Captioning Online Video

Posted by Emma on February 15, 2012 at 10:03 am. Captioning, Techy, YouTube

Here are some quick tips to make your captioned video stand out!

1. Caption Ready Media Player

The simplest step, but often overlooked.
You need a player that supports captions.
Some favorites of our clients are: JW Player, Kaltura, and Flow Player.
can also support closed captions.

2. Notify of Your Viewers

You need a way to let your viewers know that your videos are captioned.
Some sites, like Discovery Education streaming or Hulu, allow users to filter their search by videos with captions.
This makes your captioned videos easy to find and use.

3. Incorporate Captioning Into Your Workflow

Professional, high quality captions still require actual people to do the bulk of the captioning creating.
Automated captions that are reliable and accurate are just not available yet.
The great thing about captions is that they can be added to the video anytime!
You can post a video online, and then update it with a caption file at anytime in your process.

It’s important to add accessibility to your online video. Some sources predict that by 2013 more than 25% of online content will be video. It will be vital to develop excellent players and a slick workflow early on.

If you have more questions, let us know. We deal with hundreds of captioning and subtitling workflows a year, and we’d be happy to investigate adding captions to your workflow.

Top 5 Accessibility Problems with Facebook

Posted by Emma on October 18, 2011 at 10:31 am. Consumer Advisory Board, YouTube

Man with his head on his laptop keyboard and raising a white flag.

CaptionMax has a dedicated Consumer Advisory Board with experts in all kinds of accessibility. As guest bloggers, we ask our board members to  share their accessibility stories. Ardis Bazyn is an inspirational speaker, writer, and coach. She owns Bazyn Communications and has written many books on image building for businesses, organizations, and churches. She has a new book called Success Simplified on sale now. Take it away, Ardis!

I have accessed Facebook with both its regular site: and the alternate site for cell phone use: I have found both to be less accessible than many other websites. Since I use a screen reader that reads the text to me, I use the arrow keys to move through the various options on the website and do not use the mouse. On the regular website, it is difficult for me to do the following steps in particular.

1. Finding the specific links I want.
The links aren’t always clearly labeled or in an order that is intuitive, and often, I click on the incorrect link.

2. Getting back to where I was on the page after I’ve clicked on a link.
When I click the back button, it jumps to the top of the page rather than to where I was previously. It goes to the top of the page whenever I take any action. For example, if I add a friend, it goes to the top of the page and I have to scroll down to find other friend requests.

3. Finding my profile easily.
Often I see several links for profiles, so clicking on my own profile isn’t always easy.

4. Uploading photos easily.
It is not clear where to upload a photo.

5. Entering information to a group or group page.
I often think I have the right edit field and I start writing in information. I  can’t tell if it is correct when it says to post it.

In order to use some functions more easily, I often use the site. Even though I can read messages more quickly and don’t have to arrow through many links which aren’t useful to me, I can’t access features I would like to use.

To learn more about Ardis, and get some helpful tips on your communication, check out her website and newsletter.

Captions and YouTube

Posted by Emma on June 1, 2011 at 8:47 am. Captioning, Techy, YouTube

Now you have a fancy YouTube page and you’ve gone to all the work to add captions. How can you make sure that they’re easy to find?

It’s easy, you can force the captions on. This is our option of choice on our CaptionMax YouTube page. It’s easy to do and worry free!

Playback Setup
*This tip only applies to your own personal, or corporate, YouTube page.

- Log-in to your account. Navigate to your Account Settings page.
- Select the Playback Setup. This is the menu allows you to adjust your video playback settings, adjust captions, and adjust annotations.

Graphic of the Account Settings Page. Naviate to the Playback Setup section.

This option will ensure that whenever captions are present on your videos, they will automatically default to ‘on.’ After all, you’ve done all that work, you might as well show it off!

Gulliver’s Travels (1939)

Posted by CLeininger on March 2, 2011 at 9:36 am. Captioning, Movies, Subtitling, Translation, YouTube

by Jason Mitchell

Our resident public domain and creative content expert, Jason, is back to share his vast knowledge of early animation.

Gulliver's Travels 1939 Film Poster

I’ve talked about Fleischer Studios before, and I will undoubtedly talk about them again.  The studio was a major force in the early years of animation, and they are largely forgotten today.

Walt Disney did the unthinkable in 1937, releasing Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first feature-length animated film.  Just two years later, Fleischer Studios released the second with Gulliver’s Travels.

Gulliver sits in the Lilliputian village

Max and Dave Fleischer, the brothers who co-founded Fleischer studios, had wanted to produce a feature-length animated film since Disney announced production of Snow White in 1934.  Paramount, their distributor, refused to allow such an ambitious project until Snow White proved to be successful.  Paramount’s desire to have Gulliver ready for a Christmas 1939 release meant that it had to be completed in a third of the time Disney took to produce Snow White.  Other issues also troubled the production, including a relocation of the animation studios from New York to Miami after a labor strike in 1937.  As a result, the film falls short of the technical achievements of Disney’s animated features.  Nevertheless, Gulliver was a box office success when it opened in 1939.

