Captioner vs. Transcriptionist: What are the Differences?

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Explore the distinct roles of captioners and transcriptionists in our insightful comparison.

Transkriptor 2024-01-17

In the world of audio to text conversion, there are two roles that are often confused. I am of course talking about the captioner vs transcriptionist quandary. On the outside, these roles look incredibly similar and indeed they do crossover somewhat. However, the end product and purpose of each role are different and in the below article, I aim to explain this.

A captioner working on a computer with audio visualization.
Discover the nuances of transcription and captioning, enhancing accessibility for all.

Captioner: Creating Visual Accessibility for Audio Content

Let’s first dive into the role of a captioner and see what they do as I find this is usually the least understood of the two professions.

What Does a Captioner Do?

A captioner first creates a transcription of video footage. It has to be video footage because of the second process involved and captioners would generally not work on audio files only - this is transcriptionist territory.

Once they have created a transcription of the video footage, their aim is to produce captions for the video using the transcription. These captions must be synchronized with the audio of the video so that when a person speaks or there is narration, the words display at the same time.

The aim is to provide an alternative means of understanding the video, for example, for someone who is deaf or hard of hearing. Captions are also documented to improve the retention and digestion of video content.

Techniques and Tools Used in Captioning

A captioner might initially use an audio to text conversion tool in the same way that a transcriptionist does. Essentially, they have to create an initial transcription that they can edit and work with to produce the captions.

Creating the captions will typically involve using video editing software such as Adobe Premier Pro or DaVinci Resolve so that they can overlay the text onto the video footage and make it synchronized.

Digital illustrator of a transcriptionist with abstract audio elements emanating from the screen.
Unravel the transcription's benefits for clarity.

Transcriptionist: Transforming Spoken Words Into Text

As you can see, captioners actually need transcribing skills and transcription is part of their job because they need to use an audio-to-text conversion tool to create the captions. However, there is another aspect to the job and this is where the role of a transcriptionist differs.

What Does a Transcriptionist Do?

Like a captioner, a transcriptionist turns audio into text. This could be by listening to an audio file, watching a video, or even being present during a meeting for example. Their aim is to create a legible document that shows what was said in that particular exchange of words.

There are verbatim transcriptions and non-verbatim transcriptions. Verbatim transcriptions are word-for-word and are meant to give a literal piece of text of EXACTLY what was said in the exchange. Non-verbatim transcriptions cut out the waffle and only include the relevant info to give a concise summary of the exchange.

Unlike a captioner, a transcriptionist doesn’t have to do anything with the transcription once it’s complete. It doesn’t have to be linked to the original audio.

Techniques and Tools Used in Transcription

When looking at the captioner vs transcription role, transcriptionists generally favor automated tools such as audio to text conversion tools and audio transcription tools.

This software uses AI algorithms and machine learning to recognize speech and turn this into a text document. The complexity and effectiveness of this software are continually improving including the ability to detect local dialects and differentiate between multiple speakers.

Industries Benefiting From These Services

More of the differences between captioners and transcriptionists are seen in the industries that benefit from their services. Captioners are often used in the following ways:

  • Content creation (YouTube, Twitch, TikTok, etc.).
  • Business marketing.
  • Educational content.

Video content creation is a prime example and most YouTube videos today have captions for accessibility. Similarly, businesses and educational institutions creating video content for marketing and learning will use captions. In contrast, transcriptionists may be used in some of the following ways:

  • To adhere to accessibility guidelines.
  • For records of business meetings and things like disciplinary hearings.
  • Legal proceedings.
  • Transcripts of lectures and study sessions.
  • For doctors to better assess patients' needs after consultations.

Transcriptions have a wider scope and are used in far more industries compared to captions.

Captioner vs Transcriptionist - Similar Jobs With Different Purposes

I hope you now have a clear understanding of the differences in the captioner vs transcriptionist conundrum and can see that while these roles are similar, they have very different purposes.

A captioner aims to convert audio into text to provide captions for video footage. The audio must not only be transcribed but it must be edited to fit with the pace and tempo of the video and the speaker.

In contrast, transcription is simply the process of converting audio to text. It is used to create a written record of an audio file or something like a video conference for further analysis and dissection - it does not have to be crafted to fit with the content of the audio file.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, captioners are responsible for synchronizing the transcribed text with the corresponding video content, ensuring that captions accurately match the timing of spoken words and relevant sounds in the video.

Transcriptionists' services are commonly used in legal proceedings, medical consultations, academic research, business meetings, media interviews, and various professional events where converting spoken content to written text is required for record-keeping, analysis, or accessibility.

Yes, transcriptionists can work with live meetings or events. They transcribe the spoken content into text in real-time or from recorded audio, producing a written record of the event.

AI and machine learning significantly enhance transcription work by automating the process, improving accuracy, and reducing the time required for transcription. These technologies enable the transcription software to recognize speech patterns, accents, and differentiate between speakers, leading to more efficient and accurate transcription results.

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