August 28, 2012

Where to Eat in Yaletown Part 2

Yaletown Lunch Recommendations

Since we wrote our last lunch recommendations post, a lot has changed in Yaletown. Euro Pastry House has closed and Bean Around the World has reduced its menu, dropping the salads and quinoa bowls we used to rely on.

So where are we eating now? Here’s an updated list of Yaletown lunch spots we recommend that you try out next time you’re in the neighbourhood.

Urban Thai

Photo by Thai House Restaurant Group by CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Photo by Thai House Restaurant Group

Like lots of Yaletownians, we’re frequent visitors at Urban Thai. We have definitely found that some menu items are more adaptable than others for allergies (we have some), but this isn’t a problem for us because the menu is large and full of tasty options.

Current favourites: #48 with Brown Rice (chicken with green beans, lime leaves, bell peppers, fresh basil & spicy sauce), Green Papaya Salad with extra prawns, and Lettuce Wraps. Always busy, always fast; the lunch specials are great to eat in or take out.

Check out their weekday lunch specials.

Hybar Naturally

Over on Pacific, we are loving Hybar Naturally! Bring your own container and enjoy this really fresh, tasty salad bar.

They have all you need for lunch most days. There’s always a great assortment of plain raw veggies and cut fruit, and some mixed salads. A big plus is the hot bar with items like meatballs (with all of their ingredients listed: thank you from the allergy people!), rice, and cooked vegetables. Add on some cold shrimp, feta, hard-boiled eggs, nuts and seeds, fresh salsa—basically anything you could want in a salad—and you are quickly good to go.

The owners and staff are very nice and often offer a sample of freshly squeezed juice from their (excellent) juice bar. We really appreciate the clean, fresh, wholesome food.


Photo by Raul Pacheco-Vega by CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Photo by Raul Pacheco-Vega

For a fancier lunch option, we’ve always loved Glowbal. If you have allergies, make sure you speak to a chef, and they are more than willing to take care of you. Straight off the menu, don’t miss the the Tempura Mushroom Satay (although all the satays are delicious), and the Papardelle with Short Ribs and Cafe au Lait Sauce is wonderful when it’s cold outside. The Mussels and Frites never disappoint, and the Ahi Tuna Nicoise Salad is truly lovely.

We had an event catered by Glowbal several years ago; the trays of snacks were absolutely amazing and quite a value. A Glowbal takeout lunch is always a nice choice if you don’t have time to eat in.

Check out their lunch menu (PDF).

Blue Water Cafe

Photo by Yaletown Business Improvement Association by CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Photo by Yaletown Business Improvement Association

And, of course, head to the Blue Water Cafe for the best cocktail and seafood tower in Yaletown.

Browse their cocktails and food options.

August Recipe: Fresh Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Fresh Mint Chip Ice Cream










Are you hungry yet? This month’s recipe comes from my husband John and it’s crazy good! It’s absolutely delicious on a hot summer day.

A huge handful of fresh mint leaves
1 cup milk
3/4 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
2 cups heavy (whipping) cream
1/2 cup small-size chocolate chips (or finely chopped chocolate)

Start by picking a bunch of fresh mint, a huge handful. Some recipes call for a cup or two, but mint leaves are pretty hard to measure that way. Bring the milk up to a simmer in a heavy bottomed pot and stew the leaves for at least half an hour. Don’t boil it.

Strain the leaves out of the milk, and press them hard with the back of a wooden spoon to squeeze out every last bit of flavour. Pour the strained milk back into the pot and keep it warm.

In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks into the sugar until smooth and creamy (you may need to add a little milk or cream to make it whiskable). Slowly add half the hot milk to the eggs & sugar to warm it gently, and then add it all back to the remaining milk in the pot. Raise the heat to medium and cook to a thick custard while stirring constantly to prevent scorching. The custard will coat the spoon when it’s ready.

Cool the custard down in a glass or metal bowl sitting in a larger bowl lined with ice cubes. When cold, stir in the cream.

Pour the custard into a pre-chilled ice cream maker, and then add the chocolate chips, a little at a time, while you stir.

Mix according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.

July 31, 2012

A Captioners’ Mini Manifesto

3 Things Captioners Need to Keep In Mind

In “Which sounds are significant? Towards a rhetoric of closed captioning,” Sean Zdenek argues that captioning is an interpretive practice where caption quality can be assessed in terms of genre, audience, context, and purpose.

“A rhetoric of closed captioning goes beyond questions of accuracy, timing, and screen placement to consider the ways in which users, multimedia texts, and genres interface with captions to make meaning.”

It’s an excellent article that everyone in the industry should read. As captioners, we have to be incredibly thoughtful to do our job well. Not only do we need to consider what the intentions of the filmmakers are, we also need to consider what the experience of the hearing viewer is and how to replace the audio with captioning of equivalent value.

Caption quality and accuracy are more important than ever as the CRTC is now requiring broadcasters to get their captioning to within 95% word accuracy and 6 seconds audio synch by September 1, 2012. This is a big deal as the CRTC has never had an opinion on caption quality.

Here are 3 main points that Zdenek makes in his article. I’d argue that they are a mini manifesto for what we, as captioners, need to keep in mind as we perform our work.

A Mini Manifesto For Closed Captioning

1. “Captioning is a rhetorically complex and creative act. Captioners are rhetorical agents who must, at times, make decisions about which sounds to caption and how to caption them.”

