Sunday, June 19, 2016

Transcribing Digital Audio and Video Files

Occasionally legal assistants and paralegals need to transcribe audio or video recordings.  If you have ever tried to make a transcription without the benefit of a foot-pedal-controlled tape recorder, you know how difficult it can be to start, stop, and rewind a recording while typing the transcription.

Since the vast majority of recordings you may be asked to transcribe will be saved in a digital format, even if you have a tape recorder with a foot pedal, you will need to use a media player on a computer like Windows Media Player, Real Player, iTunes, etc. to play the recording.  This means you will need to click on the media player to start and stop the recording while you are typing the transcription into a document.  You spend a lot of time clicking back and forth between your document and the media player and trying to do it as quickly as possible.  It’s a real pain, and it reminds me of those “There’s got to be a better way” commercials.


Well, there is a better way, and it won't cost $19.95 plus shipping and handling.  You can create hotkeys in Windows Media Player that will allow you to control Windows Media Player without having to use your mouse and without having to leave the document in which you are typing the transcription.  With one key press each, the hotkeys will let you play/pause, rewind, and fast forward the recording without having to click out of your document.  I set up F10 to be the rewind key, F11 to be play/pause, and F12 to be fast forward.  The rewind and fast forward buttons each move the recording by five seconds.

You can download free software to enable the hotkeys at http://wmpkeys.sourceforge.net/.  Follow the instructions on this page to download and install the software.  As the instructions state, after the software is installed, you will need to open Windows Media Player and turn on the new plug-in you installed.  To turn on the plug-in, open Windows Media Player and right click on the player window.  That will bring up a window like the one below.


Select “More options…” near the bottom of the window.  This will open another window like this:


Click on the “Plug-ins” tab near the top of the window.  Select Background from the menu in the left-hand column.  You should see Wmpkeys Plugin in the box on the right side of the window like in the picture below.  Check the box to the left of Wmpkeys Plugin.  This will enable you to use the plug-in and set up your hotkeys.  Keep this same window open and click on Properties near the bottom of the window.

After you click on Properties, another window will open that will like the one in the image below.  Here you can choose the keys that control some of the basic functions of Windows Media Player.  As mentioned above, I like to use F10 for rewind by five seconds, F11 for play/pause, and F12 for fast forward.  I use these keys because I never seem to use them for any other purpose and because that arrangement puts them in a logical order for rewind, play/pause, and fast forward.  Once the keys have been selected, click OK.
 

Again, these hotkeys will allow you to control Windows Media Player and the playback of any audio or video file you need to transcribe without having to click out of the document in which you are typing the transcription.  This will save you a lot of time and avoid a lot of headaches as you make the transcription.

Here’s one last “There’s got to be a better way” clip for good measure.  This one is my favorite.

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