So why would you possibly want to strip the audio from a beautiful video interview?  We do it at the Nunn Center, mainly, for transcription.  When we transcribe an interview (which means sending it out to a transcriptionist), we have found it more efficient in our workflow to transfer audio files rather than video files.  While we will make the video available to the transcriptionist, if needed, we, generally,  have transcriptionists work primarily with the audio version of the interview.  In 99% of the work that we send out for transcription, the audio version of a video interview is sufficient for creating a professional quality verbatim transcript.

Surely transcribers work with video right?  Indeed, most transcribers now work with video files.  Transcription systems work best when working directly with files versus streaming links from something like YouTube or Vimeo. The size of a video interview can range anywhere from 2 to 200 gigabytes of data, making the transfer process a potential  challenge.  Many of you may not have FTP capability, or you may not have Dropbox or Google Drive accounts that can accommodate such large video files.  So I recommend stripping audio from your video interview and sending an audio-only version to the transcriptionist.

I recommend that you strip audio from a merged or “stitched” version of the video interview.  Because we are now creating time dependent metadata and time-coded transcripts via tools like OHMS it is important to create an audio-only version that has been derived from the stitched-together master version of the interview, so the time code remains consistent between all of your versions.  In our case, we only strip the audio  from a version that has been created from the “submaster” or “production master”  version of the interview.  See my post A Stitch in Time: A Guide to Stitching Video Files regarding the stitching and creation of video files.  As long as the time code is exactly the same, it does not matter that the transcription or index was generated from the audio version of the interview.

By stripping the audio from the video and creating a single,  compressed audio file version of the interview, we  create a medium to high  quality .mp3 files (sizes generally run anywhere from 50-300 megabytes), which is a much easier file to upload, transfer or download via tools such as FTP, Google Drive or Dropbox.  If you are nervous about video preservation, some create audio-only versions of their video interviews  stripping audio as an uncompressed .wav file and maintained a preservation-quality audio version of a video interview.

Stripping Audio from Video

Stripping audio from video to create an audio-only version of your interview can easily be accomplished using a variety of tools.  Many audio-editing programs such as Audacity or Sound Forge  will open basic  H.264 encoded .mov or .mp4 file and allow you to “Save As” using an audio-only format such as .mp3. However, many video formats will require you to perform this function in a video editing or video playback application such as Final Cut Pro X, Quicktime, or VLC.

Here are some tips for creating your audio-only version of a video interview that has been stitched together.  I am using Quicktime, Final Cut Pro X and the VLC Media Player as good examples of tools to accomplish this outcome.

Quicktime has a preset that allows you to easily strip the audio and create an audio-only version.  This will result in creating an M4a file:

  • Open file in quicktime
  • Select File, Export, Audio Only
  • Select file name and location for saved file

Final Cut Pro X allows you to create an “audio only” version directly  from the project timeline.  If you do this, I would first create your “stitched” video version, then create the “stripped” audio-only version.

  • Select “Share” under the File menu.
  • Select “Master File”
  • Select “Audio Only” and choose MP3
  • Select file name and location for saved file

VLC Media Player

  • Open Video file
  • Select “Convert/Stream” from the “File” menu.
  • Chose “Audio-MP3”
  • Select file name and location for saved file

If you are transcribing your interview,  I think you will find the stripping of audio and the creation of an audio-only version of your video interview to be an easy step to add to your workflow.   The time that you save in transferring data files to a transcriptionist will be profound.



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Douglas A. Boyd

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