Update – May 2021
MAXQDA now supports direct subtitle file (SRT) import
You can easily convert VTT files to SRT using https://subtitletools.com/convert-to-srt-online
Here’s my presentation and session from the (excellent) MAXDAYS conference in 2021:
The following are important prerequisites. You will need:
- A media file that is either:
- A recording within Microsoft Teams saved to Stream
- A media file you can convert and upload to Microsoft Stream*
- An audio or video recording through an institutionally licensed Zoom account (with subtitling enabled)
- A recording from another system that outputs a subtitle file (that you will then convert to VTT)
- A recording within Microsoft Teams saved to Stream
- Installed version of MAXQDA (this is all illustrated and lined to 2020 pro edition – with a common experience and manual across windows and Mac).
- Installation of the free VLC media player
Steps four and five are reversed below from main sequence with MaxQDA as it picks up timestamps in a file and then asks you to import media (you can do it the other way around but it’s a little more efficient this way).
- Create a media file with subtitle file in VTT format
- Download the media file and the subtitle file
- Clean the subtitle file ready for import.
- Import the subtitle file into MAXQDA
- Importing the associated media file
- Listen to the media file and read the synchronised transcript in order to begin analysis through
- Correcting the transcript
- Labeling speakers
- Making notes (annotation)
- Initial coding the transcript
Step One – Create a media file with subtitle file in VTT format
Depending where you start there are a few ways this will work – all have the same end point: a media file and a VTT transcript. It’s all detailed over in this post.
The introductory video was created with Teams, another was created in Zoom. You can also (currently) upload videos to Stream or use a wide range of other applications and system to create an automatic transcript of a media file.
Step Two – Download the media file and the subtitle file
Step Three – Clean the subtitle file ready for import using an online tool
This area is developing quite rapidly – the following steps will give you a MAXQDA ready file.
Option 1 – Clean the VTT file into CAQDAS ready format online
Upload your VTT file, Click convert, download the text file.
Option 2 – create your own copy of the converter
Go to the GitHub page at https://github.com/TimEllis/vttprocessor
Step Four – Import the cleaned subtitles as a synchronised transcript
Step Five – Import the media file into MAXQDA
Step Six – Listen to the media and correct the transcript (and begin initial analysis steps)
So this is where it all pays off!
This process allows you to now use the powerful tools within MAXQDA to playback the audio / video (including slowing playback speed,adjusting volume and setting rewind intervals when you press play/pause + keyboard shortcuts for the play/pause functions) whilst you read the transcript and make corrections. But not only corrections! You can also annotate the transcript and even start coding at this stage.
An AMAZING tool for this process in MAXQDA is the “summarise” function to use when correcting the transcript – this allows you to annotate and make notes but also use those to create candidate codes. It’s a really really nice tool and function for this process.
The additional files (recordings and VTT files) can be downloaded from here if you want to have a play at cleaning, importing and correcting them.
The blog bit – background, next steps, context
So this has been a real focus for me recently. I’ve had a lot of help and encouragement – see acknowledgements below – but also NEED from students and groups who are wondering how to do transcription better.
I also think this really gives the lie to the idea that manual transcription is “the best way” to get in touch with audio. I’m kind of hoping that the sudden shifts the pandemic has caused in practice and process might lead to some developments and rethinking of analysis. This quote has been too true for too long:
Over the past 50 years the habitual nature of our research practice has obscured serious attention to the precise nature of the devices used by social scientists (Platt 2002, Lee 2004). For qualitative researchers the tape-recorder became the prime professional instrument intrinsically connected to capturing human voices on tape in the context of interviews. David Silverman argues that the reliance on these techniques has limited the sociological imagination: “Qualitative researchers’ almost Pavlovian tendency to identify research design with interviews has blinkered them to the possible gains of other kinds of data” (Silverman 2007: 42). The strength of this impulse is widely evident from the methodological design of undergraduate dissertations to multimillion pound research grant applications. The result is a kind of inertia, as Roger Stack argues: “It would appear that after the invention of the tape-recorder, much of sociology took a deep sigh, sank back into the chair and decided to think very little about the potential of technology for the practical work of doing sociology” (Slack 1998: 1.10).Back L. (2010) Broken Devices and New Opportunities: Re-imagining the tools of Qualitative Research. ESRC National Centre for Research Methods
Lee, R. M. (2004) ‘Recording Technologies and the Interview in Sociology, 1920-2000’, Sociology, 38(5): 869-899
Platt, J. (2002) ‘The History of the Interview,’ in J. F. Gubrium and J. A. Holstein (eds) Handbook of the Interview Research: Context and Method, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage pp. 35-54.
Silverman D. (2007) A very short, fairly interesting and reasonably cheap book about qualitative research, Los Angeles, Calif.: SAGE.
Slack R. (1998) On the Potentialities and Problems of a www based naturalistic Sociology. Sociological Research Online 3. http://socresonline.org.uk/3/2/3.html
Various additional links and notes:
How and when Stream will be changing https://docs.microsoft.com/en-gb/stream/streamnew/new-stream
Bits about zoom needing transcripts switched on and how to do this (ie.e. send this link to your institutional zoom administrator see https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/115004794983-Using-audio-transcription-for-cloud-recordings- )
A cool free online tool for converting other transcript formats (e.g. from EStream, Panopto or other systems) https://subtitletools.com/
And finally for more information on the VTT format see this excellent page.
Thanks and acknowledgements
This hasn’t happened alone. Many thanks to Tim Ellis especially for his work on the VTT cleaner and sharing it via GitHub.
If you’ve got suggestions, ideas, updates, developments or found this useful please post a comment, link to this or build on it.