Gulliver implements some of the Fleischers’ animation innovations.  The character of Gulliver was animated using a rotoscoping technique.  The actor Sam Parker was filmed performing as Gulliver, and then the film of his performance was traced as an animation reference.  This technique gave Gulliver’s movements a very lifelike quality, which contrasts with the cartoon-like Liliputians.

Tied up Gulliver holds a Lilliputian

The opening title sequence features realistic footage of a three-dimensional ship.  Max Fleischer’s Tabletop 3D Setback invention was capable of photographing actual 3D background sets to be incorporated in animation.  The device was used more prominently in some of Fleischer Studios’ animated shorts.  Play Safe has an especially cool sequence with a train maneuvering through some cliffs and into a tunnel.  Disney’s competing multiplane camera wasn’t in use until three years after the Setback was introduced.

Gulliver’s Travels included several songs that became popular outside of the film and were used in later Fleischer shorts.  The character of Gabby also was given a series of spin-off shorts.  Mel Blanc, noted voice actor responsible for voicing many Warner Bros. and Hanna-Barbera characters, portrayed Gabby in Gulliver’s Travels and the later shorts.

Gulliver’s success would lead to the production of Mr. Bug Goes to Town, the Fleischers’ second feature-length film, but a growing feud between Max and Dave, along with growing financial issues for the studio, led to the studio being absorbed by Paramount in 1941.  Today, many of the films Fleischer Studios produced are in the public domain, including Gulliver’s Travels.

CaptionMax has recently added a captioned, video described, and Spanish translated version of the film to the CaptionMax YouTube page. Check it out to see if you notice the rotoscoping & 3D Setback techniques that made this a groundbreaking film.

Creative Commons Films

Posted by Emma on January 26, 2011 at 9:50 am. Captioners, Movies, YouTube

by Jason Mitchell

Sita Sings the Blue Poster
Sita Sings the Blues (2008)

Films fall into the public domain for many reasons.  Sometimes their copyright wasn’t documented correctly.  Sometimes their copyright period has expired.  In most cases, a public domain status goes against the wishes of the would-be copyright holders.  If it were up to them, they would retain their copyright forever.

In recent years, artists working in many mediums have found copyright laws too restrictive.  Some have opted to release their works under a Creative Commons license.  There are several different types of Creative Commons licenses, but in essence, they are less restrictive about how the work can be distributed.  Many licenses allow anyone to make copies of the work, hold public performances or displays of the work, or even make new works using aspects of the original work.

As opposed to films that are in the public domain, films released under a Creative Commons license are willingly made more available by their owners.  This is how filmmaker Nina Paley chose to distribute her 2008 film, Sita Sings the Blues.

Graphic of Sita sitting under a tree with a 16 armed god.

Sita Sings the Blues is a truly unique film that could only have been made in recent years.  I’m not sure there’s ever been a feature-length animated film that was animated by one person before.  (Apparently a second animator contributed to one scene in the film, but that hardly diminishes Paley’s efforts.)  The fact that Paley animated the entire film is even more impressive when you consider the varied animation looks and styles that are implemented in Sita.

Three different graphic styles represented in Sita.

Sita is a rather irreverent retelling of portions of the Ramayana, a Hindu epic.  Much of the story is told by three shadow puppet characters from memory.  Their dialogue is clearly improvised, and they frequently disagree over aspects of the story or forget them entirely.  You get a sense of how the story is perceived by modern India and how it might be passed on orally from one generation to the next.

The film contains many musical interludes where Sita’s situation is expressed using recordings of jazz singer Annette Hanshaw from the 1920s.  The juxtaposition of Hindu imagery and early jazz recordings is surprisingly effective.  Haley also introduces an autobiographical storyline that reenacts scenes from her personal life that parallel aspects of Sita’s story.

Sita on the water.

The way Nina Paley incorporates elements from so many different sources and time periods along with so many different animation styles makes for a really one-of-a-kind movie.  Filmmaking this distinctive is rare.

CaptionMax has recently added a captioned and audio described version of the film to the CaptionMax YouTube page.  There are also downloadable versions of the film in many formats on the film’s website. You can also read an interview that Nina did that is all about creative commons licensing.

The Description of ‘Sita Sings the Blues’

Posted by CLeininger on January 12, 2011 at 10:19 am. Movies, Video Describers, Video Description, YouTube

by Jeremy Fisher

Greetings, Description Fans.

We’re just wrapping our audio description for Sita Sings the Blues, a feature-length animated film that retells the ancient Sanskrit Epic, the Ramayana. In editing Annie’s description script, I came away both impressed and reminded of how hard our job is. In the course of writing description for this feature length film, Annie had to master Indian culture, fashion, names; a whole host of animation styles; and more.

I handpicked some of my favorite bits. Check ‘em out. Then watch the described film at our YouTube site and hear for yourself.

“An old bearded Brahma, his four heads revolving on one body, perches on a lotus that’s connected to Vishnu’s navel. Lakshmi massages Vishnu’s feet while he reclines on a five-headed cobra.”

“A palace rises above an ancient Indian city. Inside, Dasharatha holds a crown over Rama, who bows, his hands in prayer. The animation resembles traditional Indian paintings, with characters in profile.”

