We could all use a little Regular Expressions super power!
Comic by xkcd.com This week, we received a message from the past: a captioning file from the early ‘90s, delivered in an unsupported format. It came with an executable file that was designed to drive a simple encoder from a 5¼” floppy disk—no joke! Fortunately, we also received a text version of the file, which we were able to reformat into a captioning file we could use. Before we show you how we converted the file, have a look back at this post—another reminder of the value of saving data in archival formats, like text files. Doing so ensures they can be opened and read by future applications, where the compiled CC files of the past are totally orphaned. And now, on to this week’s challenge. Here’s how we reformatted the text version (source file):
The first steps to converting this file: basic search and replace.
To remove the F in the time codes, replace F1, F2, and F0 with :1, :2, and :0.
Convert the position codes to a supportable format. We remember how to read these old files, and know that what used to be called ,C 14 (centre position, bottom row) is now referred to as *Cf16 in Cheetah .ASC import/export format.
There are also left and right position codes; search and replace those as well.
Search and replace is an amazing tool, and by doing a progressive series of searches and replaces you can reformat files extensively. But when you need to reorder elements, like we had to do here to pop the timecode line up above the text, and then to separate it, you need GREP and a text editor that can GREP*. Basically, you use GREP to define groups of content, name the groups, and then put them back in a different order. In our example here, the position code was Content Group 1, the first line of the caption was Content Group 2, the third line was Content Group 3, and the timecode line was Content Group 4. We put the content groups back in the order 4, 1, 2, 3. Bob’s your uncle! Systematic thinking can save us from unnecessary work (in this case, redoing a caption file made by someone else a long time ago). So the final word: Get out there and GREP. *We used BBEdit for the Mac, a well-known and well trusted text editor (TextWrangler is the free version). On Windows, you can use Notepad++ or UltraEdit. These tools support the standard regular expression language, so the techniques work regardless of which tool you’re using.
Sound-Alike Words with Very Different Meanings
This week while proofing a transcript, we found the following error:
PROTEGE stood in for POTAGER.
These two words sound very similar but in fact are two distinct things. PROTEGE, of course, meaning a talented student, POTAGER being a kitchen garden! This type of mistake is common, especially if, as a transcriber, you’re not necessarily familiar with the vocabulary, leading you to understand the word as something else.
Another recent example: LINDISFARNE (an island off the coast of England), transcribed as LINDA’S FARM. Oops.
Always make sure you’re listening carefully to avoid these kinds of mistakes in your captioning. And if you think you’re hearing a word you might not know, be sure to do your due diligence and determine exactly what that word might be. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: accuracy is key in closed captioning!
May’s Recipe: Nightcap: Single Malt Scotch—our easiest recipe yet!
A wee dram of Scotch
Photo by Coffee Geek by CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Select a high quality Scotch whisky, then spell it like the Scots do—without an “e.” Pour one ounce in a glass and drink it neat (i.e., no ice), breathing in the peaty terroir! And for a one-of-a-kind whisky amusement ride, we highly recommend a visit to Edinburgh’s Scotch Whisky experience. Cheers!
This seriously cultured smart cookie is our newest full-on caption editor. She’s a big fan of subtitling, localization, anime, and geek culture, and is also an independent writer and blogger whom we get to borrow for 3 or 4 days a week. She came on board with lots of writing and subtitling experience, and it is a pleasure to have on our team. Lots of skills and smarts here!
Job Title: Caption Timer
Years at Line 21: 2
What you did before Line 21: A bit of everything! Before I started here, I did subtitling and localization editing for Japanese anime at Ocean Studios; when that hit a lull, I did some transcript editing for quarterly earnings reports. I’ve also written for geek culture blogs, taught English in Japan, edited manga, playtested video games, and dabbled in various writing or editing projects.
Favourite part of the job: I have to pick just one? I think the sheer variety of projects is one of the best aspects of the job; one week I’ll be captioning a series about food trucks in North America, the next I’ll be captioning a documentary about Shakespearean performances in India, the week after I’ll be working on a short indie film for a festival. A lot of the shows are fascinating, particularly the BBC documentaries. The other thing I love, of course, is how warm and friendly everyone in the office is; it’s truly a pleasure to come in to work with such fantastic coworkers and bosses.
Favourite project(s) you’ve worked on: It would probably be a toss-up between The Pirates of Penzance and Horrible Histories. Penzance was absolutely hilarious thanks to the brilliant Jack Sparrow sendup, and it was one of the most uniquely challenging projects I’ve ever done, what with all the patter songs and Modern Major General, etc. Horrible Histories combined two of my favorite things – history and British comedy – so it was a joy from beginning to end. Honorable Mention: any/all of the Shakespeare documentaries I’ve worked on (Shakespeare being another great love of mine).
