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  • Guest Blog: Transcribing Spider Monkeys

    Posted on February 3rd, 2016 Alex No comments

    Did you know you can use InqScribe to transcribe just about any language? Yes, even the language of spider monkeys.

    By: Sandra E. Smith Aguilar, PhD student at the Interdisciplinary Research Center for Regional Development (CIIDIR) Campus Oaxaca, of the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN) in Mexico.

    My research focuses on understanding the relationship between spider monkey social structure and space-use. As part of my project, I collected hundreds of hours of behavioral data which I am currently transcribing and processing. I’m specifically studying a wild group of black handed spider monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi) which live in the Otoch Ma’ax Yetel Kooh protected area in Yucatan, Mexico. To conduct my research I spent 20 months living in a nearby village, going in to study the monkeys for 4-8 hours at a time with another PhD student and village experts.

    Each day, I chose one of the 22 monkeys from the group and recorded detailed accounts of its behavior, including interactions with other individuals as well as general information on grouping and movement patterns. Members of a spider monkey group are rarely found all together. Instead, individuals constantly join and leave subgroups on an hourly basis. This means that the identity of the members of any given subgroup is quite unpredictable (except for the infants and juveniles who usually stay together with their mothers). By following particular individuals, I tried to capture information on how social interactions can influence the monkey’s movement decisions and gain insight on the general principles which shape their social organization.

    Once I finished my field work, I ended up with 539 hours of behavioral records. Besides representing an exciting sample of 174 focal follows of all group members, this also meant that a long transcription process was ahead of me.

    What do you think they're saying?

    Initially, I considered using software for animal behavior research. However, the options I looked into did not allow for as many behavioral categories and extra data as I had. Given the narrative style of my recordings and the number of details I included in each entry, I needed something that allowed me to put as much information as I needed without the painful process of looking for the correct cell in a pre-designed giant spread sheet with columns for each piece of information.  At the same time, I needed to export the transcription in a format which allowed me to easily generate, manage, and format a database for further analysis. Both of these features drew me to InqScribe.

    In general, I’ve found the program is really easy to use. I’m particularly grateful for the ability to define personalized snippets and shortcuts, as well as the variety of export options which together have saved me endless hours in front of the computer.

    Thanks Sandra! We’re happy to hear InqScribe makes it easier to conduct your research. Whether you’re researching spider monkeys in the Yucatan or transcribing a simple dialogue, consider trying out InqScribe with our free 14-day trial. If you’d like to learn more, or if you have any questions about InqScribe, feel free to contact us at

  • 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.

  • InqScribe Tips: Format Transcripts as Tables

    Posted on January 29th, 2014 christina No comments

    We often get inquiries from our users about how to format text as tables in InqScribe. Because InqScribe’s transcript window is “plain text,” it does not support tables. However, we can suggest these methods for converting InqScribe transcripts into table format.

    Many of our users use the Tab key to delineate columns and the Return key to delineate rows. You can export your transcript as “Tab-delimited text” from within InqScribe and then open in a program that supports tables, such as Word or Excel.


    1. Export the transcript as Tab-delimited Text…

    File > Export > Tab Delimited Text...

    Click export

    2. Open the exported text file. Select the text, and then copy and paste into a blank Word document.

    Open the text file

    Copy the text

    Paste into Word

    3. Choose Table>Convert>Convert text to table to convert the text to a table.

    Table > Convert > Convert to Table

    Click OK

    Text formatted as a table

    To further format your table (e.g., change the color of the cells or borders) choose Format>Borders and Shading…

    You can also export your transcript as HTML, which creates an HTML-based table format. You can open the HTML file directly in Word and repeat the steps above to create a table with borders.


    1. Open the exported text file. Select the text, and then copy and paste into a blank spreadsheet.

    Copy the text

    Paste into a blank spreadsheet

    Text in Excel

    Your tips and ideas

    Do you have another way of formatting transcripts created in InqScribe? Need additional features? Let us know via our customer feedback pages.

  • Guest Blog: A Final Cut Pro Workflow for Editing in Another Language

    Posted on May 7th, 2012 ben No comments

    Finding the right workflow for a project can be a challenge, especially when you have multiple languages, multiple tools, and multiple collaborators in the mix.  In our latest guest blog, Chad Braham, an editor and Director of Media Production at describes in very helpful detail how they’ve developed a translation workflow that starts in Final Cut Pro and ends back in Final Cut Pro with a full resolution subtitled version that enables him to edit the film in a language he doesn’t speak.

    Got an interesting story about how you’re using InqScribe? Please contact us at if you’d like to highlight your work.

    by Chad Braham, Editor, Director of Media Production, is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization based in Indianapolis, IN, that aims to educate and raise awareness about women’s cancer.

    This summer, our organization is working on a documentary short film about a cervical cancer prevention program in the Peten region of Guatemala, entitled, “No More <>. Due to the location of where the film was shot, a large portion of the footage needs to be translated and subtitled (from Spanish to English) for the final piece.

    Much of this translation is currently being done by a small group of volunteers, most of whom have little to no subtitling/transcription experience. Because of this, we needed a solution that was easy to learn and use, was available on multiple platforms (PC and Mac) and could work within our Final Cut Pro 7 video editing workflow.

    As you probably already know, Inqscribe <> does all the above and more. As the editor of this film, I must say that I don’t speak much spanish, so it was critical that our translation workflow start and end with Final Cut Pro. With Inqscribe I can edit spanish speaking interviews, in Final Cut Pro, with subtitles, and find sound bites and edit points as if I were editing an english speaking interview. Our typical workflow is as follows:

    1. Export a clip of spanish speaking footage from Final Cut Pro as a small reference video file with a timecode window burned in. In an attempt to keep the physical file size small (and the duration short for our volunteers) we usually keep the file to around 7 minutes long (a 320×180 Quicktime file at Photo-JPEG with “Medium” compression seem to play-back better then “.mp4” files on slower PC machines).

