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News and Notes related to Digital Media Transcription, Analysis, and Captioning.
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  • What is a Codec Anyway?

    Posted on November 13th, 2014 Alex No comments

    If you work at all with digital video, you’re bound to run into issues of media compatibility. What makes a video incompatible? Will it work in InqScribe? It’s a complicated subject. In this post, we’ll explain a few key terms that should help you understand how digital video works (and sometimes, how it doesn’t work).

    Codec

    Codec stands for coder/decoder, and it does just that. Raw video tends to take up large amounts of storage, and codecs allow us to shrink down the file size, usually without loosing too much quality. Codecs achieve this by taking the raw video data and encoding it into a shorthand. Once encoded, codecs also play a role in decoding this shorthand.

    Note that codecs are independent of a video’s file extension. So, .mp4, .avi, .mov, etc. are not codecs. A .mp4 file could use a H.264/AVC or MPEG-4 Part 2 codec, for example. You can see which codecs are supported by QuickTime via Apple’s support page here. To check which codecs you have available in Windows Media Player, follow Microsoft’s directions here (use drop-down bar on right to select your version of Windows).

    Although some are more popular than others, there are dozens of different codecs out there. Since each uses a unique coding language, it’s important to use codecs that are compatible with your workflow (and that you have access to- some codecs are proprietary). What should you do if you come across an incompatible codec? Transcode! More on that in a bit…

    Container

    QuickTime "movie could not be opened" message

    Look familiar?

    As its name suggests, a container file packages compressed video data. Containers identify and sort out codecs, which are the ones doing the actual compressing. Most common video containers are compatible with multiple codecs, so don’t assume one container is always going to have the same codec.

    Chances are, you’re more familiar with containers than you are with codecs. They’re more visible because the file extension is often associated with the container. A file with the name “Sample.mp4″ has a file extension of “.mp4″, which indicates the MP4 container. Other examples of containers include AVI, MPEG-2, FLV, and RM to name a few.

    In addition to a file’s codec, programs such as QuickTime and Windows Media Player will have their own specs for which containers they support. So, to drive this home: just because you have a compatible container for your video file, it doesn’t mean you have a compatible codec. And vise-versa.

    Transcode

    To transcode is to convert from one encoding to another. When you transcode a file, you are essentially changing a video’s codec or its container, perhaps both. The terms “transcoding” and “converting” are generally used interchangeably.

    It’s worth noting that transcoding a file will result in some loss of quality. The extent of this may or may not be noticeable.

    If you’re interested in transcoding, check out our blog post on Media Conversion Tools for more information.

    Mux

    To “mux” a file is to combine multiple channels into one. When referring to video files, these channels are typically audio, video, and/or subtitle tracks. Muxing is useful when compiling several of these tracks into one output, such as when you’re creating a DVD or Blu-ray disk.

    Since not all media player can process muxed files, you might not always want a file to be muxed. This is when demuxing comes into play.

    Demux

    To demux a file is to extract the individual tracks back into their separate channels. Demuxing is useful when you come across an unsupported muxed file.

    Since transcoding will rewrite a file’s video and audio data, it can actually be used to demux a file. So, when in doubt, transcoding can solve several different problems associated with incompatibility.


    Understanding these terms and concepts should equip you to deal with incompatible media. And remember, if you’re ever having trouble getting InqScribe to recognize your media files, just send us an email to support@inqscribe.com.

  • How to Add Captions to Facebook Videos

    Posted on October 8th, 2014 Alex No comments

    As you may or may not have noticed, Facebook has been making some improvements to its video feature. Part of this campaign includes the newly added support for caption/subtitle display. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Can I use InqScribe to add subtitles to my Facebook video?” The answer: yes, yes you can.

    Facebook video screenshot

    Here's what your subtitles will look like in Facebook

    The following process entails creating your transcript, exporting it to the Facebook-compatible Subrip .srt format, and finally uploading your video along with the .srt file to Facebook. Note that, at this time of writing (October 2014), adding captions is only available in the US for the English language, and it won’t work on mobile or tablet. This is subject to change as Facebook continues to develop their video features. In the likely even that Facebook alters their subtitling process, we’ll keep these instructions updated in our Knowledge Base here.

