The Summer 2012 Olympics are on the horizon! Our realtime department is captioning a handful of qualifying matches - a practice run before we caption the Games this summer. Among the qualifying events we're captioning are wrestling, men's volleyball and waterpolo.
Sports Coordinators Matt Shuman and Scott Harrington oversee the games and assign one realtime captioner to each event. Realtime Supervisors schedule a Production Coordinator to each game help the process. Before the match-up, the captioner and the Production Coordinator research the teams and players so they can add names to the dictionary. They also make sure terms specific to that sport are covered.
This weekend, we're captioning the men's volleyball tournament, where Team USA is the defending champion. If they beat out the competition, this will be the seventh consecutive time they qualified for the Olympics. It won't be easy, though. Seven other teams - Mexico, Canada, Puerto Rico, Trinidad & Tobago, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba - are in the tournament. Cuba may be our biggest competition, they're ranked fifth in the world. The U.S. is sixth.
The Summer 2012 Olympics start on July 27. Catch the action (and our captions) on NBC.
Did you have a nickname when you were growing up? I argued that my name was spelled K-A-T-B when I was little, so my sisters call me Katy-B or Beasley.
Were you involved in sports, music, drama or other extra-curricular activities? I was very involved in softball, tumbling and cheerleading. I love football!
What is your fondest High School memory? Probably cheering at football games. I love the sounds of the band and the excitement in the air. Currently, I'm living vicariously through my kids. My two boys, 16 and 14, are both amazing players and my 11 year old daughter is quite the cheerleader.
Where is your favorite place in the world? The beach. My perfect day would be to sit in a chair on the beach watching the waves pass.
What do you do to decompress? Spend time with my dogs.
What's your philosophy of life? Appreciate those in your life. You may not have them for long.
If you could have lunch with anyone in history (living or dead), who would it be? My mom, one more time. I have so many questions for her.
What do you like most about working at VITAC? Probably the generosity of those who are willing to help out when needed. Also, I can't believe how much I learn every day.
A new episode of "Top Gear" airs tonight on BBC America. Offline captioner Brandon Woo, is the primary captioner for the series and has worked on the last six series... that's 45 episodes! We caught up with Brandon for a brief Q&A about the series and his experiences captioning it.
How do you go about captioning each episode?
Well, "Top Gear" always has exactly 4 versions. There's two 90-minute versions, an 80, and a 60. I caption one of the 90s from scratch, copy the whole thing to the other 90-minute version to check for errors, and then I go through and cut out the stuff they removed for the shorter versions. I generally research terms and do it as I'm working and things come up within the show.
What's best part about captioning the show? The most difficult? The best part is that it's often hilarious. Plus, you just think about how awesome these guys' jobs are. I mean, they get to drive expensive cars and make fun of each other for a living! What's better than that? The most difficult parts are the interview and news sections. They can be a bit fast-paced, but that's really a very minor complaint.
After captioning all of these shows, are you a "Gearhead"? I am not. With the cars they review, it's really not affordable to be on their level. I really appreciate the show more for its sense of humor than the cars. The cars are awesome, and I would love to drive them, but I have no real interest in the torques and the BHP and the gearboxes and everything under the hood.
Well, expenses aside, what is your dream car?
Definitely a Bugatti Veyron. I recall an orange one from the back of my memory, so I tried looking it up. All I could only find this black and orange one - but I think that's pretty stunning, as well.
Nice. Let's go in the other direction. What was your first car? My first car was a 1989 Toyota Camry hatchback. My father wanted to make sure that I had something dirt cheap that he considered safe. That car had a button on the center console that was labeled "Power" that did absolutely nothing, and my friends liked to push the button randomly to try and speed me up when I wasn't going fast enough for them.
Do you know how to drive a manual?
Not really. A couple people have given me lessons, so, theoretically, if I were to find myself in some kind of life-or-death car chase, I could drive a manual if that is all I had at my disposal, but in general, you probably wouldn't want me to drive your manual car unless you wanted me to shred up your gears.
Gotcha. Well, let's go back to the series. Who is your favorite guest driver?
Well, that's tough to answer since the guest driver is my least favorite part of the show, but if pressed, I would say Rowan Atkinson was probably my favorite because I love Mr. Bean. He did very well and is apparently a big "petrol head," as they call car enthusiasts.
And finally, what is your favorite "Top Gear" episode? My favorite episodes are the "specials," which follow a different format than most of the regular episodes. They're usually an hour to an hour and a half totally dedicated to the three guys driving across some foreign country, often providing for some spectacular views. I like these episodes the best because they allow the hosts to be at their funniest and it's awesome to see them drive around the exotic locales, some of them you wouldn't have thought to visit before, but after seeing them, they should go on your list of places to visit.
You can catch "Top Gear" (and Brandon's captions) on BBC America on Mondays at 8:30/7:30c.
