perfect captions even for the most complex subjects.

Below, we discuss the reasons why some content is more difficult to transcribe than others and what to look for in a captioning solution if you have complex content that needs transcribing.

What Makes Audio or Video Difficult to Transcribe?

Any of the following factors increase the difficulty of a transcription project:


  • Multiple speakers
  • Overlapping dialogue
  • Interruptions and stutters
  • Speaker with thick accent
  • Speaker with poor articulation
  • Poor audio quality
  • Background music
  • Background noise
  • Mention of proper names or brand names
  • Technical terminology

If your video content has any of these characteristics, it may be challenging to transcribe. Be sure to ask your captioning vendor how they tackle these audio hurdles.

Can You Include a Glossary of Terms?

Check to see if your captioning vendor offers the ability to upload a glossary or cheatsheet with correct spellings for proper names or industry terms. You should also be able to include the full names of speakers so they are accurately identified in speaker IDs. This will help your transcriptionist accurately caption your content.

The ability to upload glossaries is a good indicator that your transcription service understands the reality of the captioning process, and it shows how much they value accuracy.

Does Your Transcription Service Have Domain Expertise?

How to Select the Right Closed Captioning Vendor

Transcriptionists need to exercise their discretion when transcribing challenging content. Faced with obscure terms, they must have existing knowledge of the video’s topic, make intelligent inferences, or perform research on their own. This step in the transcription process has the most room for human error.

The best defense against errors is diversification. Ideally, your transcription service employs transcriptionists with knowledge in many different domains, such as mathematics, religion, software technology, medicine, and finance.

Assigning difficult content to transcriptionists who are most familiar with the subject invariably produces the best results.

Can You Edit Transcripts?

In case there are still errors in your transcripts (after all, a guarantee of 99% accuracy still isn’t entirely flawless), you should check to see what the editing process is like through your vendor.

  • Do they provide an editing interface where you can make changes yourself?
  • Can such edits only be made by a single administrator, or can individual professors or contributors make changes, too?
  • Once edits are made, will they propagate to all output files without needing to reprocess?

For more information on questions you should ask when choosing a video transcription vendor, download our free whitepaper.

Looking for a captioning vendor that can handle difficult content? 3Play Media can help.

Start Captioning Today or learn more.

This post was originally published by Emily Griffin on August 24, 2015, and it has since been updated.

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