Time Coded Transcripts: Questions to Ask

Do you need a time coded transcript? Time codes can be immensely helpful in a transcript for video editing purposes, or whenever you’ll need to be consistently cross-referencing the audio against the transcript. I would not necessarily recommend time codes if you’re using the transcript for research or if you’re just trying to get the information into a more easily searchable and digestible form.

In my talks with video editors and videographers, I’ve found that accurate time codes are possibly the most important tool for them in a transcript. However, there are a few different types of time codes, a couple things customers ought to try communicate to their transcription source to ensure they get the most use out of their time codes.

Here are some questions I’ve found myself asking, as a transcription provider, of our clients so that I know what they need.

“Do you want time codes from the audio or from the video?” Many videographers put “burn codes” on their videos, which is the running clock usually found on the bottom of the screen in raw footage. Usually these burn codes don’t match up with the clock on the audio file, so as a transcriptionist I need to know which one you want me to pull the time codes from. It’s not necessarily more difficult one way or the other, but I do need to know which source you’ll be pulling from to make your edits.

“How often do you want the time codes interspersed throughout the transcript?” At Rogers Word Service, our general rule of thumb is that we put timecodes roughly every 30 seconds, which tends to correlate with a new paragraph for a single speaker, or a speaker change. We do occasionally have requests for time codes at regular intervals (i.e. every 30 seconds or every minute) regardless of paragraphing or speaker changes. This can also be useful for syncing a transcript up with a video for closed captioning.

“What format do you want the time codes in?” This one is not usually an issue, but if you have a specific preference for the formatting of your time codes (i.e. hh:mm:ss or mm:ss) definitely let your transcription service know. If you need accuracy down to the decimal point, that’s definitely something to consider as well.

Time codes can be a huge time saver for video editing and other work, so make sure your transcription company appreciates how important accurate time codes are, and please remember to communicate your preferences with them.

All the best,

-Paul Rogers


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