You Ask, I Answer: Getting Transcripts from YouTube Videos?

You Ask, I Answer: Getting Transcripts from YouTube Videos?

In today’s episode, you’ll uncover the methods for obtaining transcripts from YouTube videos and understand why these transcripts are valuable for generative AI applications. You’ll explore options like utilizing automated captions, leveraging tools like FFmpeg, and employing dedicated transcription software like OpenAI’s Whisper model. Additionally, you’ll discover the benefits of using alternative transcription software for improved accuracy and handling specialized terminology.

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Machine-Generated Transcript

What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for watching the video.

Christopher Penn: In today’s episode, Amy asks, “How do you get the transcripts from YouTube videos?” Well, first, we should probably answer, why would you want the transcripts? If you’re going to be using things like YouTube data for generative AI, you might want those transcripts because it’s an awfully handy way to process them.

For example, if I wanted to take all the episodes of this show that I’ve done in the last year and make a book out of it, I would want to grab all the YouTube transcripts from all the episodes and be able to dump that into a model like Gemini or Claude—”let’s build a book from all the shows that I’ve done.” That’s a pretty straightforward use case.
How do you get them? Well, there’s a couple different ways to do this.

Number one, most videos, particularly spoken-word videos, have automated captions.

YouTube has gone and built captions.

There’s a tool called FFmpeg.

You can download this tool, and in that tool, you can give it commands to say, “Here’s the YouTube video URL.” And there’s a specific set of settings that allow you to just download the subtitles; you don’t need to download the video and the audio, you can just download the subtitles.

And then you will have to reformat that into a transcript.

And there’s, again—and then for free—there are many online services; you give it a URL for a YouTube video, we’ll download the captions for you.
The other way to do it that I think is probably somewhat better is to use your own transcription software, download the video itself, or the audio from the video, and feed it to transcription software.

So for example, there’s the Whisper model from OpenAI, which you can—there’s—there’s any number of open-source tools online where you can download the model and the infrastructure, then you hand it a video or a piece of audio, and it will make its own transcript of that video.
Why would you want to do that? YouTube’s transcription engine is not great.

YouTube’s transcription engine, it doesn’t do such a hot job, particularly with things like jargon.

It really struggles with unique industry terms, even spelling out something like ChatGPT.

For example, if you don’t pronounce it with good enunciation, it’s very often substituted as CBT, like cognitive behavioral therapy—like, that’s not what I said.
Using other transcription software like Whisper can often get you better results.

And then you can take those transcripts and deploy them for the purposes you want.

So those would be the two methods that I think are useful.

One is downloading the captions; the other is making your own transcript using a decoder model like Whisper, that very often can be higher quality.

And you can, depending on the model, you can even give them a vocabulary like, “These are the words that I say fairly frequently that are very technical words or jargon”; you can give that to tools, and they will be able to recognize them more easily and substitute them in properly.
Thanks for the question.

Talk to you on the next one.
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