Some of Duke’s Communications staff have been experimenting lately with Otter.ai, a new transcription service that offers 600 minutes per month, and seem to be enjoying it. Otter, which was started by an ex Google engineer in early 2019, is an interesting move forward in the captioning and ASR space. It’s focus seems to be less on captioning, such as Rev.com (a widely used service at Duke) and more on live recording of meetings via your browser and making searchable transcripts available in a collaborative, teams-based environment. I had some problems in utilizing Otter to produce a caption file, but it does seem like Otter could be useful for simple transcription workflows, and the idea of using something like Otter to record all your meetings poses some interesting possibilities and questions.
Below is a summary of what I found in my initial testing:
- High accuracy, comparable to other vendors we’ve tested recently utilizing the newest ASR engines
- Interesting collaboration feature set
- Can record your meeting right from within the browser
- Nice free allotment—600 free mins/ month (6000/month for the pro plan, education pricing $5.00/month)
- Includes speaker identification
- If your goal is captions and not just transcriptions, Otter is more limited–only seems to supported export of captions in .srt format (not .vtt, which some of our users, including the Duke Libraries, prefer)
- The .srt I exported in my test file was was grouped by paragraph, not by line, and so it wouldn’t be possible to use the .srt with one of our video publishing systems like Warpwire or Panopto without extensive editing to chunk the file up by line.
Using Otter.ai as a basis of obtaining a transcript works well with it’s collaborative capabilities. I use the export to clipboard feature to import to Descript. Descript.com. Descript has some powerful features such as removal of filler words which Otter.ai automatically removes. The export srt file is pretty accurate in Descript.