How to transcribe TEDxTalks in 10 steps

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Hey, TEDx organizers and translators, here’s everything you need to know about transcribing TEDx talks in Amara - in 10 easy steps! TEDx talks are being added into TED Open Translation Project a few at a time so we can make sure they’re properly translated and credited. This is how do it:


If you don’t see talks from your event(s), or talks you'd like to transcribe or translate please use this form to submit them! In the meantime, you might like to help your friends and fellow organizers from around the world by translating their videos into languages you speak


1. Create a profile on TED and register with Amara, our subtitling partner. When you create your Amara profile, set the languages you speak and can translate to/from. This will enable you to find tasks you wish to work on.


2. Consider joining the Facebook group of TEDx talks transcribers and Facebook group of TED translators, and/or a group for your specific language. You can find the list of groups here. Translators are very friendly and can help you with anything and answer all your questions.


3. Once your application is approved, find the talk you want to transcribe. It’s easy – go to the TED team on Amara, choose the "TEDxTalks Project" from the list on the left. You can search for a specific talk using the search box within the "Videos"/"Tasks" tab. Alternatively, set the filters to find specific types of tasks. For example, choose “Transcribe” tasks in "TEDxTalks" in "my languages" assigned to "no one". Once you find the task, click “Perform task”.


4. This document explains how to use the Amara transcription interface.


5. Talk title and description: every talk should be titled in the following format: Talk title - Speaker’s name at TEDx[EventName]. The description field of the talk should contain 2-3 sentences describing the contents of the talk, and they should both be in the original language of the talk.


6. Start transcribing from the speaker’s first sentence. Do not put in (Music) or (Applause) at the beginning of the talk.


7. The content of the transcript must be broken up into subtitle lines, and these lines must be synchronized with the video. The subtitle line cannot be too long, because the viewer must be given enough time to look at and comprehend the video. Line duration and length: A single-line subtitle of any length should not stay on the screen for more than about 6 seconds. A subtitle cannot stay on the screen for less than approximately 1.12 seconds, even if it only contains a single word, because subtitles with a shorter duration will just be a flash that most viewers will miss. Conversely, a short subtitle should not stay on the screen for too long, because that would prompt the viewer to re-read it. In most cases one subtitle consists of up to two lines at up to 40-42 characters per each. You will also see a "characters/second" value for each line - to enable most people to follow, this should fall below 22. Read more here. Line breaks: One sentence delivered in 30 seconds in the talk will often need to be divided into several subtitles. No matter how long the single line may be (depending on on-screen duration and character-length considerations), the line breaks must not cut up syntactic (word-group) and semantic (meaningful) wholes. See examples here.


8. Sound representation in a transcript is meant to enable deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers (as well as viewers watching the talk without the sound on) to understand all the non-spoken auditory information that is necessary to comprehend the talk to the same degree that a hearing audience potentially would. In TED transcripts, sound information is enclosed in parentheses, with the first word starting with a capital letter. There are generally two types of sound information used in TED transcripts: sound representation and speaker identification. TED Transcripts contain sound representations for deaf or hard-of-hearing viewers (e.g. (Laughter), (Applause), (Music)). Speaker identification: Speaker changes need to be represented in the transcript. Additional speakers may appear if the speaker who began the talk is joined by another speaker on stage (e.g. for a question-and-answer session), or if video or audio material featuring spoken utterances is included in the talk. Read more here.


9. Editing/compressing the talk When working on subtitles, one is normally required to compress, omit certain linguistic items from the original spoken dialog (e.g. padding, emphasizing constructions), and rephrase certain complex syntactic structures to make the subtitle easier to follow (e.g. changing the Passive Voice into Active Voice). Some of the linguistic issues that may need editing: incorrect vocabulary, slips of the tongue, repetition. Read more here.


10. Once you finish the transcription task, click submit final translation. Another transcriber form your language will then review the transcript, correcting any mistakes. If you are reviewing someone’s work, remember this is a collaborative effort. Always contact the previous contributor and notify them about the changes you’re about to make. Once you both agree on the final version, click “Accept”. The transcript can then be approved and published, which makes it available for translation in 100+ languages!

If you want to read more about transcribing talks, see this detailed guide.

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