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New FCC Best Practices, Summarized by VITAC

Posted on: 8/21/2014 4:57:31 PM under News 


In January, the FCC released a Report and Order documenting a new set of closed captioning best practices, which will go into effect January 15, 2015. The Report and Order, a comprehensive, 150-page document, details the new requirements but also mentions the state of new technology in the industry and discusses the contributions of the players in the best practices rulings (including VITAC), among other significant details.

We at VITAC took upon ourselves the challenge of consolidating the FCC Report and Order for the sake of understanding, at a glance, the pieces and parts of the ruling that would most directly affect our customers. The linked document is a one-page summary of the FCC's ruling, divided into three sections: responsibilities of video programmers, responsibilities of captioning vendors/Captioners, and critical definitions for understanding the new rulings.

To discuss compliance certification and the new mandates, please email



VITAC Offers a Wide Range of Spanish Solutions

Posted on: 8/15/2014 12:53:34 PM under Blog 


For over 38 million Americans, about 12% of the US population, Spanish is the primary language spoken at home. That number is only expected to grow. With a rapidly growing Spanish-language market on broadcast TV to go with it, services such as Spanish translation, Spanish subtitling/captioning, and Spanish dubbing are in higher demand than ever. VITAC is proud to offer solutions for nearly every Spanish language need.


VITAC offers live Spanish>Spanish captioning, as well as live English audio>Spanish text translation and captioning. This involves a realtime translator interpreting and translating the audio live, and a Spanish Captioner writing the translation as text. Our Spanish captioning work can be seen on live Telemundo broadcasts.


VITAC offers both Spanish subtitling and Spanish captioning for prerecorded programs. Unlike most languages other than English, traditional line-21 captioning supports all Spanish characters, which means that a program can have Spanish captions, whereas most languages must be included as subtitles. For a Spanish subtitled project, ask about an additional caption deliverables, which can be easily uploaded to web platforms like YouTube. VITAC's Spanish offline captions can be seen on networks such as TuTV.

VITAC also dubs Spanish audio. Dubbing is the process of adding an audio track other than the original language to a program. On TV programs that have been dubbed, viewers can access the dubbed track by pressing the SAP (Secondary Audio Programming) button on the remote. We are proud to work with Discovery on a project aimed at adding Spanish dubbing to a large volume of programming.

Find out more about our Spanish services, or Request-A-Quote for your project.



DOJ Considers Requiring Captions at the Movies

Posted on: 8/8/2014 4:36:16 PM under News 


DOJOn July 25th, the Department of Justice proposed a new rule requiring captioning and audio description in movie theaters with digital screens. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, signed by Attorney General Eric Holder, would amend the Americans with Disabilities Act, which became law in 1990.

Under the new rule, theaters would be required to provide a headset or device to any patron upon request, through which the viewer could see the movie captions, hear the descriptive audio, or both. The captions would only be visible, and the descriptions audible, to those who request the headset or device. The motion also asks for comments on whether a four-year grace period for theaters with analog screens was appropriate.

The proposed rulemaking went into the federal register on August 1, and asks for a six month transition period for digital theaters, after which they would be expected to comply with the new regulations. "This proposed rule will allow all Americans, including those with disabilities, to fully participate in the moviegoing experience," Holder said.

Click here to learn about one unique solution for displaying captioning and audio description at the movies.



Merrill Corporation Welcomes CEO Rusty Wiley

Posted on: 7/31/2014 12:32:37 PM under News 


Today, July 31, will mark Rusty Wiley's first official calendar month as CEO of Merrill Corporation, of which VITAC is proud to be a part. The change comes after the retirement of former CEO John Castro, who held the CEO position for an impressive 30 years. "Rusty is a talented, proven executive that I've had the pleasure of recruiting to the team," said Castro in a Merrill news release. "He is ready and capable of continuing to enhance Merrill's success as an international company."

James "Rusty" Wiley comes to Merrill from IBM, where he worked for 26 years, serving most recently as General Manager of Banking and Financial Services. "I'm excited to join the Merrill team and build on a rock solid foundation. I will be focused on the needs of our clients, employees and investors, and delivering superior client service and innovative solutions that both differentiate our Company and support the success of our customers," said Wiley.