    Facebook is a little picky when it comes to the format of the Subrip .srt captions, so pay special attention your filename and line endings (see steps 3 and 4). With that in mind, here’s how to add in your captions:

    1. Open up InqScribe and prepare your transcript with text and timecodes.
    2. Once its ready, export your transcript as a Subrip .srt file by selecting “File > Export > Subrip Format.”
    3. Select a name for your file and specify its save location with the “Choose…” button. Here’s the important part: Facebook requires you to place “.en_US” at the end of your filename. So, your file will end up looking something like “Example.en_US.srt.”
    4. Now, in the Export Settings menu, click “Advanced” to bring up the Advanced Options. Set Line Endings to “Windows (CR/LF)” and click OK. Don’t forget this step! In our testing, Facebook will only accept Windows or Unix line endings.

      line endings screen shot

      Make sure to set Line Endings to "Windows (CR/LF)"

    5. Press OK and your Subrip .srt subtitle file will be saved in the location of your choosing.
    6. Now, login to Facebook and upload your video (instructions from Facebook here).
    7. Once you have located your video, select “Post” and the video will begin uploading. Then, select “Edit This Video.” You’ll be taken to the menu pictured below where you can add in your subtitle file.facebook video upload screenshot
    8. Under the Captions section, select “Choose File” and locate your Subrip .srt subtitle file.
    9. Select “Save” and the subtitles will be added to your video!
    10. To display subtitles, press the “CC” button at the bottom of the video player on playback.

    If you didn’t name the .srt file correctly, you’ll see the message “You uploaded a .SRT file with an incorrect filename. Please use this format: filename.en_US.srt”

    If you don’t see any subtitles after uploading your .srt file and clicking the “CC” button on the video player, then you might not have selected the correct line endings in step 4.

    You can also add subtitles to a video you’ve already uploaded. To do so, select the video and expand it. Click “Options > Edit This Video” at the bottom of the video player and refer to steps 7-9.

    Questions? Comments? Contact us at support@inqscribe.com.

  • Media Conversion Tools

    Posted on October 2nd, 2014 Alex No comments

    Sometimes you go to transcribe your media in InqScribe only to find that InqScribe won’t play that media type. InqScribe relies on the QuickTime 7 or Windows Media Player 11 specs for media playback, and is able to play most anything that can be played in those players. But if your media is not supported by either of those two players, you’ll need to convert it to a format that is.

    Converting, or transcoding, involves decoding the original file, and then encoding the file into a new format. It’s not quite as simple as renaming a file “Example.avi” to Example.mp4.” If you’re totally confused, check out our blog post “What is a Codec Anyway?” for an explanation of codecs, containers, transcoding, and more.

    After a quick Google search for “media conversion tool,” you’ll soon realize that there are a lot of options out there. Some of these tools will be more useful to you than others, and some might even install unwanted malware on your computer. Which one should you use? While we don’t endorse any single media converter, here are a few that have worked for us (and our users) in the past:

    HandBrake

    https://handbrake.fr/
    HandBrake is a well-known, trusted, and free conversion software available for Mac, PC, and Linux. Since it’s a software, you won’t need to upload or download your video to a website (unlike Online-Convert below). Everything is done locally on your machine and you don’t need an internet connect to convert files. HandBrake supports batch file processing, which comes in handy if you’re planning on converting multiple media files. The drawback is that video conversion is limited to MP4 and MKV outputs. However, if your goal is to convert a video into an InqScribe-compatible format, the MP4 container will work just fine. Here’s a simple step-by-step guide to HandBrake:

    1. Download and install HandBrake from their website.
    2. Open HandBrake and click “Source” in the upper left portion of the window. Select the video or audio file you wish to convert. For example, “Desktop > Documents > My Videos > SampleVideo.mov.”
    3. Select where you’d like to save the new transcoded file by clicking “Browse” in the Destination section. By leaving it blank, it will save automatically to your desktop.
    4. Select the Container of the transcoded file. For video, you’ll have two options, MP4 and MKV. MP4 will work best with InqScribe.
    5. Next, in the bottom half of the HandBrake window, you’ll be able to edit various settings such as the frame rate, bit rate, and codecs of your media file. Adjust them to your liking.
    6. Click “Start” and your file will begin converting. HandBrake will notify you when the converted file is finished. It will then appear in the location of your choosing.