We once captioned a period film which had a TV narrator speaking (fully audibly) in the background. The TV narration was from the incorrect period, dating from well after the time portrayed in the film. We asked the filmmaker whether this audio was going to be replaced, and they said they knew there was a mistake, but that the audio had to stay.

It was up to the captioner whether to highlight a mistake like this by captioning background audio which hearing viewers may or may not attend to. With audio, relative volume levels confer relative weight to information. In captioning, we can’t background or foreground information; there is no way to fade a caption in or out to strengthen or soften it, so all captions carry the same weight as all other captions. Do you pick out all the content of background walla and caption it? Or do you let the visuals carry the message? These are daily decisions for caption editors.

2. “Captions provide a different experience of the text.”

Zedenek gives some great examples of instances where captions revealed too much or too little, including:

  • Interrupting dialogue to caption PA voiceover that doesn’t relate to the scene or the plot.
  • Failing to caption sound effects that are essential to the plot.
  • Spoiling the plot with omniscient captioning that reveals information not yet given in the movie.

For a non-hearing audience, captions play a central role in the experience of the text and captioners need to be mindful of this. We have active decisions to make as to what information we include and what we leave out as insignificant, distracting, or anachronistic.

3. “Captions do not merely transcribe audio content but transform it.”

A simple example is how the captioner’s worldview can be transmitted in their captioning. For instance:

  • Do you hear people [CHANTING] in a language you do not speak, or are they [SINGING]? Are they [SINGING BEAUTIFULLY] or [SQUAWKING]?
  • Can you name that language correctly? Is someone with a heavy accent [SPEAKING UNINTELLIGBLY]?
  • Do you include every “um,” “uh,” and hesitation, which might convey more uncertainty than a hearing viewer would attribute?
  • Can you get all the nouns right, across all genres and materials you caption?
  • Can you correctly attribute references in the music you hear? Is that a banjo or a guitar? Baroque music or classical? If a character sings an aria, do you caption [SINGING AN ARIA], or can you name it? Can you caption the lyrics?

Which of these would constitute accuracy to the CRTC’s standards?

We have many, many opportunities to convey value…or to add value. We want the hearing viewer’s perspective that we are trying to portray to be a subtle and informed perspective, with as complex and complete an understanding as possible. Overall, we want to render the meaning of the text clearly and informatively, respecting the timeline, feel, and tone of the film.

Read Sean Zdenek’s article.

What to chat more about captioning? Get in touch with us.

July Recipe: Champagne Zabaglione with Fresh Fruit Compote

July's Recipe: Champagne Zabaglione with Fresh Fruit Compote









Nothing says summer like fresh fruit—add champagne into the mix and you have a fantastic dessert!

This recipe uses oranges, pineapple, strawberries, kiwis and pears but you can use any fruit that you have on hand. Adding champagne to the zabaglione (an Italian custard) takes the dessert from ordinary to an extra special treat!

Get the recipe on Epicurious.com.

June 26, 2012

7 Must-Follow Rules for Captioning & Subtitling Music

In Smells Like New Mayonnaise To Me: Captioning/Subtitling Music, I talk about how, when I first started captioning and was peer-reviewing a co-worker’s work, I saw this go by on the screen:

I feel like my head is gone

And what the hell is going on

And it smells like new mayonnaise to me

This was the editor’s best guess at the lyrics of the song in the show. Not good.

Over 20 years later, I continue to see mistakes in music captioning. As anyone who has ever misheard a lyric knows, it can be hard to catch what people are singing. In captioning, we can’t skip words that we don’t understand, as you commonly do when you’re casually listening. Dropping words here and there is just not acceptable for captioners.

With 2 decades in the industry, this is what I’ve learned:

Kelly’s 7 Must-Follow Rules for Captioning Music

1. Don’t Guess. Always use lyric sheets with producer sign-off. If there is no lyrics sheet, ask for a transcript of the words. If none is available, search Google for the lyrics. Also compare several transcripts to make sure that mistakes aren’t just being perpetuated over and over.

2. Make sure you are parsing the phonemes correctly. Did you hear “oh, the buzzards and the bees…” or was it possibly “oh, the BUZZING of the bees…”? The same applies in different language contexts: is that a non-English word, or just something you’ve never heard of before (possibly said with an accent)? In a film about China with an Australian narrator, we encountered a NAH-SO cart (presuming that NAH-SO was Chinese for… something). The correct term was NIGHT SOIL cart. An English term, just a bit uncommon!

3. If you can’t determine 100% what the lyrics are, leave phrases out. You can’t provide viewers with nonsense.

4. Although the internet has improved how we perform our work tenfold, a second (or third, or fourth) set of ears is still invaluable. Especially those with genre-specific knowledge. Phone a friend or relation. Call your Dad.

5. For incidental music (or background music), check for producer and broadcaster preferences. Some producers/broadcasters request that every word of incidental music be included, and some request that incidental music be left out. If it’s left up to you to decide, consider whether the music comments on the action, or detracts from it. Do you think the director really wants you to think about what the lyrics are, and reflect on what they are saying about the situation?

6. Make sure you have the final music. In the past, we’ve completed captioning… only to discover that the music has changed. Be especially careful about the difference between broadcast and DVD music, as different music licenses may apply. This may mean that a high-profile hit song, which could be licensed for only a small number of broadcasts, would need to be replaced with a different song for the DVD version.

