Saturday, August 28, 2010

Come On, Google, Do The Right Thing!

Google has jumped into the web series biz, producing its own web series, Google Beat. Google Beat is about search engine term popularity, and has a human host. Google Beat is on YouTube of course - but they are using the inaccurate automatic captioning. (For instance, in the picture below, are they talking about what we are eating for breakfast, not what we are hearing for breakfast?) Google knows that the automatic captioning is not that good, and that's why they have the YouTube Ready Program so companies can have professional options that can be used in conjunction with YouTube automatic captioning.

It is critical that we convince Google to use professional help to caption Google Beat. If we can't get Google to do the right thing, that makes it that much harder to get others to do the right thing too.

How can you help? You can help by:
  1. Go to Google Beat on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/googlebeat
  2. Go down the page until you see the "Send Message" option

  3. Click "Send Message."
  4. Sign in using either your Google account or YouTube account
  5. Tell Google that the automatic captions are not acceptable, that they should use Google's own YouTube Ready Program at http://youtubeready.dcmp.org/

Google is a wealthy company and can certainly afford the pittance it costs to closed caption through their own YouTube Ready Program! Shame on Google for not doing the right thing from the very start with their own web series!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Runic Films Willing to Caption, But...

Yesterday, Caption Action 2 contacted the producers of a children's web series, eScape. The premise of eScape is given in a press release: "eScape tells the story of a group of campers seemingly abandoned by their counselors. They soon discover they are trapped within a video game that grants them amazing abilities. But in the real world, this game is the object of a power struggle between powerful corporations and mysterious military interests."

Today, Caption Action 2 received an email from Ben Alpi (ben@runicfilms.com), director and producer of eScape. Mr. Alpi's response shows a real willingness to caption, except for one problem:

"At present we don't have closed captioning (one of the few downsides with the Vimeo player) but we do plan to do it as soon as we're able (even if we have to post on YouTube or create a special version of the video.) We're currently on the search for volunteers for that and to do subtitles for as many languages as we can. The last series I worked on, Star Trek: Phase II we had several languages. We've been so busy getting the series out on schedule though, it may be some weeks until we're up and running with CC.

By the way, if you would like to urge Vimeo in this area, I'd certainly be for it. It's been a request for at least 3 years."

Checking Vimeo's site, apparently Mr. Alpi's correct. In the FAQ on closed captioning, it says:
"Vimeo does not currently support the use of separate closed captioning text files. If you want any kind of text to appear in your video, including closed captioning, it needs to be added to the actual video, like any other graphics.

We hope to have time to develop proper support for closed captioning soon."
Vimeo does have captioned videos, but the captioning is embedded as open captions, not closed captions. Below is an example found on Vimeo when we used the captioning keyword:

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Revision3 Pledges to Caption All of its Web Series!

One of the many web series producers Caption Action 2 contacted about captioning their web series, was Revision3.com. (Memory refresher: the HR 3101 and S 3304 bills do not require original web television programming to be captioned). Revision3.com is a website that produces and broadcasts only original web series programs, some as long as an hour.

Caption Action 2 corresponded with Ron Richards, the Senior Director of Marketing & Product Management for Revision3. Mr. Richards' first response was "unfortunately we don't have any captioning functionality at this time - we'd like to but ultimately right now, we haven't found a cost effective way to enable it on our site. " By "our site," he means the Revision3 site itself. Caption Action 2 responded with three options for captioning: use YouTube automatic captions; professional captioning service; freeware or online subtitling sites; buying software and doing it themselves.

To that, Mr. Richards replied, "we've actually been looking into the YouTube automatic captioning and are looking to that as an option - while there are many options as you laid out, we're still a small startup company with limited resource in both money and people - so sometimes we have to make tough decisions - but captioning is definitely something we want to figure out how to get implemented."

Caption Action 2 responded with the recommendation that they use YouTube. Mr. Richards said that is what they will do. Then Caption Action 2 asked when they would begin YouTube automatic captioning, as it has to be enabled by the video owner.

Mr. Richards' final response is something to cheer: "I don't have an exact ETA for you - we have one person managing our YouTube presence, and he's got a very full plate - I'm going to bring this up with him immediately and hope that we can get all our videos/channels enabled by the end of this month, if not sooner."