    Online-Convert

    http://www.online-convert.com/
    Online-Convert is a relatively new conversion tool that is gaining some traction. This website supports a wide variety of formats and, best of all, using the website doesn’t require you to install any software. The only thing you’ll download from Online-Convert is your converted media file. Note that, as a web-based converter, this option requires you to upload your video to the Online-Convert server. If you have a very large file and/or a poor internet connection, this option may not be the best for you. As per their terms of service, all uploaded files are deleted from the Online-Convert database within 24 hours, though even this policy may be an issue if your files are confidential.  Here’s how the site works:

    1. From the homepage, select your converter and file type. For example, “Video converter > Convert to AVI.”
    2. You will then be taken to a new page where you can adjust your  media settings. First, upload your original media file by selecting “Choose files…” You can also convert files from a URL or directly from a DropBox account. Going along with our example, you might select “Desktop > My Documents > Videos > SampleVideo.mov.”
    3. Adjust the settings to your liking. These settings will vary depending on whether you’re converting audio or video, but know that you’ll have the option to specify the audio/video quality, bit rate, frame rate, and length of your media file.
    4. Once you’ve chosen your settings, select “Convert file” to proceed. You should see a green bar appear indicating the progress of your upload.
    5. When the upload is complete, you will be taken to a new page with the text “Your file has been successfully converted.” Your converted file will automatically begin downloading. Soon you will have your converted media file ready to go! In my case, I received “SampleVideo.avi” in my Downloads folder.

    Do you use a different media conversion tool? We’d be happy to hear your thoughts and suggestions. Email us at support@inqscribe.com.

  • Play a Subtitled Movie with Windows Media Player

    Posted on September 22nd, 2014 Alex No comments

    You can easily create Subtitled QuickTime Movies directly in InqScribe, and in general we recommend using QuickTime with InqScribe. However, there is another method to play a subtitled movie by combining your video with an exported subtitle track in Windows Media Player. How you ask? Windows Media Player doesn’t natively support subtitle importation, so we’ll be using the DirectVobSub add-on.

    Before proceeding, note that you’ll need to download and install the freeware DirectVobSub media codec, hosted by free-codecs here: http://www.free-codecs.com/DirectVobSub_download.htm. DirectVobSub is an unofficial add-on that allows Windows Media Player to read external subtitles files such as subrip .srt, which you can create through InqScribe. Be aware that, depending on your version of Windows, adding subtitles with DirectVobSub is limited to .avi files (see below for more info).

    This option isn’t for everyone, and we’d like to point out that DirectVobSub is a third-party, unofficial add-on. We don’t support it, and your mileage may vary. That said, it is a quick and easy way to display subtitles without installing an additional media player.

    Here’s what to do:

    1. Prepare your transcript in InqScribe
    2. Export your transcript as a Subrip .srt file by selecting “File > Export > Subrip Format…”
    3. You’ll see the Export Settings menu. In the Target section, you’ll have the option to name your .srt file. It is important to give this .srt file the same title as the video you’re subtitling. For example, if your video is titled “My Subtitled Movie_123.avi” you should name your exported .srt file “My Subtitled Movie_123.srt” It is also important to save your .srt file in the same folder as the video you’re subtitling. You can specify the file’s location with the “Choose…” button in the same Export Settings menu. So, if your video file is located in a folder called “My Favorite Videos” make sure to save the .srt file in the same place.
    4. Download the DirectVobSub media codec, hosted for free by free-codecs here: http://www.free-codecs.com/DirectVobSub_download.htm
    5. Install DirectVobSub by double clicking on the .exe file you downloaded. It should be called something like: “VSFilter_2.41.322.exe”
    6. Once it’s finished installing, open up the video file you wish to subtitle in Windows Media Player. Bring up the menu by pressing the “Alt” key, and select “Play > Lyrics, captions, and subtitles > On if available”
    7. Your video will now display the subtitles you created in InqScribe!