Congratulations, Rusty, and welcome to Merrill!



VITAC Captioning New Web Series "Friends in Therapy"

Posted on: 7/25/2014 4:18:44 PM under News 


VITAC is pleased to caption the new and hilarious web series Friends in Therapy, a bro-medy that documents best buds Joe and Daryl's sessions on the couch in friend therapy -- think couples' therapy, but between two bachelors. Aside from the occasional guest star, Joe and Daryl are the only cast members in the 2-3-minute clips, with the viewer taking on the therapist's perspective as the guys discuss cheating at Scrabble, ex-girlfriends, and being wingmen for each other.

The actors, Joe Towne and Daryl Johnson, have mastered the burgeoning art of the short-form web series: the simple setup and emphasis on a solid script and everyday conflicts that any roommate, little brother, or spouse will understand. What makes "FiT" unique is the comfort with which each of them supply tough love, and the good nature with which the other one takes it. They bill the series as "completely raw and unscripted," which I took to be tongue-in-cheek until I hit "play": the two bicker, banter, and finish each other's sentences with such comfort, that it was easy to imagine the show's two seasons being shot in one take, and segmented into episodes like "Extra Bacon" and "Twinsies." When there is a "Bromance" genre, this will be at the top of our list.

Joe and Daryl decided to caption their series because of a deaf viewer's request, but the captions also benefit the series' heavy use of wordplay. In season 1, episode 2 (embedded below), when the guys talk about Joe's supposed drunk-angry-tired Long Island accent, Daryl astutely points out Joe's usage of "I'm 'pologize" in place of "I apologize," a distinction that only high-quality captions such as VITAC's would be able to express. As with other VITAC-captioned web series like Oh, Liza and Pittsburgh Dad, captions improve a series' SEO rankings in a search engine, allowing them to reach wider audiences. To inquire about captioning your web series, please email


by Carlin Twedt



What is TRUE Pop-On Captioning?

Posted on: 7/17/2014 3:25:12 PM under Blog 


Anyone familiar with captioning may be aware of the two main styles of prerecorded captioning: roll-up and pop-on. Yet there are actually many different styles of prerecorded captioning and they don't always go by the same name between caption providers.

The most common labeling mix-up occurs between Multi-Positional Pop-On captioning (also known as Timed-and-Placed Pop-On) and Center-Placed Pop-On captioning. Center-Placed Pop-On captioning displays at the top or bottom of the screen, only in the center (think of center-justified text in a document). The captions indicate a speaker change by labeling the character's name (i.e. "Rachel:"), or by using chevrons (>>) or a single hyphen (-).

This style is called Center-Placed Pop-On. It is different than Multi-Positional Pop-On.

Multi-Positional Pop-On is "placed" as well as timed, and the captions appear below or above the speaker. Unlike Center-Placed Pop-On, Multi-Positional Pop-On captions can appear anywhere on the screen -- think of the screen as a nine-panel tic-tac-toe board, where captions can display in any of the nine segments. Multi-Positional Pop-On captions do not require speaker IDs, since the text appears below or above each speaker. Only when a speaker can be heard speaking off-screen does their dialogue receive a "Rachel:" or "Optimus Prime:" label in the captions.

To recap, Multi-Positional Pop-On style:

-Displays below or above the speaker, anywhere on the screen.

-Indicates who is speaking through placement.

Per new FCC regulations, offline captions must identify speakers to meet best practices. Multi-Positional Pop-On fulfills this best practice through the positioning of the captions.

Are you getting true pop-on caption style? To request a quote for Multi-Positional Pop-On captioning from VITAC, click here.



FCC Issues New Rules for Captioning Web Clips

Posted on: 7/11/2014 3:14:18 PM under News 


Today the FCC voted unanimously to approve new rules regarding captioning for clips of TV shows posted on the web. The rules are an extension of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) signed into law by President Obama in 2010. The FCC approved the following measures unanimously:

-Beginning January 1, 2016, clips taken directly from shows that aired with captions on TV must be captioned on the web.

-Beginning January 1, 2017, clips that include montages of a program or programs that aired on TV must be captioned on the web.

