Fun Word Friday!

Posted by Emma on October 29, 2010 at 8:00 am. Fun Word Friday, Techy

Hi all. It’s that time of the week again! This week, we want to leave you with some fun “techy” words relating to pixel aspect ratio. Read the blog by Corey if you some more details.

What is a pixel? It is the smallest discrete component of an image or picture on a CRT screen. It’s really just a way of breaking down a picture into the smallest piece. Typically, the more pixels the better the resolution.

What does aspect ratio mean? It is the ratio of the width of the image to its height. In video, the most common aspect ratios are standard 4:3 (1.33:1) and widescreen 16:9 (1.78:1).

What is masking? It occurs when a director adds black bars to the top/bottom of the video in post-production. These black bars typically cover up booms or mics. It changes the ratio to 1.66:1.

What is pan and scan? It’s a way of adjusting widescreen movies so they can be shown on standard TV screens. It tends to cut out a large majority of the image.

What is letterbox? The process of transferring widescreen video to a standard screen while preserving the aspect ratio. The video has black bars above and below it.

Get to Know Jordan Richardson

Posted by Emma on October 27, 2010 at 8:26 am. Consumer Advisory Board

Photo of Jordon Richardson

CaptionMax has a dedicated Consumer Advisory Board with experts in all kinds of accessibility.  Now, as guest bloggers, our board members can share their accessibility stories. We’d like to introduce Jordan Richardson. He’s one of our younger board members and is such an inspiration at our annual CAB meetings. Take it away, Jordan!

by Jordan Richardson

Hey!  My name is Jordan and I am a 20 year old sophomore at the University of Minnesota.  I plan to major in political science and am thinking about minoring in philosophy.  After I get my undergrad degree I plan to go to law school and specialize in constitutional law (the philosophy will probably help with that).  Eventually, I want to become a judge, hopefully federal.  Oh yeah, I should mention that I am a blind student.  I am a blind student with a passion for the law and equal rights and equal access.  This is what drove me to law as a career.  I like to read, write (mostly fiction), hang out, play videogames, go horse back riding, and lots of other fun things.  Politically, at least right now, my views line up more with the democrat side of the issues, but I would like to consider myself independent (small “i”).  As far as campus involvement, I will be getting more connected with the Black Student Union.

In the blindness community, I am active in the Minnesota Association of Blind Students (2nd VP) which is a division of the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota, an affiliate of the National Federation of the Blind (headquarters in Baltimore, MD).

This semester I am taking four classes.  They are History of Philosophy, Judicial Precess, Criminal Justice, and Spanish (4th semester).

I am proud to have been on the CaptionMax Consumer Advisory Board for 4 years now.

Well, adios!

CaptionMax To Improve Media Accessibility

Posted by CLeininger on October 26, 2010 at 8:30 am. Captioning, Video Description



Emily Bell, CaptionMax


MINNEAPOLIS, MN – October 25, 2010 – CaptionMax announced winning a 5-year, $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs. This funding will be used to add video description to over 800 hours of educational broadcasts used in the classroom. Video description allows blind and low vision students to access a program’s content through a voiceover that describes the key visual elements.

“Students with disabilities deserve the same access to the same quality material that all other students have,” says U.S. Representative Keith Ellison. “Investing in the tools and technologies that will ensure the success of these children is vitally important to the contributions they will make in the future,” Ellison stated. “I am so pleased that Minnesota companies, like CaptionMax, are at the forefront of providing technologies that brighten the future for our nation’s youth,” Ellison concluded.

This five-year grant focuses on making classroom-appropriate media accessible to preschool and early elementary children who have sensory disabilities, as well as to children who are aural learners. “Media presentations, both educational and recreational, have become much more visually oriented. For students who are blind to fully understand the world we live in, they must have full access to all educational materials. This access impacts not only educational achievement, but preparation for a productive career and life after school is completed.” says B.J. LeJeune of Mississippi State University.

“Unlike captioning, which has broad mandates, very little to zero television programming is currently described,” says CaptionMax President Max Duckler. “This puts kids with vision loss at a disadvantage with their sighted peers when using media in the curriculum. This grant will help level the playing field.”

# # #

About CaptionMax
CaptionMax is dedicated to making all media accessible to all people. Specializing in captioning, subtitling, audio description, and multimedia services, CaptionMax is the leading expert in providing access solutions for the largest broadcast networks – ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, ESPN, Disney, Nickelodeon – and producers of educational content including HIT Entertainment, McGraw Hill, Films Media Group, and PBS. The company’s services support educational programs, live news broadcasts, sports, and popular home entertainment, such as “Barney and Friends,” “American Idol,” “The Office,” “Nightline,” “ESPN News,” and “Dr. Phil.” For more information, visit

Facebook: We’re On It!

Posted by Emma on October 20, 2010 at 9:00 am. Facebook, Techy

Where can you find CaptionMax? Just about everywhere. We’re on TV, on this website, on YouTube & Hulu, on our Twitter feed, and now on Facebook!

A snapshot of CaptionMax's Facebook page

Yes, we have started our very own facebook page, a place to call home and a way to communicate more easily with our many friends and fans. We want to kickoff our facebook page by giving you, our friends, the inside scoop and details.

Our Facebook Mission: This is where we can find and connect with the people we know. It is our tool for connecting our staff to our clients, advocating for accessibility rights, and keeping our clients and friends up-to-date with the latest news in our industry. Most importantly, it is a platform to unwind and enjoy meeting new people.

We want to create a page that is interesting, fun, and informative.  We are planning lots of fun stuff: polls, discussions, photos and video! Check it out and see what you think. There will be postings at least once a week.