    Note that there are a few restrictions to using DirectVobSub and Windows Media Player for subtitle display:

    • Although this method will work with .avi video files, it won’t work with the common mp4 file type on Windows 7 and up. This is because DirectVobSub relies on DirectShow to display subtitles, but later versions of Windows use Media Foundation, rather than DirectShow, to decode mp4 files. On Windows Vista and lower, however, mp4 files are decoded with DirectShow. So, on earlier versions of Windows you should be able to use DirectVobSub to add in your subtitle track to mp4 files.
    • Be aware that you won’t have any control over the appearance of your subtitles. They will appear “flush with bottom” (near the bottom of the screen), centered, and white with black outlines and drop shadow. In other words, they will look close to how it would look in a film. Refer to the image below to see how they displayed in our test:

    http://www.bigbuckbunny.org/index.php/download/index.php

    Do you have experience using DirectVobSub with other file types? Do you use an entirely different method to add subtitles to video with Windows Media Player? Let us know! Contact us at support@inqscribe.com.

  • Creating a Transcript with InqScribe and Dragon NaturallySpeaking

    Posted on September 12th, 2014 Alex No comments

    When we’re asked about speech recognition software, it’s often from new users hoping to automate their transcription process. Although InqScribe doesn’t include any speech recognition technology, you can easily use InqScribe in conjunction with other speech-to-text software.

    Dragon NaturallySpeaking is the most popular speech recognition product on the market. “Dragon” has been around for over 17 years, with version 13.0 recently released for PC by Nuance Communications. For Mac users, there’s also an OS X edition called Dragon Dictate. In this article however, we’ll be looking at Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12 Home Edition.

    As you might guess, Dragon essentially converts your voice into text, also allowing for command triggers such as “Open My Documents” and “Delete Line.” Although true transcription automation isn’t quite there yet, you can use Dragon effectively with your own voice.

    Automatic Transcription

    Wouldn’t it be great if a program could listen to audio and create an exact text of the recording? Well, in reality it’s a little more complicated. Before digging into Dragon, it’s worth laying out some of the difficulties of automatic transcription:

    1. Computers have a hard time distinguishing a single voice from the noise and general messiness of most recordings. There are often ambient sounds or background chatter in even the most pure recordings.
    2. It’s difficult for speech recognition programs to remain accurate moving from speaker-to-speaker. Everyone’s voice sounds a little different, so programs like Dragon work best by training with and focusing on one voice.
    3. Even in ideal conditions, speech recognition isn’t perfect. It’s never going to be 100% accurate because it mishears you or maybe it just doesn’t understand a colloquial word. A lot of what we “hear” from language comes from context and nuances in our speech and body language. Speech recognition technology just isn’t advanced enough to pick up on such complex information.

    So, if you’re still interested in trying out automation, the Pro and Legal Editions of Dragon 12 support speech-to-text conversation from audio recordings (click here for a PDF comparison of these editions). This feature is intended to work only with your own, trained voice due to the limitations explained above. However, there’s nothing stopping you from trying out the voice recognition on multiple speakers.

    One possible transcription method is to run an initial pass with Dragon, and then use InqScribe to follow along and edit its mistakes. I’ll note that we haven’t tested this method, and I imagine the results will vary widely from recording to recording. Check out this video on how to transcribe from an audio recording with Dragon 12 Pro.

    Parroting a transcript

    The most reliable method recommended by InqScribe users is to “parrot” your audio source. This entails listening to your media file and repeating everything you’d like to transcribe out loud into Dragon. Parroting is not automatic, but to some it’s a welcome alternative to the keyboard gymnastics of traditional transcription. Here are the steps:

    1. Launch Dragon NaturallySpeaking
    2. Open up a new InqScribe document
    3. Load your audio or video file by navigating to Select Media Source>Select File
    4. Press play (feel free to adjust the play speed to suite your pace)
    5. Listen to and repeat out load everything you’d like Dragon to write into your InqScribe transcript
    6. Once your finished transcribing, make sure to review the text for errors

    I found myself using voice recognition to get down the general text of the transcript while controlling media playback and timecodes using InqScribe’s keyboard shortcuts and my mouse. This frees your hands to focus on media manipulation. It’s also nice to have the precision of keyboard shortcuts for inserting timecodes.

    Dragon Transcript Capture

    InqScribe and Dragon in action

    How well does parroting work?

    As a speech recognition software, Dragon does a pretty good job of understanding your voice. It will even improve the more you use it. There is a bit of a learning curve, which mostly comes from training yourself to be effective with voice commands and corrections.

