Glossary of Industry Terms

Here's a handy glossary with caption-related terms so that you'll be able to talk shop with the pros. Keep in mind that in some cases, the usage listed is particular to CaptionMax. Other captioning companies may use a very different process--we like ours the best!


ASCII: American Standard Code for Information Interchange—a way, inside a computer, of representing characters in binary format.

Beta (or Betamax): A home (consumer) half-inch videotape format developed by Sony as early competition to VHS. This is the same format that Homer Simpson has a player for in his car, along with his beloved 8-track player.

Break apart text: Breaking the program's text into one- or two-line captions.

Bug: The little graphic in the corner of the screen announcing what network you're watching.

Bumper: A very short segment announcing that the show is going to or coming back from a commercial break.

Cap File: 1) file format for Cheetah Captivator Offline, widely used for encoding. 2) file format for CPC CaptionMaker. We can and do create Cheetah CAP files and use this format most commonly. Despite having the same extension, none of these file formats are compatible. So if your encoding facility tells you they take CAP files, find out which version.

Caption editor An offline captioning term, referring to the person who takes the transcript and turns it into captions. This person does the bulk of the captioning work. Sometimes called "caption writer." Other times called insane.

Captioning credit: A caption that tells which agency captioned the show. Generally only appears at the end. Ours is:
Captioning provided by CaptionMax
www.captionmax.com

CG: Character generator. You'll hear this in captioning context as the graphic itself. "Move the caption above the CG."

Client approval tape: This is an open-captioned tape created to get a client's approval before encoding. See also: "open captioned."

Closed captioned: Indicates that the captions can be turned on or off. (Cf. 'open-captioned')

Closed captioned master: The encoded master tape that is sent back to clients along with the original master.

CRR: A person (such as court reporters) who can type in real time, as a person speaks.

Cut: Shot change or edit point where video switches from one segment of video to another.

Decoder: A device that displays closed captions embedded in the VBI. Originally, decoder referred to an external box. It now also refers to the chip built into the TV set.

Digital Beta: An advancement on the Beta format developed by Sony. It is all digital.

Donut: A space on a tape that will eventually be taken up by commercials. These normally appear as black video with no audio. They can run the full length of the commercial break, or they can be condensed into 30-second sections.

Drop frame / non-drop frame: Video runs at approximately 30 frames per second. However, in television, the frames run at 29.97 frames per second. Because of the .03-second error, at the end of an hour show, there is an error of 108 frames or about 3.5 seconds. In order for an hour show to end in an hour, the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers developed a way to compensate for the difference and called it drop frame. To eliminate the 108 frames, an editor drops 2 frames each minute, except minutes ending in zero. It is important to note that it is the numbers that are skipped and not the actual video frames. Videos in which the 108 frames are not dropped are non-drop frame videos.

Dub: Making an unaltered videotape copy of an existing video. Sometimes referred to as "clone" if the tape format is digital. Also called "burning a disc" when copying to CDs or DVDs.

EIA-608: The Electronic Industries Association standard of analog captioning. This document was created by representatives of television manufacturers, captioning companies, captioning hardware providers, and broadcasters. These technical standards assure that the captions you create look the same on all TVs.

EIA-708: The standard for closed captioning for ATSC digital television streams in the United States and Canada. It was developed by the Electronic Industries Alliance.

Encoder: A device that embeds captions in the VBI.

Encoding: Embedding the caption information on line 21 of the VBI.

Integrity: A series of tests performed on each caption to make sure it is ready for broadcast, such as ensuring that it does not exceed a specified reading rate.

Line 21: A line of video where the captioning information is embedded.

Load time: (AKA "build time") The time it takes a pop-on caption to form. Before a pop-on caption appears, every character must be transmitted. This transmission takes place at a rate of two characters per frame. So if you have a caption with 32 characters in it (one line of captioning), it will take about 16 frames to load in all the characters before the entire caption can display.

Master: The original video that is sent for captioning. From the master, an SVHS worktape with a timecode burn is made.

Move to cuts: Moving captions to come onscreen exactly at a scene change.

Non-linear: Video stored on something other than tape, which is linear. Usually refers to a video stored digitally on a hard disk. The highlight of this, for us, is the ability to skip through the show quickly and easily. For video editors, it means the ability to easily rework cuts and edits at any point in the show without actually recording it consecutively. The premier system for non-linear editing is Avid, and "Avid" is sometimes used interchangeably with "non-linear."

Offline captioning: A term used to describe the captioning of a production that is pre-recorded.

Open-captioned: Characterized by captions that are permanently 'burned' onto the screen, meaning they cannot be turned on or off.

Pop-on: A style of captioning in which captions pop on and off the screen in sync with audio.

Project Manager: The person who oversees each stage of a captioning project.

Proofer: A seasoned captioner who reviews the work of caption editors to ensure proper style and accuracy.

Realtime captioning: A term used to describe the captioning of live broadcast programming.

Research: Offline: A phase in the captioning process in which spellings are verified for any questionable words in the captions, such as names or unusual terms. Realtime: A phase in the preparation process prior to captioning in which the captioner reviews all possible names and terms that may be used in the program.

Review: A phase in the captioning process in which the caption editor views his/her work to ensure quality.

Roll-up: A style of captioning characterized by captions which scroll upward—as opposed to popping on and off—in sync with audio.

Slate: A graphic before the show begins (not seen by viewers) listing the name of the show and other details.

SMPTE: The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers. Pronounced "simp-tee."

SoT: Sound on tape. Background sound or natural sound. Non-scripted material.

Subtitle: A written representation of the spoken audio of a program that has been translated into another language and timed to appear in sync with the audio.

S-VHS: Super VHS--a 1/2 inch videotape format with resolution and color handling superior to standard VHS. It is of higher quality than most consumer video, but is considered the low end of professional-grade video.

TDCA: The Television Decoder Circuitry Act of 1990. This required that all TVs made after 1993 and over 13 inches in size must have caption decoders. Previous to this time, caption decoders were external units.

Timecode: A numerical code burned onto the screen measured in hours, minutes, seconds and frames. The timecode is essential to captioning (or any form of video editing, for that matter) because it gives the caption editor a source of reference and measurement.

Transcription: The process of creating a written representation of a program's audio to be used for captioning.

Vertical Blanking Interval (VBI): The top of the video, unseen on most TVs, which contains captioning on its 21st line. It can contain other data streams as well.

Wrap: A segment that introduces and summarizes a show. The wrap appears at the beginning and end of the show. Usually, it is hosted by a person who doesn't appear in the body of the show.

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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