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Syncing Up with Automatic Sync

November 2009 Volume 3
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 and state and local laws.

Company News

AST Expands Business Focus In Europe, Expands Partners

Automatic Sync is increasing the focus on delivering transcripts, captions and subtitles to the European market and has added Martin Laycock as European Director of Sales and Marketing. Martin brings over 20 years of experience working with higher education media capture and captioning, and resides in the UK. Automatic Sync offers English language services that are delivered via the Web, and are available 24/7. As more and more video is used to deliver instruction and communications over the Web, the need to deliver accessible media becomes a challenge. AST can help European customers comply with disability discrimination policies by providing transcripts for Podcasts and subtitles for video at an affordable price. For more information or prices, please contact

AST and Ooyala Announce Captioning Partnership

AST and Ooyala, a leading video marketing company announced the support for closed captions in the Backlot system. Backlot provides customers with video publishing, analytics and tools for monetizing video. The partnership initially focuses on the addition of the caption files to the system, and AST can provide Backlot customers with captions in the format used by Backlot. Both companies intend to over a more automated workflow for Backlot customers to upload video, specify that the video be captioned by AST, and the files will be uploaded for captioning and returned to the Backlot system where they will be available as captioned video for users. For more on this please read the news.

Mediasite 5.2 Adds Video Search Using Captions

Mediasite by Sonic Foundry® provides educators, government agencies and corporate clients a complete platform to record, deliver and manage their multimedia lectures and presentations for online and blended learning, special events, training and alumni relations. Learners can watch in real-time, later on-demand or listen on-the-go with podcasts. Using CaptionSync, your Mediasite presentations can be automatically captioned to meet accessibility mandates and provide students a richer learning experience. The 5.2 release adds the capability to search on the caption files. To read or download the brochure please click here.

Industry Spotlight

Captioning and "The Three Screens"

Where and what programming is being watched is undergoing a major transition as people migrate from watching television, to watching programming this same programming over the Internet, and content "to go" on mobile devices. The Neilson Company tracks where traditional broadcast video is being watched in their "Three Screens Report". The "three screens" include TVs, Computer displays and mobile devices. Mobile and Internet video is gaining in popularity, especially with younger viewers. The age group watching the most video over the Internet is the age group 18-24, who watch on average 5:03 hours per month. The next highest age group is 25-34 who average watching 4 hours and 14 minutes per month. Usage declines with age for those over 24 years old. Mobile video usage is the highest in the age group 12-17, followed by the age group 25-34.

Broadcasters are mandated by FCC regulations to caption most daytime and prime time television broadcasts. These same regulations do not apply to programming delivered over the Web although the pending 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act would change that. The technology of delivering "line 21" captions to a television set is different from how these captions are delivered when the media is converted and streamed over the Web. Automatic Sync can provide captions for many formats of video delivered via the Web. If you are producing video to be delivered via broadcast and the Web, you can get all your caption files at one time at a very affordable price from AST. Because captions are used by more than just the deaf and hard of hearing, captions can enable videos to be searchable. Finding captioned videos among the broadcast portals--as opposed to the user-generated portals--can be tricky. Some portals do not offer support for captions. Hulu, a venture by NBC-Universal and The Walt Disney Company offers on-demand programming generally previously aired on TV that does support captions. Cable company Comcast has jumped into the demand for Web viewers with their recently launched FANCAST, which offers on-demand programs to compete with other distribution sites.

Finding Captioned Videos on Hulu

Hulu does support captions, although a recent query yielded a very small percentage of videos that contained captions. To search among closed-captioned videos, select from the search menu "CC Only".

Screen shot of Hulu with captions



Customer Showcase


Microsoft Uses Captions for Video Search

Microsoft Research has developed a library of videos of important landmarks in technology. They use Automatic Sync to provide captions and transcripts for their videos. The transcripts are made available to read independently of watching the videos. The captions are used to enable viewers to search at the word level, and to show the instances where the word occurs, allowing users to launch the video and audio at that point.


Screen shot of video with captions and search




Streaming Media West: San Jose, CA. Nov. 19-19 AST will be there but not exhibiting. If you'd like to talk to us email


Tech Tidbits

New Avid File Support

AST added two new output types in the past few weeks to make it easier for Avid users to subtitle their content. Avid DS subtitle files (.avidds.txt) can be used to import subtitle information directly into Avid using the SubCap effect (see The .aviddvd.txt subtitle files can be imported into the Avid DVD by Sonic authoring software.

iTunes: Creating and Finding Captioned Videos

iTunes offers various forms of accessible media including open and closed captions and subtitles. Movies that contain line 21 captions may be uploaded into iTunes and the captions will be retained. For Web video formats such as .m4v, the most popular video format for iTunes, captions may be added in several different manners, and Automatic Sync can provide you with the format you need. For more information about captioning Podcasts and Videos for iTunes please see:

Apple movies and lectures that contain captions are labeled with the Closed Captions (CC) symbol.

Screen shot of iTunes with power search for captions

To find movies or lectures with closed captions:

1) Decide which media type you want to search. You can search within movies in the iTunes store, or you can search within iTunesU, if you have iTunesU installed.

2) Open the iTunes store and type in any word in the "store search" field to activate the "power search".

3) Decide if you want to filter the search by media type. If you want to search for lectures, you can narrow the search to only iTunesU content.

4) Check the box that search for movies or lectures that only have closed captions, and then hit the search key. To display all closed captioned movies or lectures, leave the search field blank.

5) Once you have identified a lecture or a movie with closed captioning, you can make the captions visible in iTunes by selecting a checkbox in iTunes preferences. You will also need to do the same for your mobile device.

For more information please visit:



Useful Resources


In-depth presentation on different ways to caption:

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