Use R to Transcribe Zoom Audio files for use with zoomGroupStats

The zoomGroupStats functions that I’ve been building over the past few months have, to date, relied heavily on the transcription that is created automatically when a meeting is recorded to the Zoom Cloud. This is an excellent option if your account has access to Cloud Recording; however, it can be an obstacle if you want meeting leaders to record their own meetings (locally) and send you the file. In a recent project, for example, I had many meeting leaders who accidentally recorded their meetings locally, which left me without a transcript of the meeting.

This week I’ve started building a set of functions to take in an audio file from a Zoom meeting (or could also take in the video file, but that is unnecessary) and output the same transcript object that the processZoomTranscript function in zoomGroupStats produces. These functions rely on AWS Transcribe and S3. There are currently just two functions — one that launches a transcription job (since these are done asynchronously) and the second that parses the output of the transcription job.

Note that these functions currently use the default segmenting algorithm in AWS transcribe. From reviewing several transcriptions, it’s not very good (in my opinion). If your work requires utterance-level analysis (e.g., average utterance length), I would consider defining your own segmentation approach. The functions will output a simple text file transcript, so you could use that to do a custom segmentation.

############################################################
# transcribeZoomAudio Function
############################################################

# Zoom Audio File Processing, Function to launch transcription jobs
# This function starts an audio transcription job only == it does not output anything of use. However,
# it is useful for batch uploading audio files and starting transcription jobs for them.

# This can be done with a local file (uploads to a specified s3 bucket) or with a file that already
# exists in an s3 bucket

# example call:             transcribeZoomAudio(fileLocation="local", bucketName="my-transcription-bucket", filePath="mylocalfile.m4a", jobName="mylocalfile.m4a", languageCode="en-US")

# INPUT ARGUMENTS:
# fileLocation:             either "local" or "s3" - if local, then this function will upload the file to the specified bucket
# bucketName:               name of an existing s3 bucket that you are using for storing audio files to transcribe and finished transcriptions
# filePath:                 the path to the local file or to the s3 file (depending on whether it is "local" or "s3")
# jobName:                  the name of the transcription job for aws -- I set this to the same as the filename (without path) for convenience
# numSpeakers:              this helps AWS identify the speakers in the clip - specify how many speakers you expect
# languageCode:             the code for the language (e.g., en-US)

# OUTPUT:
# None

transcribeZoomAudio = function(fileLocation, bucketName, filePath, jobName, numSpeakers, languageCode) {
    require(paws)

    # First, if the file location is local, then upload it into the
    # designated s3 bucket
    if(fileLocation == "local") {
        localFilePath = filePath
        svc = s3()
        upload_file = file(localFilePath, "rb")
        upload_file_in = readBin(upload_file, "raw", n = file.size(localFilePath))
        svc$put_object(Body = upload_file_in, Bucket = bucketName, Key = jobName)
        filePath = paste("s3://", bucketName, "/",jobName, sep="")
        close(upload_file)
    }

    svc = transcribeservice()  
    svc$start_transcription_job(TranscriptionJobName = jobName, LanguageCode = languageCode, Media = list(MediaFileUri = filePath), OutputBucketName = bucketName, Settings = list(ShowSpeakerLabels=TRUE, MaxSpeakerLabels=numSpeakers))
}


############################################################
# processZoomAudio Function
############################################################

# Zoom Audio File Processing, process finished transcriptions
# This function parses the JSON transcription completed by AWS transcribe.
# The output is the same as the processZoomTranscript function.

# example call:             audio.out = processZoomAudio(bucketName = "my-transcription-bucket", jobName = "mylocalfile.m4a", localDir = "path-to-local-directory-for-output", speakerNames = c("Tom Smith", "Jamal Jones", "Jamika Jensen"), recordingStartDateTime = "2020-06-20 17:00:00", writeTranscript=TRUE)

# INPUT ARGUMENTS:
# bucketName:               name of the s3 bucket where the finished transcript is stored
# jobName:                  name of the transcription job (see above - i usually set this to the filename of the audio)
# localDir:                 a local directory where you can save the aws json file and also a plain text file of the transcribed text
# speakerNames:             a vector with the Zoom user names of the speakers, in the order in which they appear in the audio clip.
# recordingStartDateTime:   the date/time that the meeting recording started
# writeTranscript:          a boolean to indicate whether you want to output a plain text file of the transcript           

