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VITAC Behind the Scenes: Realtime Scheduler Kelly Zrimsek

Posted on: 5/22/2015 9:26:27 AM under News 

   What goes on at VITAC behind the scenes? We've started a new series focusing on the people that keep the captions on the screen and the business up and running! Our last post focused on Client Sales and Services Representative Christi Dean.

This week, we continue with one of our Realtime Schedule Administrators. The Realtime Scheduling department is responsible for assigning realtime captioners to every single hour of realtime programming daily, (over 220,000 hours a year!) among a lot of of other responsibilities! Realtime Schedule Administrator Kelly Zrimsek gave us the scoop on her day-to-day tasks at VITAC.

Q: You're a valuable member of our Realtime Scheduling team. Walk us through a typical day for you in the office.

Kelly: A typical day in the life of a Scheduler can be hectic. Scheduling is responsible for covering all of the realtime shows for VITAC - hundreds of hours per day of captioning. We also build and manage RC (Realtime Captioner) schedules. At this point, we have almost 150 captioners. Our small department is depended upon not just to get shows covered that have been scheduled ahead of time, but also for any RC emergency call-offs and adds of additional programming. Someone always has to be available to contact in our department 24/7. So the typical day can be hectic, but the level is just reliant upon the time of year and what's going on in the world.

Q: What are some of the most challenging parts of your job?

Kelly: I would say almost every part of my job can have its challenging moments. This ranges anywhere from breaking news, where our department goes into "spazz" mode momentarily, all the way to "picks," (assigning captioners to programming) where it becomes difficult to focus after completing hundreds of pages every week.

Q: What do you like most about working at VITAC?

Kelly: My favorite part about VITAC is the people. Over the years that I've worked here, they have become like a second family to me.

Q: What do you do in your spare time not spent at VITAC?

Kelly: I often spend most of my spare time playing video games. I have also started back into arts and crafts as well.



Updated VITAC Spanish Solutions Webpage

Posted on: 5/15/2015 9:01:46 AM under News 


                                       An example of realtime Spanish captioning on Fox Deportes

Does your project require Spanish captioning, subtitling, or translation? VITAC offers many solutions for both realtime and prerecorded Spanish-language programming. We've updated our Spanish services webpage to include all of them!

If your program airs live and the master audio is in Spanish, our Spanish-language captioner listens to an audio line and creates the captions in realtime.

If your live program's audio is in English, but requires Spanish captions, a translator listens and translates for our captioner in realtime. We also provide this service for Spanish audio programming requiring English captions.

VITAC can also provide live English and Spanish captions simultaneously for the same program utilizing the CC1 and CC3 caption fields. Both languages can be routed to a single stream to one encoder or to multiple encoders.

For prerecorded programming, our Spanish captioners can create captions and/or subtitles for you from the master audio in any language.

And now, VITAC offers Spanish Audio Dubbing, often referred to as Secondary Audio Programming or SAP. We create a Spanish audio track for English-language programming using professional narrators. The track then is mixed, mastered and timed with the video. Viewers can choose when watching between the English and Spanish audio.

For more details, visit our new, improved, and updated Spanish services page, or contact us.



VITAC Behind the Scenes: Client Sales and Services Representative Christi Dean

Posted on: 5/8/2015 9:09:45 AM under News 


                           CSS Representative Christi Dean pausing from her work to pose for a quick photo! 

What goes on at VITAC behind the scenes? We're starting a new series focusing on the people that keep the captions on the screen and the business up and running! Last week, we featured Senior Offline Captioner Kiley Gold. 

We continue this week with one of our Client Sales and Services Representatives. The Client Sales and Services (CSS) Department is essential for keeping VITAC running day-to-day. CSS representatives are responsible for sales, coordinating operations between the company and hundreds of clients, booking caption sessions, and providing customer support. Client Sales and Services Representative, Christi Dean gave us some insight about her career with VITAC and her daily encounters. 

Q: You are a valuable member of our Client Sales and Services team. Walk us through a typical day for you in the office.

Christi: There is no "typical" day in CSS because we deal with a variety of issues and have a lot of different tasks. But normally, I work through the emails from the night before and early morning to see what urgent matters need to be attended to. Once all the fires have been put out, I then work through my daily stack of purchase orders. One of my tasks is to see which purchase orders we already have so our finance team can properly bill the client, or to find out if I need to request a purchase order from the client. This is all while fielding multiple phone calls and answering any other emails that may come in.

Q: What is your favorite aspect about working in CSS?

Christi: It's never a dull day. There's always something happening in CSS and it's helped me grow and learn a lot. 

Q: What are some of the most challenging parts about your job?

Christi: I used to be a Production Coordinator in the Realtime Department. Coming from Realtime and learning everything about our Offline Department and our Multi-Language Department has been challenging.

Q: What do you like most about working at VITAC?

Christi: Definitely my co-workers. In addition, I've had the opportunity to grow within the company and work for multiple departments.

Q: What do you do in your spare time not spent at work?

Christi: Outside of work, you can find me taking my dog, Josi for hikes, running through my neighborhood and parks, binge-viewing my favorite TV shows, and enjoying happy hours with friends whenever I can. 



