As the US audiences continue to warm to the 3D movie experience and grow accustomed to wearing glasses in theaters, tech companies like Sony and EPSON and have developed a similar system to enhance the moviegoing experience for the deaf, hard of hearing, and those with vision loss. Entertainment access glasses (aka Moverio BT 100 glasses) consist of a stylish pair of specs and small, handheld box that select theaters provide upon request to make sure all movies are accessible to all audiences. Devices in the frames project captions -- programmed to sync with the movies' timecodes -- onto the lenses in a green display that the viewer can adjust to his or her preferred focus and display location. The glasses weigh 3 ounces and project six different languages. Impressive!
The set is different from the CaptiView, or rear-window, captioning system in that captions display in the viewer's natural line of vision, appearing to be embedded in the screen. The viewer does not have to lug hardware into the theater, freeing up their cup holder and the seat in front of them. Nor do they encounter the sidelong glances from fellow viewers at their hardware -- the eyewear hardly looks different than a standard pair of 3D glasses. The glasses are compatible with viewers' everyday eyeglasses, as well as 3D specs. For audio-description clientele, it includes a plug for the viewer's personal headphones. The system offers a better viewer experience and can be used by anyone! Try, for instance, watching a new release in a foreign language, such as one of the 45+ languages and dialects in which VITAC captions. Who knew that the new Judd Apatow flick could be so edifying?
Overall, the technology has been well received, with only a handful of complaints. The captions are sensitive to erratic head movements, though they adjust after a moment. Blogger Shanna Groves reviewed the new tech favorably, watching "The Life of Pi" in theaters and saying, "All in all, my movie experience was state-of-the-art, Oscar-caliber exciting. Until my nose flinched and I momentarily lost sight of the captions." The glasses are not yet available in every theater, but viewers can look up their closest cinema offering the service here.
Access glasses are available in Regal Theaters in the first quarter of 2013 -- now!
Nobody does cute quite like Animal Planet, and there's nothing better to cure the winter doldrums than Animal Planet's ninth annual Puppy Bowl, an event that has all the entertainment you could ask for from a bowl game but none of the ruffness of the gridiron. This past Sunday, with VITAC's closed captioning on their side to help them follow the action, viewers didn't miss one exciting pooch play or too-cute puppy pun.
Featuring hedgehog cheerleaders, a kitty half-time show, and numerous touchdowns replayed on the Cute Cam, the Puppy Bowl raised the bar on cute. On a snowy, blustery afternoon, who could resist the Kiss Cam, featuring humans planting smooches on their pooches and vice versa? Or Marta, the spunky Schnauzer/Beagle mix who gave the bigger boys such a challenge that she was voted Most Valuable Pup? And while the puppies played with impawsible furociousness, VITAC kept viewers' heads in the game with puptacular captions that illuminated the game play, helped make each of the adoptable pups memorable, and made sure no one missed an unnecessary ruffness foul.
Like Eli and Tuck, an unbeatable duo of German Shepherd/Pit bull pups named after a pair of New York Giants players, Animal Planet and VITAC proved to be an unstoppable team. With an incredible match-up like that, the puppies won, and so did the viewers.
Our first year of VITAC Employee Excellence Awards has come to a close. Announcing our fourth quarter winners:
Drew Blasingame, Client Sales and Services Supervisor
Drew was nominated by two colleagues, both of whom mentioned his ability coordinate complicated projects, dedication to our customers and willingness to step outside his job description to solve problems. Nearly all VITAC projects run through our Client Sales and Service Department and Drew often takes the lead as the evening supervisor, taking on "tricky and difficult projects that require an attention to detail and consistent follow-through." He was recognized specifically for "hard work and ability to communicate with clarity and precision a well-defined workflow and final product" for a complicated project from a new customer with little captioning experience or knowledge.
