Feeling The Love: Client Feedback

Posted by Anna on February 25, 2016 at 2:00 pm. Captioners, Captioning, Subtitling, Video Description

Nothing brightens our day more than hearing our clients are happy.

We really appreciate all of our clients and their efforts to make media accessible to all people, so we were truly humbled to hear the feeling is totally mutual!  In a recent client satisfaction survey, we asked the question, “What could CaptionMax do to improve your overall experience with our company?” These were some of the responses we got:

Your folks were super friendly and accommodating. Thank you!

Keep doing what you are doing.

We’ve had extremely good luck with CaptionMax.

I have delivered thousands of masters and so far all my experience with CaptionMax has been excellent. You guys are my first choice for closed captioning and ABS transcription. If it ain’t broke…

Nothing at this time. The level of support, quick turnaround and quality of work has always been excellent!

We have been pleased overall with service and quality.

Hard to say — every experience has been terrific!

We have used CaptionMax many times – video cc and scripts – the experience and service have always been best in class.

My experiences with CaptionMax have always been the best in all areas.  I highly recommend CaptionMax.

Can’t think of anything.

Want to become a satisfied client of ours? Contact or request a quote here.

FCC Enhances Accessibility Of Video Programming On Television

Posted by Anna on February 19, 2016 at 4:08 pm. Captioning, FCC
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler

Yesterday the FCC took a step forward in ensuring equal television access for millions of Americans who are deaf and hard of hearing.  In the Second Report and Order, they adopted amendments to its rules on closed captioning for television, clarifying which entities are responsible for which parts of the delivery and quality of closed captions on television:

“The provision of closed captioning depends upon the coordination of both video programmers and video programming distributors (VPDs) to both generate and deliver high quality caption content to viewers. To date, however, only VPDs have been directly subject to the Commission’s closed captioning rules, leaving half of the responsible parties unaccountable for the quality of their captioning.”

Under this order, video programmers are responsible for ensuring compliance with FCC closed captioning quality requirements that went into effect in 2015 as well as providing closed captions for all non-exempt programming. VPDs are required to pass captions through to the end user and are responsible for the maintenance and delivery of captions.

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler said he believes “this new approach of shared responsibilities under our rules will greatly improve the quality of closed captions for millions of Americans who rely on this feature to understand television programming.”

Lawsuit Filed Against AMC Theaters Over Broken Video Description Headsets

Posted by Anna on February 17, 2016 at 11:25 am. Captioning
Lawsuit Plaintiff Scott Blanks

Lawsuit Plaintiff Scott Blanks

Last night ABC7 News in San Francisco reported on a new class action lawsuit filed yesterday against national movie theater chain AMC Theaters. The target of the complaint is AMC Theaters in Santa Clara.  While the theater does provide headsets for patrons to listen to video description tracks on, lawsuit plaintiff Scott Blanks says that the headsets have failed consistently for years, leaving him unable to fully enjoy the movies he was trying to watch with his sons:

“I wasn’t able to communicate with my boys, Zachary and Elliott, about what was happening for the remainder of the film or afterwards so much because I missed out on a great deal of the action in a film that is not exactly heavy on dialogue,” Blanks said. “We all want to have the same experience, the same escapism, the same access to entertainment.”

Given the nature of the complaint, it’s possible this suit could lead to having to AMC having select screenings with open description the way open captioning is now required for certain theaters in Hawaii.

ABC7 requested permission from CaptionMax to use a short clip from our Description Explained video to illustrate how video description benefits blind and low-vision audiences.  More samples can be viewed here on our website.

No, That Wasn’t A Cat Walking On A Keyboard… Realtime Dictionaries Explained

Posted by Anna on February 3, 2016 at 10:30 am. Captioners, Captioning
Layout of a stenographic keyboard

Layout of a stenographic keyboard

By Mark Johnson, Realtime Coordinator

There are a number of high-profile screw ups in live closed captioning that have been ridiculed and lampooned on the internet. Setting aside the high-pressure nature of a realtime closed captioning writer’s job–they perform in a live, highly public environment where it’s impossible to go back and fix mistakes–it’s important to understand how their equipment and software works so we can better comprehend why these mistakes can happen.

A stenographer uses a stenographic keyboard. This keyboard is comprised of 22 keys, and words are typed by pressing multiple keys at once to create all of the sounds in a word. For example, to type the word “how,” they would press “H,” “O,” and “U” simultaneously. The software then translates those keys into a word by looking into a dictionary the writer has prepared. This dictionary is essential because a writer cannot type a word that does not exist there. This is why you rarely see spelling errors in closed captioning–unless it’s a proper noun–and why you will more frequently see issues with homonyms.

