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Show Your Spirit!

Posted by CLeininger on March 30, 2011 at 1:39 pm. Captioners, Video Describers

by Robin Fogelson

This year, we once again participated in the “Show Your Spirit Day” to raise money for The V Foundation for Cancer Research.  We work with our client ESPN each year to raise money for this excellent charity.

As the pictures below demonstrate, “Show Your Spirit Day” encourages employees to wear team gear as a show of support for our team fight against cancer.  CaptionMax is a team in whatever we do, and this cause is no exception! Of course, even being a team does not mean that the Admin Department is not rife with tension each year during baseball playoffs as Robin, HR/Communication Manager and a die-hard Yankees fan in the Burbank office, works with Shawn, Finance Manager and loyal Twins fan in the Minneapolis office.  Emails may have been exchanged this year in which photos of a broom and the word sweep were bandied about, but I am not at liberty to reveal more.

The V Foundation was founded in 1993 by ESPN and the late Jim Valvano, legendary basketball coach and ESPN commentator, and is an amazing charity.  Since 1993, The Foundation has raised more than $100 million to fund cancer research grants nationwide.  It not only gives 100% of all new proceeds to research, it has received six consecutive top 4-star ratings from Charity Navigator.

We really like knowing that The V Foundation maintains the lowest overhead among cancer research fundraising organizations, so our money goes directly to research. CaptionMax matches staff contributions up to $1,000, so our money goes twice as far.

We had a great day in our sports paraphernalia and enjoyed the chance to give back, too.  For more information on The V Foundation, please visit http://www.jimmyv.org/

15 CaptionMax MPLS employees and the ESPN banner
(Some of our MPLS office.)

A goofy photos of MPLS employees for The V Foundation
(Our MPLS office can’t stay serious for long!)

A photo of some of our Burbank office.
(Some of our Burbank office.)

Peace out from our Burbank office.
(Thanks for supporting The V Foundation!)

Tech Time: Videos with Embedded Captions

Posted by Emma on March 23, 2011 at 8:32 am. Captioning, Techy

Quicktime captions are IN!

Did you know that CaptionMax can create Quicktime/iTunes/iPod videos with embedded captions?

The very cool final product is your finished .mov with embedded caption data.

An example of captions in Quicktime player.

Pros:

1. The newest versions of Quicktime can only use embedded captions, so you won’t have accessibility problems by using this new method.

2. Embedded captions work for videos played in the iTunes player or on Apple devices such as iPods, iPhones, Apple TV, iTunes, etc.

3. This is the only web captioning format that can be roll-up, have italics, and have music notes!

4. With Quicktime version 7.x, Apple allows the video package to contain a Closed Caption Track. This works for both Mac & Windows versions of Quicktime.

5. Captions are turned on and off via the ‘Show Captions’ command in the Play menu.

Cons:

1. This method will not work with videos that are played in other players, such as Flash or Windows Media Player. The CC on/off controls are only part of the Quicktime/iTunes players.

2. If you have a .mov with embedded captions and it is later transcoded, the captions may be lost. Trancoding most likely will strip the captions.

3. The positioning can be a little weird when the captions are played in Quicktime, with centered captions slightly off center or dropped characters. This happens especially in high definition and it’s a function of the Quicktime player’s decoder.

Just another cool technology update. Have you used caption embedded .movs? What do you think?

Fun Word Friday: Nicknacks

Posted by Emma on March 18, 2011 at 9:18 am. Fun Word Friday

by Kirsten Dirkes

Time to dust off your nicknack terminology!  We’re exploiting the end of the alphabet for our words this week.

Quaich – (Scottish) A wide, shallow bowl with handles used primarily for drinking alcohol.

A picture of a sterling silver, decorated quaich.
I’m just speculating here, but maybe they were invented because a heavy-drinking guy finally got fed up with the difficulty of trying to keep his whisky steady with one hand, in which case inventing a cup to allow him to drink even more perhaps wasn’t the direction his wife was hoping he’d go.