Mary Quinn, Realtime Captioner
Mary was nominated by a fellow captioner for going above and beyond as a team player. She goes out of her way to help cover the ever-changing schedule, helps colleagues with new software and terminology and take the time to show her appreciation for the VITAC realtime team. From "putting together extensive directions to make a process simple" to explaining new words she's come across while researching news, to organizing "gratitude" parties and Secret Santa events, Mary exhibits true employee excellence. She was also recognized for helping to educate the team with on VITAC's realtime scheduling and tracking system.
Carlin was nominated for his "self-motivated training efforts." During offline's busiest time of year, "he went above and beyond to educate himself in subject matters that the organization values," by completing a series of classes in VITAC's new training library. He's taken everything from "Essentials of Great Leadership" to "Professional Email Etiquette" to MS Excel training, all in his spare time and to equip himself with the tools to navigate change. The biggest change will occur in January, as he is promoted to the position of Marketing Coordinator.
Today may be Blue Monday, the day popularly estimated to be the saddest of the year, but what better occasion to look ahead to the most magical time of year for every TV-viewer -- award season! The drama! The heartbreak! The montages! The month of the year when hundreds of our most talented actors, actresses, and sound-mixing geeks get all dolled up and take home shiny paperweights. (That goes for you, too, Coach ______ Harbaugh).
And why should the closed captioning industry miss out on the fun? Flash back to 1980 and this guy, Jim Jesperson, posing here with his very own Emmy.
No, it isn't for best moustache in leading role. It's for inventing the process we now know and love -- closed captioning. Along with NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) engineers George Kamas and Dick Davis, the physicist received his Emmy award for Outstanding Achievement in Engineering Development in 1980. Other winners in his Emmy class were Stuart Margolin from "The Rockford Files" and Johnny Carson, who received the Governor's Award. Respectable company, indeed!
When he was not busy inventing groundbreaking technologies, the late Jesperson enjoyed writing poetry and beekeeping. He was a Colorado native, and the award still resides in Boulder, Colorado, in the NIST office lobby. One VITAC blog enthusiast paid homage last week, obtaining this exclusive photo:
So, cheer up, folks. If a group scientists can win a glamorous award like this one, just think of what you can do.
The 2012 agreement by Netflix to caption all of its streaming material by 2014 was a victory for internet accessibility, but it is certainly not the end of the struggle. As websites like Amazon and eBay slowly replace the storefront as consumers' preferred source for clothes, electronics, and other goods, questions remain of how friendly the web is for the deaf community.
Most recently, a Missouri woman, Melissa Earll, was featured on cnn.com regarding her inability to sell products on eBay because she is deaf. Earll claims she was unable to sell a collection of comic books and baseball cards on the site because setting up such an account requires users to field a phone call with password information. A text message or voice-to-text alternative to this phone call is not offered by eBay.
Earll sued on the grounds that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires eBay to provide alternatives to clients who are deaf, but she lost the case. As CNN reports, "Websites that represent brick-and-mortar stores need to comply, courts have ruled, while Web-only businesses do not." Since the web came into existance around the same time that the ADA was signed in 1990, websites are laregly exempt from current accessibility laws.
In a Kansas City news report, Earll stated that "If Netflix can be held acceptable and be told that they have to make new releases available through Closed Captioning...then eBay should surely be held accountable to the same standards." New legislation is clearly in order, but so is the business world's respect for the consumer with hearing impairment.
Forget the word-a-day calendar your sister bought you this holiday season. If your New Year's resolution is to build your vocabulary, look no further than "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" on TLC. Not only do 6-year-old Alana Thompson, of "Toddlers & Tiaras" fame, and her family introduce us to the native dialect of McIntyre, Georgia, they give us one of their own, and do so with style. Never heard of "sketti," the combination of butter, noodles and ketchup? Then you have never tasted cuisine! Think Elvis is the king of rock 'n' roll? He's not. Elvis is the tiny man who helps Santa. That's not to mention go-go juice, door nuts, or the breakfast of champions (cheeseballs).
