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Spotlight on CaptionMax

Posted by Rebekah Toth Burns on August 28, 2014

CaptionMax has been providing closed captioning services for twenty one years. They currently have 75 caption specialists and provide a variety of captioning, translation, video description, and transcription services. We caught up with David Hansfield, the Business Development Manager at CaptionMax, to chat about what is new and noteworthy in captioning.

Q&A with David Hansfield the Business Development Manager from CaptionMax


David HansfieldQ: What types of clients does CaptionMax service?

A: CaptionMax services a wide variety of video producers, from the largest of broadcasters to multinational Fortune 500 corporations. We typically help producers who are concerned about FCC and ADA regulations, frustrated with inefficient ways to store and recall video data, and/or worried about reaching diverse audiences through accurate captions, translations, and subtitles.

Q: What is new and noteworthy in captioning? How is this traditionally broadcast-based service evolving with the digital age?

A: In the digital age, captions = data. When video content is put online or stored within a DAM/MAM, the easiest way to optimize its recall is through accurate, time-coded captions. For example, a video with accurate captions stored on YouTube will have a much higher ranking than the same video without captions, as Google recognizes this data more easily than voice alone.

Another evolution worth noting is that live captioning has moved from analog, phone-based communication to IP. One of the many advantages of this switch is the ability to better service live streaming events that are becoming more commonplace in today’s corporate world.

Q: How many languages does CaptionMax translate?

A: We have translated in every language. Though Spanish, German, French, and Chinese are among the most common languages requested for translation, we’ve had projects involving Swahili, Hebrew, Farsi, even Wolof, and Dioula.

Q: Accuracy and speed are essential for real time or near real time captioning; how does CaptionMax assure quality control?

A: Unlike offline captioning that’s done with a full keyboard, live captioning is performed by professional stenographers (court reporters) who have undergone at least 3 years of extensive training before their first live gig. This is the first key to accuracy and overall quality. The second key is preparation. Whenever possible, the captioner will research spellings of key names and terminology that may arise during the broadcast and enter them into their dictionary ahead of time. If they can get a script in advance, that will be entered as well. The third key is support. Each live captioner is supported by a real time Coordinator in CaptionMax’s Technical Operations Center. Monitoring broadcasts from our control center also allows us to quickly nip technical difficulties in the bud, should they occur.

Q: What is video description? What are the current regulations for video description as determined by the FCC?

A: Video Description Services (VDS) brings pictures to life for blind audiences through a secondary audio track that describes characters, actions, and other scene-establishing information occurring onscreen between dialogue. Unlike captioning, which transcribes all speech verbatim, video describers need to objectively describe what they see on-screen, prioritize what’s essential to understanding the narrative, write a script, and voice it. There is usually a very limited amount of time in between dialogue or narration, so their ability to be concise as well as descriptive is crucial. It’s a truly unique craft that takes years to perfect. We are fortunate to have a wonderful consumer advisory board of blind viewers and educators that has helped us understand the best way to make the description meaningful to blind users. There are current FCC regulations in place for large broadcast and cable networks mandating the use of VDS on some primetime and children’s programs. Several large corporations are also exploring the use of VDS as part of best practices for a fully accessible web site.

Q: What is the process of integrating CaptionMax’s services into an organization? What mediums does CaptionMax deliver?

A: The process is simple. Just give us a call and we’ll listen to your needs and help you determine the best path of accessibility. To make integration as easy as possible, we provide captions and subtitles for virtually every file type for nearly every video format, as well as DVD and BluRay.

Q: What sets CaptionMax apart from its competitors?

A: CaptionMax has thrived over the past 21 years due to our strong engagement with and commitment to the communities that depend on our services, as well as our customers who expect a high-quality product. We provide each client with a dedicated Project Manager who oversees their project from start to finish. Finally, every project goes through our PreciseCheck™ process, guaranteeing a level of service and quality that exceeds industry standards. Unlike our competitors, we provide a one-stop shop for creating accessible media: we provide caption, subtitles, video description, encoding and embedding into various file formats all in-house.

We would love to hear from you.

Does your organization encourage or mandate closed captioning? What are the possibilities of using captioning for search within your digital asset management system? How would that improve your organizations workflow? Please share your thoughts on our blog, Facebook page, LinkedIn page or Twitter feed.


  1. How do get caption max off your t.v.? I just have regular t.v. IT is very annoying makes you lose interest in what you are watching.

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