What is Video Transcription and How Does It Work?

What makes online video content so popular today? That’s an interesting question. Whether for marketing, content accessibility, or SEO purposes, video transcription remains an excellent choice for forward-thinking business owners looking to add crucial elements to their trade. It is also a great choice for all individuals looking to get started in the field of transcription jobs as part of a newly found work from home venture.

According to recent statistics, speech-to-text services could easily become a mainstay in the modern business market in the coming years, with many individuals keen to make their content easily digestible for all kinds of audiences. And this begs the question, is video transcription worth it? If yes, what does it entail?

To help you understand the critical aspects of video transcription as a remote job or for your business venture, we have compiled a guide to the topic. We have also included the FAQ section to help answer some of the most common questions on video transcription. Let’s get started, then.

What is Video Transcription?

In its basic form, video transcription refers to the process of converting video content into text transcripts. It may involve the use of human transcriptionists, speech recognition technologies, or a combination of both to give accurate, clear, and concise transcripts. In modern workplaces, video transcription may take a ton of media forms such as TV shows, webinars, eLearning resources, and films, just to mention a few.

Why is it Important?

With the rapid consumption of video content, it’s easy to see why video transcription is fast gaining popularity these days. It’s become even more critical to use this form of transcription thanks to the many benefits it assures. Below are listed a few reasons why video transcription is your best bet when it comes to business growth.  

1. Content Accessibility

Video transcripts are accessible to anyone; the deaf, the dumb, and non-native speakers. This makes it a perfect way to increase audience coverage. A video transcript offers much more than just relaying the speech. And as you may already know, the larger the audience, the more the views.

2. Easy Comprehension

Video transcription covers all the critical aspects of online learning, making it one of the best options for intellectual reinforcement. These transcripts give viewers a better learning experience even in situations where English is not their native language.

3. Boosts SEO

Yes! Video transcripts can also boost SEO. Such transcripts give a proper avenue for the search engines to index and rank your text. The result? More unique visitors and a chance to climb the search rank on popular search engine platforms such as Google.  

Types of Video Transcription Service

In general, video transcription is divided into two broad paths, with every type known to bring specific pros and cons. These include manual and automated video transcription as covered below.

Manual Video Transcription

As the name suggests, manual video transcription refers to the process of converting video files to text transcripts without involving any form of transcription software or speech recognition technologies. Here, you are simply focused on typing exactly what you hear using the basic text editing tools alone.

Generally, this type of video transcription tends to give more accurate transcripts compared to automated transcription even though the new wave of first-rate video transcription tools such as machine learning is threatening its existence. The pros of opting for manual transcription include the following:


  • High accuracy
  • Can differentiate between different speakers
  • Excellent for content polishing and cleaning before delivering the final presentation
  • Can identify different dialects and complex speech patterns
  • Easy to transcribe complex terminologies in the legal and medical niches


  • It is time-consuming
  • Can be expensive  

Automated Video Transcription

Automated transcription, on the other hand, involves the use of transcription tools and software to convert the entire video file as a whole. It is an electronic form of video transcription that utilizes modern technologies to give cost-effective results within a quick turnaround. But there’s a catch. Quality is never guaranteed. So, at the end of the day, automated transcription will still require human assistance to confirm the accuracy of the transcribed information.

Some of the best examples of transcription tools and programs that have found their way in the field of automated transcription recently include Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), and speech recognition technologies.


  • Faster turnaround
  • Efficient


  • Not reliable in case of heavy accents and slurred speeches
  • Can get quite expensive
  • Can be time-consuming
  • Difficulty differentiating between two or more speakers
  • Cannot detect or differentiate the variations in dialect more accurately as manual transcription

Video Transcription Process

Transcription is a detailed process, and video transcription, regardless of the form, is no exception. As earlier mentioned, the two broad forms of video transcription include manual and automated types. So, let's see what the actual process entails.