7. There is no excuse for not captioning music performed by characters on screen. As captioners, we are meant to provide information that a hearing viewer would have access to and that a non-hearing viewer would miss. This includes music! That’s what we’re here for.

Do you have more captioning and subtitling questions? Get in touch with us!

June Recipe: Watermelon, Cucumber & Mint Salad

Photo by Eric Petruno by CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Photo by Eric Petruno

One of our favourite summer combos: watermelon and cucumber and mint. This can be a refreshing drink if you throw the ingredients in the blender (with some ice and water or your favourite liquid)! Or add a few more ingredients and it can be a salad:

1/4 watermelon, chunked
1/2 cucumber, chunked
Lime juice or your favourite vinegar
Olive oil
Dash of salt
Mint leaves, crushes and ripped

Toss all ingredients together. And if you’re feeling like it add feta, pumpkin seeds or pistachios. Enjoy!

May 9, 2012

Leo Awards 2012

Line 21 is proud to be an Associate Sponsor of this year’s Leo Awards! The Leo Awards are an annual event to celebrate BC’s film and television industry. As members of Vancouver’s film and TV community, we think that it’s really important to celebrate our own industry: to build the profile of our talented actors, directors, producers, writers, editors, and all the hard work and expertise that goes into making media in our province!

Last year’s winners include Sanctuary, Fathers&Sons, Amazon Falls, The Haunting Hour, Gunless, Tucker&Dale vs. Evil, and Hiccups.

The Leo Awards are happening on May 25-26, at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. Good luck to all the nominees!

Here’s the full list of nominees.

Interested in volunteering at the event? How to volunteer at the Leo Awards.

Hope to see you there!

May Recipe: Kale Chips

Photo by Well of Health CC BY 2.0

Photo by Well of Health

Healthier than buttery popcorn or potato chips, kale chips are a great movie-watching snack. If you’re looking for more details, The Chic Life’s Easy Kale Chips Recipe & Baking Tips has great tips on choosing the right variety of kale and how to measure your oil.


1 head kale, washed, stalks discarded, ripped into small pieces.

Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and a touch of pepper. Massage into the kale.

Spread the kale out on a cookie sheet, leaving lots of space.

Cook in a low oven; you want to dehydrate them gently without burning. Remove when crispy, but before they brown!


May 1, 2012

DOXA Documentary Film Festival Opens May 4!

This year’s DOXA Documentary Film Festival runs from May 4-13, and Vancouver has a lot to be excited about! Over 100 films, 72 screenings, 6 world premieres, 5 venues, and some of the best festival programming you can ever dream of. Line 21 has been a DOXA sponsor for a long time, because it gives us an opportunity to support documentary films and screenings in Vancouver, but also because it’s a lot of fun and put together by great people.

Line 21 is a screening partner at DOXA this year, and we are really excited! First of all, the film we’re presenting looks excellent. Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet is the story of Jason Becker, who was a young guitar god when he was diagnosed with ALS, (Lou Gehrig’s disease). DOXA’s Dorothy Woodend says, “This is one of those rare films that make one re-evaluate what is possible in life.” We can’t wait to see the film! Look for us in the audience!

Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet on Vimeo.

We are also proud to support the Kris Anderson Connexions Youth Forum, which runs concurrently with the festival and gives young women an amazing opportunity to develop their film-making and storytelling skills by putting them together with incredible industry mentors. Keep an eye out for the Connexions participants throughout the festival.

Can’t decide what film to see?

  • Pick one of the special programs, like the Justice Forum, The Philosophers’ Cafe, or Rated Y for Youth.
  • Check out the handy “genre tags” at the bottom of each film page on the DOXA site.
  • Pick a theatre and a time that suits you and see whatever is on. We’ve seen many DOXA films, and loved every single one. How many film festivals can you say that about?

We’ll see you there!

Looking for more information about 2012’s DOXA Documentary Film Festival?

Full DOXA Schedule

Buy DOXA Tickets




April 25, 2012

Understanding Combined Dialogue and Action Continuity Scripts

Combined Dialogue and Action Continuity Scripts (also called Combined Continuity and Spotting Lists or CCSLs) are the most difficult and expensive scripts to prepare.

It’s often a hassle to order CCSLs near the end of a project and dedicate a large chunk of your budget on them, but they’re important for copyright, content editing, and foreign release.

Understanding Combined Dialogue and Action Continuity Scripts — what they include, why they’re important and how to accurately complete one — will allow you to better schedule your production time and budget.

What is a Combined Dialogue and Action Continuity Script?

A Combined Dialogue and Action Continuity Script — or CCSL — is a breakdown of all the dialogue and action in your production.

The dialogue and action are broken down shot by shot, word by word, according to either timecode or foot and frame timing (or both, depending on your needs). A CCSL needs to be extremely precise and includes the following:

  1. Shots are numbered and given a time reference
  2. Description of camera shots and the movement within each shot
  3. Full list of word-accurate dialogue is broken down, per shot
  4. All non-verbal utterances
  5. IDs, as well as notations about whom each character is speaking to
  6. Voiceovers, off-screen, and face obscured are indicated
  7. Foreign dialogue is included and translated
  8. Main titles and supers are numbered in
  9. Dialogue is broken into titles, with a timed reference in and out with duration, in accordance to subtitling standards
  10. Titles are edited, if necessary, to meet timing of subtitling standards
  11. Titles include annotations to assist translators, where necessary
  12. If appropriate, all titles are numbered and broken by reels
  13. Full list of end credits is included

These are the elements included in a comprehensive CCSL. Not all delivery requirements are the same, so it may be worth having a less involved version if your budget is tight and your requirements allow it.

