HDMI and the Missing Closed Captions

Posted by Emma on August 11, 2010 at 8:21 am. Captioning, High Definition, Techy

Has this happened to you: you scrounge and save and finally get an awesome TV (flat-screen, LCD, the works). Now that you have the sweet TV you want to hook-up your receiver (Comcast DVR, TiVO, DirecTV DVR, etc) with the HDMI cable for maximum viewing quality. Finally it’s all hooked up and the picture looks stellar but the closed captions have disappeared. Where did they go? You didn’t really change anything so why can’t you turn them on with the TV?

The problem isn’t with your TV or DVR. The problem is that the HDMI and componenet cables cannot carry closed caption information. The TV won’t be able to read closed captions because none will be transfered from your DVR to you TV. Yikes. Therefore, if you connect any device (Comcast’s DVR, Tivo, etc) by HDMI/component, you must use that device’s menu to decode the closed captions. Your TV’s closed caption button will never show captions when connected this way.

Why?? The TV’s closed caption button only works for the analog input, when the caption data is embedded in the signal. In this new fangled digital world, the receiver (aka DVR or set-top-box) must generate captions for the screen. Including closed caption info. on an HDMI cable has not been defined or agreed upon by the TV makers. Closed caption data is only well defined on the standard TV format. The closed caption information does not get transmitted by the HDMI cable.

The solution is to use that device’s menu to turn on the captions. Every DVR is different but we can give you a few tips and tricks here. Please comment and add more information if you’ve done this testing, too. The trick is to fool the TV into thinking that you’re setting CC for the coax input, then leaving it set to ON after that. It may be that what’s really going on with these TVs may not be that CC isn’t available in non-coax inputs, but that you can’t ADJUST CC in those inputs.

First, start by enabling the closed caption data in the general menu of the DVR. See our handy guide for more information on finding the closed caption menu on your DVR.

If this doesn’t work, then try to find your DVR’s “hidden” menu. (It’s not that spooky but it is tricky to find.) Most of the time, you’ll need to turn off your DVR and then press the Menu or Power button on the front panel. Here are a couple how-tos for Comcast, Motorola and Verizon. Send us more so that we can all help each other. Note: The digital captions will always be enabled! You need to repeat these same processes to disable the captions!

Comcast Hidden Menu:
1. Turn on your TV
2. Turn off the DVR
3. Press the Menu button
4. You will see the USER SETTING screen on your TV
5. Move down to the CLOSED CAPTIONS entry using the arrow buttons
6. Press the right-arrow to switch between ENABLED and DISABLED
7. Press the Menu button
8. Turn on the DVR
To turn CC off you have to use the same method!

Motorola DCH3416
1. Turn off the TV.
2. Press the Power button on the front panel of the DCH3416 unit to bring the unit into Stand-By mode.
3. Unplug the power cable from behind the unit to truly power-off the unit.
4. Turn the TV back again (should just be blank screen)
5. Connect the power cable to the DCH3416 unit and quickly press the Menu button on the front panel of the unit.
6. If all goes well, there will appear a rough looking screen on your TV titled “User Setting Status”. NOTE: If this does not work immediately, try steps (3) to (5) a few more times.
7. Notice that item “Closed Caption” is Disabled.
8. Use the Remote of DCH3416 unit to scroll down (using up/down buttons) to the “Closed Caption” line. Press the right arrow on the Remote to toggle this item to be “Enabled”.
9. Then press the “Menu” button on the front panel of the DCH3416 unit to get out of the “User Setting Status” screen. This saves your settings.
10. Press the “Power” button on the front panel of the DCH3416 unit to bring the unit out of Stan-By mode into full operation. The close caption should now work.
To turn CC off you have to use the same method!

Verizon FIOS HD DVR STB Model #6416 (and #6214)
1. Press power off
2. Press Select button
3. Press menu button to get this display. (not easy to get—there may be a specific amount of time required to hold down the button)

Verizon FIOS HD DVR STB Model #6214
1. Press power button off
2. Press menu button to get this display.

Good luck! If you find any more information, send it our way and we’ll continue to update this post.

Fun Film Friday!

Posted by CLeininger on May 28, 2010 at 8:56 am. Captioning, Fun Word Friday, High Definition, Subtitling, Video Description, YouTube

CaptionMax has just made another YouTube video! We wanted to show you more about our services and specifically what is available for YouTube Captioning.

When you’re watching our new video you can choose to view English timed captions, Spanish timed captions or an English transcript that uses YouTube’s auto-timing. We think it’s really cool to see how all the different files work in YouTube’s player (or maybe we’re just really nerdy).

You can even watch our video in HD…up to 1080p. The graphics look awesome (okay, again we’re just being too nerdy).