# OUTPUT:
# utterance_id:             an incremented numeric identifier for a marked speech utterance
# utterance_start_seconds   the number of seconds from the start of the recording (when it starts)
# utterance_start_time:     the timestamp for the start of the utterance
# utterance_end_seconds     the number of seconds from the start of the recording (when it ends)
# utterance_end_time:       the timestamp for the end of the utterance
# utterance_time_window:    the number of seconds that the utterance took
# user_name:                the name attached to the utterance
# utterance_message:        the text of the utterance
# utterance_language:       the language code for the transcript



processZoomAudio = function(bucketName, jobName, localDir, speakerNames=c(), recordingStartDateTime, writeTranscript) {
    require(paws)
    require(jsonlite)

    transcriptName = paste(jobName, "json", sep=".")
    svc = s3()
    transcript = svc$get_object(Bucket = bucketName, Key = transcriptName)
    # Write the binary component of the downloaded object to the local path
    writeBin(transcript$Body, con = paste(localDir, transcriptName, sep="/"))
    tr.json = fromJSON(paste(localDir, transcriptName, sep="/"))

    if(writeTranscript) {
        outTranscript = paste(localDir, "/", jobName, ".txt", sep="")
        write(tr.json$results$transcripts$transcript, outTranscript)
    }

    # This IDs the words as AWS broke out the different segments of speech
    for(i in 1:length(tr.json$results$speaker$segments$items)){

        res.line = tr.json$results$speaker$segments$items[[i]]
        res.line$segment_id = i
        if(i == 1) {
            res.out = res.line
        } else {
            res.out = rbind(res.out, res.line)
        }

    }

    segments = res.out 
    segment_cuts = tr.json$results$speaker$segments[,c("start_time", "speaker_label", "end_time")] 

    # Pull this apart to just get the word/punctuation with the most confidence
    # Not currently dealing with any of the alternatives that AWS could give
    for(i in 1:length(tr.json$results$items$alternatives)) {

        res.line = tr.json$results$items$alternatives[[i]]

        if(i == 1) {
            res.out = res.line
        } else {
            res.out = rbind(res.out, res.line)
        }

    }

    words = cbind(res.out, tr.json$results$items[,c("start_time", "end_time", "type")])
    words = words[words$type == "pronunciation", ]
    words_segments = merge(words, segments, by=c("start_time", "end_time"), all.x=T)

    words_segments$start_time = as.numeric(words_segments$start_time)
    words_segments$end_time = as.numeric(words_segments$end_time)

    words_segments = words_segments[order(words_segments$start_time), ]
    segment_ids = unique(words_segments$segment_id)
    i = 1


    segment_cuts$utterance_id = NA
    segment_cuts$utterance_message = NA
    for(i in 1:length(segment_ids)) {
        utterance_id = segment_ids[i]
        segment_cuts[i, "utterance_id"] = utterance_id     
        segment_cuts[i, "utterance_message"] = paste0(words_segments[words_segments$segment_id == utterance_id, "content"], collapse=" ")
    }  

    if(length(speakerNames) > 0) {
        user_names = data.frame(0:(length(speakerNames)-1), speakerNames, stringsAsFactors=F)
        names(user_names) = c("speaker_label", "user_name")
        user_names$speaker_label = paste("spk",user_names$speaker_label, sep="_")
        segment_cuts = merge(segment_cuts, user_names, by="speaker_label", all.x=T)
    }

    names(segment_cuts)[2:3] = c("utterance_start_seconds", "utterance_end_seconds")
    segment_cuts[, 2:3] = lapply(segment_cuts[, 2:3], function(x) as.numeric(x))
    segment_cuts = segment_cuts[order(segment_cuts$utterance_start_seconds), ]

    # Now turn these into actual datetime values
    recordingStartDateTime = as.POSIXct(recordingStartDateTime)
    segment_cuts$utterance_start_time = recordingStartDateTime + segment_cuts$utterance_start_seconds
    segment_cuts$utterance_end_time = recordingStartDateTime + segment_cuts$utterance_end_seconds

    # Create a time window (in seconds) for the utterances -- how long is each in seconds
    segment_cuts$utterance_time_window = as.numeric(difftime(segment_cuts$utterance_end_time, segment_cuts$utterance_start_time, units="secs"))