Sample of a Simple CCSL

Sample of a Simple CCSL

Download a sample of a Simple Combined Continuity and Spotting List (PDF)

Sample of a Comprehensive (or Complex) CCSL

Sample of a Complext CCSL









Download a sample of a Comprehensive Combined Continuity and Spotting List (PDF)

Get more transcription samples, including Dialogue Lists and As-Produced Scripts.

What is a CCSL Used For? Why is it Part of My Requirements?

CCSLs are a delivery requirement between production companies and studios. They serve as a legal description of the film or television project for copyright purposes. The continuity is used for pan and scan and content editing, while the dialogue and subtitles are used for foreign release. CCSLs are also used as the outline for dubbing and subtitling.

How Do I Get a CCSL Completed?

Completing a Combined Continuity and Spotting List is a very labour intensive job. CCSLs need to be done by people (not machines), and they take a lot of hours to accurately finish. Due to the hours involved, it’s best to have your script into your transcription provider 4 weeks in advance of when you need it.

Note: To get an accurate script, only send final media. Sending initial media is a waste of time because your transcription provider will have to go back and change things. For example, one small edit throws all the timecodes after it off, making your transcription provider start from scratch.

When ordering a CCSL, your transcription provider will need:

  1. Media with a t/c or foot and frame burn, or both
  2. Shooting script, preferably a later version
  3. List of the tail credit crawl in a text format (Word, Excel, or other text document)
  4. Foreign language translations, if applicable
  5. Song lyrics, if applicable

Have more questions about CCSLs or other transcription formats?
Get in touch with us.

April Recipe: Spring Pea Shoot Salad

April's Recipe: Sesame Pea Shoot Salad













If you ever go to Legendary Noodle on Main at 26th (and you should, if you are able to eat and enjoy wheat), a definite must-order is the pea shoots. They are sautéed in garlic and so delicious! So in honour of spring and Legendary Noodle, here’s a pea shoot salad. This recipe was inspired by this Sesame Pea-Shoot Salad recipe.

Varying the quantities of the greens is totally okay.


1 cup sugar snap peas

½ cup snow peas

1 cup shelled peas or shelled edamame

6 cups pea shoots

Wash greens and pat dry. Optional: blanch the greens (except the pea shoots) until just brightly coloured. Or lightly sauté or steam them. Or leave them raw!

Toss greens together in a bowl.


1 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tbsp sesame oil

2 tsp sesame seeds, may be toasted or soaked and sprouted

½ tbsp brown sugar if desired

2 tsp soy sauce or Bragg’s aminos

Whisk dressing together or whiz it in the blender, and drizzle over the greens.

March 30, 2012

Line 21's Client Highlights

As we mentioned in our last post, this month is Line 21’s 18th Birthday.

We’ve stayed in this business for as long as we have because of our clients. Over the last 18 years, our clients have made our hectic schedules and hard work worthwhile. Here are some (but by no means all) of the highlights:

First Client: Four Force Entertainment

Our very first project at Line 21 was a HandyDART PSA for Four Force, and we still get to work with them to this day. We have a framed copy of invoice #1 on our wall in the office.

Series Clients We Love: Omni & Paperny Entertainment

To us, Force Four, Omni Film and Paperny Entertainment all deserve special awards of honour for consistently generating fun, entertaining, smart, and interesting TV—from factual to reality to dramatic. We’ve sincerely enjoyed it all, from You, Me, and the Kids, Kink, and Champions of the Wild to Million Dollar Neighbourhood, Eat St., and Buffalo Air. Much love.

First Drama Series: Lonesome Dove

Those of you who have known us long enough will remember that in the days of hardware encoders, we carried our own smart encoder around between Vancouver post houses. For the first episode we did of Lonesome Dove, Carolyn delivered the entire captioning station and encoder (all the way down to the mouse!), to Jon Robertson at Post Haste (now Technicolour). Total weight of approximately 80 pounds, now, of course, all done in software.

Clients We Miss:  Haddock Entertainment, Stargate

We are superfans of all our dramatic series. We miss Beggars and Choosers, which we thought was hysterical, Dead Like Me, (likewise, hysterical), Robson Arms (hysterical…), and maybe most of all, the Da Vinci/Da Vinci City Hall/Intelligence series’.

And, of course, no mention of dramatic series’ in Vancouver can be made without Stargate. Between the original series, Stargate SG-1, and then Stargate: Atlantis, and Stargate: Universe, there was 10 seasons, plus 5 seasons, plus 2 seasons (plus movies) of great TV to watch and work on. This was followed by Sanctuary, which has had 4 seasons so far and we are hoping for season 5!

Unsung Heroes: Front Street & Brightlight

Front Street and Brightlight are film and made-for-TV movie producers in Vancouver. We have huge admiration for how they manage their many movies per year to broadcast schedules, and they’ve always been great to work with.

And for all the clients we don’t have space to mention, thank you for your dedication and support over the last 18 years. Here’s to 18 more!

Carolyn and Kelly, 2012
March 27, 2012

Happy Birthday To Us!