Treen - Handmade wooden household objects (excepting furniture).
Picture of 3 different types of treen; a wooden snuff box and 2 containers.
When you’re trying to impress a cute Christie’s representative, can you imagine how embarrassed you’d be if you included a chair in your collection of treen?  Major faux pas!

Unguentarium – Here’s a great word that we will all immediately forget.  It’s a small Greek or Roman glass bottle.
A pictures of 4 different types of unguentarium.
If you’re looking for some dense reading with lots of complicated new words to learn, I recommend the Wikipedia article on unguentaria.

Uranium glassware –These curiosities go back centuries but were most popular between 1880 and 1930.
A bright green glass cake platter.
Production dwindled during the 1940s because—wait for it!—most uranium went to the war effort.  That’s right, production did NOT fall off because people decided that uranium glassware was a bad idea.  Apparently, the radioactivity of “most” uranium glass is “negligible.”  Hmm.  Call me demanding, but I like my table settings to be completely nonradioactive.

Vertu – Objects of art, particularly classical art; often used in the phrase “objects of vertu.”
A picture of an old Roman vase.
I wouldn’t use this one with the Christie’s representative.  It’ll just sound like you’re trying too hard.

Access in the Classroom – It’s Not Just Braille.

Posted by CLeininger on March 16, 2011 at 11:12 am. Captioning, Consumer Advisory Board, Subtitling, Techy, Video Description

CaptionMax has a dedicated Consumer Advisory Board with experts in all kinds of accessibility. As guest bloggers, we ask our board members to  share their accessibility stories. Our next CAB guest blogger is Joya Bromeland, a 6th year itinerant teacher for blind and visually impaired students. Joya works with many different schools to make technology accessible to all students. In the past year, she has been developing this great resource to empower classroom teachers. She has been great enough to share it; so head on over and check it out! Take it away, Joya.

A row of computer monitors on a desk

I’m one of Louis Braille’s biggest fans, and providing braille and braille instruction continues to be an important part of my job, but the multi-media classroom of the 21st century requires that my students who are blind and visually impaired be just as skilled in areas of technology, self-advocacy and creative problem-solving in order to have basic access to classroom tools.

As an itinerant Teacher for students who are Blind and Visually Impaired (TBVI), I collaborate with teachers in roughly 18 different schools to ensure that our students have access to the same instructional materials, experiences, and opportunities as their sighted peers.  It’s an ambitious and necessary goal that leads to alternative pathways to access and success: braille, tactile graphics, refreshable braille displays, speech screenreaders, audiobooks, audio description, keyboard shortcuts, video magnification and more.

I start with the assumption that every element of the curriculum can be accessed nonvisually—whether it’s Algebraic graphs, diagrams of the moon phases, PowerPoint assignments and board work, websites, Twitter, Moodle, email, newspapers, books, abstract visual concepts, and videos.  Then, through collaboration with general ed. teachers, braillists, and my fellow TBVIs, we figure out a way to make it happen through accessible formats and specialized instruction.

Our students become experts at thinking outside the box, maneuvering around it, giving it a good kick every once in a while—all inherent to the process of full and independent participation at school among their sighted peers.  It’s not surprising we work with such great students (and I can’t wait to see what they bring to our future!)

Of course there are daily bumps in the road to access.  There are days when I am on the phone trying to reach publishers of an online textbook because their “accessible version” of the book is not accessible to my students.  Or I’m sending accessibility standards to the “Contact Us” links on websites after a frustrating session with a student that probably led to me scanning, pasting, or retyping the web text because it was inaccessible via screen reader.  And this spring, we TBVIs will continue the campaign for reducing bias and providing equal access to standardized tests for our students. But more and more we have the law to back up our expectations for accessibility with ADA, IDEA, NIMAS, and now the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act.