But how to understand the words Alana and her clan come up with if they don't exist in any known dictionary? With the captions, of course! Portions of the show are subtitled by Discovery, which owns TLC, but much of it is not, and it is VITAC captioning picking up the slack. How else would you learn how to spell Thompson-family gems like "beautimous" (beautiful), "redneckognize" (to recognize the redneck qualities of someone or something), or, most importantly, "vajiggle jaggle," which the show website defines as "body girth that jiggles"? A list of "Honey Boo Boo"-isms can be found on the show's website...or at the bottom of your screen with the help of the "CC" button on your remote! When you're done, you can take the What'd Mama June Say?! quiz.
Merriam-Webster they are not, but that's no reason not to tune in for holiday specials in January and February and see what they come up with next. So avoid the forklift foot, conduct yourself etiquettely, and learn a word or two from the Boo Boo family in 2013. Unless you are an exchange student trying to learn English, in which case you might do better with "Sesame Street."
Where were you born? I was born in Cleveland, Ohio. We lived near the Cleveland Zoo and they had a pool there. After work my Dad took us swimming there. They since have taken out the pool and installed a rain forest. I try to get back to Ohio at least once a year to see my aunts, cousins and former co-workers and friends.
What was it like were you grew up?
Cleveland is a big city with small town heart, and, yes, everyone has heard about the jokes. But I liked it. We walked everywhere; to school, to the zoo, to the local corner store. What we couldn't walk to there was always a bus you could catch either to downtown Cleveland or out to the suburbs. My first court reporting job was in downtown Cleveland.
If you had a super power, what would it be? Why?
I would be able to twitch my nose like Elizabeth Montgomery on "Bewitched" and get everything done in a second. Wow, maybe my captioning could be 100% accurate with a twitch of the nose!
What makes you laugh?
Almost anything. I can laugh at jokes sent to me in email or commercials on TV to stupid things the news reports on. My husband has more than once heard a good belly laugh coming from my office while I'm writing.
What do you like most about working at VITAC? Several things. I like the flexibility of the schedule. It seems I can do a lot more with my day and still get some work in. Also the other captioners are great. Everything from those lists on what's on the weekends on MSNBC to the word lists that the captioners send out. And the help that is given almost instantaneously when you put out a question. And last but not least the schedulers whose job I would not want in 100 years. And those guys who call me at 3:45 a.m. in the morning wanting to test for a show. They never sound sleepy!
2012 was a BIG year for VITAC. The year was punctuated by the CCS transition, an influx of talented new members to the VITAC team, and a handful of FCC Closed Captioning Mandates. We covered a number of momentous and high-profile events -- from the Summer Olympics to Election Coverage, sporting events to Superstorm Sandy, award shows to a slew of VOD programming -- and added new clients, services and solutions on top of it all.
The hard work and dedication of our 311-member team is the backbone to VITAC's success and makes us the leader in the closed captioning industry. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, our Management Team would like to share the things they for which they are grateful.
Darryn Cleary, SVP, Sales I'm thankful for a healthy family, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, clients who are appreciative of all the hard work and attention to detail that we put into their programming day in and day out, and being part of the best captioning company in the world, hands down.
Deborah Schuster, SVP, Market Development
On the heels of Hurricane Sandy, I am most thankful to have the basics in life which we so often take for granted -- a home, electricity, food and transportation. I'm also thankful for my new VITAC friends and colleagues, and for the opportunities ahead for me and others in the company. Happy holidays, everyone.
Danielle Bellows, Assistant Manager, Realtime Scheduling
I am thankful for all of the times that the captioners put aside their own plans, and family obligations to help out and write another show. I am grateful for all of the long hours that the schedulers put in to keep things going. I am also thankful for all of the hard work that the coordinators do and all of the times that their schedules get re-arranged so that we can get just one more show covered. Thanks to everyone!!