This month is Line 21’s 18th Birthday. We can’t believe that we’ve been a company for almost 2 decades!

Kelly Maxwell and Carolyn Hicks, friends since Junior High at RC Palmer in Richmond, started Line 21 back in March 1994.

Kelly in Stewart, BC, 1993
Carolyn in Caen, 1993

Our first office was Carolyn’s parents’ kitchen table (definitely one of our best lunch options!). This was after we both learned our trade at Western Captioning. Carolyn started at Western Captioning in 1990 and Kelly started there in 1991. When the owner wanted to sell us his company, after exploring all options, we ended up business owners—much to our surprise!

Since 1995, Line 21’s office has been in Yaletown. We were first in the Empress building, had a brief sojourn to Kits from 1997-1998, and we’ve been in our current space in Yaletown (behind the Boulangerie la Parisienne, kitty-corner to the Yaletown Brewing Co), since 1998.

To celebrate our birthday, here are some fun facts about Line 21.

5 Facts About Line 21

1. We’re a small(ish) company. There are approximately 11 people working for Line 21 on any given day, plus some freelance transcribers. There’s a lot of labour that goes into what we do. Kelly and Carolyn both still work in production, hands-on.

2. We are fans of the shows we work on… especially the dramatic series. And we are huge fans of Vancouver actors, directors, editors, writers, and post people.

3. We’re really proud to have long-term staff. The majority of our staff have been working for us for about 10 years. Leslie and Dawn joined us in 1998, Steffani in 1999, Patricia and Siri in 2002, Will in 2005, and Yasumi joined us in 2006.

4. We work to live. Most of us work flexible hours to support children, education, and/or artistic endeavors.

5. Line 21 has closed captioned approximately 20,000 titles and transcribed about 9,000 scripts. All archived in perpetuity. And all done by real people (sometimes people think we’re all machines).

Find out more about Line 21.

March Recipe: Jack’s Best Birthday Cake

This recipe comes from Twist It Up by Jack Witherspoon. We made it to celebrate Line 21’s birthday and it was wicked!


1 cup butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup strong coffee at room temperature
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup cocoa powder
2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup boiling water
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and beat until smooth.

In another bowl, combine milk, coffee, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a 3rd bowl, combine flour and cocoa.

Alternate  adding the milk and flour mixes into the creamed sugar mixture. Blend. Add in the boiling water and blend. Add in the vanilla and blend.

Pour the batter into 8 inch round cake pans, or equivalent. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. (Bake for more or less time if you choose a different size pan).

Cool, and ice with icing made of:

3 cups icing sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup melted butter
4 tbsp milk at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla

Blend all together until smooth. Add more milk to thin if needed.

Next:  Our client highlights over the last 18 years.

February 21, 2012

Why The Need For Both Subtitles AND Closed Captioning?


What Is Closed Captioning? talks about the difference between closed captioning and subtitling by explaining that closed captioning is meant for a non-hearing audience while subtitling assumes that the audience can hear but doesn’t understand the language being spoken.


This means that subtitles include just what speakers say, while closed captioning also includes non-verbal information, such as sounds effects and speaker IDs.


While this covers the basics, the difference between subtitles and closed captioning is actually quite complex. Here are answers to some common questions to help you better understand why we need both subtitles and closed captioning.


Note: Sometimes if closed captioning is not technically available for some reason, you might encounter subtitling written for the deaf and hard of hearing; this is called SDH subtitling, and it includes all sound effects and identifies each speaker.

Is CC Just Subtitles With More Details?

Maybe another way to look at this is that subtitles would be closed captions except for all the details that get left out. In general, the reading rate is significantly slower in subtitles than in captioning. This is in compensation for the work the viewer is doing in listening and reading in two different languages, and in attending to the audio in order to figure who is saying what and in what context.

What’s the Difference Between Making a DVD With Subtitles Versus With Closed Captioning?

Do you know the saying that the great thing about standards is that there are so many of them? Well, that’s subtitling.


Each authoring system has a slightly different way of dealing with subtitling, and you can expect to spend some time working on your subtitle file formatting.


Best practices for subtitle file formatting:

  • Always start with a clean subtitle transcript with immaculate spelling, punctuation, thoughtful phrasing, and accurate spotting.
  • 5 frames blank between each subtitle is customary to make sure that one title is removed before the next is displayed.
  • Try to import your subtitles into your authoring system as formatted text before you move to using graphics and slides.


In comparison, captioning is generally more complex information. Captioning files are encoded, so the text is not handled as graphics, it is compiled and encoded and decoded at the machine level. There are also more aspects to include in captions, including left/right/centre positioning. In addition, the conventional file formats for closed captioning mean that once you choose the one you prefer from a relatively short list, you should not have to do much more debugging.

How To Know Whether To Use CC or Subtitles

Consider your audience. If you expect them to all be hearing viewers watching in optimal conditions, you can go with subtitles. Our recommendation would be to caption your film in the language it is voiced in, either using broadcast standards or SDH standards, and then to add subtitles for additional languages you might want to target. The captions will be clear and easy to read for those who choose them, and you won’t risk excluding the viewers who don’t get enough detail from subtitles alone.


February’s Recipe: Steak Gaucho-Style with Argentinian Chimichurri Sauce

Photo by Sifu Renka by CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Photo by Sifu Renka


We love Bob Blumer! We worked on his show Glutton For Punishment for 5 seasons, and we’re now at work on his new show, World’s Weirdest Restaurants. This recipe is featured in his cookbook, Glutton For Pleasure (which is a great read).