Tell us what you think? Did you notice a difference? How cool is the Spanish?

Let’s Talk, Max Duckler!

Posted by CLeininger on March 24, 2010 at 8:41 am. Captioning, High Definition, Subtitling, Video Description

Our chief scientist has come a long way from video editor to becoming CEO of an amazing, multifaceted (if we may say so ourselves) captioning company. We wanted to learn more about what inspires Max and why he works so hard to be an advocate for accessible media. Take it away Max!

CB: What inspired your move from editing to captioning?

MD: The editing that I was doing was changing from creative “storytelling” editing to special effects compositing editing.  People started doing their own storytelling with no training or sense of timing and then came to me to add the ridiculous effects and graphics, thinking it would make up for the poor cutting.  It got old, and I was looking for a business opportunity that would use my deep knowledge of post-production, running a high-service business, and my love for all things word-related.  I read a tiny one-paragraph article in a trade magazine about possible legislation that would mandate captioning, and that was all the inspiration I needed.  That was early 1992.

CB: How/Why did making accessible content become such a big part of your life?

MD: As I started to caption for some of my editing clients, I realized what a cool thing it was to provide access of video content to people who would not normally have it.  The more I talked with people who were deaf or blind, the more convinced I was that I was doing the right thing, and that, ultimately, I could build the world’s best media accessibility company that not only understood the needs of the end users but had an edge in truly understanding the needs of broadcast TV and studio producers.  They are very demanding and want it done perfectly the first time around.  And they always need it yesterday.  I was accustomed to these clients from editing, and I loved working with the creative people.  The demands were justified. The Film and TV industry responds quickly to audience demands.  Their suppliers need to be just as nimble.  I understood that.

CB: What was the first software you used to caption…or were there pens and paper involved?

MB: There was pen and paper involved, and there always will be.  I need to write down what sandwich to order at the Birchwood Cafe and whether I want sprinkle donuts or coconut-covered chocolate at he Mel-o-Glaze donut shop down the street.

I mortgaged my tiny house, bought a seat (aka license) of Cheetah Captivator Software from our friends Kathy and Gary Robson. I found a Panasonic SVHS machine, some time-code cards, an encoder from EEG and SoftTouch, and a high-capacity Mr. Coffee machine secondhand from Goodwill.

CB: In the beginning, how long did it take you to caption a thirty minute broadcast program?

MD: I type with two fingers, so it took me two hours to transcribe it and then about 8-10 hours to break it apart, fit it to the time code, add sound effects, and proof it three times.  Then the encoding was another 2-3 hours of taking my stuff to a post house, patching in, and taking it apart.  Of course, now it’s different, what with all these young’uns who grew up with a keyboard in one hand and a nuk  in the other.  Also, we have our own very elaborate digital tape operations center, which is actually much more extensive than the post houses I used to encode in back in the days of yore.

CB: How do you keep current and informed about everything our industry touches (i.e. emerging technologies, TV & movies)?

MD: I listen to our customers and listen to our Consumer Advisors.  I utilize technology as it comes out so I can visualize how it could and will be used for accessibility.  I’m a gadget freak, so it’s also a great excuse to keep up with the gadgets.  I read piles of trade magazines, websites, watch TED seminars, talk to my seatmates on my many plane rides, and get the inside scoop from the waiters at the hotels I stay at in LA.  Also, I call Donna and Gerald, and they just tell me.

CB: What do you hope for the future of accessible media? What are your most wacky dreams of accessibility?

MD: I hope that making media accessible will be part of the production process and not an afterthought. We have done some really excellent work in universal design of classroom media in which the media is published so that it’s useful to all audiences from the start.  It takes some extra planning up-front, but once it’s in place, it makes everyone’s lives easier.  The same could happen for broadcast and movies. And we are beginning to see a shift in that direction with more content on the internet than over the airwaves.  We’re helping our customers see the value of captions and description beyond providing access to people who are deaf and blind.  Teachers, people learning English, people with ADHD like me all have great uses for accessibility features.

CB: What is it about creating CaptionMax that you’re the proudest of?

MD: Without a doubt, the incredible staff of CaptionMax.  We are a big company, but we’re still a family.  Most of the staff has been with me since the beginning, and many have worked with me in my former life as a Post Production Exec.  Everyone here is passionate about accessibility, and the brain trust is huge.  It’s so very humbling to come into work every day and be surrounded by all these great friends who are ALL smarter and more creative than me in some way. I learn so much from my staff every day. I absolutely love being in our various offices.  I am proud that we have built the company in a local, organic way; no outside investors, no overbearing debt.  We support local businesses, and we keep everything in the USA.  We use the profits to invest in technology and the very best people we can find.  When we are able to, we invest back into our community’s various social service agencies and nonprofits dedicated to improving the lives of our fellow neighbors and citizens.

