- Create a process to download and convert an autogenerated subtitle file from YouTube
- Download an audio file from YouTube and import it into Notta
- Comparison of YouTube vs Notta AI
- Get the Source Code
- What To Do Next
YouTube isn’t just for watching and sharing videos. It’s also for listening to podcasts, and reading transcriptions. Using an open-source application gives you the ability to download the video, audio or text data only, where you can consume the data at your own leisure, or even autogenerate blog articles.
In this first part of a multi-series blog you’ll use a command-line interface (CLI)
yt-dlp to download YouTube’s free autogenerated subtitles and compare it to paid AI transcription services, such as OpenAI, Notta.ai, and Otter.ai.
- An open-source CLI yt-dlp to download YouTube files.
- Python 3.
- Notta.ai account (no credit card required).
Create a process to download and convert an autogenerated subtitle file from YouTube
In order to design a workflow to autogenerate blog articles, we must first create a process to download a subtitle file from YouTube.
- Open a terminal and run the command
yt-dlp --versionto check if it is installed.
- Type the following command to download the autogenerated subtitle file of a YouTube video. Replace the YOUTUBE_URL with any YouTube link, e.g.
You should see an output similar to below.
The subtitle file name is created using the video title and code, e.g.
The Fastest Way to Lose Belly Fat [x3vnCKivCjs].en.vtt.
The reason that you’ll need to convert the subtitle file is if you open the
vtt file, it contains metadata that makes it hard to read.
Download the above Python script
vtt2text.pyinto the same folder as your
In your terminal, type the following command.
- If successful, you’ll find a new
txtfile created, e.g.
The Fastest Way to Lose Belly Fat [x3vnCKivCjs].en.txt, which has readable text but still contains a few metadata lines.
Note: You’ll need to tweak the Python script to remove the metadata lines. If you prefer to download my enhanced Python script, you can Get the Source Code.
Download an audio file from YouTube and import it into Notta
- Type the following command to download the audio data of a YouTube video. Replace the YOUTUBE_URL with any YouTube link, e.g.
The audio file name is created using the video title and code, e.g.
The Fastest Way to Lose Belly Fat [x3vnCKivCjs].en.m4a.
Open a browser, navigate to Notta.ai and login to your account.
In the Dashboard, click on
Import files, and select the audio file above.
If successful, you should see a new recording under Recent recordings in your Dashboard.
Click on the recording for your audio, e.g.
The Fastest Way to Lose Belly Fat [x3vnCKivCjs], to see the output transcript.
Note: Notta’s output transcript is segregated into blocks based on speakers.
Comparison of YouTube vs Notta AI
Let’s start with the negatives.
|YouTube free autogenerated subtitles
|Notta AI transcription services
|1. Must be familiar or comfortable using the command-line.
|1. Paid service, but offer a free tier of 120 mins.
|2. Two-step process of downloading the subtitle and converting it to text.
|2. Two-step process of downloading an audio file and importing it.
|3. The converted text has a few lines of metadata.
|3. Most features are behind a paywall, e.g. view the first 5 mins of transcript.
|4. The converted text has no punctuations.
|4. No API or SDK to allow the creation of an automated pipeline.
For the positives.
|YouTube free autogenerated subtitles
|Paid AI transcription services
|1. You can create a workflow of automated processes using a pipeline.
|1. The converted text has punctuations and proper sentences.
|2. No subscription cost, only your Internet bandwidth for downloading the subtitles.
|2. You can create a custom template for your converted text.
Both YouTube and Notta seem to have about the same accuracy based on the sample output text, however you’ll have to find an application to measure the accuracy.
The free YouTube autogenerated subtitle is a good option for personal use, such as generating transcription for offline reading. However, due to the lack of polish and also customisable templates, the Paid AI transcription services should be considered for commercial use, which may include autogenerating articles for your blog.
Get the Source Code
You can download the above source code from my GitHub repository dennislwm/playscribe.
What To Do Next
You can further extend your code in several meaningful ways:
Implement a GitHub Actions that will continuously monitor an RSS feed for new YouTube links, and process the links and returns the transcribe results.
Implement a static site blog that publishes each transcribe result as a new post, with an RSS feed to allow users to subscribe to new posts.
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