I learned about Chimichurri from Carolyn’s husband, Rob, and it is one of the very best things! Great on anything, not just steaks. Well, maybe not on fruit pie.


This Steak Gaucho-Style with Argentinian Chimichurri Sauce recipe is super easy to make and really delicious — lots of parsley, lemon and garlic. Find the recipe on Foodnetwork.com.

February 2, 2012

Filmmakers Need To Future Proof Their Media

Photo by Chelsea Davis by CC BY-NC-ND 2.0Photo by Chelsea Davis

Filmmakers need to future proof their media and according to a recent article in Variety, most aren’t even considering this.

Acad sounds alarm about fragility of digital prod’n suggests that filmmakers don’t consider future proofing, and that with our current explosion and implosion of digital standards, some films may not be accessible just months after they are made.

As someone said to me last week, filmmakers feel liberated by digital media. There is the perception that a digital file is permanent and reproducible in a whole different way from physical media. But digital media does not at all solve the archivist’s problems.

Why Do Filmmakers Need to Future Proof Their Digital Media?

Future proofing generally means taking steps to ensure that your media and data don’t degrade before you are done with them.

We could be talking about a physical issue, like the short lifespan of fax paper, or we could be talking about the lifespan of hardware or of software applications needed to access the information on media: for instance, 8-track tapes may be intact, but if you don’t have an 8-track player, you won’t be listening to the songs on them. And with digital media, if you have chosen a proprietary file format, and the software to open that file obsolesces for whatever reason, you have the same problem again.

This set of issues is as old as material culture. Do we scratch our messages in the sand or on a stone tablet? Do we write on vellum or on rice paper? If the problem isn’t clear, consider this: would you put the Kobo version of a book into a time capsule… or would you print the book on the best archival quality paper you could find? Or something in between, depending on when you thought the book would be accessed?

What does this mean for filmmakers?

1. You need active file management and a plan in place for output to archival quality media.

For example, the company that we used to work for saved all its client data files on to floppy disks. If we had those floppy disks now and found a floppy drive to play them on, we would find that the files are compiled by proprietary software. It could become illegal to break that software encoding to get the client’s material.

This is the same thing that’s happening with breaking DVD coding. There is a continual and active lobby to make it completely illegal to rip DVD files to digital files — even if you are the filmmaker or rights holder. Potentially, you might have legal rights to the media itself, but might be prevented by law from attempting to access the media, if it means circumventing a digital lock. Read more about digital rights management here.

2. If you want your media to last you have to output to a format you can conserve – such as paper or film or an open-source digital format.

3. You need to back up your data frequently and in several locations. Our guiding principles with our own media are:

  • Accessibility: Can we find it when we need to? When we find it, can we open the files? Are the files well indexed and documented?
  • Location: Do we have a physical backup? Is it off-site? Do we have several copies?

Here’s an article on the keys to safe data archiving that has a very useful grid that outlines some best practice file formats for archiving.

What are your methods for future proofing your digital media?

January 23, 2012

Gung Hay Fat Choy

2012 is the year of the dragon

2012 is the year of the Dragon. If you were born in 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988 or 2000… this is your year!

A symbol of good fortune and sign of intense power, the Dragon is regarded as a divine beast–the reverse of the malicious monster Westerners felt necessary to find and slay. In Eastern philosophy, the Dragon is said to be a deliverer of good fortune and a master of authority.

People born in the year of the Dragon are to be honoured and respected.

And, as usual, there is both good and bad news.

Good News
Dragons are free spirits. Conformation is a Dragon’s curse. Rules and regulations are made for other people. An extroverted bundle of energy, gifted and utterly irrepressible, Dragons do everything on a grand scale: big ideas, ornate gestures, extreme ambitions. However, this behavior isn’t meant for show and is rarely ostentatious.

Because they are confident and fearless in the face of challenge, they are almost inevitably successful. Look for Dragons at the top of the bill, not playing supporting roles.

Bad news
There are pitfalls to the Dragon nature. Too much enthusiasm can leave them tired and unfulfilled. Even though they are willing to help others, pride can often impede them from accepting help themselves. Dragons’ generous personalities attract friends, but they are solitary by nature. A Dragon’s self-sufficiency can mean he/she has no need for close bonds with other people.

The Water Dragon: 1952 & 2012 The Water Dragon: 1952 & 2012

Water has a calming effect on the Dragon’s temperament. Water allows Dragons to be more perceptive of others. Thus, they are better equipped to take a step back and re-evaluate a situation. Water Dragons can be patience and do not desire the spotlight like other Dragons. They generally make smart decisions and are able to see eye-to-eye with other people. However, their actions can go wrong if they do not research or if they do not finish one project before starting another.

The Wood Dragon: 1964 The Wood Dragon: 1964

Wood has a modifying influence and brings creativity to this sign. Questioning and liberal, Wood Dragons enjoy talking about original ideas and are open to other points of view. They are innovative, imaginative, practical and appreciate art. Generally less pretentious than other Dragons, Wood Dragons have the ability to get along with other people. They have the essentials to build a prosperous and happy life for themselves. Still, Wood Dragons are outspoken and at times a bit pushy, even in the most friendly discussion.