“High above, one-eyed Rakshasa demons in bird form fly. Pink bat wings propel their purple eel-like bodies. They swoop down and fly in the forest.”

Hanuman, with the body of a man and the face of a monkey, races off, tail flying behind him. He wears a crown and wields a mace. At the seashore, Hanuman grows huge and leaps over the ocean.”

“On a black background, the flickering heart montage pulses inside a woman rendered in simple white lines. The scene alternates between her body frozen in a dance pose, and her lighting a match.”

Sita Sings the Blues is a creative content film. With the blessing of the films producer/director, Nina Paley, we have posted the film, with audio description, captions, and Spanish translation on our YouTube site!

The House on Haunted Hill (1955)

Posted by CLeininger on November 3, 2010 at 9:04 am. Captioning, Movies, Video Description, YouTube

How did your Halloween weekend go? Are the costumes put away, decorations taken down, and candy wrappers in the trash? Did you get to watch enough scary movies this Halloween? Yes…good! However, if you’re having some post-Halloween blues, then sit back and enjoy a classic scary movie. You can relive some of those frights and scares while watching the classic film “The House on Haunted Hill” (1955). And don’t worry, this movie is video described and captioned! Spanish captions are coming soon.

Plot Synopsis: This is the story of five people invited to stay the night in a haunted house by an eccentric millionaire who is throwing the “party” for his fourth wife. The electricity will be out and all doors will be locked at midnight. No escape is possible. Anyone who stays in the house for the entire night, given that they are still alive, will receive $10,000. Who will stay alive? What else lurks beneath the surface of this story? (There’s also a pretty hilarious skeleton that makes its way into the film.)

What are you favorite scary movies? Are there any classic films that are better then their modern remakes? Think about all the other scary mansion movies that came afterward that bear a striking resemblance to this movie: Clue (1985) or Murder by Death (1976) or House on Haunted Hill (1999). What do you think?

Also, check our more FREE, fully accessible films on our YouTube page.

Life’s a Charade!

Posted by Emma on September 8, 2010 at 8:36 am. Captioners, Movies, YouTube

by Jason Mitchell

Our resident public domain and creative content expert, Jason, is back to share his film knowledge.

Hey, have you heard of Charade?  I hadn’t ever heard of Charade until I saw it on TCM some years back.  Why don’t people talk about Charade more?  You’ve got Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn together in the same movie being charming and looking good, and it’s not even that creepy that he’s kind of old for her.  Hey, it’s Cary Grant.  I buy it.  I don’t buy the Fred Astaire thing in Funny Face, but Cary Grant I get.

As if Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn aren’t enough to get you to see a movie, you’ve also got a young Walter Matthau.  People don’t talk about Charade enough, but when they do, they definitely don’t talk about Walter Matthau enough.  You didn’t need him for this movie to be awesome, but he sure makes this movie a lot more awesome.

Also, did you know Alfred Hitchcock directed it?  Okay, he didn’t, but you’d believe it if I hadn’t told you otherwise.  And I guess if you don’t read opening credits, but you’re going to read these opening credits:

Okay, now you’re not going to watch this movie?

I feel compelled to give some kind of plot summary or talk about what is so great about Charade, but I really loved being surprised by this movie when I saw it knowing nothing about it.  It’s a comedic thriller with movie stars giving you exactly what you want from them.  They go to some locations that look pretty in the big widescreen Technicolor format, and I really don’t understand why it’s not counted among the all-time classics more.  Grant and Hepburn certainly did better work, but not together.  It’s definitely a Hitchcock knockoff, but it’s the best one ever made.  Plus, Walter Matthau’s in it.  Walter Matthau in a Cary Grant movie.  Seriously, what else do you want?

For those of you on the cutting edge of home video, Charade is coming to BluRay later this month, and this is a movie that will look great in HD.  Oh, and look at that, CaptionMax has already captioned and audio described Charade.  What do you know?

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?

Marlee Matlin’s My Deaf Family “Pilot”

Posted by CLeininger on April 9, 2010 at 1:52 pm. Captioning, Movies, Video Description, YouTube

We are so happy that over 4,000 people have watched His Girl Friday and are getting exposed to quality audio description and captioning.

Even more exciting is what we were able to accomplish this Thursday. The amazingly talented, creative, and busy actress and activist Marlee Matlin produced a pilot for a new series, My Deaf Family. To add accessibility for ALL, Marlee allowed us to add audio description to her pilot and host it on our YouTube channel. In one single day, we received the video, captioned it, audio described it, proofed it thoroughly, and posted a fully accessible version on our YouTube channel.  How amazing is that!

We posted it here for all of our blog readers to enjoy. We also have some links under the video where you can learn more about Marlee Matlin and her activism. She is truly an inspiration for all of us. Thank you, Marlee, for letting us support and promote your project!

More About Marlee Matlin:
1. NPR News: Why Isn’t Marlee Matlin’s ‘My Deaf Family’ on Television?
2. Captioning Advocate Marlee Matlin Visits Google
3. Follow Marlee Matlin on Twitter
4. Marlee Matlin on Wikipedia



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