Best memory/story about working at Line 21: The way I got hired was sort of interesting… there was an editors’ conference in Vancouver that I originally planned to miss due to the pricey $300 admission, but at the last minute, I noticed there was a session on subtitling, which I had some experience in. I thought that the talk would be educational, and moreover, that it would be a good idea to meet the speaker and make some local subtitling connections. That speaker was Kelly Maxwell, and two weeks after the conference, I was working at Line 21. Best $300 I’ve ever spent, by far!
Favourite Vancouver restaurant and why: There are so many good places to eat in Vancouver! My personal favorites are Kadoya – some of the best sushi I’ve ever tasted – Lin’s Chinese – extremely high quality and very cheap – and EXP Restaurant and Bar – a video game themed place with a great drink list, good food, and lots of geeky references.
Favourite place to travel: My parents and I traveled a lot when I was younger, and I loved all of the places we went, but our three month trip around Mediterranean Europe is probably the standout. Italy and Spain were both amazing, and I would go back to Florence, Venice (see the photo above!), or Barcelona in a heartbeat. I also adore Japan, particularly Tokyo and Kyoto; I lived there for two years and I still feel like I didn’t get enough of it.
Funny travel story/best travel memory: Oh no, the full list would be a novel! Traveling with my parents is always a riot; my mother has a particularly hilarious sense of humor, like when she started mocking pretentious titles in the Reina Sofia art gallery in Madrid (“This must be ‘Moon bird descending on two planets by daylight!” “No, the label says, ‘Catalan Guitarist.’” “That would have been my second guess.”) One of the funnier moments (in hindsight, at least) was when we were on a shore trip during a cruise around Lake Aswan; the dinghy broke down and we were trapped for an hour in crocodile-infested waters, all bursting to go to the washroom, with a machine gun-toting security escort… and of course, the brattiest toddler in the tour group started playing with the gun! I was also amused how, whenever I traveled within Japan, my coworkers were always shocked and said, “It’s so far! That’s a five hour trip!” even though, by Canadian standards, that’s almost just down the road. In terms of most moving memory, though, it would have to be seeing the Acropolis in Athens for the first time, all cast in golden light from the sunset. I had always loved learning about ancient Greece, so to see it in the flesh was totally stunning. I think that was the first time I was ever moved to tears by a view, just because it was so beautiful and meaningful.
Wow, thanks Michelle! See more of our staff profiles here.
The Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine shows us what we looked like online in 2001.
At Line 21 accessibility is one of our biggest mandates. Whether it’s providing captions for the hearing impaired or being able to dig up research and old news headlines, access to information is something we strongly believe in. That’s why we think that the Internet Archive is one of the web’s coolest things going.
The project was initiated for the 2012 US election in order to help voters better understand the issues and personalities involved, and its implications and usefulness for research of all kinds are truly mind-blowing. What an incredible contribution to democracy. And of course we always love to see captioning content being put to use. We put a lot of care and attention into doing a quality job to provide access to information, so this resource makes us really happy.
We’ll leave you with this quote from Larry Goldberg, Director of the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family National Center for Accessible Media at WGBH (NCAM), which sums up exactly how we feel at Line 21: “Those of us who work in the field of media accessibility for people with disabilities are thrilled to see closed captioning, created and fostered for societal inclusion, being repurposed to enrich our civic life.”
April Recipe: Chocolate Banana Cream Pie (in a glass!)
A sunshiny smoothie!
Photo by Kelly
There couldn’t be anything easier than throwing some delicious ingredients in a blender and clinking glasses with a friend. This power-house smoothie is great for breakfast, after a workout or for dessert! Enjoy.
2 scoops really good quality whey isolate powder
2T hemp seeds
1T maca powder
2T really good quality cocoa powder
2c chocolate almond milk
Blend all ingredients, pour into two glasses, and share with a friend!
This month we’re profiling the newest and – we’ll just come right out and say it – cutest member of the Line 21 team. It’s great to have an office puppy around, and while he may not be guard-dog material, he sure knows how to enthusiastically welcome our clients when they stop by!
