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Transcription Amanuensis


This essay does not describe an existing computer program, just one that should exist. This essay is about a suggested student project in Java programming. This essay gives a rough overview of how it might work. I have no source, object, specifications, file layouts or anything else useful to implementing this project. Everything I have prepared to help you is right here.

This project outline is not like the artificial, tidy little problems you are spoon-fed in school, when all the facts you need are included, nothing extraneous is mentioned, the answer is fully specified, along with hints to nudge you toward a single expected canonical solution. This project is much more like the real world of messy problems where it is up to you to fully the define the end point, or a series of ever more difficult versions of this project and research the information yourself to solve them.

Everything I have to say to help you with this project is written below. I am not prepared to help you implement it; or give you any additional materials. I have too many other projects of my own.

Though I am a programmer by profession, I don’t do people’s homework for them. That just robs them of an education.

You have my full permission to implement this project in any way you please and to keep all the profits from your endeavour.

Please do not email me about this project without reading the disclaimer above.

If you have every tried to transcribe a video or audio, you will understand how useful this tool would be. There is a commercial program called Transcription Buddy that lets you control the playing of an audio file with foot pedals. You can leap back, forward, play and stop. It has two drawbacks.
  1. When you are transcribing a video, you can only hear the video, you can’t see the chart or whatever the presenter is pointing to.
  2. There is no tie between Transcription Buddy and your text editor.
This means you spend a huge amount of time trying to match up a spot in your partially completed transcript with a frame on the video.

What is needed it to be able to play the video and have the cursor follow along in your half-completed transcript. Further, you should be able to click any spot in your half-completed transcript and have it position the video to that spot. This is a non-trivial problem since the user might correct parts of the text, not related to the video sound currently playing. You have to be a bit clever. For a first cut, you can demand the user stop the video whenever making edits unrelated to the current spot on the video.

Internally the editor needs to track the clock time and video frame time of every keystroke to sort this all out. It can later insert 12:12 markers in the completed text at the end of each paragraph to relate the finished text back to the video.

I suggest trying out Transcription Buddy and transcribing something to get a feel for the problems before you start designing.

foot pedal

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