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Meet Diane, First Place Winner In Our Just Add Words Video Description Contest!

Posted by Anna on July 28, 2016 at 9:00 am. Just Add Words, Video Describers, Video Description

This years First Place winner Diane Kollman

2016 First Place winner Diane Kollman

The results are in from this year’s Just Add Words competition! Meet, Diane Kollman, our first place winner who did a fabulous job describing this year’s short film, Canned:

How old are you?

I’m 23 going on 24 this September.

What is your occupation?

I am currently in-between jobs, although I have a side gig doing online tutoring in psychology and writing.

Do you have a writing background?

I earned my Bachelor of Arts in English and psychology with minors in professional writing and creative writing from The Ohio State University, so you could say I have a strong interest in writing! My life’s ambition is to become a fantasy author, and I enjoy seeking out writing contests like this one to test my skills.

What are your hobbies/interests?

Other than my obvious interest in writing and reading, I also love planning epic road trips, solving puzzles in escape rooms, and appreciating nature through geocaching.

Do you have any fun plans for your prize money?

My fiancé and I will be getting married next October, so I’ll be putting it all in the piggy bank for our honeymoon. A big thanks to the CaptionMax team for their generosity and commitment to providing accessible media!


To find out how you can add video description to your content, contact sales@captionmax.com.

How To Write A Winning Entry For Just Add Words!

Posted by Anna on May 12, 2016 at 10:00 am. Just Add Words, Video Describers, Video Description

A man writes with a pen on lined notebook paper

A man writes with a pen on lined notebook paper

Thinking about entering our third annual Just Add Words Video Description Contest? Here are some tips for creating a winning entry:

Relevance of Detail

Writers should describe whatever information (settings, characters, actions, graphics, on-screen text, and other details) is most important for a blind viewer to understand what is happening in the program. Description should not duplicate any material that is already clear from the program’s dialogue or sound effects, such as “a woman laughs” or “the doorbell rang.”

Clarity of Description

Descriptions should be accurate and easy to visualize. Writers should remain as objective as possible and avoid adding their own opinions or interpretations.

Vividness of Language

Writers should bring the scene to life by using the active voice, precise verbs, and evocative diction.

Consistency of Mood

Writers should choose language that matches the mood, tone, and visual style of the program.

Timing and Readability

The descriptions must fit around the characters’ dialogue and within the total run time of the seen. They should be readable at a natural pace by voiceover talent. Try reading your entry along with the video and edit it down if necessary.

Finally, watch last year’s winners and learn! They did an amazing job.

Video description is an incredible assistive technology that allows blind and low-vision audiences to access a program’s visual content by translating images into words. To learn more about how to add content to your description, contact sales@captionmax.com

Meet Laura, First Place Winner In Our Just Add Words Video Description Contest!

Posted by Anna on July 23, 2015 at 5:18 pm. Just Add Words, Video Describers, Video Description
Just Add Words First Place Winner 2015 Laura Lynch

Just Add Words First Place Winner 2015 Laura Lynch in North Berwick

Here at CaptionMax, we always keep the end-user of our closed captions and video description in mind as we create them, which is why we were positively beaming when the first place winner of our second annual Just Add Words video description contest had this to say about writing her entry:

I actually had a friend of mine from college in mind when I wrote it. I was just at her wedding a month ago, and in spite of being blind, she’s also earned her Masters in Linguistics (from an English-speaking university when her native language is Polish) and runs marathons for charity (arm-in-arm with her marathon-running friends). “Inspirational” just seems to fall a little short when talking about her. I was trying to remember how I used to try to describe things to her when we were together, and how difficult it was not to rely on color words, or to forget details that seemed obvious to me because I could see them. So I’m really proud to have done a good job, and I hope competitions like this help people to try to think of the world from the perspective of the blind and visually disabled.

Laura seemed so incredibly rad that we wanted everyone to get to know her a little better, so here she is in her own words:

How old are you?

27

What is your occupation?

Varied. I work in the Communications field as an independent contractor and am trying to build up a business as a freelance copywriter. In the past month I’ve helped organize a live event hosting over 800 guests, worked as a production assistant on a video shoot, tried my hand at video editing, proofread several indexes, and picked up some basic web administration skills via WordPress. And I’ve written some copy.

Do you have a writing background?