I’m also proud of our reputation for quality, and I’m proud of our reputation for being flexible and forward-thinking.  I’m especially proud that my wife and kids still give me “courtesy laughs” to the same jokes I tell over and over.

CaptionMax Speed Rail: Pulling Into The Station

Posted by Emma on February 17, 2010 at 9:38 am. Captioning, High Definition, Subtitling

The final leg of our journey brings your project into the hands of our veteran caption proofers, and these folks are precision engineers.  It takes years of experience looking for the tiniest of details throughout an enormous range of subjects to be this good.  Their mastery over punctuation, capitalization, and spelling in a multitude of languages equips them with an exacting eye for detail.

Now that your captions are buffed to a sparkling sheen, they travel once again through our high-speed network to our technical gurus who encode your captions onto a fresh master tape.  We can deliver almost any file, format, or tape you can dream of.  Just ask us!  There has even been talk in the engine room about encoding captions onto an English muffin using a specialized toaster oven, but we’ll save that for another day.

The whistle blows as the train slows down and gently pulls into our final station.  Your tour guide will present you with your finished product, yet another successful project.  As you grab your things and head on your way, we hope you’ll join us soon for another exciting journey.

From all of us at CaptionMax, we wish you safe and happy travels!

CaptionMax Speed Rail: Words and Bytes Collide

Posted by Emma on February 10, 2010 at 1:36 pm. Captioning, High Definition, Subtitling

Welcome back aboard the CaptionMax Speed Rail, your link to the fastest closed captioning around.  Last week you met our amazing Sales and Project Management staff.  Hang on now as we bullet through the captioning process.

The latest in video, encoding and captioning equipment are the infrastructure we use to pull your project into our system.  Our state-of-the-art Technical Operations Center (CAMTOC) equips us with all of the tools we need, bringing you the flexibility, security, and speed that comes with keeping everything in-house.

Your project hits our high-speed network and lands into the hands of your very own expert captioner.   We have the fastest fingers in the biz!  With backgrounds in subjects spanning automotive to zoology,  our captioners have all bases covered.  Your program will be carefully transcribed and thoroughly researched with atomic accuracy.

Coming up next on the CaptionMax Speed Rail:

Your destination is approaching as we glide down the precision rails to our veteran caption proofers.  Your tour guide will wrap things up, and you’ll be on your way with another successful project.

CaptionMax Speed Rail: The Adventure Begins

Posted by Emma on February 3, 2010 at 10:45 am. Captioning, High Definition, Subtitling

CaptionMax Speed Rail: The Adventure Begins

Climb on the CaptionMax Speed Rail, a high-speed ride through the world of closed captioning. It’s a lightning fast route that we travel every day, and we’d love for you to join us. Grab a handrail and hang on!

Your Local Station: Sales Staff

Located conveniently in Burbank, Washington D.C., New York, and our world headquarters in Minneapolis, we are available anywhere you need us. With almost two decades of working hand-in-hand with people and projects from every range of the spectrum, we’ll get you headed down the right track. Begin your journey here, with the best in the business.

Your Friendly Tour Guide: Project Managers

Our PM’s have been overseeing projects at CaptionMax ever since the first train left the station. They have navigated every kind of curve and roadblock, and are masters at identifying issues before they become bumps in the road. If you’ve worked with us before, you already know they are the friendliest in the business – making sure your project gets from Point A to Point B on time, every time.

Coming up next on the CaptionMax Speed Rail:

We digitize your program and shoot it straight to your expert captioner. That’s where we really pick up speed.

Welcome to the New CaptionMax

Posted by Max on September 14, 2009 at 9:54 am. Captioning, High Definition, Subtitling, Video Description

Thanks for coming out today to check out the new CaptionMax. I am so proud of our new website and all its features. Equally exciting is the roll-out of our brand new logo. The logo’s graphic element of the double chevron in a circle is a nod to the captioning that we do as well as to the fact that we are a fast forward company moving ahead using the best technology in the world.

We aim to make the customer experience even better than it is, which is difficult to do, but I was up to the challenge. – - To that end you will find our client log-in area second to none.   Here you can upload your videos, download your captioning, audio description and subtitle files, and eventually take care of even more account information.

Also, our new Style Gallery gives you a very accurate depiction of most of the styles available to you.  In addition, you can have fun with our new interactive subtitle previewer.   This interactive feature allows you the opportunity to design and preview your subtitles online before ordering so everyone knows exactly what will be delivered.  No more guessing and re-dos!

Please take a few minutes to look around and send me your comments.





  • Minneapolis, MN
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  • Phone: 612.341.3566
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  • Fax: 818.295.2509
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