Job Title: Office puppy Years at Line 21: 2 weeks What you did before Line 21: Played with sisters and brothers a lot Favourite part of the job: I can fall asleep and it’s okay :) Favourite project(s) you’ve worked on: A dried beef chew - yummy! Best memory/story about working at Line 21: My first day at work – I was welcomed with kisses and hugs. Favourite Vancouver restaurant and why: I prefer home-style cooking. And puppy formula. Favourite place to travel: Yaletown Funny travel story/best travel memory: A trip from Vancouver island to the city of Vancouver by ferry – what an adventure!!!
Thanks Buckley! Check out our other staff profiles here.
Statistics suggest that BC loves its creative industries and that they contribute strongly to the economy.
There’s been quite a bit of press lately on the state of BC’s film industry. As proud members of Vancouver’s post-production community, we care about this discussion a lot!
We love our industry for its creative jobs, interesting work, sustainability, diversity, and opportunity. At its best, it allows for a wonderful community of creative professionals making living wages. We think it is worth defending, along with all our creative industries in BC and the rest of Canada.
This quote from the Dreamcatcher report [PDF] by Rowland Lorimer of SFU articulates the issues well, so I thought we’d include it in full:
From an official perspective, as of 2012, British Columbia paid little attention to the creative economy. Very few statistical analyses have been undertaken at the provincial level, and support for creative undertakings has been funneled through the BC Arts Council augmented by Community Gaming Grants—these being the two main features of the government’s cultural policy.
From an economic or industrial perspective, the province has seen fit to invest in sectors that appear to be job- and wealth-creating winners rather than in the sector as a whole. Its emphasis on “screens” (inclusive of film and video, video games, and computer-based media) is a high-risk strategy that does not consider the ecology of creative production where cross-fertilization among creatives can result in a vibrant dynamic.
The relative lack of attention to and of facilitative policy for the economics of the creative sector is somewhat surprising given its estimated employment of 85,000 people (not including volunteers, making it the second largest of BC’s six major industrial sectors), its generation of $4 billion in economic activity (the fifth-largest sector in the BC economy), its current growth trajectory (increasing faster than the general economy), and its potential to strengthen BC’s tourism sector. Both BC and the federal government provide low levels of support in comparison to other provinces in Canada.
Quinoa 365 is an amazing cookbook, and a must-have for all cooks. Many of the recipes are also gluten free, for those who need to know. As we recently celebrated St. Patrick’s Day, this month I’m offering soda bread. It’s great with soup or with butter and jam. And because it’s a quick bread, it’s incredibly versatile and easy. Try adding some herbs, cheese, jalapenos, whatever you can think of!
Today we’re profiling our recent Douglas College Print Futures student, Will Richter. Will has been our go-to script editor since 2005, working with Leslie Foster to produce post production scripts of all descriptions and complexities, from the simple to the beyond micro-detailed. He is a hugely valued team player and accomplished writer and editor in lots of genres. If you’ve had any dealings with our script department in the last eight years, Will has likely worked on your show!
Job title: Script editor.
Years at Line 21: Seven.
What you did before Line 21: I got this job right out of university, so my previous jobs were typically of the odd job/seasonal variety—harbour master, server, boat washer, that kind of thing.
Favourite part of the job: There are so many things to like about this job—first and foremost the great people I work with every day. In terms of the work itself, it’s always a pleasure to be able to write and edit continuity for a quality show. It’s basically an extended descriptive writing exercise, so there is a creative element to it that I like.
Favourite project(s) you’ve worked on: One of my favourites was a documentary called Surfwise, which is about a doctor who quit his practice to avoid a nervous breakdown, got married, bought a van, and spent the next 30 years traveling from beach to beach with his enormous brood of children, teaching them to surf. I wouldn’t call him wise necessarily, but I would certainly call him memorable. There are many, many others that I could name, but that one stands out.
Best memory/story about working at Line 21: At Line 21 everyone is always wearing headphones and listening intently to make sure all the stutters are right for captioning, so it can be a quiet place. This means that if you’re working on a funny show, it might be disruptive if you’re laughing out loud the whole time. Some of my best memories are of laughing silently while tears are rolling down my cheeks. That’s a good day at work.
Favourite Vancouver restaurant and why: There are too many good restaurants in Vancouver to really choose one based on taste or ambience or any of those things. I’m a big fan of becoming a regular someplace and getting to know the owner and the people who work there. Before it changed ownership, for a long time that place for me was Chez Faye in Yaletown, where I was known as “Mr. Will” and invited over to meet the owner’s baby. For me, my favourite place is wherever feels like home at the moment, and that changes over time.
Favourite place to travel: Madrid, easily. It’s the only place I’ve been to where people spontaneously dance at lunch. Enough said.