VITAC Behind the Scenes: Offline Captioner Kiley Gold

Posted on: 5/1/2015 2:03:45 PM under News 

   What goes on at VITAC behind the scenes? We're starting a new series focusing on the people that keep the captions on the screen and the business up and running! We begin with Senior Offline Captioner Kiley Gold, who answered a few questions about her VITAC experience.

Q: Can you walk us through a normal day at VITAC for you as an offline captioner?

Kiley: I clock in, open my scheduler to see what I have to work on and in what priority. In one day, I can work on anything from any genre. I could caption a car show, an alien conspiracy show, and then a cooking show in that order, and every day is like that.

Q: What are some of your favorite parts about the job?

Kiley: Actually, what I just mentioned above - the diversity of the projects I work on. I think it keeps me on my toes and it keeps me interested in what I'm doing. I tend to be super enthusiastic about projects and then end up never finishing them. But that really hasn't been a factor with my work here because I get to work on something different everyday.

My co-workers are also fantastic.

Q: What are some of the most challenging parts of the job?

Kiley: Speed. It can be intimidating. Although, since I'm an offline captioner, it's nothing compared to what the realtime folks are doing. I have mad respect for them. I don't think it's something I could ever do. Taste. It's inevitable that you will get shows that you don't really care for. But just because you don't like a particular show doesn't mean it doesn't deserve 100% of your effort.

Q: You're a senior captioner. What advice would you give to offline captioners just starting out or to anyone that wants to become an offline captioner?

Kiley:  Feedback is there to help you.

Use your reference guides! They are massive sources of information and can really help.
Always ask questions and don't feel bad about it.

Q: What are some of your favorite types of programs to work on?

Kiley: Anything on Discovery SCI Channel, any super natural-based or sci-fi programming, cartoons and British series. If it's a cartoon, British, or a murder mystery, I probably like it.

Q: What do you do in your spare time not spent at VITAC?

Kiley: Most recently, I've been taking ballroom dancing. It's way more fun than I thought it would be. I do a fair amount of video gaming. (most recently World of Warcraft.) I also dabble in graphic design, painting, drawing, and sewing. I play the clarinet, too, but I haven't found a band to join around here! 



Fan Captions Playoff Hockey: An Interview with RC and NY Ranger fan, Suzanne Prince

Posted on: 4/24/2015 9:14:05 AM under News 

It's almost time for the second round of the NHL playoffs, and some of the games couldn't have been any more exciting. VITAC is right in the midst of the action, captioning the games live on NBC, NBC SportsNet, Root Sports Pittsburgh, and MSG during the quest for Stanley.

One of our MVP Realtime Captioners, Suzanne Prince, is enjoying captioning the games even more than most, as she's a New York Rangers fan. The Rangers are up 3-1 games in their series against VITAC headquarters' favorite, the Pittsburgh Penguins. Suzanne gave us some inside scoop on captioning, her fandom, and how the two can combine.

Q: You're a New York Rangers fan. How excited are you that they're in and doing well in the playoffs?

Suzanne: I am ecstatic the Rangers are doing well in the playoffs. So glad to have our "king" back in between the pipes, even though Talbot played out of his mind during Hank's time on IR.

Q: You've captioned some of the NHL playoffs. What are some of your pre-game warm-ups?

Suzanne: I always use the rosters from each team's website, check the "news" tabs to see if there have been any changes made to the rosters that might not reflect, (call-ups, [from the minor leagues] injuries) and make sure I have all the coaches' names as well as management/owners' names. I also make sure I get the names of refs and linesmen because there's a good chance the announcers will mention them.

Q: If you're captioning a Rangers game, is it hard to stay focused on what you're writing?

Suzanne: It's not hard to stay focused because I understand the gravity of staying focused in this job. But I do get loud in my office when they score!

Q: Do any of the Penguins fans in the Canonsburg office give you a hard time?

Suzanne: The only Pens fan who gives me grief is [senior production coordinator] Ted Gilliland. However, he seems to have gone into hiding since this series started.

You can catch our captions on game 5 of the Rangers/Penguins series on NBC Sports, or regionally on Root Sports Pittsburgh or MSG Network at 7:00 PM EST.

By Brittany Bender


IP-Ready and Enhanced IP-Ready Files

Posted on: 4/10/2015 4:45:56 PM under News 

This past Wednesday, Darryn Cleary, VITAC's senior VP of sales teamed up with Andrew Sachs of Volicon and Chad Rounsavall of Nexidia to present at this year's PBS TechCon in Las Vegas. The focus of the presentation was to give an overview of the FCC's Caption Quality Best Practices and the caption solutions available to help caption vendors and video programmers comply with the regulations.

One of VITAC's focuses in the presentation was delivering quality captions for shows uploaded to the web after being broadcast live. In January of 2012, the FCC released a Report and Order that set new requirements for captioning of Internet Protocol (IP) delivered programming. If a video programmer has a program that was live or near-live to be distributed via IP after air, VITAC is able to create an IP-ready file or an enhanced IP-ready file.