Currently, there is limited availability of audio described videos for specific curriculum, though these videos are being produced by educational publishers and used by teachers at increasing rates.  Working with my students, I understand the value in providing vivid audio descriptions with accurate vocabulary in the 5-minute science video shown at the beginning of class, or the history video shown to build context for a unit of study.  Access to AD video leads to opportunity for my students to develop the same level of awareness and understanding of concepts as their sighted peers.  Publishers and schools need to act on this value in order to make audio description a real possibility in the classroom.

I’ve really appreciated the resources CaptionMax has made available to teachers in Minnesota to help spread the word about Audio Description and teach us how to access it.  It’s also been exciting to be a part of the Consumer Advisory Board, where we experience some of the rigorous process that goes into high quality audio describing. I’m hopeful that the Video Accessibility Act and the committed work of CaptionMax will lead to greater availability of these videos and ultimately greater access and opportunity for our students.

Top 5 Tips to Beat the Captioning Headaches!

Posted by CLeininger on March 9, 2011 at 9:35 am. Captioning, Subtitling, Techy, Translation, Video Description

Captioning doesn’t have to be a painful process. In fact, adding accessibility to your media (broadcast, web, whatever) can be pain free! Here are our 5 Top Tips for keeping your captioning/subtitling/transcription costs down and finding the right provider for you!

Tip 1: Plan Ahead

Include captioning/subtitling/transcription costs in your initial project budget and timeline to get the best deal and eliminate those unexpected gotchas at the end. Adding captions can significantly boost your SEO and drive more potential clients to your website. Any captioning services worth their weight will offer you a free quote for your project.

Tip 2: Research

Look at lots of samples! Many companies will have a sample gallery where you can see a small bit of all the services they offer. Find the the look and style that you like best. Find out the difference between web and broadcast captions. Ask your friends who they use. Get recommendations! Ask your prospective captioning company any questions you have. All the best have experts on staff who have added captions/subtitles/you name it to everything short of a toaster oven (we’re still working on that one). Those experts can help you find the best fit and the most pain-free process for your specific video!

Tip 3: One-Stop Shop

Do you need tape encoding? Are you making a web video and a DVD? Do you need multiple language translation? Interested in going green with a tapeless work flow? Is sending a hard drive your preferred method? The best companies can handle your project from start to finish. These extra technical services let you skip the hassle of contracting yet another post-house that can charge you double for the same product. Take advantage of your captioning company’s techy knowledge, and you’ll work with fewer go-betweens and have fewer headaches!

Tip 4: Turnaround

Sometimes you need it yesterday! Some projects will always have irritations and bottlenecks as their deadlines approach. Make sure that you talk to your captioning company about clear turnaround deadlines. Your captioning company should be able to clearly explain their turnaround times for the file types you want. Be clear with your scheduling needs and confirm a guaranteed turnaround time. But if you’re down to the wire, go with the company that delivers on time — every time!

Tip 5: Customer Service

Have questions? Don’t understand something? While there will always be variations in prices between captions, subtitles, transcription, etc., your captioning company should provide you with excellent customer service. A dedicated project manager can answer your questions and guide you smoothly through the captioning/subtitling/transcription process. Choose a company with years of experience in a wide range of projects, subjects, and technologies. Find a company with real people who speak real-people language and not a bunch of industry (yes, there is a captioning industry) jargon.

Fun Word Friday: Word Origins

Posted by Emma on March 4, 2011 at 9:24 am. Captioning

by Kirsten Dirkes

A curate’s egg: something which has good and bad parts; traditionally, it meant something which was rendered useless by the bad bits. From a Punch cartoon in which a curate won’t condemn his entire egg.  Example: The Liberty Bell is a curate’s egg of good patina but bad ringability.

Ketchup: I know you’ve heard this word before, but you may not know its origin.  In fact, I’m sure you don’t, because apparently no one does.  It likely derived from either Malay or Chinese words back in the day before it contained tomatoes.  Yes, all those labels that state “tomato ketchup” are not redundant, because even in the Western world, ketchup started out as a thin sauce made from pickled walnuts or mushrooms.  Prior to that, it was a fish sauce in Asia.

