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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


VITAC Clip Captioning Solutions

Posted on: 4/17/2015 2:25:20 PM under Technical » CC for IP-delivered Programming 

Very soon, clips like these on video sharing sites will be mandated by the FCC to include captions if it aired on television with captions. 

Back in January of 2012, the FCC released a Report and Order regarding captioning of internet protocol (IP) delivered programming. Many of the rules are already in effect, but big changes are coming to the world of video clips, those short snippets of videos popular on the web. What does it mean to you? Read on for more detail.

What is a Clip?

The FCC defines clips in two different categories:

-A single excerpt clip is any portion of a longer piece of programming from broadcast television, whether it's from a show, sporting event, or news broadcast. These are also referred to as "direct lift clips," or "straight lift clips".

-A montage clip is any combination of single excerpt clips from the same program, a series, or multiple programs. For example, a "best of," or highlight reel could be considered a montage.

What are the rules for captioning if you're uploading a clip to the web?

Did your program air on television with pre-recorded captions?

- Beginning January 1, 2016, the FCC will require any single excerpt clip from a program that originally aired with captions on television when delivered via Internet Protocol (IP) to have captions.

- On January 1, 2017, montage clips from programming originally captioned on television delivered via IP will also be required to have captioning.


Did your program air live or near-live with captions?

- Starting July 1, 2017, any clip of a program that aired live and subsequently delivered via IP must be captioned within 12 hours of its first broadcast on television and any clip of a program captioned near-live must be captioned on the web within 8 hours of its first broadcast on television.

VITAC Solutions:

VITAC can make sure you comply with these regulations before they take effect.

- We can create caption files for clips in as little as 15 minutes from scratch. Simply upload your video asset to our secure and encrypted FTP site. We'll transcribe, create the captions, export it in your requested format, and deliver it to you.

- We can also create a caption file for a clip from the original program's timecoded caption file. Send us a video of your clip via our FTP site. We'll sync the corresponding captions from the file to the video and send it back in the requested format.

For more information, contact us.



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



Caption Quality Best Practices: In Effect Monday, March 16, 2015

Posted on: 3/13/2015 2:06:54 PM under FCC Caption Quality Best Practices 

                Monday's the big day!

Caption Quality Best Practices are effective Monday, March 16th! Here's how we're working with our customers to ensure the four pillars of caption quality are met:

Realtime: We're working with our clients so they can provide us with preparation material including scripts, lists of important names and terms, song lyrics, and rundowns of live programming to the extent available. Our realtime stenocaptioner utilizes these resources to prepare for shows ahead of time. This way, nothing catches them off guard when the show is airing in real time.

Offline: To ensure our offline captioners can achieve captions as verbatim as possible, we're working with our customers to let them know they can send us a script of their program if it is possible. This is especially helpful if the show features a cast with heavy accents or regional dialects that include terms unfamiliar to most viewers.


Realtime: We're working with our customers to make sure they're sending us quality audio and video via IP, satellite and POTs lines to make sure our captioners are receiving the best quality audio and video. If they're not struggling to understand what is being said, they're more likely to caption quicker.

Offline: We're working to ensure our customers send us the final video, sweetened and as it will be sent to the network, so that our captions will match exactly as it will be seen on TV.


Realtime: If we can receive a detailed rundown and schedule, we will know exactly when a program will end, and ensure we end at the same time. This is especially important for shows which don't run according to a normal clock. For example, NBC's "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" begins at 11:35 PM. The show is scheduled for an hour, but usually ends around 12:37 AM. "Tonight Show" rundowns time out each segment so our staff knows when exactly the show should end.

Offline: Again, final video! If we have the final video as it will air, the full show will be captioned!


Realtime: We're working with our customers to be sure that any lower third graphics are not covered, and any adjustments are not covering foreheads or other graphics. This includes ensuring scoreboards during sporting events are not blocked by captions.

Offline: We're bumping captions out of the way of on-screen graphics and subtitles, so everything can be seen and experienced by our viewers.

If you happen to notice captions that don't seem to be in compliance with the new best practices, send an email to with your concerns and we'll work with you to resolve any issues!



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!




FCC Caption Quality Best Practices: Verbatim Offline Captioning

Posted on: 2/25/2015 9:32:29 AM under FCC Caption Quality Best Practices 

In preparation for the new FCC Caption Quality Requirements effective March 16, 2015, we continue our series, "FCC Caption Quality Rules Explained".
Our last post explained how video programmer and caption vendor technical contacts can improve caption quality.

Today we will discuss how VITAC complies with 79.1(k)(4)(i) and 79.1(k)(4)(ii) of the Caption Quality Best Practices, specifically offline (pre-recorded) captioning.

What the rule says: Caption vendors must "Ensure offline captions are verbatim," and "Ensure offline captions are error-free.

What the rule means: Our offline captioners must caption exactly what is said.

How the rule helps improve caption quality: Viewers of captions should have the same experience as people who can hear. Our captioners are trained to transcribe everything that they hear, whether it be spoken clearly, with an accent, or mumbled.

VITAC's captioners take multiple approaches to ensure that viewers achieve the best possible understanding of the program when viewing our captions:
Treatment Sheets: Any time our offline department begins transcription on a new series, the captioner builds a treatment sheet. In the offline captioning world, a treatment sheet is a document that lists terms and confirmed spellings that will be used frequently throughout the show. If one of our employees was new to captioning "Moonshiners," and heard the phrase "nip joint," and didn't know how to spell it, they would simply refer to the treatment sheet, where they would learn that is a place to sell moonshine.

Collaboration and review: Should an captioner have an issue hearing or understanding something being said in a program, they have a whole team that they can ask to listen to the problem or phrase right near them since over 80 people work different shifts in our offline department. A senior captioner or one of our offline supervisors may have experience with a certain program or may be familiar with the type of accent or dialect in the series. Many debates have risen over British-accented characters in particular. 

Going to the source: We may also be able to get some clarification straight from the show's transcript. If one of our captioners isn't familiar with a term or phrase, perhaps paired with a thick, British or Appalachian accent, we may ask the producer of the show to send along a script, or listen and provide their own interpretation. This is a particularly helpful option when captioning regional dialects, whether they're foreign or even from parts of the United States. 

VITAC goes to these great lengths to provide accurate offline captions. The expertise of our offline department along with these methods of verification is just another example of our dedication to quality captions.

By Brittany Bender


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