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Employee Spotlight: Annie Taylor

Posted by Anna on February 22, 2017 at 10:00 am. Captioners, Captioning, Employee Spotlight
Production Scheduler Annie Taylor

Production Scheduler Annie Taylor

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. Annie Taylor began at CaptionMax in May 2011 as a Prerecorded Caption Editor before going on to become Captioning Supervisor and now Production Scheduler:

What’s your favorite part of working at CaptionMax?

My favorite part of working at CaptionMax is the people. Everyone who works here is kind, funny, and talented, and it shows in their work and in their everyday interactions. It’s nice to come into a work environment like that every day.

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

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a writer, which is not really a job and more of a way of being. Or a job that let me play video games all day (which I did end up getting the summer after college, and it was awful, but that’s another story). I was not a long-term-minded child.

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

Coffee is the obvious answer here, but in reality, I couldn’t live without the endless array of stories available to explore, in TV, books, movies, and video games.

Do you have any hidden talents?

They haven’t been revealed to me yet, but telekinesis seems like it’d be cool to have. Oh, you said talents, not superpowers. My answer stands.

What is your biggest hobby outside of work?

My biggest hobby outside of work is definitely video games. Right now I play a lot of Overwatch, but I’m very excited for the new Zelda in March (SO EXCITED).

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

It would be fantastic to have met and shared a meal with Sir Terry Pratchett. What a gem of a human being and author.

What is your favorite TV show/movie?

This is an unfair question and you know it. So I’ll give you two shows: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Futurama. Obviously.

Our Method To March Madness? A Team Effort

Posted by Anna on February 9, 2017 at 3:00 pm. Captioners, Captioning

Every February, our realtime captioning department gears up for its busiest time of year: March Madness. Not only does the NCAA Division I tournament (as well as the conference tournaments leading up to it) add hundreds of extra hours to our regular schedule, the structure can create additional challenges. But we have the team and technology in place to stay on the ball and ensure every word gets captioned.

The conference tournaments are always same-site events, meaning two teams play and the next two teams will play on the same court when that game is finished.  So if the first game goes into overtime, the second game will have a late start. Even with anywhere between four to six sites going at once, our realtime coordinators expertly oversee the smooth transition between all of these games.

There’s no greater MVP during this hectic season than our realtime captioners.  In addition to prepping their dictionaries to make sure every player, coach, and arena name is spelled correctly, they maintain flexible schedules so coordinators can stay nimble with unpredictable start and end times.  In the event we need to use more than one captioner per game, our Rocket Realtime Technology allows us to seamlessly make the switch mid-program.

Our realtime team is thriving. In 2016, we experienced significant growth in live captioning services and tripled our staff of in-house realtime captioners, expanding our capacity for last-minute requests. While the majority of clients requesting realtime captioning are in broadcast, we have seen an uptick in corporate and government organizations who need conferences and meetings that are being streamed online captioned live. To receive a quote for your next live program or event, contact sales@captionmax.com.

Want To Know What It’s Like To Caption The World Series?

Posted by Anna on October 28, 2016 at 10:33 am. Captioners, Captioning
Lori smiles and holds a baseball next to the CaptionMax sign

Lori smiles and holds a baseball next to the CaptionMax sign

This year, CaptionMax has the privilege of live captioning the World Series.  We wanted to give a glimpse into what that experience is like, so we asked Lori, superstar live writer responsible for game 2, what it’s like to caption one of the biggest nights in baseball.

Obviously you’re a Twins fan, but do you have a favorite between Chicago and Cleveland?

I really wasn’t sure which team to root for because it’s been so long since either team has been to the World Series, much less won the World Series. Now that the series is tied 1-1, I can pretty confidently say I’m cheering for Cleveland.  It’s really cool that the Cubs are in it, but I’m an American League girl through and through.

How does captioning baseball compare to other sports?

I grew up watching baseball from age 6 or 7. So I’ve always kind of felt that compared to captioning other sports, baseball is my native language.  I know the vocab. Also I just love the way baseball sounds, which is a plus considering how closely we have to listen when captioning.

The pace of baseball is a little bit slower, so I get a chance to catch my breath or look something up. On the flip side, other sports have more action or are higher scoring, which tends to make doing a game a little more exciting. Hockey and basketball games fly by.

Does captioning the World Series feel much different from captioning other events?