Manual Video Transcription Process

Of course, the first step in creating accurate video transcripts manually is to have the right software and equipment. For example, you will need special transcription tools and software to support audio playback. Also, you may need the foot pedals which are known to cater to audio playbacks without necessarily involving the use of a computer mouse. Manual video transcription simply involves converting the video to text by a human transcriptionist. So, you will simply type every detail as you hear it.

Automated Video Transcription Process

If you are going to do automated transcription, then the priority is to have the speech recognition software, because it is this tool that will do the actual transcription. Of course, the process remains the same, where you will be converting the video file and sound to text transcript but here, with the aid of speech recognition software. If speed is your biggest priority, automated video transcription is the way to go.

Video Transcription Software

Like with many forms of transcription, there’s a wide range of video transcription software to help you get the desired results. These tools are available in different price ranges to suit your budget, needs, and technologies. Generally, video transcription software can be broadly classified into two groups: free transcription tools and paid video transcription software. Let’s start by covering the free versions.

Free Video Transcription Software

If you are going to do all video transcription tasks by yourself, then getting the free transcription software would be a great starting point. Here are the best free transcription tools to help you deliver exceptional results:

Express Scribe

The role of Express Scribe in delivering incredible results cannot be stressed enough. Perhaps this is the most popular transcription tool out there and for a good reason. In general, this is a popular transcription tool that’s available in free and paid versions and can be installed on any device to help kickstart your transcription journey.

Express Scribe has a user-friendly interface and allows you to play, pause, and forward audio files after linking to a foot pedal. It supports all types of audio files and has great features that ensure efficiency, speed, and accuracy.


Ever heard of the Inqscribe software before? Well, this is another free transcription tool that is almost similar to the above-mentioned Express Scribe. It boasts a user-friendly interface to enable transcriptionists to control everything in one place.

With a huge variety of keyboard shortcuts, it is easy to customize this software to suit your needs. Inqscribe also comes with additional tools which allow you to insert snippets, time codes, and closed captions whenever you need them.


OTranscribe is free transcription software that’s easily downloadable online. With this software, you can easily control or manage your transcripts using the keyboard, which alleviates the need to click tabs when starting or stopping the audio.

OTranscribe enables the video transcriber to customize the keyboard shortcuts to suit his/her needs, with an option to directly convert the pasted audio file or the link to a YouTube video.

Paid Video Transcription Software

Now, let’s look at some of the most popular paid video transcription software.


Rev is a top-ranked transcription service that features both human-based and machine-generated transcription. The company aims to deliver quality and accurate transcripts at affordable prices.

Recently, working with Rev has been made even easier, where individuals can simply upload the video files and expect the results in as little as 45 minutes depending on the size of the project and method of transcription.


Descript is another popular software to help you get quality video transcripts. This is a one-of-a-kind video editing tool that’s specifically suited to podcasts. Like Rev, descript features both automated and human-centered video transcription services to help you choose what suits you best.

Of course, downloading the software comes at no cost. However, you will have to pay a few dollars to use most of its premium features especially when you value speed and accuracy.


Temi has a lot of similarities to Rev and comes in handy for individuals looking for a discounted price. Temi adopts speech recognition technologies and a user-friendly interface to ensure you get quality, speed and ease of use whenever you upload a video file.

YouTube Video Transcription

What about YouTube video transcription? Is it expensive? Read on to find out what it is like to transcribe a YouTube video.

Pros of YouTube Video Transcription

  • YouTube video transcription ensures easy content access to nonnative speakers and individuals with hearing disabilities.
  • YouTube video transcripts are perfect for individuals trying to learn the spoken language because they give clear spelling and vocabulary on every spoken word.
  • In situations where the environment may not be conducive for playing videos or audios, it is easy to follow the transcripts on the converted YouTube videos.
  • Also, YouTube video transcripts may help with higher rankings on search engines by enhancing SEO.
  • YouTube video transcripts also give a completely new way to digest and absorb new information.

YouTube Video Transcription Methods

Regardless of the size of the YouTube video you want to convert, there are 3 popular methods available to help you. These include using a transcription service, using YouTube itself, or opting for the DIY way. Let’s see what each option covers.