Saturday nights at VITAC are a tradition. Every week, our realtime department captions "Saturday Night Live," a process that takes alomost all night. We've captioned more than 366 episodes over the past eight years.
Ted Gilliland, a Senior Coordinator, is just one of the many Production Coordinators that oversees the process. Ted has been at VITAC since 2006. He handled daytime shows for over three years and started overseeing nighttime programming almost three years ago. Check out Ted's insight on how we caption SNL.
By: Ted Gilliland
Captioning SNL pretty much takes all night. We work on the captions from the time the dress rehearsal begins at 8pm until well after the show airs.
Before the show, one coordinator takes the lead. They connect to the dress rehearsal audio line and routes the audio to the realtime captioner. From there, the captioner writes the transcript of the rehearsal show. Luckily, the producers at SNL give us a rundown of the show. It gives us an idea of what's coming.
Next, the lead coordinator listens to the audio line and splits the segments into 11 individual video files. As soon as a segment wraps up, the lead coordinator sends the captioned file to a coordinator for prep. Everyone gets involved. This speeds up the prepping process since multiple coordinators can work on the show as it happens.
Once all of the segments are prepped, we receive an air rundown from the SNL producers. Segments often get cut from the live show, so this lets us know what will actually air. The lead coordinator arranges the prepped segments and sends the file to the realtime captioner.
Meanwhile, another coordinator sets up the show for air. They connect to NBC and the captioner and test to make sure the captions are working. As soon as everything is confirmed and tested, we start the captions at the top of the show. For the rest of the show, the realtime captioner uses the prepped and edited transcript from the dress rehearsal to caption the live show. SNL is constantly changing, so the captioner adds and removes content as the show progresses.
After the show, we have more work to do. We often revise the file for the Mountain and West Coast airing, which can take all night.
Ted's Favorite SNL Moments:
The "Napster Hearings" sketch is my all-time favorite. My favorite guest host on SNL is Conan O'Brien. Mike Myers also ranks up there, both as a host and a cast member. My favorite cast member would be a tie between Chris Farley and Phil Hartman. Oh, I should add Jimmy Fallon to that list.
I've worked with SNL for almost three years and seen a variety of episodes. None of them are particularly weird... It's a show where anything can happen, so you have to be ready as a viewer.
TLC wraps up the second season of its hit series, "My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding" this Friday.
VITAC's offline team captioned TLC's "My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding," a documentary series about Roma Gypsy and Irish Traveler weddings. Captioning each episode is a multi-step process.
First, one offline captioner transcribes the entire episode - even the sections that have subtitles! The Gypaccents can be hard to follow, so they'll listen to a segment several times before deciding on the audio.
Another offline captioner takes the transcription and times and places the captions. As they go through the episode, they make sure the captions appear with the audio and that they don't cover key visual components.
Finally, the captioned episode is reviewed by a third offline captioner. Our reviewers are the most senior captioners and know the ins and outs of grammar rules, caption placing and content. We finished this process five days before each episode aired on TLC!
Can get enough of "My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding"? Check out TLC's new show, "My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding." The series has all of the outrageous outfits and family drama you love!
Confused by the FCC's new mandates for IP-delivered programs? Not sure if you'll be required to caption your show? Are you having a hard time keeping the definitions for VPP, VPD, and VPO straight? Do you think "near-live" programs are television shows for zombies?
No worries, VITAC is here to help!
Read our comprehensive overview to get up to speed. Use our flowchart to see if and when your program will be affected. Check out our handout for IP-delivered captions here.
The Billboard Latin Music Awards airs on Telemundo Thursday, April 26 at 7pm/6c. Our talented realtime department is simultaneously creating English AND Spanish captions for live event.
In this case, (as the Billboard Latin Music Awards are mainly in Spanish) the Spanish captions are straightforward. Armed with their dictionary for the event and their stenograph, the Spanish Realtime Captioner will connect to the program with the help of a Production Coordinator. As they hear the audio, their fingers fly across the keys to produce the Spanish words onscreen.
Creating English captions takes an extra step. The English Realtime Captioner will have a dictionary prepared for the Billboard Latin Music Awards, but will have to rely on a translator to feed them the English translation. The translator will listen to the show's Spanish audio, and simultaneously translate it into English and dictate it to the captioner. The English captioner will use the translator's dialogue to create the English captions. We have this system down to an art -- we caption numerous Telemundo programs this way with a minimal delay.
So, when you watch the show tonight, turn on the captions and think of the VITAC team!
Over the past two weeks, Travis Copeland has traveled to 130 countries and visited some of the most remote areas in the world. How did he do this? Travis is an offline captioner at VITAC and captioned all 11 episodes of the original "Planet Earth" series for BBC America. With this job under his belt, Travis is our resident "Planet Earth" expert and this month's Unsung Hero.