I don’t even know what the audience size is for this series, but it’s definitely high-profile, so that means ultra prep: former players, details about past World Series games involving these teams, a larger pregame/postgame panel.

In a regular game, they don’t often televise the anthem or the 7th inning stretch, but in this case we need to be ready for that, so who is singing for the current game and even the previous game or next game in case they get mentioned.

Is there any other event that would be as or more exciting for you to caption?

This was definitely a blast. Something as or more exciting? The inauguration probably.

How To Celebrate The Fifth Annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Posted by Anna on May 18, 2016 at 12:00 pm. ADA, CVAA, Captioners, Captioning, DOJ, Video Description, WCAG
Global Accessibility Awareness Day logo against a cloudy blue sky

Global Accessibility Awareness Day logo against a cloudy blue sky

Tomorrow marks the fifth annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), and the story of how GAAD came to be is every bit as modern as the cause it champions:

“The idea of a Global Accessibility Awareness Day started with a single blog post written by a Los Angeles-based web developer,Joe DevonJennison Asuncion, an accessibility professional from Toronto discovered Joe’s blog post purely by accident thanks to Twitter. After reading it, he immediately contacted Joe and they joined forces, leveraging their extensive and respective networks to realize the event.”

Beginning in 2015, rather than using a fixed date, Devon and Asuncion decided to mark GAAD on the third Thursday of May. On their website, they provide a full list of in person and online events that the public is welcome to take part of.

At a time when website accessibility regulations are popping up everywhere, these events are a perfect opportunity to learn more about the future of online accessibility.

To learn how you can make your online video content accessible, contact sales@captionmax.com.

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 sales@captionmax.com or request a quote here.

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 sales@captionmax.com.

Employee Spotlight: Jess Matelski

Posted by Anna on December 15, 2015 at 11:30 am. Captioners, Captioning, Employee Spotlight
Jess Matelski stands next to poster of Jessica Fletcher

Jess Matelski stands next to poster of Jessica Fletcher

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. Jess Matelski joined CaptionMax as a caption editor in November of 2004 and has worn a number of hats between then and becoming our Prerecorded Operations Manager earlier this year:

What’s your favorite part of working at CaptionMax?

Definitely the people. 11 years ago, I moved to the Twin Cities without a job or a plan, and I feel very fortunate to have found CaptionMax at that point, because it was this wellspring of smart, funny grammar nerds talking about TV all day. I kinda couldn’t believe it. I’ve met some of my best friends here. Media accessibility is a very specific kind of work that tends to attract a very specific kind of person who tends to be someone I generally get along with and who will laugh at my dumb jokes either out of genuine amusement or pity. And I’ll take either.

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

When I was 10 years old, I didn’t want to grow up, so I didn’t really want a job. When pressed, I might have said, “Work in an office that I have to drive a car to, where there are lots of folders and where I can wear skirts and high-heeled shoes,” but that was probably based on my perception of what my mom’s job was… or maybe a Barbie commercial.

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

Oxygen. Also, my dog, Mike.

Do you have any hidden talents?

I’m really good at parallel parking. But it’s basically my only talent, so I can’t afford to hide it.

What is your biggest hobby outside of work?

Hm. So you’re looking for something different than what I do at work? So something other than watching TV?

[awkward silence]

Writing? Thinking about writing?

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

Living, for sure.

What is your favorite TV show/movie?

What isn’t my favorite TV show/movie? Some stuff I have watched over and over: Arrested Development, Farscape, Firefly, Fringe, Gilmore Girls, Golden Girls, Parks & Rec, Princess Bride, Shaun of the Dead, X-files… Just about every adaptation of a Jane Austen novel, ever (except for the 2005 Pride & Prejudice, which I hate, but I’ll admit that’s mostly based on first impressions). Okay, I’ll stop.

Adventures of a Late Night Supervisor

Posted by Kate on August 2, 2013 at 1:06 pm. Captioners

CaptionMax is headquartered in Minneapolis, MN, but we also have an office in Burbank, CA with a quirky, round-the-clock staff.  One of our night owls, Marsha Radford, spends many of her days biking around the city with her camera.  While most of us our stuck inside an office during the day, Marsha gets to pedal around capturing the local sights.  Lucky duck!

Here’s just a glimpse of Marsha’s random, sun-filled, and sometimes strange adventures around the Burbank area.  Enjoy!

Frank’s Diner: where numerous movies and TV shows have been filmed.