    You’ll have to learn to regularly check Dragon for mistakes because, as hard as it tries, it’s never going to be 100% accurate. Honestly, many of the errors I encountered felt like my own fault- from stuttering or not clearly annunciating  my words. As any transcriptionist knows, language is a messy thing. This means you’ll have to watch Dragon’s work for errors, which can disrupt your workflow. Even after your dictation, you’ll want to budget some time to make sure homophones like “example” don’t wind up as “egg sample.”

    Factoring in these corrections, I found parroting with Dragon to be slower than manually typing the transcript. This will certainly depend on your typing speed and how proficient you are with Dragon’s voice interface.

    Be aware that prolonged sessions will leave your voice tired. This might seem obvious, but you’ll get physically fatigued much faster than by typing normally. For this reason, I don’t think I would recommend Dragon to knock out wordy transcripts. I know my voice tires easily, so if you’re used to talking all day, it might be less of an issue for you (hello teachers).

    Overall, I’m not sure that I would recommend Dragon to someone who has no issue manually typing a transcript. It just doesn’t offer a clear advantage. If, however, you’re plagued by slow typing, mental blocks, physical impairments, or just love the sound of your own voice, then Dragon can be a great tool. Just be willing to make it through a high learning curve before you can really start plowing through transcripts.

  • Comparison: InqScribe vs. Express Scribe

    Posted on July 31st, 2014 Alex No comments

    At InqScribe, we strive to create the best, most reliable transcription software. But, as some of you are aware, we aren’t the only ones on the market. You may even use a combination of other transcription tools alongside InqScribe in your line of work. To help clarify and distinguish InqScribe from the competition, we thought a simple, honest comparison might be helpful. In this post we’ll be looking at Express Scribe, one of our popular competitors.
    InqScribe vs. Express Scribe

    First, let’s start with the basics. Both Express Scribe and InqScribe are designed to make transcription a faster, easier, and more user-friendly experience. Combing an audio/video player with a text editor, they both employ features such as adjustable play speed, foot pedal support, and custom keyboard shortcuts. Currently, InqScribe is built around Windows Media Player 11 and QuickTime 7 (though change is around the corner). This means InqScribe will play pretty much anything supported by these media players. Express Scribe has its own set of supported formats.

    InqScribe and Express Scribe offer a free limited version of the software, in addition to a more fully-featured 14-day trial. The biggest difference here is that the free version of Express Scribe limits you to only a few audio file formats (specifically, AIFF, MP3, WAV, and WMA), while InqScribe’s free version grants you full format support but limits your ability to save and export. It costs $40 to upgrade to the full version of Express Scribe, while a license of InqScribe sells for $99 with free updates and significant discounts for students, schools, and nonprofits.

    Although Express Scribe and InqScribe are designed to fill a similar niche, they were built with different features in mind. Taken from NCH Software’s website, Express Scribe is a “professional audio player software for PC or Mac designed to assist the transcription of audio recordings.” Express Scribe takes more of a focus on audio transcription, and some of its features reflect this, including the ability to “dock” dictation devices. Many Express Scribe users work with a separate text editor such as Word, controlling their media in the “mini” view or using system-wide shortcuts.

    In contrast, InqScribe was built from the ground up with professional video transcription in mind.  We focus on the ability to type a transcript in the same window that’s controlling a media file. Aside from allowing you to visualize what you’re typing, same-window transcription prevents juggling between programs and frees you from trying to locate which media file is associated with which text document. InqScribe does it all in one compact place.

    If you’re transcribing audio recordings and prefer working in a separate text editor, then Express Scribe could be right for you. It does boasts a native spell-check and word counter, which are admittedly absent in InqScribe (for now, that is…).

    That said, InqScribe offers a few unique features of its own. Working in the same window allows you to take advantage of clickable timecodes. As soon as you click on a recognized timecode, InqScribe will take you directly to that spot in the video or audio file. Some of our users employ this feature to annotate their videos, using InqScribe to take notes on specific moments in their media file.

    One of my favorite features in InqScribe are snippets. The ability to quickly insert custom bits of text can considerably speed up a workflow. For example, I like to assign the “Enter” key to insert a line of blank space, a timecode, and the main speaker’s name. Snippets can make typing faster and help ensure consistency in the transcript.