Funny travel story/Best travel memory: Sometimes you go someplace to see the cathedrals and end up getting more out of the laundromat, but those kinds of experiences don’t necessarily lend themselves to good stories. For example, one time I got lost in Verona after arriving before sun-up and spent the entire day wandering around, flagging down locals and pointing at a map, then listening as they directed me emphatically in Italian (which I don’t understand) and pointed around in seemingly random directions. That was fun. Another time I got into Munich during Oktoberfest, couldn’t find a place to stay, and ended up waiting for a train in a small Munich bar with a bunch of locals who all hated Oktoberfest (and me as well until they found out I also didn’t like it, at which point they were the best friends I ever had). Sometimes when you feel lost or out of control of the situation, you find yourself having the best time.
Great profile, Will! Check out more Line 21 staff profiles here.
Relying on YouTube’s voice recognition technology resulted in this unfortunate caption. The real message? “I don’t have to settle on my smartphone for all my internet needs when I’m out and about.” Yikes.
Since the early ‘90s, people have been asking if we use voice recognition apps for captioning, subtitling, and transcription.
While we love a new tool, the truth is that voice recognition hasn’t worked for us, although it might for you. Below I’ve listed a few of its limitations, and then shown why they don’t generally jibe with the work we do.
Voice recognition applications learn one speaker’s voice and work best on that voice alone.
We transcribe hundreds of different speakers every week.
Voice recognition applications don’t like background noise, like music, f/x, or other speakers.
Nearly everything we work on involves these elements.
Voice recognition application outputs require loads of hands-on editing and proofing.
We figure since we’ve got our hands on the keyboard, we might as well transcribe (but if you weren’t already a proficient transcriber, you might give voice recognition a try).
If you do decide to try voice recognition for transcription, it’s best to use it for a single speaker: optimally, speaking directly to camera. Someone will need to check the output for errors, and sometimes very funky errors, very carefully. There are obvious concerns, like whether any unusual nouns are spelled correctly, but also whether the voice recognition confused more common words, like ARE and OR. They do sound similar.
Pro Tip: For best results with voice recognition apps, pretend that you are a simultaneous translator at the UN. Repeat each word you hear into your microphone to ensure optimal clarity and to give the application the chance to learn your voice alone.
February is the month of love! So we’re spreading random love for three great places to shop in Yaletown. All independent, local, and savvy, this is some of the best shopping in Vancouver, and clearly run by some great small business people. Check ‘em out!
The Cross: for decor, furniture, bedding, and gifts.
Fine Finds: for decor, clothing, accessories, and gifts— for adults and kids!
In honour of chocolate month, here’s a really easy way to use awesome ingredients and indulge in total deliciousness. That it makes your home smell amazing is a bonus. And not to pick on soya lecithin or anything, but there are no stabilizers needed here!
Slowly melt 7 oz of 72% dark chocolate, or your favourite baking-quality chocolate in a double boiler (water in the bottom half, chocolate in the top half enjoying the indirect heat) until almost smooth.
Add ½ c whole raw almonds and ¾ c unsweetened coconut flakes to the chocolate.
Stir until chocolate is melted and the mixture is even.
Spoon mixture onto parchment paper and smooth out.
Refrigerate until cool (and for storage).
Flip onto a cutting board and cut into pieces.
Wrap up for your sweetheart, enjoy with friends, or keep the whole thing to yourself!
Kelly —who we’re profiling this month—and Carolyn are the co-owners of Line 21, and have been friends for life, or at least since Grade 8. Kelly is the clumsiest staff member, but she is pretty happy doing payroll with her Quatchi pen, so no one bugs her too much. She loves words and kids and is very easily entertained by either… or, preferably, both.
Name: Kelly Duncan Maxwell
Years at Line 21: 19.
What you did before Line 21: I was a caption editor at Western Captioning in Gastown. Before that, I was an Anthropology graduate, History grad student, prep cook, office manager, sports association manager, Dbase 3+ hacker, tax preparer, and mental health worker. I flipped burgers in the Pit Pub at UBC for two years in the late ’80s—I recognize a lot of people around town from those years. In the early ’80s, I worked at Ticketmaster (with Carolyn Hicks) and also at Le Chateau.
Favourite part of the job: Definitely our team and our clients. It is an amazing privilege to be in contact with such smart, interesting, nice, competent people all day long, each and every day.
