FCC Video Description Rules Expand July 1, 2015

Posted by Anna on June 17, 2015 at 12:00 pm. FCC, Video Description

In the coming weeks there will be additional requirements to the existing FCC rules surrounding video description. Beginning July 1, 2015, per the 21st Century Communications and Video Act, video description requirements expand from the top 25 largest local affiliates of ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox to the top 60 television markets for the top four broadcast networks.

CaptionMax has a simple, efficient workflow for creating high-quality description at the same time as your offline closed captions. Our entire process, from scriptwriting to voiceover to mixing a 5.1 surround sound audio file, is done entirely in-house, giving you unparalleled security for your assets.

Our team of describers creates a custom style guide for each series, compiling information about a program’s characters, locations, and show-specific terminology to assure consistency across episodes. Every artistic and technical phase of creating the description has a QC component to it so we can guarantee that our end product is outstanding.

To learn more about how video description can become a part of your workflow, contact or call 612.341.3566.

Employee Spotlight: Rachel Steenson

Posted by Anna on at 9:30 am. Employee Spotlight, Video Describers

At CaptionMax, we believe that our greatest strength is our employees. They’re clever, creative, and we can’t wait for you to get to know them a little better. Rachel Steenson joined CaptionMax as a video describer in April of 2014.

What’s your favorite part of working at CaptionMax?

I really appreciate the shared focus to create a product that is not just “close enough” or “technically accurate,” but right for each program, which is really inspiring and heartening for a word nerd.

What job did you want when you were 10 years old?

I went back and forth between a judge, an inventor, and a smokejumper; though given my crippling fear of falling, I think at least one of those probably wouldn’t have worked out.

What’s one thing you couldn’t live without?

Coffee! True story—my phlebotomist confirmed it.

Do you have any hidden talents?

I’m a seasoned parallel parker.

What is your biggest hobby outside of work?

Reading and binge-watching period dramas on Netflix, sometimes both at once.

If you could have dinner with any person, living or dead, who would it be?

Hildegard of Bingen, this super cool renaissance lady abbess from the Middle Ages known for her roles as composer, philosopher, mystic, healer, artist, and brewmaster.

What is your favorite TV show/movie?

I found my life coach in Leslie Knope when I started watching Parks and Recreation, so that show should probably top the list, but I’ll throw out honorable mentions for the movies Amelie, Metropolis, and the 1934 version of The Scarlet Pimpernel, which is based on the first hero-with-a-secret-identity novel, paving the way for future masked superheroes.

Trend: More Online Players Supporting VDS

Posted by Anna on June 16, 2015 at 12:00 pm. OTT, Techy, Video Description

It’s no secret that more and more content is finding a home online.  While this is great for many consumers, it’s created special challenges for blind and low-vision audiences who want to access the visual information of that content.  The problem? Most online players do not have the ability to select from multiple audio tracks.

The current best practice for dealing with this issue is to create two versions of the same video: one without video description and one with open video description that can’t be turned off. Take, for instance, Comcast’s Emily’s Oz commercial that aired during the Oscars, which promotes the XFINITY talking guide that allows blind and low-vision viewers to independently explore current TV and movie selections. XFINITY’s YouTube channel posted two versions of the commercial, one titled Emily’s Oz Commercial and  one titled Emily’s Oz Commercial (with video description). Putting “with video description” in the title of the video is extremely important so that it is accessible to a screenreader.

While this manages to get the job done, it’s hardly an elegant solution for content providers or consumers looking for described content. We are seeing an increase in the number of online players that allow viewers to select from multiple audio tracks, including foreign languages, director’s commentary, and closed description. JWPlayer, OZPlayer, and DivX all offer players with multitrack audio settings.

Netflix, which began its streaming service with the Microsoft Silverlight player and has been transitioning over to HTML5 since 2013, debuted a selection of described content in April. With Netflix’s commitment to expanding their selection of programming with video description, we expect other OTT content providers like Hulu and Amazon Prime to soon follow their lead and revamp their players to allow for closed description.



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