I’ve been an irregular blogger since 2007, and I currently get to do some copywriting on occasion for work. I also finished the first draft of a science fiction novel a year ago, and have spent my time since trying to decide what to do about draft two. I had a really good method to get through the first draft, but I’ve found I can’t apply it to editing. I’ve worked on the “science” part of the story a little, and have tried picking up a few other writing projects, but nothing’s stuck yet. I’ve heard it said that if you write every day, you’re a writer. For the time being, I’m trying to live up to that.

What are your hobbies/interests?

I draw, I read, I inwardly critique all the media I consume. Someday I would like to write/draw a graphic novel. Also, I sew a lot of my own clothes and am big into languages. I speak Russian (well enough to hold a conversation indefinitely, albeit with errors) and German (at about the level of a 4-year-old). Linguistics is a major area of interest. I love hearing the different ways in which people experiment with language, whether they know that’s what they’re doing or not.

Do you have any fun plans for your prize money?

Definitely: I’m getting a new computer! My current machine barely functions. I’ve had its replacement picked out for months, but haven’t been able to afford it. Meanwhile, I have a subscription to the Adobe Creative Cloud that I’ve been dying to explore, but haven’t been able to make good use of yet. So I see a new laptop as fixing a very practical problem I have, but also expanding my creative possibilities. So, yeah, I’m super excited!

How did you find out about the contest?

I subscribe to Brian Scott’s “Morning Coffee” freelance writing newsletter, and saw the contest listed there. I liked the idea and thought it would be a challenge. I found it hard to take myself out of my usual framework of, “what do I want to say?” and move into, “what do they need to know?”

My mom is hearing impaired, so I grew up watching captions on everything. For a while in high school as well I watched a lot of anime in Japanese with subtitles, because I was used to them being there, and I think it helped fuel my interest in language. My mom’s hearing deteriorated to the point that she was nearly deaf, but a few years ago she was able to have an operation which improved her hearing to an incredible extent. As in, afterwards she could hear the tap water running for the first time in a decade. So what drew me to this contest wasn’t just the connection I had to my blind friend, but a value for captions and subtitles more generally and the great gift they can be to all sorts of people.

What are the key components for creating quality video description?

Posted by Anna on May 15, 2015 at 4:23 pm. Just Add Words, Video Describers, Video Description

Video description is an amazing assistive technology that allows blind and low-vision audiences to access a program’s visual content by translating images into words. This might sound fairly straightforward at first, but there are many factors that go into writing high-quality video description that creates a seamless experience for the audience:

Relevance of Detail

Writers should describe whatever information (settings, characters, actions, and other details) is most important for a blind viewer to understand what is happening in the program. Description should not duplicate any material that is already clear from the program’s dialogue or sound effects.

Clarity of Description

Descriptions should be accurate and easy to visualize. Writers should remain as objective as possible and avoid adding their own opinions or interpretations.

Vividness of Language

Writers should bring the scene to life by using the active voice, precise verbs, and evocative diction.

Consistency of Mood

Writers should choose language that matches the mood, tone, and visual style of the program.

Timing and Readability

The descriptions must fit around the characters’ dialogue and within the total run time of the seen. They should be readable at a natural pace by voiceover talent.

If writing video description sounds like an enjoyable challenge to you, try entering our second annual Just Add Words Video Description Contest!

Just Add Words Video Description Contest Returns!

Posted by Anna on April 15, 2015 at 3:41 pm. Just Add Words, Video Description

In April of 2014, CaptionMax held its first annual video description contest, Just Add Words.  Just Add Words was designed as a fun and engaging way to educate people about video description and what a valuable service it is to blind and low-vision audiences.  Video description bring to life the key visual images, body language, and visual expressions necessary to understand a program’s content using language that is age-appropriate and objective.

Signed into law in 2010, the 21st Century Communications & Video Act outlines a bright future for video description.  Currently the top 4 broadcast channels and the top 5 cable channels in the top 25 most populated markets in the country must provide 4 hours per week of video description. Beginning July 1, 2015, the FCC must ensure that the video description service is expanded to reach the top 60 markets of the country. After 2020, the law gives the FCC the right to further expand the service to 10 new markets yearly until 100% nationwide coverage is achieved.

Just Add Words is returning in a little over two weeks and will run through the month of May.  CaptionMax decided to move the contest a little later this year so that it could overlap with Global Accessibility Awareness Day on May 21, 2015. You’ll have to stay tuned to learn more details about this year’s contest, but in the meantime, check out last year’s winners and get inspired to describe!

 

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