Banana ketchup: No, I’m not done talking about ketchup.  Who knew it was such a fascinating topic?  Banana ketchup (bananas, vinegar, sugar, garlic, onion, etc) originated in the Philippines during World War II, when they had tomato shortages, and it’s still highly popular there.  It’s dyed yellow or red and reportedly tastes similar to tomato ketchup, only sweeter, and now I know what to get my toddler for his birthday.

Kugel ball: a sculpture consisting of a large granite ball that spins on a thin layer of water.  The term originated when someone who obviously wasn’t that bright combined the English word “ball” with the German word for…“ball.”

Yat dialect: a dialect of English spoken in New Orleans; has many similarities to New York dialects. From the phrase “Where y’at,” which means “How are you?”  In these days of cell phones and actually needing to know where the speaker is at, I anticipate this use of the phrase might lose popularity soon.  Now if only someone would invent a device that makes the phrase “give 110%” obsolete.  Oh, wait, they did: math.

Gulliver’s Travels (1939)

Posted by CLeininger on March 2, 2011 at 9:36 am. Captioning, Movies, Subtitling, Translation, YouTube

by Jason Mitchell

Our resident public domain and creative content expert, Jason, is back to share his vast knowledge of early animation.

Gulliver's Travels 1939 Film Poster

I’ve talked about Fleischer Studios before, and I will undoubtedly talk about them again.  The studio was a major force in the early years of animation, and they are largely forgotten today.

Walt Disney did the unthinkable in 1937, releasing Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first feature-length animated film.  Just two years later, Fleischer Studios released the second with Gulliver’s Travels.

Gulliver sits in the Lilliputian village

Max and Dave Fleischer, the brothers who co-founded Fleischer studios, had wanted to produce a feature-length animated film since Disney announced production of Snow White in 1934.  Paramount, their distributor, refused to allow such an ambitious project until Snow White proved to be successful.  Paramount’s desire to have Gulliver ready for a Christmas 1939 release meant that it had to be completed in a third of the time Disney took to produce Snow White.  Other issues also troubled the production, including a relocation of the animation studios from New York to Miami after a labor strike in 1937.  As a result, the film falls short of the technical achievements of Disney’s animated features.  Nevertheless, Gulliver was a box office success when it opened in 1939.

Gulliver implements some of the Fleischers’ animation innovations.  The character of Gulliver was animated using a rotoscoping technique.  The actor Sam Parker was filmed performing as Gulliver, and then the film of his performance was traced as an animation reference.  This technique gave Gulliver’s movements a very lifelike quality, which contrasts with the cartoon-like Liliputians.

Tied up Gulliver holds a Lilliputian

The opening title sequence features realistic footage of a three-dimensional ship.  Max Fleischer’s Tabletop 3D Setback invention was capable of photographing actual 3D background sets to be incorporated in animation.  The device was used more prominently in some of Fleischer Studios’ animated shorts.  Play Safe has an especially cool sequence with a train maneuvering through some cliffs and into a tunnel.  Disney’s competing multiplane camera wasn’t in use until three years after the Setback was introduced.

Gulliver’s Travels included several songs that became popular outside of the film and were used in later Fleischer shorts.  The character of Gabby also was given a series of spin-off shorts.  Mel Blanc, noted voice actor responsible for voicing many Warner Bros. and Hanna-Barbera characters, portrayed Gabby in Gulliver’s Travels and the later shorts.

Gulliver’s success would lead to the production of Mr. Bug Goes to Town, the Fleischers’ second feature-length film, but a growing feud between Max and Dave, along with growing financial issues for the studio, led to the studio being absorbed by Paramount in 1941.  Today, many of the films Fleischer Studios produced are in the public domain, including Gulliver’s Travels.

CaptionMax has recently added a captioned, video described, and Spanish translated version of the film to the CaptionMax YouTube page. Check it out to see if you notice the rotoscoping & 3D Setback techniques that made this a groundbreaking film.

 

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