Closed Captions Explained

Closed captions deliverables

What are closed captions?

Closed Captions (CC) are text that appears on a video, which contain dialogue and audio cues such as music or sound effects. The purpose of closed captions is to make video accessible to those who are deaf or hard of hearing, for viewers whose native language is not English, and for when the audio cannot be heard due to noise (restaurants, public spaces, etc.) or a need for quiet (libraries, hospitals, etc.).

Captions can be either open (always visible, aka "burned in") or closed, but closed captioning is more common because it lets each viewer decide whether they want the captions to be turned on or off. Closed captions are transmitted as a special coded signal sent along with the video picture, and require a decoder in your television or cable box to see them (almost all TVs and cable boxes include decoders). This special signal is what broadcasters check for to ensure that your video is in accordance with FCC regulations.

Why is closed captioning necessary, or why should I bother with it?

The FCC requires the virtually all English and Spanish programming seen on broadcast TV in the United States to be closed captioned. The CRTC requires the same for Canadian broadcasts. Many other countries have their own requirements as well. ADA Section 508 regulations contain stringent captioning requirements (including captioning for webcasts) for the Federal government and organizations that receive funding from the Federal government, which includes most academic institutions. The ADA requires that videos be accessible to the deaf and hard of hearing in public accommodations and other public venues, such as hotels and stadiums. Closed captioning is an ideal way to make video accessible.

Even if your program is not being broadcast or is otherwise exempt from the closed captioning requirements, keep in mind that over 10% of the population is deaf or hard of hearing. If you do not caption, you will not reach this audience. Closed captioning is also used by a large number of non-native language speakers to help them better understand the programs they watch. If you do not caption your videos, you are missing out on a huge portion of your potential market.

How can closed captioning be made easier and more affordable?

Caption Depot has pioneered new e-Captioning software workflows, which reduce the cost and complexity of closed captioning. Any facility with a standard NLE system can now lay down closed caption files created by the Caption Depot captioning service without needing specialized hardware.

Old Linear Captioning Workflow

Traditional legacy captioning gear required expensive and complicated setup, worked only with tape, and caused generation loss in video quality.

e-Captioing Workflow

Caption Depot's e-Captioning service workflows work with your existing non-linear editing system to caption any kind of video, whether you work with tape, digital delivery, webcasts, or discs.

What are the advantages to bringing closed captioning capability in-house?

 Caption Depot's e-Captioning saves time and money because you do not need to print to tape and ship your tape to our captioning service, and then wait for the captioned tape to be shipped back. Since you're laying the caption track that Caption Depot provides in-house, you have full control over quality and can inspect the results immediately. There is no risk of losing your master or having the project delayed due to shipping problems or damaged tapes.

Also, if you need extremely fast turnaround e-Captioning is the only way to go, since there are no tapes to be shipped, since the caption files are e-mailed. This will save a lot of money in tape stock and shipping fees.