Using a Transcription Service

Using a transcription service is the single most effective way to get accurate results. Here, you will designate all the tasks to a popular transcription service and rest easy, knowing everything is well taken care of.

With this option, all you have to do is share the specific link or URL with the chosen transcription service and let them handle all the complex parts for you. This method guarantees efficiency and is relatively faster than the DIY option. However, it can get quite expensive.

Using YouTube Video Transcript

The second option is to opt for the YouTube video transcripts as converted by YouTube. It's hard to find a YouTube without subtitles these days and this is what forms the basis of this method. However, these transcripts are almost always autogenerated, meaning they neither guarantee quality nor accuracy. Still, they would make for an excellent choice if you want video transcripts straightaway.

DIY Option

Well, well, well. Turns out almost every online service has the DIY possibility these days. Whether this is the best option in some situations remains debatable. However, with YouTube video transcription, the DIY method might just turn out to be the best decision.

This option gives you full control over the transcription process, making it easier to spot errors and create quality transcripts that suit your needs. With the freedom it gives, you can add notes, delete texts, and use any tools you want to get the best results. But on the downside, it is time-consuming.

Companies That Offer Video Transcription Services

There is a wide range of reputable online companies currently offering professional video transcription services that ensure exceptional results. The list is somewhat endless but for this post, we will be highlighting the following:

Companies specializing transcription services

Freelance marketplaces that also offer transcription services

General remote companies that also offer transcription services

If you are looking to land an online job as a transcriptionist, make sure to check out our post on the top-25 transcription companies that are hiring remote workers.

FAQ - Video Transcription

In the next section, we will be discussing some of the most asked questions about video transcription.

How to become a video transcriber?

You may not need a college degree to become an excellent video transcriber, but you will need expertise in the language you are planning to transcribe, computer skills, and experience working with the relevant video transcription tools and software. Enrolling in online courses from recognized institutions can help you develop the required skill set for the job. When you have acquired the right skills, you can either search for available gigs on freelance platforms like Upwork or apply to work for some of the many transcription companies that hire remote workers.

How much does a video transcriptionist make?

In general, video transcriptionists make between $25 - $60 per hour of video transcript. The rate varies depending on factors such as the company, required expertise and transcriber's experience. Considering that it can usually take three to six hours to transcribe one hour of video audio, you can expect to make anywhere between $4/hour and $20/hour. Therefore, a video transcriber that works full-time will have a monthly income ranging from 640 USD to 3,200 USD on average.

Is video transcription expensive?

Well, it all depends on your budget and needs as video transcription is never a one size fits all affair. For many individuals who are investing in this service, the quality of the video transcripts will be a vital aspect. And that's what can make human transcription quite expensive: human transcriptionists give reliable results. On the other hand, automated solutions and DIY options will usually be the most cost-effective method of video transcription when there is a significant budget constraint.

What is the difference between video transcription and captioning?

Video transcription refers to the process of converting video files into text transcripts, either using human transcriptionists or speech recognition tools. Captioning, on the other hand, refers to the process of dividing video files into specific time-coded portions to ensure the video is more accessible. With captioning, viewers can easily follow the video or audio throughout the intervals. That said, the terms video transcription and captioning are often used interchangeably.

What are some common video transcript file formats?

When transcribing video files, it's important to know the popular file formats just to be sure that the chosen form will suit your needs. There are tons of video transcript file formats and the choice will depend on the task requirements. The most popular ones include plain text, time-stamped, HTML, JS, JSON, and As-Broadcast file formats. Plain text is the most commonly used transcript file format and can usually appear in the following forms: Plain Text Files (.txt), Microsoft Word Document (.docx) and Portable Document format (PDF).


Whether you are looking for professional video transcription services or want to become a video transcriber, it is always a good idea to understand what is involved in this process.

If you are planning to get into a new role as a professional video transcriptionist, getting the right skills and training is a no-brainer. Likewise, choosing the right tools and software is also important as they will enable you to expand these skills while putting them into practice.

With everything we have covered, we hope your journey to video transcription will be a smooth and successful experience.