Amy Bowlen, Manager, Realtime Captioner Training I'm always thankful to our dedicated VITAC staff, but particularly during this busy season.
Mark Panichella, Director, Human Resources
I am thankful to work in an organization where employees care so much for one another. Before and after Superstorm Sandy, I received many inquiries and offers of support for the employees who were in the path of the storm. We often take for granted the person sitting next us, even more so the person 1000 miles away. Despite being stretched across 38 states, it was nice to see VITAC employees come together in a time of need.
Maggie McDermott, VP, Sales
To everyone in Traffic, CSS, Offline and MLS - thank you for doing such a great job on captioning and subtitling projects for Netflix over the past year. Your extraordinary efforts and passion are why customers consistently choose VITAC over the competition and recommend us to their colleagues and friends.
Debbie Hammond, Manager, Client Services
This Thanksgiving, I'm giving thanks for so many things... I have the most wonderful family and friends a person could ever hope for. I am so proud of the professional accomplishments we've all achieved together in the past year, and I am grateful every day for the brilliant people with whom I get to work and with whom I can learn. I am especially thankful for the dedicated and hard-working staff of the Traffic and Client Sales and Services teams, many of whom have graciously volunteered to work on upcoming holidays or help provide coverage for others in the group. Happy Thanksgiving to all!
Pete Muck, Director of Financial Operations & Planning
I am thankful for having the privilege of working with a great group of people in our finance department that understand and appreciate the meaning of teamwork. I could not ask for a better staff!
Bob Beyer, General Manager
I am thankful that I work with people who care so deeply about providing the best quality captioning to viewers who would otherwise be denied full access to the information and entertainment that unites us as a culture.
Heather York, VP, Marketing
I am thankful that I'm part of a growing company that makes a difference in the lives of over 50 million people every day. I'm grateful to customers and viewers who appreciate quality, customer service and the effort we put into every job. But most of all I value the VITAC family, friends and colleagues who I've learned from and grown with for over 20 years -- they work with a passion that despite the stress, deadlines and strains, keeps them (and me) smiling year after year.
Yelena Makarczyk, VP, MLS
I'm thankful to hundreds of MLS spiders who weave the canvas of translation every day, 24/7, often on 20-hr shifts, translating up to 13,000 words in a day, through the blizzards of Norway and Finland or in sunny India and California, of course. I'm thankful to so many filmmakers who find a home in our approach to detail and quality, and when they call to thank us for their film marching on to greater journeys because of us, there can be no better reward. I thank my wonderful team, with their problem-solving skills, magical abilities, positive creative energy, and passion. It's the little things that I'm thankful for this holiday season, the fact that we are a team, sailing on to unique destinations together. Yet, on a grand scheme of things, if one were to dive deeply into the world of International localization, one would notice the infinite number of stars, where no star is alike and is constantly evolving.
Posted on: 10/25/2012 10:16:42 AM under Our Videos
Happy Halloween from your friends at VITAC!
For this year's third-annual Halloween video, we decided to go with a classic story of good versus evil, love conquering all obstacles, and, most imporantly, the power of outrageous sound effects. We're proud to present "Fright to the Finish," a six-minute classic Popeye cartoon -- with closed captions and audio description, of course!
Here at VITAC, we believe every video should be accessible; whether it's 30 seconds or 3 hours. And this Halloween-themed Popeye cartoon is no exception.
"Fright to the Finish" showcases both captioning via IP and audio description, two services in high demand this year. Sine the audio description mandares hit in July, VITAC has seen requests for the service quadruple, with new customers including broadcast networks, producers, and government agencies.
Sit back, grab a can of spinach, and enjoy this Halloween classic.
If you're looking for just a closed captioned version, we've got that, too. Visit our Halloween Video playlist on YouTube for a full list of captioned and audio described specials. To date we also have "Night of the Living Dead" and "Carnival of Souls."