Bike lane!

Patriotic train car at Van Nuys Amtrak Station.

Sunrise over the hills.

Soldier statue outside a shop.  Ooh…maybe it was in a movie like Saving Private Ryan!  Yeah, we’ll go with that.

The downtown Burbank Metrolink/Amtrak station.

Scenes from an episode of Monk were filmed at the pool at the Safari Inn.

That’s all for now, folks.  Hope you enjoyed this quick bike tour of Burbank.   Thanks, Marsha!

Captioning Sound Effects

Posted by Kate on January 29, 2013 at 3:38 pm. Captioners, Captioning

by Mary Beth Beckman (Caption Editor)

One of the most important tasks of a closed captioner is to remember the people who benefit from our work. Part of my job is to try to place myself in a position I’ve never experienced. As a hearing person, how do I best create captions that will be fully communicative and provide a rich viewing experience for the hearing-impaired?

When captioning, I try to envision the viewer as someone who was born deaf, someone who doesn’t necessarily know what sound occurs when a door opens or a window breaks. How do you aptly communicate sound effects to someone who hasn’t directly experienced sound? To a certain extent, you don’t, because you can’t. But what you can do is try to use precise language. At CaptionMax, we try to avoid bland captions like [door closes] and opt for [door creaks] or [door clicks]. We want to communicate the character of the sound, not what the sound implies. Instead of [glass breaks], we’d go with [glass shatters]. Instead of [police sirens], we’d use [police sirens wailing].

But this isn’t perfect. In the end, how does someone who has never heard before know what it sounds like to creak or click or shatter or wail? Partially, the same way hearing people do: via context. Instead of hearing pitches in relation to one other, the hearing-impaired can learn how sounds fit together on a conceptual continuum. Not having heard something yourself doesn’t mean you can’t access the concept of the sound, how the experience of it is different from the experience of other sounds. As closed captioners, we owe this depth of experience to our audience. By being more precise in our word choice, we can greatly enhance the effect of our captions.

Meet Joel Menk

Posted by Kate on November 2, 2012 at 10:32 am. Captioners, Captioning

It’s no secret that CaptionMax likes to talk (okay, brag) about its staff.   Every month or so, we feature a particular staff member who makes our work place a little bit brighter.  Meet caption editor Joel Menk.  We like him, and we know you’ll like him too.

How long have you been working at CaptionMax?

Coming up on a year now! I feel really lucky to have found a job here just out of college. I like it a lot.

What are your favorite shows to work on?

Choo Choo Bob is probably my favorite. It’s really funny, and it’s made right here in the Twin Cities, so it’s always fun to see familiar sights on the show. The music is pretty great too. I recently attended a live show and met Choo Choo Bob in person.

What was your first job?

I got to detassel corn for a summer when I was 14 or so. It was a job I could get before being 16. I had to wake up at the crack of dawn to wade through wet corn fields yanking the tops off of the corn stalks. It was pretty miserable, especially for a whiny 14-year-old.

Where is you favorite place to visit? Why?

Anywhere my friends have moved off to. I love taking trips to reunite with people I haven’t seen in a while. They always know the city really well, and it also usually means a free place to sleep. Can’t complain about that.

What do you do to relax?

There’s nothing better than a game of Settlers of Catan with friends over a beer or some coffee out of my Chemex. Settlers of Catan is an awesome board game that’s sort of like a Risk/Monopoly hybrid. It can get pretty heated, but that’s part of the fun.

What is your favorite holiday?

It would have to be Christmas. I love pretty much everything about the holiday, but one of my favorite things is a Christmas concert I got to sing in all four of my years at Augsburg College called Advent Vespers. It’s held at Central Lutheran Church in downtown Minneapolis. I’m singing in it again this year as part of an alumni choir. It’s an awesome service and a great way to bring in the holiday season.

 

Locations

  • Minneapolis, MN
  • (CaptionMax World Headquarters)
  • 2438 27th Avenue South
  • Minneapolis, MN 55406
  • Phone: 612.341.3566
  • Fax: 612.341.2345
  • Burbank, CA
  • 245 East Olive Avenue, Suite 600
  • Burbank, CA 91502
  • Phone: 818.295.2500
  • Fax: 818.295.2509
  • New York, NY
  • 5 Columbus Circle
  • Suite 810
  • New York, NY 10019
  • Phone: 212.462.0060
  • Fax: 212.462.0061