    Once you have your transcript proofed and ready to go, InqScribe allows you to export into a variety of file formats- such as plain text, XML, Subrip SRT, etc. You can even save your transcript directly into a subtitled QuickTime Movie. No matter if you’re creating high-quality professional videos or a quick draft, InqScribe will accommodate your needs. In fact, we encourage users to find the workflow that best suits them, whether it’s with Word, Excel, Final Cut Pro, or YouTube.

    Lastly, we welcome feedback from our users. Be it a support question, a feature request, or an honest opinion, we’re a small team that reads and responds to all inquiries. We hope you’ve found this a useful comparison. If you have any questions about whether InqScribe is right for you, feel free to email us at support@inqscribe.net

  • Guest Blog: Using InqScribe to Record the Wabanaki Experience

    Posted on July 17th, 2014 Alex No comments

    Many nonprofits use InqScribe to help transcribe interviews and spread their message. In this guest blog, Rachel George explains how she came across InqScribe through her work with the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare TRC.

    By: Rachel George, Research Coordinator

    Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare TRC ChildrenThe Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission is charged with clarifying the experiences of Wabanaki Native American children and families involved with state child welfare. Historically there has been an incredibly high rate of removal of native children who were placed into non-native homes, resulting in continued intergenerational trauma and loss of culture. The 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act implemented new placement priorities recognizing the ties that native children have to their tribes, as well as the tribe’s interest in their children. This made it harder for native children to be placed in non-Native homes, yet the State of Maine continued to have high rates of removal.

    The TRC is investigating these removals by hearing the experiences of native children and families, and also from state officials, case workers, service providers and adoptive and foster families. From these investigations we’ve gathered a number of video and audio recordings from private statements, interviews, and focus groups. With the help of a few volunteers, we are currently working on transcribing an increasing pool of interviews and statements which are all approximately an hour long.

    Prior to coming across InqScribe, we were simply running the video through QuickTime and having a word document open simultaneously. I am sure I don’t need to tell you that this was a lot less effective than using InqScribe. Having the video and text in a single window streamlined our process. Since we’re working with long videos and multiple transcribers, it’s great to have a program that helps us stay organized and consistent. And, unlike some other transcribing software, InqScribe allows us to transcribe video as well as audio recordings.

    Overall, InqScribe has been a really valuable resource for us and has sped up the process of transcribing statements and interviews. It’s a system I am very happy to support and was very keen to push to my staff and colleagues.


    Research Coordinator Rachel GeorgeAbout the Author

    Rachel is a young indigenous scholar from Vancouver, British Columbia. As a member of the Ahousaht First Nation, she has grown into an advocate for indigenous rights. She has a genuine and enthusiastic commitment to strengthening the voices of indigenous peoples, and seeking methods of redress that are complementary to indigenous needs and rights.

    Thanks Rachel! Interested in learning more? Check out the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare TRC website and read Rachel’s generous endorsement of InqScribe.

  • Guest blog: A Filmmaker Uses InqScribe for Translations and Subtitles

    Posted on May 22nd, 2014 christina No comments

    InqScribe is popular among filmmakers for a variety of reasons. In our latest guest blog, Scott Squire shares his workflow to translate and create subtitles for his documentary.

    by Scott Squire, Independent Producer & InqScribe user

    Our movie, The Girl Who Knew Too Much is a feature documentary about women’s empowerment, the complexities of globalization and the crisis of mental health support in Nepal. We shot our movie over seven years on six different cameras, with varying degrees of asset management rigor. We ended up with nearly 200 hours of footage to be logged and/or translated and subtitled. This project taught us the value of having solid workflows—from managing footage in the field through the process of translation. We cannot stress the importance of having a process (that works with every camera!) before you shoot a single frame.

    Our translators at work

    Our workflow includes the use of InqScribe and Final Cut Pro to produce translations and final subtitles for our movie. Critical to our process is having a clear folder/file structure that essentially depicts our workflow. I will refer to the folder/filenames used on our project, but obviously these would change based on your own project details.

