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Syncing Up with Automatic Sync

May 2013 Volume 12
Automatic Sync offers broadcasters, educational institutions and government agencies a transcribing and captioning service for media. CaptionSync was funded by a US Department of Education grant to research and develop a cost-effective way to automate the process of making media accessible to comply with a variety of federal, state, and local laws.

Cover Story

AST Expands Languages in Translation Caption Services

For some time, AST has helped customers reach a broader audience by providing services to create translated caption files from Spanish-to-English (or vice versa). Customers save time and money by leveraging the caption timing from the original video using AST's CaptionSync service. Now, AST has expanded its services to include 5 additional languages.

Image of video with Portuguese captions

Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese: Translated caption files.

  • Simply caption your video in its native language.
  • Provide your own translated transcript.
  • CaptionSync will align the translated transcript to the captioning job and produce time-stamped, translated caption and subtitle files in the new language.

Spanish, English: Transcript translation bundled with translated captions.

  • First caption your video in its native language (English, Spanish or a mix of the two)
  • Either provide your own translated transcript, or have AST's professional translator create the translated transcript for you.
  • CaptionSync will align the translated transcript to the video and produce time-stamped, translated caption and subtitle files in the new language.

The new service generates translated captions significantly faster and less costly than ever before.

Our online knowledge base contains some great tutorials on how to use this new service (you will need a CaptionSync account to access these articles; if you don't have an account, it only takes a moment to get one). Check out our tutorials to learn more details.

As always, you can contact us via Email: or Phone: 877-AST-SYNC (877-278-7962). We're happy to tell you about translation, or any of our caption and transcription services!

Company News

Enhancing the Customer Experience for Captioning, Transcription, and Translation

Let's face it: getting video transcribed, captioned, and subtitled has traditionally been a very complicated and time-consuming affair. Some of you may remember sending DVDs or even tapes to captioning companies, and then waiting weeks or months to get files back. AST pioneered the concept of online captioning submissions, and we know that customers appreciate the convenience of submitting and tracking jobs using our web interface or our integrations to video and lecture capture platforms.

Screenshot of Support Center

Still, even with the improvements that we introduced over the years we realize that we need to be continuously improving. Your time is precious, and if you can't get answers to your questions about quickly and painlessly, time will be wasted. To that end, in March we rolled out the CaptionSync Support Center, an online help desk that includes a searchable knowledge base providing detailed information about using CaptionSync, as well as more general how-to tutorials and tips about closed captioning, transcription, and subtitles.

Our documentation and support team has been busy adding new articles and updating old ones, with the end goal of making a complex topic easier to understand. In addition to the updated documentation and search features, other benefits of the system include the ability to view support ticket submissions and responses online, all in one convenient place. You can even initiate a live chat with our support team if you're having trouble finding what you're looking for in the knowledge base.

Our Support Center also allows us to track how well we are doing at providing answers. If you search for something in our knowledge base and don't find what you're looking for, we see that and add a new article that answers the question. We also track closely when your support request ticket questions come in, and how long it takes us to respond. The response has been overwhelmingly positive, and by far the most common comment is that you appreciate how quickly we are able to respond to questions via the Support Center.

If you already have a CaptionSync account, you can use the CaptionSync Support Center and submit questions and suggestions by logging in to your CaptionSync account and then clicking on help. If you don't yet have an account, but have closed captioning needs that we can help you with, you can sign up here.

Customer Spotlight

Maverick Entertainment - Film Distributor

Maverick Entertainment Logo

AST customer Maverick Entertainment Group has acquired and distributed niche films from independent producers for home entertainment, since 1997. The Florida-based company is now a leader in acquisition of original content for DVD, PPV and VOD viewing. In 2012, the company began using AST's CaptionSync service to close caption video ahead of the FCC's 2013-14 deadlines.

Maverick often works with first- or second-time producers who are not familiar with captioning processes and the various file components that must be delivered for final distribution. Melissa Mackenzie, Senior Vice President, Worldwide Film Acquisitions & Creative Development at Maverick says the firm works to educate its customers about the technical requirements for producing "curtain ready" programming, which includes closed captioning.