Favourite project(s) you’ve worked on: I have huge admiration for the people who bring shows from concept to completion. I love personal documentary projects and always appreciate a challenge to my thinking. Also, any film that can take you imaginatively right out of your current surroundings. I am also a huge fan of people who make episodical TV and keep us on their side for 65 episodes at a time. That’s amazing.
Best memory/story about working at Line 21: One of my favourite moments was at one of our early Christmas parties when I looked around at all these great people assembled and thought “They met each other and became friends because we started our company.”
Favourite Vancouver restaurant and why: We had our 2012 Christmas party at La Buca. This place is a hidden gem, and I do mean hidden, on MacDonald around 23rd Ave.. They had no problem with all of our dietary challenges (celiac, dairy free, seafood free, etc), and served us the most AMAZING meal. Highly recommended! And for lunch or afternoons, Aphrodite has amazing, wholesome, food, with a large gluten-free menu and a huge range of delicious gluten-free pies.
Favourite place to travel: We are just about to take a huge family trip to New York, London, and Edinburgh. I love cities. We were recently in San Francisco and Berkeley, which made me want to be an undergrad again.
Thanks Kelly! Check out our other staff profiles here.
Okay, so we all know there are several types of captioning. And we also know that all captioning should convey any information that would otherwise be lost from a viewing experience if you couldn’t hear the audio: dialogue, non-verbal utterances and tones, changes of speaker, sound effects, music, etc. Captioning should also never interfere with on-screen graphics or supers. This is all a given. But how do you know when to use the different types of captioning for your specific project? Glad you asked!
Generally, there are 2 types of broadcast captioning:
1. Live captioning
Live captioning requires a live (a.k.a. real-time) captioning agency. This type of captioning is for programs going live to air or for those with very short production schedules. Call the professionals. We recommend The Captioning Group in Calgary, and have since the early ’90s!
2. Offline captioning
This is what Line 21 specializes in. In offline captioning, we deal in 4 main styles.
As we’ve seen, these types of captions are phrased into 2-line titles which display sequentially, each one individually timed, with on-screen events synchronized to the actual frame of the film edits. Each caption should form a unit of meaning and should be phrased to make it easy to read and understand. Speaker IDs may be used, but generally, positioned captioning means that captioning is placed on the screen to indicate who is speaking and where sounds are coming from. This is our elite-level service and should always be used for dramas, comedies, shows with lots of speakers, and for TV or DVD.
Here the 2-line captions are phrased and timed as above, but are centre-positioned and centre-justified into 2-line titles which display sequentially. Each line should be individually timed, but not to the exact frame, although this difference should not be jarring. Speaker IDs are not used in this format; a dash is used to indicate when a speaker changes but it is up to the viewer to figure out who the new speaker is. This service is slightly less labour-intensive, so slightly less costly, and could be used for reality programming or documentaries, as well as for the web, where positioned captioning may not be possible.
The third style of captioning is:
Subtitling for the deaf and hard of hearing.
This is pop-on unpositioned captioning with the addition of speaker IDs and a heavier use of italics to indicate off-screen speakers. It conveys the same information as pop-on positioned captioning, but compensates for delivery on formats that don’t support caption positioning, and is suitable for all genres, including comedy and dramas.
The final type of captioning is roll-up captioning, which I’ve also covered before - essentially, a bare-bones kind of captioning with few stylistic or visual cues as to who is speaking and used when time is tight to broadcast. It’s intended for speed and is generally used for shows with single speakers, news, and sports. It is not to be depended on for web or DVD captioning, since it may not always display correctly.
At Line 21, we definitely recommend the pop-on formats because of their versatility, but we specialize in all 4 types of offline captioning, so if you need some help here, be sure to reach out to us. We’re happy to help!
January Recipe: Scotch Eggs!
Delicious and easy Scotch eggs!
Photo by chotda
We’ve always wanted to try them, but assumed they’d be heavy and oily… Turns out they’re not! I’ve adapted them from Well Fed: Paleo Recipes for People Who Love to Eat, which is full of delicious and warming recipes. Delicious for breakfast, lunch or dinner, enjoy these Scotch eggs dipped in dijon or homemade ketchup.
2 lbs ground beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey or salmon
2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp dried tarragon
¼ c parsley, minced
1 tbsp dried chives
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 large eggs, hardboiled and peeled
Hard-boil, cool and peel the eggs. Set aside.
Mix all other ingredients together in a bowl to combine, then divide into 8 equal parts.
Wrap 1 portion of meat mixture around each egg. Place on cookie sheet or in baking dish.
Bake the eggs at 350 degrees until cooked and browned. Eat warm or cold!