The Fire Dragon: 1976The Fire Dragon: 1976

The Fire Dragon is a Dragon doubled and thus a force to be reckoned with! The Fire Dragon can move from calm to combustible in a matter of seconds. In some ways, the Fire Dragon is his or her own worst enemy. These Dragons cannot help feeling they are valuable and all-knowing. When they are right their vehemence and vigor is an asset to the cause. When they are wrong, they are obstreperous and combative.

Though they value objectivity, Fire Dragons aren’t always very good decision makers and are prone to jumping to the wrong conclusion. They also suffer from recklessness and quick tempers. Yet, when they do keep their emotions under control, they emanate a commanding influence on other people.

The Earth Dragon: 1928 & 1988The Earth Dragon: 1928 & 1988

Earth Dragons make great managers because they are practical, levelheaded and demonstrate a knack for organizing. They still have the need to dictate and be admired, but they are affable, congenial and supportive. Compared to other Dragons, Earth Dragons are less likely to breathe fire at the least irritation. They will work diligently to complete their goals.

The Earth element adds a greater portion of self-control to the Dragon’s personality and usually the Earth Dragon is deserving of the respect he or she desires. These Dragons take their life and romantic responsibilities quite seriously.

Best wishes for a happy and healthy 2012!

January 17, 2012

4 Captioning Best Practices

1. Take 4 Passes (At Least).
It takes, at minimum, 4 passes to accurately caption media. (What’s the difference between subtitling and captioning?). The 4 passes are as follows:

  • Transcribe accurately what is being said, with punctuation, spelling, and the write words [sic]. Phrase your transcript into captions. Include sound effects.
  • Time your captions to the media, matching them with audio and on-screen events. Position the captions to indicate who is speaking.
  • Test broadcast appearance, watching the media and captioning together as they will appear when finished. Make sure the positioning, phrasing, and timing feel natural and that it is clear who is speaking. If you find anything that is unclear or awkward, fix it.
  • Test readability to ensure that display duration and reading rate are adhered to, and that any timing errors or illegal characters are removed.

2. Know Where Your Supers Are.
Knowing where the supers are helps ensure that the captions don’t get in the way so that viewers understand who’s speaking and the captions don’t interfere with the show. Make sure you have the latest information, since any changes to supers or subtitles may affect your captioning. The last thing you want is the captioning and subtitling on top of each other; sometimes both are needed!

3. Work From the Original Script.
Working from the original script lets you know the spelling of a character’s name or how to spell the name of that make-believe planet. It also helps identify a character who is speaking off-screen. Be sure you’re clear on the story, too: it makes a difference whether your characters are dropping in or out of orbit.

4. Triple Check for Spelling, Punctuation, and Readable Phrasing.
Badly punctuated or phrased captions seriously impair your audience’s ability to understand your media, so double-, triple-, even quadruple-check your captions. Captions and subtitles are meant to help someone enjoy your show, not confuse them further.

Make sure that the right word is chosen… to avoid sometimes hilarious results:

Line 21 doesn't make captioning errors like these(Should be THEN she BAWLS out Freddy)

Have a project that needs captioning or subtitling? Contact us.

January’s Recipe: A Foolishly Simple Flax Cracker

Line 21's January Recipe for Flax Crackers

1 cup flax seeds
1 cup water
Pinch of salt or a drop of tamari

Mix ingredients together and let them sit until the flax becomes glutinous (not the same as glutenous! there’s no gluten in flax!).

Next, spread the mixture in a layer on a cookie sheet and dry in low oven (225F or below) or dehydrator until it reaches your desired consistency. You might prefer pliable, you might prefer crispy.

Possible Add-ins:
Garlic purée, try 1T
Puréed celery, try 1/4 cup
Herbs, try 1T.

If you remember the snickerdoodle hummus recipe (note: the recipe’s at the bottom of the post) from a few months back, these crackers are a perfect fit. But they are also great with cheese, peanut butter, cream cheese, jam, honey… anything you don’t want to eat straight off the spoon.

Bonus: Looking for some lunch recommendations in Yaletown? Check out our favourite go-to spots.

January 12, 2012

Yaletown Lunch Recommendations

Photo by Pyonko Omeyama by CC BY-ND 2.0
Photo by Pyonko Omeyama

Wow, we’ve been in Yaletown since 1995! Today we highlight 3 great grab-and-go lunch options that you might not know about.

Salsa and Agave for any type of Mexican food…but we especially like the veggie and chicken tostadas. Fast, fresh and delicious! There are 2 locations in the same block, one for eating in, and one for taking out.

Bean Around the World’s Quinoa bowl. We go to Bean Around the World (used to be known as the Yaletown Market) for great soup, but even better is their quinoa bowl with veggies, chicken, and pineapple salsa!

Euro Pastry House’s Zucchini Schnitzel. Right in our very own building is the Euro Pastry House. It used to be run by Zoran, but now it’s Renée’s place and thankfully she kept his menu! Great for sandwiches of all kinds–the zucchini schnitzel on marble rye is delicious.

Where’s your go-to lunch spot in Yaletown?

January 10, 2012

Production Heads Interviews Line 21 on the Closed Captioning and Subtitling Industry

Kenji Maeda of Production Heads interviewed me in our Line 21 studio last November.

In the video, we talk about the closed captioning and subtitling business, the work we do at Line 21 and the effect technology has had on the industry.

Thanks, Production Heads!