If our clients' IP-delivered video will match the original broadcast video exactly, an IP-ready file is created. The realtime captioner's file will be converted and sent to our client within 4 hours of the original air of the program.

If our client would like us to remove commercial breaks and blacks to match the edited IP video exactly, an enhanced IP-ready file is created from the realtime captioner's file and a proxy video sent to us from the client. The two are synced up, timed perfectly and sent back to the client within 4 hours after delivery of the proxy video to VITAC.

For more information, click here or contact us.



Specifications for Proxy Videos and Encoding

Posted on: 4/2/2015 3:36:30 PM under News 


Does your video require offline captioning? Since the new FCC Caption Quality Best Practices went into effect on March 16, any video asset that is pre-recorded is now required to have pre-recorded captioning, with some exceptions.

VITAC provides offline captioning and encoding services. If you need a caption or subtitle file that you're going to upload and/or encode yourself, check out these proxy video specifications.

If captions or subtitles need to be encoded to your video, make sure to look over our encoded video specifications. This sheet includes our most popular service of late, adding captions to broadcast quality digital video and uploading direct to stations.

For more information, visit our resources page on our website or contact us with any questions.



VITAC Celebrates 29 Years

Posted on: 3/25/2015 11:04:20 AM under News 

            The year was 1986. Heart's "These Dreams" was the number one song on the charts, "The Cosby Show" was America's favorite sitcom, and VITAC was founded to provide closed captioning as CaptionAmerica to one local news client in Pittsburgh.

 This month, we celebrate our 29th anniversary. A lot has certainly changed over the years, including our name! We changed it to VITAC in 1993 to stand for Vital Access, referring to access to media services for everyone.

We've also grown significantly since then. In addition to our original realtime captioning services, we offer offline captioning, Spanish offline and realtime captioning, captioning for the web, subtitling, and multi-language subtitling in over 45 languages. We caption over 220,000 realtime hours and over 28,000 offline hours every year and counting! VITAC also now employs 330 of us at our headquarters in Canonsburg, PA, in our Los Angeles, CA office, and remotely all over the country.

Here's to 29 wonderful years, and many more to come!



VITAC Captioning March Madness on truTV, TBS and TNT

Posted on: 3/17/2015 4:21:22 PM under News 

                Get your brackets ready and hope your team doesn't get upset! VITAC is captioning the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament on truTV, TBS and TNT!

The tournament kicked off with our captions on truTV on St. Patrick's Day when Hampton defeated Manhattan and Ole Miss advanced over BYU. Coverage continued Wednesday night when Dayton knocked off Boise State to move into the tournament and Robert Morris beat North Florida to advance for a game against number 1 seed,  Duke. 

The round of 64 tips off this afternoon. You can catch our realtime captions starting at 12:40 PM on truTV when Iowa State takes on UAB, 1:40 PM when Baylor plays Georgia State on TBS, and at 2:10 PM when Texas Southern will try to upset the number 2 seed, Arizona on TNT.

Our realtime department is busy "warming up" for the tournament. Our realtime steno captioners are vigorously preparing and researching each team's roster, stats, and practicing writing names of the various announcers. If they're scheduled to caption a game, they're ready for anything to happen!

The sports supervisors and realtime coordinators are getting pumped up for their setups of each game: Testing with each captioner 20 minutes before the start of the pre-game, ensuring all of the correct connections to each network and the web, and being ready to troubleshoot at a moment's notice! They also have to keep track of the game clock. A lot of these games run longer than scheduled and are supposed to be immediately followed with another match-up!

And let's not forget about our realtime schedulers who are responsible for assigning a captioner to each and every game! They're true team players!

If you're watching any of the 24 March Madness games on truTV, TBS or TNT in this first week of the tournament, turn on the captions while keeping up with your bracket and hoping it doesn't get busted early!

By Brittany Bender



ASL in The Voice: Contestant Treeva Gibson

Posted on: 2/27/2015 1:54:11 PM under News 


VITAC is thrilled to be captioning The Voice once again. This season is extra special, because we feel particularly close to one of the contestants.


16-year-old Treeva Gibson giving her coaching decision on "The Voice".


16-year-old Treeva Gibson is fluent in American Sign Language (ASL), as both of her parents are deaf. Her mother is a teacher at the Maryland School for the Deaf and her father is a teacher at the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, of which VITAC is a proud supporter. Our Director of Pre-recorded Operations Dina Smith, also fluent in ASL, verified that the ASL in some of the segments matched onscreen subtitles.

Newly-returned judge Christina Aguilera (also a connection - she is from Pittsburgh)  was blown away by Treeva's rendition of Lana Del Rey's "Young and Beautiful." Christina said that she was "captivated" by her performance. Blake Shelton was surprised when he learned that Treeva didn't have many musical influence since both her parents are deaf. "I feel like I just heard something that I've never heard before," said Shelton. Treeva spoke and signed her choice of Christina to be her coach during her "Voice" experience.

There's so much wonderful talent already this season, so there's no doubt the competition will be fierce! Check out the full first episode with captions here and make sure to tune in on Monday at 8:00 PM on NBC as the blind auditions continue!



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