Competition: Win a copy of Transcriva 2!

Mac OS X Tips has teamed up with Bartas Technologies to give away five free copies of their software, Transcriva. Check out the bottom of this post your chance to win one of them.

Transcriva is an application for making text transcriptions to go with audio or video. It works great with meeting minutes, interview, lectures, speeches or even movies and TV shows.

Transcriva's real power comes with the fact that the media player and transcription are combined into one single application, allowing you to transcribe much more efficiently and avoid the constant application switching that a simple word processor would require.

It works as follows. First you need to find a media clip to associate your transcription with. This can be a movie or audio file that is either located on the internet, on your Mac, or you can make a new recording right from within Transcriva.

Next, you add names and colours for the people who are speaking in the transcript. You can also add separate sections for annotations or comments. Each person has a keyboard shortcut like Command-[number] associated with them, which allows you to quickly specify who is speaking as you transcribe.

Finally, you just click play to start the media going, and begin typing as people speak to add the transcription. Pressing return will start a new entry, or alternatively pressing the keyboard shortcut associated with a person will create a new entry for that person.

If, like me, you are often not fast enough to keep up, you have two options. You can either slow down the audio or video with a simple slider, or you can play at normal speed but hit Command-Return whenever you miss something skip back a few seconds.

So why should you go for Transcriva instead of just using a simple text editor? In my opinion, you can't really match the speed and efficiency in a normal word processor, which is really an issue if you find yourself doing a fair amount of transcription. When using a word processor, whenever you want to go back or pause your media, you need go through the impractical process of switching over to the application that's playing it then switching back to continue transcribing.

Also, the fact that all the important controls have simple keyboard shortcuts means that you don't have to take your hands off the keyboard at all to use the mouse while you are transcribing.

Transcriva also has a great playback feature that scrolls through your transcription as your media plays. Also, unlike a simple text transcription, you can skip to a place in the text, then instantly start your media playing at this point instead of having to note down the timestamp then switch to your media and find the right point. It also supports exports to RTF, Microsoft Word and plain text formats.

One downside is that it probably takes a little while to really get the hang of the keyboard shortcuts and become a fast transcriber, but I guess this is probably something that is true of transcription in general, whatever application you are using.

Also, as far as I know, you are limited to QuickTime compatible media, meaning it is a little tricky to transcribe a lot of the flash based videos on the internet without downloading them first. However, with plugins like Perian and Flip4Mac QuickTime should be able to play just about anything.

Overall, Transcriva is a neat little application, and although it is a bit of a niche product it definitely fills a role that many people need. It clearly does what it's supposed to do well, and for what is normally seen as a pretty boring task, it almost makes things fun!

You can download a trial version for free, or purchase the full version for $29.99.

If you want to win a free copy of Transcriva, just answer the following question. The winners will be chosen at random from all the correct answers.

What is the name of the new device released by Apple last week?

a) iPud
b) iPad
c) iPal

Once you know the answer, head over to this page to enter.

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