    Folder structure to organize our workflow

    Set up

    We make sure that the top-level directory is accessible from all of our workstations. Our workflow begins with our editor placing callouts for the media that needs translating in the folder called In1. Fiona Highlighted Documents. Sometimes these are snippets from a clip, sometimes a whole reel. She reads our transcripts and highlights them, and then sends us scans of the highlighted pages as PDFs. (Unfortunately, on this project, we didn’t have InqScribe at the start, which means our original transcripts were in a variety of formats.)

    Review the translation and verify timecode in InqScribe

    We assemble all of the relevant translated files and then create an InqScribe document for each clip. Our workflow involves moving the InqScribe transcripts through a series of reviews by native speakers who verify the accuracy of the translation and the placement of timecodes. Timecode references should be at least at 10-second intervals (we recommend every 4-5 seconds). Be careful with InqScribe’s sensitive timecode selection so that you don’t timecodes out of order. And be sure to have opening AND closing timecodes in InqScribe or else your subtitles will run too long.

    Export XML file from InqScribe to Final Cut Pro

    Once the translation is complete and the timecodes are reviewed, we use InqScribe to export an XML file to be used in Final Cut Pro. It’s good to keep your XML template easy to access because you’ll be using it a lot. We keep ours at the top-level folder of our shared directory: /Master Wrapping Subtitle Template v1.3 (use this one).xml.

    Instructions for creating a custom FCP 7 XML export template can be found in InqScribe’s Knowledge Base.

    Very important is the naming of files. InqScribe will show the default name as “export.xml.” Click the “Choose” button to select a destination to save the file. Navigate to /Out2. Subtitle XMLs for Final Cut Pro > Interview XMLs from InqScribe. The name of the XML needs to match the file it came from. The best way to do this is to navigate to the original InqScribe file, select and copy the name (all but the “.inqscr” extension) and paste this into the pane of the export dialog. Double check your naming and destination—this is a big pain if you get it wrong. CONSISTENCY and ACCURACY in naming and filing are CRITICAL.

    If you’re lucky, when you click “Export,” the export window will just close and your shiny new XML file will turn up in the proper place. If InqScribe alerts you to a non-consecutive timecode you will need to go back and correct where needed. The error will only tell you approximately where to start fixing first. Cancel out and go back to check all of the timecodes where the error message is indicated.

    Import XML files to Final Cut Pro (FCP)

    In Final Cut Pro, you will create a project (Subtitle_Master_Project) and import the first InqScribe XML file in the scene you just created. When you import the InqScribe XML, it will come into FCP as a sequence with the generic name that matches your text generator template (Master Wrapping Subtitle Template…). You must change this back to the name of the original file. As before, navigate back to the file and copy and paste the name in the FCP browser to replace the template name.

    Drag the newly imported sequence into the timeline. It will contain only a subtitle track. Next, import the associated master footage or locate the clip and drag it into the FCP browser window. When the media clip has been imported, be sure it’s in the right folder inside the browser. Drag the clip into the timeline so that you have both footage (video and audio) AND a subtitle track above the video. These should be the same length, but there may be gaps in the transcription file. If the closing timecode was correctly input in the InqScribe file, the endpoint will match the end point of the media.

    If you’ve done your job in InqScribe, the clip lengths should all match up and you’ll have a subtitled sequence! You can now export the sequence from Final Cut Pro as a XML to send to your editor.


    About the author

    Scott Squire is a filmmaker who, along with his wife Amy Benson, is the producer of The Girl Who Knew Too Much.

  • Modernizing InqScribe

    Posted on March 7th, 2014 eric No comments

    InqScribe is closing in on ten years old. It’s been a point of pride that InqScribe still runs on older systems — with InqScribe 2.2, as far back as OS X 10.4 and Windows 2000.

    Now, however, the media playback engine changes we discussed earlier are forcing us to reconsider that approach for future versions of InqScribe.

    To recap, InqScribe’s media playback engines will be moving from QuickTime to AVFoundation on OS X, and from Windows Media Player to DirectShow (or possibly Media Foundation) on Windows. The new engines come with their own system requirements (for AVFoundation, OS X 10.7) that force us to abandon some older systems.

    Another important consideration for us is whether Apple and Microsoft support the system versions that InqScribe supports. Here, too, change is coming. Apple is no longer releasing security patches for OS X 10.6, which effectively means they no longer support it. Similarly, Microsoft has announced that they are discontinuing support for Windows XP next month.

