398th Timeless Voices Interviews

Transcription Tips

Below are guidelines and tips for volunteers transcribing our 398th Timeless Voices Interviews. The transcription effort requires a high speed connection for a one time download of a QuickTime .mov file to your computer, a Word Processing program, good listening and typing skills. After a draft transcription is prepared, the transcriber can then follow up with the veteran via e-mail, postal mail or telephone for review and clarification of the text. Estimated time to do one interview with follow-up is around 10 hours. Our 398th Volunteer Coordinator is your contact on this activity.

Pre-Transcription Activities

  1. Choose an Interview: The first step is to pick an interview for transcription. To find a listing of those available browse through the 398th Timeless Voices Interviews Transcription Status. Perhaps you know one of the men and would like to transcribe that one. Or perhaps you want to transcribe one in the same squadron or position as your favorite veteran. Or perhaps you would like to ask us to suggest one. After making the choice, contact our 398th Volunteer Coordinator who can verify that interview is available for transcription and who will send you the file.
  2. Obtain the File: If you can type fast enough it is possible to transcribe the interview directly from the 398th website. However, most will find it easier to have a local .mov file of the interview. Dave will send this file (generally 20-100 MB) to you via a link in an e-mail. This link when touched will download the file to wherever downloadable files go on your computer. The software necessary to open this file is QuickTime. While an Apple product, you probably already have it as it is part of iTunes. And if you can play our Timeless Voices videos already, you definitely have QuickTime. But if not, go to 398th Timeless Voices Interviews - Getting Connnected and review the paragraph on QuickTime Application Download.
  3. Crew Photo: If available I will also send you a link to the crew associated with the veteran. These will help provided the correct names and position of the various crew.
  4. Playing the Video: Once you have the .mov file associated with your selected interview, you should place the .mov file in a convenient place on your computer and then open it with QuickTime. The video should start to play and you will see some simple controls for moving to different parts of the video. What is important here is that you can move the video slightly backwards as needed to play a passage over again (and perhaps over again) to "catch" all that the veteran is saying if you can't type fast enough or need to listen more carefully to what was said.
  5. Word Processor: The transcription can be typed in your word processor. It is most convenient for me if it is a .doc file.
  6. Review a few completed Transcriptions: It is useful to take a look at a few 398th Timeless Voices Video Interviews Transcriptions - provides a listing of completed Timeless Voices Interview Transcriptions. However, it is useful to focus in on one to take a look at the formating and layout. As follows is the Lew Burke video interview and associated transcription.
    1. Lew Burke, 398th Pilot - 603rd Squadron Video Interview (35m 14s)
    2. Lew Burke, 398th Pilot - 603rd Squadron Video Interview Transcription

1st Draft

  1. Copy and Paste: First copy and paste the initial lines on the Lew Burke, 398th Pilot - 603rd Squadron Video Interview Transcription from the first line: World War II Experiences through LB: 398th Pilot. Then go back and modify the veteran name, squadron and position. Then listen to the first part of the interview and modify where and when the interview was held. Also update the initials for the inteviewer and interviewee. The fonts will probably be way too large so just change them to something reasonable such as font size 12.
  2. Start Typing: You are now ready to transcribe. So just begin listening to the interview and typing. Backing up as needed to rehear a passage or pausing as needed.
  3. Style: Choose any font and font size you wish as the web pages will choose the ultimate font and font size. But if you want a suggestion, Times or Times Roman 11 will be fine.
  4. Formating: Web pages don't easily accomodate paragraph indents or spacing over. Thus left justified text with a carriage return between each question and answer is all that is needed. Occasional bold or italics are fine, but do cause me to have to manually add them later. If to a question is long, try to make several paragraphs to break up a long answer.
  5. Spelling: You will probably have trouble spelling surnames of men the veteran may mention and/or targets they may have bombed. On your first pass, take a guess if you are unsure and put a ? after it.

2nd Draft

  1. Grammar and Expressions: When speaking, many of us don't always use complete sentences or use our best grammar. When we write, we have a chance to fix some of these matters to increase readability. Thus in our Timeless Voices transcriptions sometimes we have made some minor modifications to improve readability. Such changes will require some judgement on your part and generally we haven't changed very much. Some examples include:
    1. Changing contractions to full words. For example, "gonna" to "going to", "wanna" to "want to", etc.
    2. Minor grammar corrections.
    3. Fixing tense.
    4. Overuse of expression such as "Hmmm", "Unhuh", etc.
  2. Fixing the names: Many times the veteran will mention other crew members, but they will refer to them by first name, such a "Tom did this" or by position, "Our navigator did that". It is very helpful to others searching for information about their veterans if we can put in the full name. Sometimes the crew photo can help identify surnames or who was regularly in a particular position. When we add information not in the interview we have been using the bracket method which is commonly used by historians. Thus "Our navigator did that" becomes "Our navigator [John Smith] did that" or "Our navigator [probably John Smith] did that".
  3. Dates and Places: Many times the veteran will tell a short story about a mission to "XYZ" but will not remember the date. It is helpful to others if we can identify the actual date. While not always easy to do so, we can use our 398th Missions and Descriptions page to look for mission dates to that location. Thus if the veteran describes something about "a mission to Peenemunde in August"; that could be written as "a mission to Peenemunde in August [the 398th mission to Peenemunde in August was on 4 August 1944]". If he described a mission to Berlin in May, then you could add in brackets [the 398th flew 4 missions to Berlin in May. These were on the 7th, 8th, 19th and 24th of May]. Many times it will not be possible to determine the exact date but whatever insight you can provide to the probable date either in brackets or as a separate note is helpful.

2nd Draft

  1. When you have completed the 2nd Draft above you can send it to our 398th Volunteer Coordinator who will read it thoroughly, though I don't go back to compare to the actual video. Many times I can help with names, places and dates. In general at this point the transcription will be put on the 398th web page.

Draft to Veteran

  1. If possible, you can send the document to the Veteran for final review to correct name, places and dates or to add anything that was forgotten. This might be by e-mail, postal mail or telephone.

So that's all there is to it. These guidelines may seem lengthy and complicated, but it really isn't too hard to do the transcription, though it can take some time.

Some key links

  1. 398th Timeless Voices Interviews - provides an index of all 398th Timeless Voices Interviews
  2. 398th Timeless Voices Video Interviews Transcriptions - provides a listing of completed Timeless Voices Interview Transcriptions
  3. 398th Timeless Voices Interviews Transcription Status provides a table indicating the status of transcriptions for the above interviews. There are many to do and each can take some time to complete.