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[Latest Blog and News]

New Contact Info For Los Angeles Office

Posted on: 9/19/2014 3:17:46 PM under News 

 

VITAC's LA office underwent an important upgrade this week, aimed at improving customer service and streamlining communications within VITAC. The improvement involved an overhaul of the phone systems to allow Vice President, West Coast Sales Maggie McDermott and SVP, Market Development Deborah Schuster to be reached directly, without having to contact an operator. Their new contact information is as follows:

Maggie McDermott Deborah Schuster
Vice President, West Coast Sales SVP, Market Development
(818) 286-3542 (818) 286-3541

Maggie-M@vitac.com

Deborah.Schuster@vitac.com

The main number, (818) 755-0410, still connects to LA reception. As always, you can reach members of our Client Sales and Services team at (724) 514-4077 or clientservices@vitac.com.

 


 
 

September Giveaway Bonanza!

Posted on: 9/5/2014 12:25:33 PM under News 

 

September is one of VITAC's busiest months, with college and pro football adding an enormous volume of work to both our Realtime and Offline Departments. As Realtime Captioners work nearly every weekend, the Production Coordinators take on overtime to support them, and the Offline Captioners work extra hours to accommodate short turnarounds, we decided to create the first-ever September Giveaway Bonanza!

Every weekday in September, the production staff will be eligible to win gift cards, mystery bags, and even a 32" flat-screen TV! One winner is chosen from the pool of Realtime Captioners each day, as well as one winner from the Production Coordinator/Schedulers/Supervisors/Offline Captioners/MLS/CSS groups of employees.

Sales and Marketing Project Manager Crystal Hopkins, who came up with the idea, also administers the project. "We wanted to do something new and fun for employees to show our appreciation for all their hard work," said Crystal. "Who doesn't like a chance to be a winner?!" The response thus far has been overwhelmingly positive...and we haven't even given away the flat screen yet!

 


 
 

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 sales@vitac.com.

 


 
 

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 clientservices@vitac.com.

 

by Carlin Twedt

 


 
 

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.

 


 
 

VITAC Partners with Pittsburgh Dad Web Series

Posted on: 6/6/2014 3:07:39 PM under News 

 

VITAC is pleased to announce the expansion of its web captioning customer base to include local web series "Pittsburgh Dad." VITAC will be partnering with "Pittsburgh Dad" for the next six months in order to make the popular series accessible to over 50 million deaf and hard-of-hearing Americans.

"Pittsburgh Dad" is the invention of Chris Preksta and Curt Wootton that features once-a-week episodes of Dad dealing with everyday situations around Pittsburgh -- wrangling Jeffy, his rambunctious son, during a trip to Ikea, trying to decipher his son Brandon's report card during a parent-teacher conference ("he got an 'N' in spelling?"), and even meeting Steelers' quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The series pokes fun at "yinzer" (meaning classically Pittsburgh) dads who speak their own version of correct English, Pittsburghese. Captions are especially important to the series because of the often difficult-to-understand vocabulary unique to Western Pennsylvania.

The series began in October 2011 and less than three months later surpassed its 1,000,000th view. They now have 110 published episodes, each of which averages about 50,000 views!

The coolest thing about Pittsburgh Dad is the attention they've garnered without big studio contracts or six-figure budgets -- and the fact that they have decided to caption their wildly popular series. Though the "Pittsburgh Dad" men are able to make the show their full-time jobs because of sponsorships from local brands, it was a ground-up struggle to win over the hearts of Pittsburghers and viewers around the country. By responding to popular request that the program be captioned, "Pittsburgh Dad" has proven to be a leading -- and hilarious -- example for other independent web series producers.

by Carlin Twedt

 


 
 

For Commencement This Spring, Think VITAC

Posted on: 5/22/2014 3:19:56 PM under News 

 

This month, thousands of new graduates will flood the job market, armed with diplomas of every level, in degrees from Political Science to Puppetry. One thing they will all have in common: a commencement ceremony to mark the transition into the workforce.

While it's possible that the esteemed keynote speaker may be less than proficient at speaking into the microphone or that you may be sitting next to a screaming baby, and while you're bound to hear a couple mispronounced names, there is no reason why a proud family member should miss out on any part of the ceremony whatsoever.

Adding closed captioning to a graduation event ensures that every speech, every name, and lyrics to even the strangest Alma Maters receive their due on the event's display screen or the audience members' personal mobile devices. The process is simple: the assigned Captioner works either on-site -- in the venue or stadium -- or remotely, "writing" up to 250 words per minute and sending the information to the event's encoder, where it displays on the large screen, or to a third-party system that creates a unique URL to the streaming captions. The Captioners receive pertinent information, such as speeches, song lyrics, and graduate names, in advance, so that they can simply hit a button to make each display at the appropriate moment. Since all the names are programmed in advance according to the event program, they display accurately even when the announcer butchers them.

VITAC was proud to caption Point Park University's graduation several Saturdays ago, to an overwhelmingly positive response.

To order captioning for your commencement ceremony, please email clientservices@vitac.com or call (724) 514-4077.

by Carlin Twedt

 


 
 
 
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