Our posts and content will be based on our mission and we can’t wait to communicate with everyone and get in the facebook game. Now, check out our page and send us a comment! We want to hear from you!

Fun Word Friday!

Posted by Emma on October 15, 2010 at 9:00 am. Fun Word Friday

It’s that time of the week again! In honor of Halloween and our spooky blog post about German Expressionism, we’re going to leave you with spooky words to practice.

Somnambulist: sleepwalker, someone who walks in their sleep

German Expressionism: an artistic film movement that sought to give shape to psychological states through  stylized visuals, using sharply exaggerated shadows and high-contrast lighting, disorientingly skewed set design and off-kilter camera angles

Metonymic: using the name of one thing for that of another with which it is closely associated, ie. saying ‘wheels’ but meaning ‘automobile’

Monumentalism: the state of having large and grand characteristics or a style characterized by massive, monumental buildings

Tim Burton and German Expressionism

Posted by Emma on October 13, 2010 at 9:00 am. Captioners, Movies

by Jason Mitchell

Our resident public domain and creative content expert, Jason, is back to share his frightening film knowledge.

In reading about Tim Burton being recently attached to the film adaptation of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, I was once again disappointed by his career choices.  I know I’m not alone in feeling like his work on adaptations and remakes is far inferior to his early work on original screenplays, and Edward Scissorhands is still my favorite of his films.  His style clearly derives a lot from German Expressionism in general, and the influence is very clear when comparing Johnny Depp’s Scissorhands to the sleepwalking killer in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.

Fritz Lang’s early work and Nosferatu seem to be the most common touchstones for German Expressionism in cinema, but I always think of  Caligari. The twisted designs of the sets define the genre for me.  Why don’t more films look this cool?

The film also introduced me to the word “somnambulist,” which sounds much more supernatural than “sleepwalker.”  A person walking in their sleep is something I would picture in a comedy, but a somnambulist is clearly horror material.

Cesare is the sleepwalker in question, whose talents also include predicting the future when in his sleep-trance state.  The titular Dr. Caligari exhibits Cesare’s skills as a carnival attraction, but the duo have been linked to a series of murders.  Caligari also looks a lot like Burton’s version of The Penguin from Batman Returns, which is still my favorite Batman film.  I take a lot of heat for that.

Caligari is a surreal delight in all it’s delusional imagery.  The narrative structure is also pretty forward-thinking for the silent era, and the first-person perspective of the film as relayed through a narrator of questionable sanity reminds me of the psychological thrillers of David Lynch.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is available for free download from  As always with public domain films, many budget DVDs are available and should be avoided for their low quality.  Look for the Kino version.

President Signs the 21st Century Communications & Video Accessibility Act of 2010

Posted by CLeininger on October 8, 2010 at 8:50 am. Captioning, Movies, Techy, Video Description

Today is a really exciting day for all of us involved in the field of accessibility. President Obama is going to be signing the 21st Century Communications & Video Accessibility Act of 2010. He will also be delivering brief remarks on the expected impact of this law on people with disabilities. The White House is even going to stream it LIVE at 1:05 CST/2:05 EST.

We at CaptionMax are so excited that we want everyone to watch it! So below is a stream of the live feed from the White House. Come back at 1:05 CST/ 2:05 EST. Sit back, grab a bowl of popcorn, and enjoy watching this historic bill finally become a law!

If you have any problems with the video on our site, go watch on the White House’s website: here.

(Oh, and if you want more information our COO Gerald wrote a great breakdown of the act here.)

How to Remove Television Programs from Your Captions

Posted by Max Duckler on October 6, 2010 at 8:01 am. Captioning, Movies, Techy

by Max Duckler

Because CaptionMax has become universally known as being the authority on all things caption and description related, we often get questions from consumers on various topics. The answers are mostly up on our FAQ section of the website, and if you haven’t checked it out—well, what are you waiting for?

Ironically one of the most popular questions we receive is “How do I get the captions off my TV set?”  We would like to tell everyone that their life will be 100% better if they just leave the captions on, but alas, some people just don’t get it, and for them we provide detailed instructions in our FAQs.

My mother and father are not only big fans of CaptionMax (imagine that!) they are caption super-users. They both lost most of their hearing partly due to the 30 years of having kids in the house yelling at each other and over each other.

Being happily retired in Arizona, TV watching when it’s too hot to go outside has been elevated to a sport.  So needless to say, captions are imperative.  You gotta have some way to understand what Dr. G is saying when your spouse is yelling “Where did you hide my keys and the Valu-rite yellow mustard? You know I hate this frilly French Dijon crap!”

Well, my mom doesn’t need any stinking FAQ when her captions don’t work, and she certainly doesn’t need a new TV if her old Zenith is on the fritz.

I offered them a new HD flat screen, but they opted to stay “green” and simply purchase a rubber mallet instead.  Watch this video and see how the wise elders deal with a cantankerous old TV set.  You may learn something new.

Fun Foto Friday!

Posted by Emma on October 1, 2010 at 12:29 pm. Consumer Advisory Board

We forgot to post a Fun Word Friday last week because we were getting ready for our annual Consumer Advisory Board meeting. This last weekend was packed with lots of fun and also lots of engaging presentations. Here are just a few photos from our weekend. More will be shared on Wednesday! We can’t wait to tell you all about it.

CAB member getting ready for the meeting
Saturday starts with a meet and greet. There’s lots of catching up to do!

We had lots of great presentations this weekend. One of our favorites was our guest, Maria, from Discovery. They have such a great educational focus on their website.

More discussions. We learned so much!

We did have a little fun, too. It’s always great to discuss captioning and audio description for 3D videos.

Thanks to all those who attended our annual meeting. Our staff had a wonderful time and we’re ready to continue another superb year of making media accessible.



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