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[Latest Blog and News]
Posted on: 6/6/2014 3:07:39 PM
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
Posted on: 5/30/2014 4:31:57 PM
Any caption viewer with a good memory and a sharp eye knows that VITAC has been providing industry-leading service for 28 years (we are one of the only companies that still proudly puts their name in the captions during show credits). While we prefer to focus on our service today and plan for tomorrow, there is little danger in looking back at our humble roots.
VITAC started out as a two-man operation in 1986 called CaptionAmerica and has grown into the 330-employee outfit it is today, the name of which is a contraction of "VITal ACcess." Back then, our first customer was KDKA-TV Eyewitness News, and we were a realtime-only shop -- our offline department didn't come about until a few years later. We did not have a website, and our marketing materials (from May 1991) still carried our old name. And if you wanted an hour of live captioning back then, it would've cost $990!
More than anything, we at VITAC concern ourselves with more modern caption technologies and how to improve our overall service to the customers.
Posted on: 5/22/2014 3:19:56 PM
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 email@example.com or call (724) 514-4077.
by Carlin Twedt
Posted on: 5/16/2014 5:23:33 PM
Earlier this year, Vimeo joined the ranks of video platforms such as YouTube, Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon that allow content producers to add captions to their videos. Vimeo's support of captioning highlights a fast-growing demand for a more accessible web.
VITAC has always been on the forefront of technological advances in the captioning world, and is proud to clarify that it does provide captioning for Vimeo -- and has since Vimeo started supporting captions. Web captioning is critical to deaf and hard-of-hearing internet users, and while it has been required for broadcast television programs for over two decades now, the FCC has only recently begun mandating captions for web content. Many web content producers elect to caption their programming regardless of FCC mandates.
Click here to see VITAC's web captioning service offerings.
Posted on: 5/7/2014 5:01:45 PM
VITAC's proprietary RCS -- or "Remote Captioning System" -- is an all-inclusive box designed to make remote captioning for live events as simple and efficient as possible. Its durable protective case allows it to be shipped by delivery or shipping service, and its weight of about 100 lbs allows anyone with a cart to easily transport the unit. The RCS is extremely simple and was crafted with ease of configuration and setup in mind. The instructions below explain the setup and inner workings of the RCS in layman's terms.
The bolded items require action from the client.
- Our Engineers pre-configure the RCS box to meet client specifications before sending the RCS.
- The client receives the RCS box in the mail and places it in the event venue, wherever the event's audio/visual master controls are located. The box requires only a power source and Verizon cell reception (as little as one bar of service will do). The client removes the front and rear protective panels.
- Sufficient cell phone reception (again, one bar is enough) allows the built-in MiFi system, which is comparable to a mobile hotspot, to provide an internet connection between the Captioner and the client. This internet connection allows the venue and the Captioner to communicate without the client having to connect to local internet. An easy way to test for cell reception in the venue is to simply place a cell phone in the spot where the box is to be located, and see if it has Verizon reception. Insufficient cell phone signal is extremely rare.
- The client plugs two cables into the ports on the box labeled "video in" and "video out." An audio/video engineer, or anyone in charge of the AV equipment, will know which cables these are. Once connected, the Captioner is able to receive program audio and transmit captioned text back to the client over the MiFi internet connection.
-The Captioner connects to the IP address specified on the RCS system. VITAC will transmit a test caption stream in advance. Once the RCS is powered up, and video in and out are connected, the client should see captions on the front screen confidence monitor and on their large screen display in about 5 minutes (time for MiFi to acquire). The Captioner begins captioning the program.
-As a precaution, the RCS contains a built-in UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) system that keeps the unit running smoothly even in inconsistent power. The box can work for up to 30 minutes without any power at all, but this function is intended for accidental outages, and should not be relied upon as a primary power source.
-VITAC's Engineering staff is available 24/7/365 to assist clients in the rare occurrence of a technical difficulty.
-After the event, the client puts the protective panel back on the RCS and ships the unit back to VITAC, following VITAC's instructions on where and how to ship.
It's that simple. For inquiries on pricing please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (724) 514-4000.
Posted on: 5/1/2014 12:30:35 PM
They're at it again -- movie-making duo and VITAC Senior Offline Captioners Eric Chapman and Todd Osleger are making a new movie called Craig Quits His Day Job. It stars Todd Osleger as the bumbling but ambitious Craig, setting off "on a quest to unite quitters the world over, or at least the ones in his apartment building with nothing better to do" according to Chapman. His antics draw scorn, praise, and everything in between. The film taps into the frustration known to anyone who has ever had a job, and even asks fans, in the trailer, to vicariously "quit" their day jobs through Craig.
The real-world comedy is a departure from their last production, the thriller Kultur Shock!, which involved three strangers' escape from the captivity of a menacing force manifested as a talking Uncle Sam doll. Kultur Shock! screened locally on several occasions -- a result the movie-making duo hope to repeat with Craig.
The movie is in its initial stages of production and will start out as a short, with hopes of expanding into a feature film next year. To check out the preview, see below (including a few nice shots of VITAC's Canonsburg headquarters). To view the movie's Facebook page, click here.
