In the light of the recent FCC regulations, captioning for post houses has become more of a pain than ever. It is something you have to do because by law, your clients, who own the copyright to the material, have to do it:
It’s Gonna Get Harder…
It was already enough of a challenge when you simply had to finish a television show and make sure it had a set of captions. Now, you also have to provide accessibility wherever the content is going to end up: online, on mobile devices, on different standards and frame rates of television. And because the CEA 608 standard used in North America, while similar, is not the same as that used elsewhere, you have to think about export versions, too!
And then have you thought about what happens when you are creating a compliance edit, a cut which includes some censorship changes? It could be for an overseas broadcaster, or for an airline version. The right captions have to be removed, and if the dialogue is bleeped or redubbed, you want to make sure the offensive language does not appear in the captions.
If you are preparing deliverables for international distribution as well as the home market, then you may well have to handle different caption files for each country (even English is different in the UK and Australia!) and the same level of intelligent processing will need to be applied to each file. You can appreciate the need for automation.
…Before it Gets Easier
It goes without saying that captions need careful tracking through the workflows to ensure the files remain accurate, consistent, and ready to go when the content is published. One way to manage this level of complexity is to handle captions the way you handle video and audio: ingest and transcode to a house standard, the mezzanine; track the captions with all the other elements needed to finish and package; and transcode to the output standard. While the theory sounds straightforward, the implementation remains complex.
The key, then, is to use a platform that has the intelligence to be able to do all that management and processing and let technology do the heavy lifting. For a service you have to provide but which will never make anyone – post house or production company – any money, the idea that it can be delivered at a manageable cost and with little or no manual intervention sounds good, don’t you think?