Behind the Scenes with Captioner and Writer D.J. Shoemaker


by Johnathan Moore

We’re here to give you a peek into our offline department and what it’s like to write captions for prerecorded content! We sat down with DJ Shoemaker, Senior Offline Captioner, to chat about his work…


What’s your role here at VITAC?

Senior Offline Captioner, and once they make it an official position, Senior Executive of Dad Jokes and Puns.


In a few words, what does that entail?

Mostly I do transcription work for pop-on captioning, but lately I’ve been handling a wider range of responsibilities like roll-up, short forms, and reformats.


In general, what does your workday typically look like?

Since becoming a remote captioner, my day often starts the night before with downloading videos for my assignments the next day. Oddly enough, having the cheapest Internet package from my provider doesn’t allow for fast download speeds. My daily work shift itself doesn’t change much from one day to the next. My time is spent juggling scheduler assignments with short form orders that come in on a regular basis. I prefer the NFL ones, particularly deep into the offseason when the lack of games being played requires some creativity to fill up the air time.


What is the most engaging part of your role? What makes you laugh, if anything?

The most engaging part of my role is also the same thing that makes me laugh, and that is captioning cartoons. I thrived in the cartoon section of sound effects training because it’s the kind of assignment that gives me the most freedom in flexing my imagination, especially in a show like The Amazing World of Gumball where the pitch of their voices will change in an instant or when they make noises that can be as hilarious as the description itself. I tried captioning [ Leaf blower blows ] in a Gumball episode, but it didn’t make it past review. I’ve also recently been able to work on We Bare Bears, SuperMansion, and an episode of the new Samurai Jack series. Spoiler alert: it’s good.


What is the most challenging part of your role?

When I’m captioning a show set in a foreign country and there are no graphics for spellings. There have been numerous occasions where I found myself Google mapping an obscure village in Poland or mashing keys into Google translate in the hopes it might form an actual word.


What do you get up to when you’re not in the office?

A good portion of my off time is devoted to fiction writing. It’s what I got my degree in, and I managed to get one short story published in a lit journal a couple years ago. I’ve been looking for an elusive second publication ever since. Outside of that, you can usually find me wedding planning with my fiancée.

Offline, prerecorded, captioning, DJ Shoemaker


DJ is a creative writing graduate from Penn State Behrend who lives in Beaver County. When he’s not captioning, he splits his time between writing fiction, watching cartoons, or doing both at the same time.