Kudos to Mr. Richards for his willingness to make Revision3 programming more accessible! It turns out that most of their programming is already auto-captioned on YouTube. The fact he wants to make ALL of their programming auto-captioned is something to cheer! If you would like to thank Mr. Richards, his email address is rrichards@revision3.com.

Caption Action 2 will probably become a fan of iFanboy, a Revision3.com show about comic books!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Industry Wins. Deaf Pay the Price.

How high a price are we paying for Congress not requiring original web television programming to have closed captions? The price is already high, and getting higher by the day! Caption Action 2 is still learning just how high that price is.

Professionally produced web television is exploding on the Internet. More money is being poured into it, and the quality has increased to the point that web television now has its own version of the Emmys, the Streamys.


Web television may not be the correct term. Increasingly, the term we see being used more and more is "web series." One company is even financing an entire movie to be released online as a web series! In fact, the audience for web television has grown so much that Mashable now releases a monthly list of the top web series.

PROFESSIONAL WEB PRODUCERS - WHO?

Caption Action 2 is learning about the producers of professional web series, and contacting them to ask about captioning. So far, we have contacted five!

Babelgum.com - Babelgum pays for professional video, as reported by Fast Company.
Crackle.com - Crackle.com has 52 original web television series.
MyDamnChannel.com - MyDamnChannel.com recently got an infusion of money. In addition, the company recently released a press release about their new web programming.
NextNewNetworks.com - the company describes itself as "the leading provider of original, episodic series programming for the Internet."
Vuguru.com - this is backed by Michael Eisner, formerly of Disney.

Crackle.com has a FAQ that says at the bottom:
Q: Does Crackle have subtitles or closed captioning?
A: Currently, Crackle does not offer subtitles or closed captioning but please be assured we are working on implementing them into our system.

RESULTS OF CONTACTS

When contacted by Caption Action 2, Crackle.com said "our Product Team is currently working on it. It's certainly something we would like to be able to offer sooner rather than later, but there are also technological issues involved, in terms of what we can make work on our site." Caption Action 2 is trying to get a more definite response as to when Crackle.com will begin captioning.

Likewise, MyDamnChannel.com responded that they had "no plans" to closed caption as of now. Caption Action 2 has not responded yet to MyDamnChannel.com.

What can we do? Congress just passed legislation that will get us guaranteed access to regular television programming on the web, but already, a whole new world of web entertainment is leapfrogging ahead, and we don't have any legal guarantee to captions in this new world! All we can do is ask for, push for, plead for, and demand captions on web series!

It does not matter to Caption Action 2 if a web producer is small. If they can afford to produce professional web series - the key word here is PROFESSIONAL - they can afford to caption!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

We've Won. And We've Lost.

We've won...

We've kind of won.

The hard work of the National Association of the Deaf and the Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology has resulted in the Senate modifying S 3304 so it is more like HR 3101! There was then a last big push on to get the Senate to pass S 3304!

Update! At 10 pm last night the Senate passed S 3304 unanimously! COAT trumpeted the news late last night!

But.

We've also lost.

Despite the hard work of NAD and COAT, the "new" S 3304 does NOT include the provision for broadcasters to report to the FCC every two years about how much Internet-only programming they are captioning. It also does not include the provision for the FCC to, three years after the law takes effect, recommend whether closed captioning requirements should be extended to Internet-only television programming.

Caption Action 2 will be continuing the fight! There is a whole big new and growing world of Internet-only television out there, and we will be pushing Internet-only broadcasters to caption! We don't have the luxury of waiting for future Federal regulation - we've got to push them now! Now that this Congressional battle is over, watch for word from Caption Action 2 on who we will be targeting!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Caption Action 2: August 2010 Newsletter

This is the Caption Action 2 newsletter for August 2010!

HOUSE VOTE!

On July 26, 2010, in keeping with the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the House of Representatives voted and passed HR 3101, 348 to 23! Happily, the version of HR 3101 that passed the House also restored the $10 million to help deaf-blind people purchase equipment.

BUT.

We can't celebrate yet. We still need to pass the SENATE. The Senate could vote any day now!

Read more:

http://apps.facebook.com/causes/posts/512704?m=19b0b551