-Beginning July 1, 2016, live and near-live clips of programming that aired with captions on TV will be required to be captioned online. Distributors will have a 12-hour grace period to associate live programming with captions on the web. The grace period for near-live clips to be captioned online is 8 hours.

These requirements do not apply to content that is already in a distributor's library. The announcement also included new proposed rulemaking for future web captioning requirements.

VITAC has comprehensive solutions in place for meeting all of the above requirements.  For a consultation on how to caption clips for prerecorded shows, please call (724) 514-4077. For information on captioning clips taken from live shows, you may call the same number or view our IP-Ready live captioning solutions (PDF).



Audio Description Veteran Publishes Comprehensive AD Book

Posted on: 7/2/2014 3:38:57 PM under News 


Joel Snyder, a pioneer of audio description, recently released a book, called The Visual Made Verbal: A Comprehensive Training Manual and Guide to the History and Applications of Audio Description. As the title suggests, the book delves into the history of audio description -- a service by which a skilled audio description team describes critical events and images in a show, play, or other performance -- which Joel himself was integral in developing, as well as the best practices for implementing quality audio description.

As Snyder mentions, audio description serves the 21 million Americans who suffer from low vision or blindness. It is federally mandated for at least four hours of programming per week on major network broadcasters in top-25 markets, as well as the top five cable networks. Captioning, in contrast, is required on all TV broadcasts. "There is simply a lack of awareness of the need and a misunderstanding of the public benefit that could result from reaching out to this population, not to mention the financial benefit that might be gleaned from this untapped market," Snyder explains in The Visual Made Verbal.

The book is 180 pages long and is available for Kindle or in paperback through Amazon books. Joel recently earned his PhD in accessibility - audio description from the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona. Joel is the president of Audio Description Associates, LLC, as well as the Director of the Audio Description project for the American Council of the Blind.

To learn more about audio description, please visit The Audio Description Project page.



What Do Frame Rates Mean in a Digital Age?

Posted on: 6/27/2014 12:08:45 PM under Technical 


Frame rate is the measure of how many frames of a video file display every second, which determines the smoothness of a video's playback. Very old video games had frame rates of 6 frames per second (FPS), and appear choppy compared to modern video games that have frame rates upwards of 125 FPS.

You may have heard about when The Hobbit director Peter Jackson filmed An Unexpected Journey and The Desolation of Smaug in high frame rate, using 48 frames per second (FPS) instead of the cinema standard of 24. There was considerable outcry caused by doubling the frame rate, and critics of the new technology reported that the film appeared too lifelike and removed them from the traditional viewing experience they expected.

A program's frame rate plays an important role in how a show is captioned, since captions associate with particular frames and must match the program audio. Standard frame rates for traditional TV and movies include the following:

29.97 frames per second (dropframe) -- This standard, used for many TV productions, is essentially 30 frames per second except for once every tenth minute, when two frames are "dropped." Really, the frame count just skips over them and no frames of video are actually lost.

24 FPS -- This is the standard used for most film productions.

25 FPS -- This is the European standard for video.

Digital files have frame rates, just like traditional films and TV programs. Unlike physical film formats, a digital frame rate can be easily manipulated with video editing software. The frame rates for WMV, AVI, and FLV files are generally "unconstrained," which means they can be modified to nearly any frame rate the user desires.

VITAC handles all frame rates and video types. For more information about our offline captioning capabilities, please click here.



Can VITAC Captioners Dial in to Multiple Encoders?

Posted on: 6/20/2014 1:25:40 PM under Blog 


Dialing into multiple encoders is necessary when a program is to air on multiple networks, or an event organizer requests captioning for multiple locations. It ensures a consistent transcript of a program's audio, regardless of where it airs.

Realtime Remote Captioners at VITAC are able to dial directly into two modem connections simultaneously. However, if they connect through VITAC's Canonsburg, PA, headquarters, using VITAC's proprietary B2B systems, they can connect to about 6-8 encoders simultaneously. When using an IP connection, VITAC Captioners are able to connect to up to four different encoders. That means that VITAC is able to provide captions for about as many outlets as a customer needs for a single event! Captioning a live program via IP in addition to a phone-line connection produces a web-ready deliverable for the program, keeping your IP content FCC compliant.


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