"From the acquisition standpoint, we try to educate our producers about requirements, so they deliver all the components to meet the tight deadlines of our distribution schedule," says Mackenzie. With the exponential growth of video streaming over the Internet, Maverick distributes titles in multiple formats to many markets. The content needs to meet the programmer's format requirements for delivery -- whether PPV or VOD via cable provider, or streamed from Internet sources such as Hulu, Amazon and Netflix, etc. "AST gives us fast turnaround and consistent quality, which helps us get a film to the curtain state and out to our customers on deadline."

Read more about Maverick Entertainment and other customers by visiting the Case Studies section of our website, located under our Resources tab.

GARI Media Group

Gari Media Group Logo

Based in Los Angeles, Gari Media Group provides creative marketing strategies and solutions to its customers, who produce television and media programs distributed around the world. From custom music and audio, to dynamic digital media and complete video solutions, Gari delivers complete production services to America's top-rated media companies.

"Gari has a reputation for high quality service, and is recognized in the TV and media industries for its unique use of artistry and technology," says Jon Herron, CTO at Gari Media Group. "We work at the edge of innovation, and have used AST for closed captioning for some time, working well ahead of the FCC rules."

Legislative News

FCC Update -- Online Video Caption Requirements for March 30, 2013

Image of Video

The 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA) requires access to online programming that has previously been shown on television with captions. Following the passage of the CVAA, the FCC established specific rules for the enforcement of the CVAA. Last winter, the FCC published its rules for Internet captioning released a schedule of deadlines.

The March 30, 2013 deadline requires that when live and near-live programs are shown on television with captions, these programs must be captioned when shown on the Internet. A "near-live" program is a program that is performed and recorded less than 24 hours before being shown on television for the first time. Examples include all live sports events that are shown on television and also shown on the Internet, such as all baseball, basketball, football, and soccer games. Soon, audiences will have fully accessible Internet, and be able to watch captioned World Series, Super Bowls, World Cups, and the Olympics!

Many program producers have been using AST's captioning services since the first deadline, on September 30, 2012. After that date, the CVAA requires that 100% of pre-recorded video programming shown on television with captions, must also have captions when shown online, unedited for Internet distribution. These rules only apply to full-length programming and not to video clips.

The next deadline is September 30th, 2013, and video producers should be proactive in preparing content. After that date, all pre-recorded video programming substantially edited for the Internet must be captioned if it is shown on TV with captions – this covers all short clips that appear online.

The phasing in of these requirements is timely considering the growing audience for online video content. Just last month, digital monitoring firm comScore released its Online Video Rankings, noting that 178 million Americans watched 33 billion online content videos in February 2013.

According to a study by business analyst firm, Forrester Research, 24.8 million US homes have watched online video on a TV set, most of it put there by Netflix. Online video is drawing both player manufacturers and program providers to deliver to the growing number of viewers who are moving away from traditional viewing habits and cutting the cable TV cord in favor of mobile devices and online content. Forrester recommends that media product strategists of every type start the countdown clock and prepare for the rising demands of the online viewing market. For program producers and distributors, that means getting content aligned with CVAA requirements for captioning.

For more details on CaptionSync captioning and encoding services for digital content, please visit our Caption and Subtitle service section on our website.

Partnership News

How to Use the Partner-Integration Services

AST is always adding new partner integrations to provide a seamless captioning workflow to our customers who use lecture capture and online video platform providers. You can learn more about current AST partner integrations on our website under the Lecture Capture and Online Video Platforms sections.

We also have documentation on the set up of these integrations and how to use them in the CaptionSync Support Center. When you decide to set up the integration with any of our lecture capture or online video partners the first step is to request the account feature on your CaptionSync account. You can do this under the Settings tab when logged in to CaptionSync. Under Settings click Account Features, and then select the relevant integration. Once you have done that, links to the appropriate set up documentation are emailed to you. In most cases the setup steps take only about 5 to 10 minutes, and once they are completed you can save many times that amount by avoiding the need to upload individual video files and later manually attach caption files to the videos.