An example of this dictionary in action can be seen from the Week 16 NFL game between the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons. The Panthers were turning to a rarely-activated running back, Cameron Artis-Payne. Initially, every time the announcers said his name, the closed captioning read “CAMERON ARTIST PAIN.” The writer for this game did not have that player’s name in their dictionary. Subsequently, when they entered the keystrokes for “Artis-Payne,” their dictionary searched for the closest sounds it could find, “artist” and “pain.”  At a commercial break, the writer entered the player’s name, and for the rest of the game it was correctly written as “Artis-Payne.”

It’s unlikely the writer forced their dictionary to spell “Artis” instead of “artist” or “Payne” instead of “pain,” especially in a game as violent as football where “pain” is likely to be said. What the writer probably did was enter a shortcut, known as a brief, for “Artis-Payne.”

This use of briefs for a proper noun is the likely explanation for a much higher-profile closed captioning mistake, when the Boston Marathon bomber’s name was written as Zooey Deschanel. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is a very unusual name, and the caption writer certainly had to create a dictionary entry for it. The keystroke of “DZ” would make sense, as that’s not a combination of letters that’s likely to be used for something else. But if the writer also does entertainment news and had a dictionary entry for Zooey Deschanel and used, say, “ZD” for her name, there we have our problem. The writer either mistakenly used the wrong dictionary–an entertainment dictionary instead of a news dictionary–or they accidentally pressed the wrong keystroke, using “ZD” instead of “DZ.”

Realtime caption that was supposed to read Dzhokhar Tsarnaev reads Zooey Deschanel.

Realtime caption that was supposed to read "Dzhokhar Tsarnaev" reads as "Zooey Deschanel."

Knowing it’s impossible for a caption writer to write a word or name that isn’t in their dictionary, when we see issues like what occurred during the August Republican debate, there’s something else at play. During that debate, the closed captions read as complete gibberish, “HALFRICAN SENLD IF YOUK.TYHOUTOCIAL.” Even if the writer was hitting random keys on their stenographic keyboard–or if a cat walked across it–their software would find the closest matching word in their dictionaries and spit those out, meaning it would still be nonsense, but that nonsense would contain correctly-spelled words. In cases where complete gibberish is what comes out on screen, there is a hardware issue either with the encoder that embeds the captioning, the modem that transmits the data, or the phone lines connecting the writer to the network. Garbling does not occur during the transmission of captions when the connection is IP-based instead of modem-based; if there are problems with the connection from the writer to the network in this scenario, their connection will give out entirely instead of producing garbling. If garbling occurs on an IP connection, it points to the problem stemming from the encoder.

As Senator Lindsey Graham debates on Fox News, the realtime captions read as gibberish.

As Senator Lindsey Graham debates on Fox News, the realtime captions read as gibberish.

CaptionMax is 100% iCap compliant, and we offer the fastest and highest security realtime service in the industry with our Rocket™ Realtime Technology. For more information on our realtime captioning services, contact

Employee Spotlight: Derek Throldahl

Posted by Anna on February 1, 2016 at 10:00 am. Captioning, Employee Spotlight
Realtime Captioning Manager Derek Throldahl

Realtime Captioning Manager Derek Throldahl

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. Derek Throldahl joined CaptionMax as our Realtime Captioning Manager in January of 2015:

What’s your favorite part of working at CaptionMax?

CaptionMax has some of the most genuine, fun-to-be-around employees I’ve ever been able to work with. Everyone brings a unique personality to the company. It’s also been a thrill watching the realtime department grow and all that we’ve been able to accomplish in the past year.

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

When I was much younger, I dreamed of playing professional baseball. Now the closest I get is recreational softball, but I was able to capture a career where I can live vicariously through my captioning of professional sports.

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

Many people can probably relate to this, but I feel completely lost without my phone. I’m sure I could live without it, but I wouldn’t want to try.

Do you have any hidden talents?

I wouldn’t really call it a talent as much as it is a unique ability, but I can solve a Rubik’s cube in two minutes.

What is your biggest hobby outside of work?

I’m as tech-obsessed away from work as I am at work. Computers, tablets, televisions, virtual reality, video games, cars, I’m just fascinated with the tech behind it all. If I’m not enjoying first-hand all the tech around us, then I’m anxiously reading about all the new things coming our way.

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

Iron Man. If anyone knows about technology, it’s that guy.

What is your favorite TV show/movie?

I have a bad habit of waiting until a show is over and then binge watching the whole series. The Office, Parks and Rec, and Breaking Bad are a few that I caught after others assured me it was worth the watch. I’m sure there are a lot of really good shows on right now, so stop by and tell me what I need to watch next!



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