Posted on: 4/22/2014 11:52:55 AM
For 28 years, VITAC has been the nation's leading provider of closed captioning services for live and prerecorded television. However in those years, we've become much more than a broadcast TV caption provider, adding audio description, translation and subtitling, and captioning for the web to our services -- among many others.
In accordance with our goal of constant growth and improvement, we are proud to announce our newest service line, tailored to corporations looking to improve their communications and meetings. Across the three services, there is one goal: engaging of the target audience. Whether the audience consists of employees in a web meeting, viewers of a recorded corporate address, or attendees of a corporate event, adding captioning and/or subtitles is a great way to make your corporate communications more effective.
Here is VITAC's 2014 new product lineup:
Conference Captioning: Having a conference, meeting, or event speaker live-captioned by a trained stenographer is a great way to engage your audience, and enhance comprehension and retention. Captions can be displayed on any mobile device or on a display screen for all to see.
Global Reach Subtitling: Multimedia has become more important than ever for internal corporate communications. By translating and subtitling video addresses, as well as PowerPoint presentations and nearly any other document type, corporations can keep their non-native English speakers engaged and on-message like never before.
Web Captioning: Regardless of the meeting type, be it WebEx, Google+ Hangouts, MediaSite or GoToMeeting, having a live transcript of your meeting maximizes engagement and efficiency, and allows for easy indexing of your records.
Please contact us today with further questions or to order one of our new products.
Posted on: 4/16/2014 11:16:51 AM
In step with the emerging trend of web series' producers electing to caption their internet-only content, "Oh, Liza," still in its first season, is now available online with captions.
The series centers on the 25-year-old Liza Fisher after she moves from Manhattan back to the 'burbs...and into her parents' house. But her folks haven't been suffering the empty nest as much as she had thought, and have welcomed the oh-so-popular Brendan as a lodger in Liza's childhood bedroom. The four episodes now available follow her attempts to un-cut the cord in suburbia, which, shockingly, doesn't go so well.
The whole thing is fun and funny, and self-deprecates those Millennials you always read about (and who created the series) -- like this interaction between Liza and her mother in episode 2:
"Mom, I'm 25 on a lawn chair in my parents' backyard in New Jersey."
"I think it's pretty clear."
One of the memorable moments comes in episode 4 when Liza goes to a house-party-turned-class-reunion, where none of her fellow high school alums (many of them also living with their parents, apparently) can put their finger on what Liza's been up to all these years. Didn't she just get out of jail? Isn't she pregnant? Didn't she die, "like, a few years back"?
But Liza's saga is not nearly so eventful. Mostly her days are filled with normal kid stuff like lounging, envying other people, and hiding her cell in the freezer. You wonder how bad things have to get before Liza does something crazy and, I don't know, applies for a job.
The series is captioned by VITAC and, as mentioned earlier, represents an emerging trend of web series choosing captions to make their content more searchable, accessible, and professional. Though the FCC does not currently mandate captioning for content that airs on the web but not on TV, adding captions allows for better SEO results, opens the potential audience to an additional 50 million deaf and hard-of-hearing Americans, and differentiates the series from an amateur project.
The show was recently featured on the captioned web TV blog, a site that promotes web series producers who caption their content.
by Carlin Twedt
Posted on: 4/9/2014 11:20:19 AM
This week, senior members of the VITAC staff are at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) conference in Las Vegas. The conference, which is held once a year, is the largest showing of electronic media of all forms, and boasts 93,000 attendees representing 193 countries each year. This year there will be over 1,550 exhibitors from every corner of the electronic media industries -- the perfect opportunity for VITAC to see in person the newest tech developments in broadcasting. It is also a great opportunity to spread the word about VITAC's newest and most exciting captioning capabilities. The VITAC representatives are Chief Business Development Officer Doug Karlovits, Chief Technology Officer Dwight Wagner, SVP Sales Darryn Cleary, and Engineering Manager Chuck Wall. Please feel free to say hello!
This year, VITAC is providing Spanish captions for Teradek, a manufacturer of groundbreaking devices for wireless video, who are streaming live video in English from the conference. The live-translated and captioned broadcast can be seen here, on the Ustream website.
Posted on: 4/4/2014 1:14:15 PM
Given the new round of FCC captioning standards that entered into the National Register this week, it is little surprise that an increasing number of web series producers are electing to caption their web-only content. Though web-only series that have never aired on broadcast TV are not required by law to be captioned, one can only expect that just such legislation is around the corner. However, legal obligation is hardly the only reason to caption video content: captioning a web series not only makes your content accessible to over 50 million Americans who are hard of hearing or deaf, but also improves the SEO results for your videos, making them more likely to appear more often in a Google search. Captions also lend a professional quality to your content, similar to that of a broadcast TV production.
Captioning advocate Jamie Berke has established a website for the very purpose of encouraging web series' producers to caption. The site directs deaf and hard of hearing web viewers to content that is captioned by a YouTube ready vendor -- not the automatic captions of YouTube -- and is therefore accessible. As an additional benefit, the site celebrates web series that have elected to caption their web content by providing them with free promotional material. "Web TV captioning is not the future. It is now," said Jamie.
VITAC is participating in the new web-series captioning push, as well. We have the capability to caption any web platform that supports captioning, including YouTube and Vimeo. Tune in next week when we will publish a captioned sample of the indie web series Oh, Liza.
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