    2. Upload the file to our FTP site or Google Drive (depending on the volunteer’s preferences) and notify the volunteer with an email that also includes a few notes about the file (who the person speaking is, why we chose to talk to them, etc.)

    3. Volunteer transcribes in Inqscribe and breaks up the transcription into phrases with timecode for subtitling exports.

    4. The volunteer then emails over just the “.inqscr” file, that the video editor opens in his copy of InqScribe, makes a few adjustments to ensure it adheres to basic subtitling best practices (amount of text per subtitle, etc.), and then exports out an XML from InqScribe for Final Cut Pro import.

    5. The XML export is then imported into Final Cut Pro and sync’d to the full-rez version of the translated clip. This is really the beauty of translating and transcribing with Inqscribe, the translation is already broken into full-resolution subtitling text “slides” in FCP and can be edited further without any quality loss to the video or text.

    One of the biggest challenges of producing any documentary, is organizing the massive amounts of footage and material, into a compelling story. This is especially complicated when a good portion of the material you are working with is in a foreign language. Luckly, there is a software like InqScribe that is so easy, anyone can use it.

    You can learn about this film at the film’s website

  • Taking and Sharing Notes on Video

    Posted on May 11th, 2011 ben No comments

    InqScribe’s free-form text editing is intended to support a wide variety of tasks. So while we often talk of “transcribing” video, in practice oftentimes it’s more efficient to simply take notes. I was reminded of this in recent conversation with one of our customers at a cable tv network: sometimes all you want to do is review a clip and call out highlights from the video that you might want to use.

    This is particularly useful in team environments: you can watch a video, insert a timecode and quick note about interesting moments, and then share the InqScribe document with your editor or director. The editor/director can click on the timecode to view the segment of video.

    For example, we need to edit our introductory screencast. I review the video and I write the following in an InqScribe transcript to tell Matt (who’s editing the video):

    Cut [00:00:06.00] through [00:00:14.23] -- we can jump straight into the intro.
    The audio at [00:00:27.00] is unclear.  Can you re-record that?
    End the clip at [00:01:06.03].

    Matt already has the video on his computer, so I can just email the InqScribe file to him. He’ll copy it to the folder where the video is, open the InqScribe file, and the transcript will automatically link itself to the media again. (Alternatively, you can reference a common file on a network somewhere). He can then click on the timecodes I’ve inserted to see exactly what I”m talking about.

    The “transcript” is only few lines, but it conveys everything he needs to know. And obviously, there’s no need for a line by line transcript. A few timecoded notes suffice.

  • Guest Blog: How Documentary Filmmakers Transcribe and Subtitle With InqScribe

    Posted on October 16th, 2010 ben No comments

    InqScribe has many different kinds of users. But the majority of our users can be categorized into three groups: university researchers, professional transcriptionists, and documentary filmmakers.

    To highlight how our folks are using the tool, we would like to do an occasional feature where we invite our users to be guest bloggers.

    Here’s our first guest blog from a pair of award-winning documentary filmmakers. We were particularly interested in how they might be using InqScribe as part of their translation and transcription workflow, so we asked them to elaborate:



    By Dianne Griffin and Erica Jordan

    Digall Media, a 501(c)(3) organization founded by Erica Jordan and Dianne Griffin is currently in production on their one-hour documentary Painted Nails – a Vietnamese immigrant story of exotic nail art, pampered clients, and the serious health risks that lurk beneath the brightly painted surface.

    We’re excited about using Inquirium’s product InqScribe to transcribe dialogue and create English subtitles for our Vietnamese and Spanish speaking characters. We’re still fine-tuning the workflow of importing subtitles, generated with InqScribe, into Final Cut Pro. It took some time to figure out the importing and exporting specs, but it was worth trouble-shooting. We can now transcribe dialogue in InqScribe with timecode and export it as an XML file using a custom FCP XML template. When the XML file is imported into Final Cut, the subtitles (as text elements) magically appear on a new timeline. InqScribe’s support page offers to look at your files to help trouble-shoot subtitling issues. InqScribe works great with a foot pedal, saving valuable post-production time.

    Filmmaking is hard enough; it’s great to find a product such as InqScribe to make it easier.

    Please contact us at if you’re interested in highlighting your work.

  • Tip: Inserting the Current Time of Day or Transcribing While Videotaping

    Posted on April 15th, 2010 ben No comments

    You can insert the current time of day into your transcript. This is useful for instance, if you want to take notes while you are recording during a meeting or video shoot. Later when you import the media, you can sync the start time to your video.

    For example, let’s say you’re shooting an interview, and it begins at 1:00pm. During the interview, you can take notes in InqScribe, noting when a particularly interesting conversation happens by inserting the current time. For instance, if the interviewee says something interesting 12 minutes and 3 seconds into the interview, you can insert a time stamp next to your note about that with one keystroke, e.g.:

    “[01:12:03.00] T didn’t know it at the time.”

    Alternatively, instead of using time of day, you can also use a stopwatch synced to the start of the video recording.

    How do you do this? Just set the Media Source to an Offline Media type and select “Use time of day” or “Use stopwatch timer”.

    Here are detailed instructions:

    1. Create a new transcript “FIle->New Document…”
    2. Click on the “Select Media Source…” button
    3. In the “Source Type” popup menu, select “Offline Media”
    4. Under “Timecode:” select the “Use time of day” radio button.

    (Or you can select “Use stopwatch timer” and select a start time and end time.)

    Then just type away as you normally would, using Command-; or (Ctrl-; in Windows) to insert the current time. Instead of using the media time, InqScribe will now insert the current time of day, or the stopwatch time.