There are a number of ways to celebrate Earth Day: plant a tree, go for a hike, dress up like your favorite animal, or read "The Giving Tree." This year, BBC America is offering another option, you can watch back-to-back episodes of the "Planet Earth" series!
There are two versions of the "Planet Earth" series; BBC America's original and Discovery's American one. Both were co-produced by a handful of our clients - BBC, Discovery Channel, NHK and BBC America - the series celebrates every corner of the Earth. Though the footage is the same, that's where the similarities end. Each has a completely different script and the original is narrated by David Attenborough while the American version is voiced by Sigourney Weaver.
VITAC is no stranger to the "Planet Earth" series. In 2007, our offline department captioned Discovery's version for DVD and TV-broadcast. This month, Travis Copeland our offline captioner and our newest wilderness expert, single-handedly captioned the original BBC series. Travis, who has worked at VITAC since November 2006, owns the BBC version (it was the first Blu-Ray he bought) and has seen a few of the American episodes.
Captioning the 11-episode series has been a two-week process. There are three or four versions for each episode and Travis captioned two for each one, which is over 22 hours of programming!
While Travis enjoyed captioning the series, the project wasn't without its obstacles. One challenge was placing the captions. "You don't want to cover up any of the important visuals, but when all the visuals are so beautiful, that sometimes comes down to a judgment call," explained Travis.
He also found that watching the darker scenes proved to be their own obstacles. He noted, "while nature is often stunningly beautiful, it can be ugly and dangerous. The series doesn't shy away from the more unpleasant aspects." His mantra soon became, "The Circle of Life."
Obstacles aside, Travis always kept an ear out for sound effects. "I try to convey the animal noises that are important, but I also take a minimalist approach. That is, I only note them when they are important to what's going on in the episode," he explained. "The harder part is actually naming the noises. Lots of bleating and howling, along with some singing and croaking and even a bird that makes clicking sounds. 'Calling' is a good default, but some Internet research was helpful."
At the end of the day, Travis' favorite part about captioning the series was, well, seeing it again. "Having seen the series before, it feels like reconnecting with an old friend - just like pulling out a book or a movie you haven't touched in a long time and falling in love with it all over again. The series is definitely one of my favorite, and highly acclaimed."
So now the question you've been waiting for - which version does Travis prefer?
Though Travis enjoys both series, he likes BBC's more. "Although I like Sigourney Weaver, you just can’t beat David Attenborough in my mind," said Travis. "He is an educated naturalist who has worked in the field, not just an actor hired to read a script."
The 39-hour marathon kicks off at 6:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. "The Making of Planet Earth," a two-hour special that highlights the explorers and filmmakers that brought the series to life, will follow on Sunday, April 22 at 9pm/8c. (Fun fact: Our realtime department is captioning the special and our offline department will review, edit and format those captions for future broadcasts.)
Do you plan on watching the "Planet Earth" marathon? What is your favorite episode?
Senior Production Coordinator
Did you have a nickname when you were growing up?
Yes, Tarashea morphed into TaRoshea, then TaRoschk, Roschk, Roschkie, Roshkie-
Moe... my mom was very creative.
Were you involved in sports, music, drama or other extra-curricular activities?
I was in Honors Debate. It helped prepare me for a lifetime of arguing for the fun of it. What was your first job?
Sales Associate for the high-fashion retail store, Gabe's.
What is your fondest High School memory? All the Senior pranks... released 5,000 crickets, greased up a pig and sent it through the
halls, dumped fish in the stairwells. Such sweet memories.
What makes you laugh?
Anything involving cats!
What do you do to decompress?
I like to cook and practice Krav Maga.
If you had a super power, what would it be?
I would be a VITAC superhero if I had the power to communicate with VCRs and
determine what ails them.
VITAC is no stranger to accessibility features. Since being founded in 1986, our company has had one mission -- to provide high-quality and reliable accessibility services. Our name speaks to this goal. Coming from the words "vital" and "access," "VITAC" encompasses our commitment to the field. Our deep-rooted experience means you can always count on us to provide the services and support you need.
We're even involved in shaping accessibility policies. Tim Taylor, Bob Beyer and Heather York, all served as part of the FCC's Video Program Accessibility Advisory Committee (VPAAC). The Committee was tasked with developing recommendations on matters pertaining to IP Closed Captioning, Video Description, Access to Emergency Information and User Interface Accessibility. The group covered everything from the new IP closed captioning requirements to ensuring access to accessibility features on devices. The following video is a perfect example of accessibility features at work.
Tommy Edison, a blind film critic, has been blind his whole life. He demonstrates how iPhone's accessibility features help him navigate an array of applications on his phone. From Twitter to YouTube, Tommy isn't hindered by any glitches or obstacles.