    We are hesitant to recommend that our users continue to use an unsupported system, primarily because of security issues. With XP in particular, once Microsoft stops issuing security updates, XP systems will be at greater risk for malware.

    A benefit of moving to more modern OS versions is that InqScribe will be able to take advantage of some of the features that these systems provide (native spell checking!), without having to worry that users of older systems will be left out.

    We think it will be in our users’ best interests to upgrade to a supported system. Combined with the higher system requirements of the media engines, we are planning to update InqScribe’s minimum requirements to the following.

    • OS X 10.7. AVFoundation requires OS X 10.7 or newer, which makes this an easy decision.
    • Windows 7. Dropping Windows XP support is a given, since Microsoft is doing the same. We could support Windows Vista, but our internal use data suggests that the number of current Vista users using InqScribe is vanishingly small. So we’re planning to jump directly to Windows 7.

    If you have an older system, InqScribe 2.2 will continue to work for you. The new system requirements only apply to future versions of InqScribe.

    We’re excited for the next release of InqScribe. Talking about system requirements isn’t as exciting, but it’s necessary. We’re announcing these changes now so that users who will be impacted by the system requirements change will have to time to explore their options for upgrading their system before the next version of InqScribe is released.

    If you have questions or concerns about these changes, feel free to get in touch and we’ll be happy to clarify. We’ll be continually updating this support article with frequently asked questions and answers. And you can always contact us via our support page.

  • Retiring QuickTime

    Posted on March 7th, 2014 matt No comments

    When Apple released QuickTime in 1991, it was revolutionary. QuickTime provided a straightforward means to open and play a wide variety of audio and video formats. Over the years, Apple enhanced QuickTime, adding support for additional formats, subtitles, Windows support, and even a handful of interactive features.

    When InqScribe debuted (nearly 10 years ago!), QuickTime was arguably in its prime. InqScribe has always relied on QuickTime to handle media playback: for a long time our support slogan was “if QuickTime can play it, so can InqScribe.” InqScribe also relied on QuickTime’s subtitle track support to give our users a straightforward way to produce standalone subtitled movies.

    We’ve been very happy with the relationship between InqScribe and QuickTime. But the writing is on the wall: QuickTime is now over 20 years old, an eternity in software terms. And Apple has been very clear that QuickTime is no longer the way forward. Apple has officially deprecated QuickTime, to the point of warning developers that apps submitted to the App Store will be rejected if they continue to use QuickTime.

    (InqScribe is not sold through the App Store, so this warning doesn’t impact us directly. But we get the point.)

    So we’ve made the decision that future versions of InqScribe will no longer use QuickTime. Which raises two key questions: how will InqScribe manage media playback, and how will our users be able to quickly produce subtitled videos?

    For OS X, InqScribe will use AVFoundation for media playback. AVFoundation is Apple’s official replacement for QuickTime and offers decent subtitle support. AVFoundation has the additional feature that it is also used for media playback on iPhones and iPads, so moving to AVFoundation should simplify the process of producing subtitled content for Apple’s mobile devices.

    For Windows, InqScribe could probably get by continuing to rely on Windows Media Player, but we want to look closely at moving to either DirectShow or its modern successor, Media Foundation. Of these options we’d prefer to use DirectShow, because Media Foundation doesn’t yet have strong support for subtitles. (Unlike Apple and QuickTime, Microsoft continues to support DirectShow).

    Beyond the native media engines for OS X and Windows, we are also looking at whether InqScribe can support alternative media engines that would enable playback of additional media formats or provide additional functionality that the native engines lack. Examples of engines in this class include VLCGStreamer, and web-based solutions to play back online content like YouTube or Vimeo.

    InqScribe will continue to export a wide range of subtitling formats, and we will make sure that it will continue to be easy to generate subtitled content that can be viewed with standard apps on OS X and Windows.

    It’s worth noting that moving to more modern media playback engines will mean that future versions of InqScribe will not run on some older systems. We’ll have a separate post soon talking about the next release and InqScribe’s minimum system requirements.

    If you have questions or concerns about these changes, feel free to get in touch and we’ll be happy to clarify. We’ll be continually updating this support article with frequently asked questions and answers. And you can always contact us via our support page.