    # Prepare the output file
    res.out = segment_cuts[, c("utterance_id", "utterance_start_seconds", "utterance_start_time", "utterance_end_seconds", "utterance_end_time", "utterance_time_window", "user_name", "utterance_message")]

    # Mark as unidentified any user with a blank username
    res.out$user_name = ifelse(res.out$user_name == "" | is.na(res.out$user_name), "UNIDENTIFIED", res.out$user_name)      

    # Add the language code
    res.out$utterance_language = languageCode

    return(res.out)    

}

Using R to Analyze Zoom Recordings

UPDATE: 2021-02-12: I’ve updated several items in the package. I’m also going to moving the development and updates all over to github to ease version control and documentation. For now, here is a post that is from a recent live tutorial session I facilitated. Stay tuned!

UPDATE: 2020-07-27: The new file contains some alpha-stage functions for doing audio transcription and for conducting a windowed conversation analysis. I haven’t yet tested these functions extensively or commented the windowed conversation analysis. Once COVID teaching planning eases, I’ll get back in an update further.

UPDATE: 2020-04-14: I added a new function (textConversationAnalysis) that gives some very basic and descriptive conversation metrics from either the video transcript or the chat file.

You can always access the most recent version of the functions by including the statement source(“http://apknight.org/zoomGroupStats.R”) at the top of your code.

Alternatively, you could go to http://apknight.org/zoomGroupStats.R and copy/paste the code into your editor.

ORIGINAL POST FOLLOWS:

In response to the shift to so many online meetings, I created a set of R functions to help do research using web-based meetings. In brief, these functions use the output of recorded sessions (e.g., video feed, transcript file, chat file) to do things like sentiment analysis, face analysis, and emotional expression analysis. In the coming week, I will extend these to do basic conversation analysis (e.g., who speaks/chats most, turntaking).

I went overboard in commenting the code so that hopefully others can use them. But, if you’re still having trouble getting them to work, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.

You can directly access the functions here:
http://apknight.org/zoomGroupStats.R

After reviewing this, you could call these functions using the following statement in R: source(“http://apknight.org/zoomGroupStats.R”)

Using recurrence analysis to examine group dynamics

Knight, A. P., Kennedy, D. M., McComb, S. A. (2016). Using recurrence analysis to examine group dynamics. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice, 20, 223-241.

Abstract. This article provides an accessible introduction to recurrence analysis—an analytical approach that has great promise for helping researchers understand group dynamics. Recurrence analysis is a technique with roots in the systems dynamics literature that was developed to reveal the properties of complex, nonlinear systems. By tracking when a system visits similar states at multiple points in its life—and the form or pattern of these recurrences over time—recurrence analysis equips researchers with a set of new metrics for assessing the properties of group dynamics, such as recurrence rate (i.e., stability), determinism (i.e., predictability), and entropy (i.e., complexity). Recent work has shown the potential value of recurrence analysis across a number of different disciplines. To extend its use within the domain of group dynamics, the authors present a conceptual overview of the technique and give a step-by-step tutorial on how to use recurrence analysis to study groups. An exemplar application of recurrence analysis using dialogue-based data from 63 three-person student groups illustrates the use of recurrence analysis in examining how groups change their focus on different processes over time. This is followed by a discussion of variations of recurrence analysis and implications for research questions within the literature on groups. When group researchers track group processes or emergent states over time, and thus compile a time series dataset, recurrence analysis can be a useful technique for measuring the properties of groups as dynamic systems.

Spring 2017 Courses

Organizational Research Methods (PhD), January to May, 2017

This is an introductory PhD seminar on organizational research methods. In this course we will together critically examine the building blocks of rigorous research and publishing in the organizational sciences, across a range of research questions and specific research methods. We will do this through readings, class discussions, and exercises, as well as through writing and reviewing one another’s work.

Key Learning Objectives

  • Expose you to a range of methods commonly-used by organizational scholars, helping you to learn the language and foundations of dominant methodological approaches.
  • Improve your ability to critically consume organizational research from a variety of methodological approaches.
  • Provide you with different methodological tools that may be useful for your own research interests and questions.
  • Develop your ability to identify the strengths and weaknesses of research, as well as the tradeoffs that scholars make in the research and publication process.
  • Strengthen your ability to communicate your ideas, interests, and contributions through your writing.