A Brief Introduction To The Concept Of Closed Captioning

Technology has made giant strides into every walk of our life, and we have benefitted and are continuing to do so every moment from it. As the end users, each one of us wants to benefit completely from these technologies. It is imperative that technology and its application reach every corner of the world.
So are we able to cater to every sector equally?
Let me just talk about one important aspect of our life, ‘Entertainment’. It is a must for each and every one of us and the best way to be entertained is to go watch a fun movie with our dear ones. As ‘Better equipped people’ we can enjoy it at the fullest both visually and audibly. But for a person who is not so well equipped, who can’t hear – the hearing impaired, what about them? Has technology provided to suit their needs?

How do you think a deaf person can feel the same exhilarating effect as a person who is equipped to enjoy thoroughly.

Yes, constant experimentation’s and the human need to be the best provider have made this a very simple and interesting task.

This is where we get to know and talk about Subtitling and Captioning services.
One has to rely on the tiny words scrolling at the bottom of the screen. Generally they are termed as ‘Subtitles’. But it is too generalized a term. So let us have closer look at it and see what best suits and why.

Subtitles: – what, why and where?
Subtitles are the tiny words scrolling at the bottom of a television, computer screen or any video being watched, transcribing the spoken part to text part for the convenience of the viewers. Here the viewer is assumed to be a person who can hear, but may be facing difficulties to understand the clipping due to language, accent or such other issues. So the dialogues are transcribed and displayed for the comfort of the viewers. This way any clipping in any language can be understood and enjoyed by one and all. This works both ways for business development and also personal satisfaction.

The essentiality is that it should match with the timings of the dialogue delivery and should be well contrasted with the background to be clearly visible.

Captioning: – What, why and where?
There is a very subtle but very important difference here. Captioning is the same as Subtitling, but it aims at that part of audience that is hearing impaired. It aims to describe and transcribe the audio content completely along with the sound effects in words and symbols for this special audience so that they can be entertained equally!!

Now why do we say Captioning and not Subtitling??
Captioning is gaining more relevance nowadays and replacing the word Subtitling due to this very subtle difference of the viewership. It has, in many parts of the world, become mandatory to cater to the hearing impaired equally in all walks of life. Nothing can help better than Captioning to create the complete effect for them.

Subtitles Or Closed Captions Help Your Digital Marketing

Digital marketing efforts of your company are considered to be effective when your digital marketing team is able to drive your quality prospects or future customers on to your website so that they can find all the information they are looking for. Most of the search activities today depend on Google and they are believed to be the “King of Searches”. Having said that, Google has its own limitations in terms of speed by which it identifies video content, making them not so easily searchable.

How can you address this? One effective way you can think about is to add transcripts or subtitles/closed captions to your video assets. This would make it easy for the search engines to fetch the relevant asset using the keywords appearing in the text format. Google’s algorithm, which is responsible for ranking websites in search engine result looks to be more comfortable in fetching words in written format than identifying video content.

We are seeing a significant increase in usage of video platforms (YouTube and the like) but the technologies responsible for identifying the content for ranking purpose still has limitations. You can add a verbatim transcript or subtitles/closed captions to the videos, which would make it more easily searchable and eventually helps to attract qualified leads through your websites.

If you working on a limited marketing budget, you can think of publishing a transcript of the dialogues present in your video assets. This way, it makes it easy for search engines to detect the keywords, which in turn helps your ranking activities.

It makes sense to have complete verbatim transcripts published if you have longer duration videos. This would help users to get to the relevant points that they are looking for quite quickly by searching for the keywords in the transcript. Today, there are quite a few service providers who are using Automated Transcription process for a quicker turnaround for your transcription requirements.

Another way is to add subtitles or closed captions on to your videos, which would be a bit more expensive than creating transcripts. This can drive some serious traffic on to your website. This can even help deaf or hard of hearing to interpret your videos correctly. If you are a company operating in multiple geographies around the world, it makes sense to subtitle/caption your videos in the languages of geographies that you operate in. This also should boost your digital marketing efforts in a great way.

One other effective way to optimize search engine is to provide a detailed written video description of the video content so as to help your customers have a better understanding on the subject. And then you could link the description to the relevant content on your website so that it would help your customers consume the video.

So, identify an efficient service provider who can provide you with good quality subtitles/closed captions and make your digital marketing efforts more effective.

Closed Captioning – A Throwback

Closed Captioning

Closed captioning is the complete textual interpretation of audio portions of visuals, which may also contain a description of non-speech elements.

“Caption Center” is the first formal captioning agency in the US that began operating from the Boston Public Television Station, WGBH, back in 1972 on an experimental basis. Their first assignment was to provide captions or narration for one of the most popular cookery shows of those times, “The French Chef” hosted by Julia Chad, which was an award-winning series. With captions showing up on television screens, viewers found it very helpful as they could follow the recipes quite easily. The idea of captioning gained immense popularity among hearing impaired also as they could interpret the complete program without any difficulty.

However, some viewers felt that captions appearing on their screens were quite disturbing and distracts them from concentrating on the visuals. To address this, Caption Center with its partners developed a technology that displays captions only if a device is attached to a television. The device was a decoder that was fit onto television-sets to enable the narration or transcripts to appear towards the bottom of the screen. This decoder system was called “Closed Captioning.”

As the idea of closed captioning became more popular among the deaf and hard of hearing, Department of Health, Education and Welfare funded for further experiments on this front. Later in 1979, a nonprofit organization called National Captioning Institute was formed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). This institute was responsible for promoting and providing access to closed captioning. In 1980, NBC and ABC broadcasted closed-captioned programs for the first time.

Over the years, Closed Captioning has evolved and nowadays we have captions running on almost all the broadcasted programs. Captioning agencies have become successful in providing automated captioning service, which can be streamed onto live programs.

Recently FCC passed a regulation making it compulsory for the broadcasters to have almost all their programs closed-captioned. However, up to a delay of 12 hours is permitted in posting a captioned clip after the program is screened on television. For clips of near-live programs, delay of 8 hours is permitted in posting a captioned clip after the program is aired.

Though there are a number of captioning companies operating in the market, only a few are successful in providing FCC compliant service as caption synchronization is also a criterion that FCC wants the captioning companies to follow. Digital Nirvana (DN) is notably one of the leading companies that currently operate in this area. DN also provides automated multilingual captioning services together with accurate caption synchronization.