Upcoming Events

Tech Tidbits

Enable Features on Your CaptionSync Account

Did you know that you have the ability to add features to your CaptionSync account by using the Account Features page under the Settings tab? You can request many different account features such as AST-Link bulk uploading, submitting List of URLs, partner integrations, production transcripts and transcription-only services.

How to Enable Features

To enable features, log into your CaptionSync account and click on the Settings tab. You will see "Account Features" on the left-hand navigation bar. From the drop-down box you will see a list of features you can enable. You will be automatically enabled for the feature you select and receive an email confirmation when the feature has been added and you are ready to go. Sometimes those emails are caught in spam folders, so if you don't receive the email within about 10 minutes, check there.

Bulk File Submissions

If you have a large number of files to submit to us, we offer many options for you so that you do not need to upload files to your account one-by-one. We offer a List of URLs feature, so you can paste in URLs to your online media and we will fetch your content for submission. We also offer AST-Link for both Windows and Mac, which is our bulk upload tool. Both of these options can be enabled on your account via the Account Features page.

Lastly, we offer a direct integration option and you can request more information on this by contacting us directly. We are always willing to discuss these options with you and offer suggestions on the easiest ways for you to submit content.

List of URLs Retry Fetching Feature

List of URLs users now have the ability to refetch the failed items in their list for two specific cases:

  1. Items for which we were not able to download a file (e.g. YouTube threw some sort of internal error but returned no error, or the file was not there and returned an error).
  2. Items we were able to download, but ingestion failed due to insufficient prepay balance.

Once the download is complete, users will need to wait at least 45 minutes to make sure we were able to at least attempt to ingest the files we download. In the case where the list is still being processed, messaging will tell you to check back later.

If we have attempted to download and ingest your URLs, and they failed for one of the reasons above, the URL List Details page now has a "Retry Fetching" button, and as always there are plenty of mouseover guides.

Screenshot of URL Retry screen

Moving Captions Forwards or Backwards on the Timeline

If you work with video long enough, you will eventually run into a need to move your caption track around on the timeline. In the captioning world, this is called a "Ripple". Adding a slate or introduction splash screen to your video, for example, will require you to ripple all of the captions forward to align with the new starting point of the video. Cutting a segment off of the start of the video requires a backwards ripple.

CaptionSync provides a Ripple capability as part of the Redo feature, to make such alterations to your caption files a very simple matter. To ripple a caption job, select the job in the Status section of your CaptionSync account and then select to redo the job. On the redo screen, click the "Advanced Settings" button, and select the "Advanced" tab. There you will see a field to enter a Ripple value. Positive values will ripple forward in time, negative values will ripple backwards. The time value is entered as hours:minutes:seconds:frames, where frames is a simple 30 fps value (eg: 15 frames is equal to 0.5 seconds).

Note that rippling backwards can be a bit tricky as CaptionSync will prevent you from sliding captions into negative time. To see how this is done, please check out the more detailed article in our knowledge base: Rippling a Redo.


Useful Resources

  • VPAAC Updates - The Video Programming Accessibility Advisory Committee Wiki page gives updates regarding the committee's activities and meetings.

  • AST's Case Studies - Detailed case studies from some of our users which may help you envision how captioning can make a positive impact on your media.

  • AST's Whitepapers - AST whitepapers on captioning and related topics.

  • How-To Tutorials - We're always updating and developing new web tutorials for captioning with emerging technologies. Be sure to check our website's How-To Tutorials page for updates and additions of videos for captioning with various technologies using CaptionSync.

  • AST's Support Center - The CaptionSync Support Center includes an extensive knowledge base with answers to many common questions on captioning, as well as an even more extensive list of how-to-tutorials. Log into your CaptionSync account and then click the "Help" link. There you will find a link to the Support Center.

  • Why Not Use Speech Rec? - Check out this very entertaining look at why you should not use speech recognition solutions for captioning. Check out their latest in this series of Caption Fail videos.

  • The AST Blog - Our blog, called CaptionIT has launched. Check it out and join the discussion.
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