December 20, 2011

3 Tips for Planning Your Captioning and Transcription Projects for 2012

Line 21 Christmas LogoHappy Holidays!

Christmas is in the air here at Line 21 and most of you are probably busy wrapping things up for the year. Before the holiday festivities are in full swing, here are 3 things you can do to prepare your captioning and transcription projects for 2012:

1. Prepare your schedule.

The film and TV industry have ever-changing deadlines and your captioning and transcription provider needs a detailed schedule outlining, in particular, your audio mix and layback dates as well as your final delivery dates.

Pulling together your schedule now will help kick-start your project in January.

2. Sort out what your deliverables are and in what formats.

Outlining what you need can help your service provider plan the best process for your project. Create a detailed list now that you can discuss with your captioning and transcription provider in January.

Remember to check for as-pro scripts and that all of versions you are delivering are accounted for in your show’s formatting. If you have a longer and a shorter version, it’s quite a bit easier to get your longer version captioned and scripted first, and then to edit the captioning and scripts down to match the shorter version (or versions).

3. Pull together the requirements for your captioning and transcription projects.

Start collecting the script and media files that your captioning and transcription provider needs.

Not sure what the requirements are? To give you an idea, here are the requirements that Line 21 needs for captioning your media and for transcription projects.

Happy Holidays from everyone at Line 21!

Take a much deserved break and enjoy the time with family. Thanks for being a part of our 2011 and we look forward to 2012!

Line 21 Holiday Hours:

Closed Dec 24 – 27
Open Dec 28 – 30
Closed Dec 31 – Jan 2
Open Jan 3


December’s Recipe: Hot Buttered Rum

Is this a recipe or a reminder? Either way…Recipe for Buttered Rum

2 oz rum, your favourite kind

Lump of butter

1 t brown sugar

Boiling water to fill the glass

Try a cinnamon stick for swizzling. Cheers!

November 22, 2011

What is Film and TV Transcription?

A great transcript can be the basis of all kinds of other materials, including your captioning, web extras (interview transcripts! out-takes!), and subtitling. As anyone who has ever tried to transcribe their own footage knows, it’s harder than it seems. Add in shot descriptions, music cues, TC and IDs, and you can get into a lot of complexity very quickly.

Raw Footage Transcription

Raw footage transcription is a common thing to do with interview footage (video or audio) when you need a way of searching who said what, when, and where.

Many editors don’t require full verbatim for their raw footage, but it’s nice to have and makes cutting and pasting together a full transcript a lot easier. In addition, you might want to take your rough transcription and build it out into a full dialogue list at a later time.

Tips for raw footage transcription:

  • If you choose to do your own transcription, allot yourself some dedicated time for typing and listening… probably quite a bit more time than you think it could possibly take.
  • Our choice for transcription software is Inqscribe. We don’t recommend attempting voice recognition. It requires so much proofing that you might as well just start typing.
  • You might want to enter your raw footage into a logging application like PilotWare. This is completely do-able if you follow the application’s formatting details exactly. Attention to detail is critical.

Line 21 offers bulk rates for transcription on a tiered schedule, so if you have a huge number of hours to get through, or even if you just need someone to help with overflow, we can get the job done quickly and efficiently. We’re masters at managing these high-volume, tightly scheduled jobs.

Transcription For Post Production and Distribution

At the post production and release stage, you may be asked for any of a variety of as-shot or as-produced scripts to accompany your project into distribution. Your distributor or broadcaster will have very specific ideas about the transcription format they need. These can include (from simplest to most complex):

Dialogue List

Sample of a Simple Dialogue List

A dialogue list includes word-accurate dialogue and speaker IDs, and may or may not include timecode.

As-Produced Script

Sample of an As Produced Script

An as-produced script is an exact reflection of the final program as it will be broadcast. It includes act breaks, scene breakdowns and descriptions, continuity as required, plus word-accurate dialogue and IDs. As-produced scripts will also sometimes have timing for scenes or acts.

CCSL or Combined Continuity and Spotting List

Sample of a Complex CCSL Script

Here we reach full complexity!

A Simple CCSL is one where:

  • each shot is numbered and given a time reference
  • continuity is concisely described
  • dialogue is word-accurate and includes ID and is fully spotted
  • and main titles and supers are numbered and timed in.

The script is completed using either a timecode format, a feet-&-frame format, or both.


A Comprehensive CCSL includes all the elements of a Simple CCSL, plus adds numbering for all titles, includes fully timed subtitles, annotations for the subtitles to assist translators and make sure they understand the dialogue, and notations about whom each character is speaking to. A full list of end credits is also included.


Custom Scripts

Don’t see what you need? Line 21 can draft a script in a style that best suits you and your distributor. We can include just those elements you need, leaving out any that you don’t, making the most cost effective use of your production budget. Please call us anytime to discuss how we can best serve you.Find out more information about Line 21’s transcription services.

November’s Recipe:

Raw food brownies

These are amazing: gluten free, sugar free, vegan, and so delicious! Also: dead easy.

 Raw Food Brownies: Gluten Free, Sugar Free & Vegan

14 medjool dates, pitted (you need the juicy ones)

½ cup raw almonds or walnuts

½ cup raw cacao

Pinch of salt

Some raw vanilla


Blend all in the food processor. If you like them really smooth, process the nuts first. If you like them chunky, process everything all at once. Add a few more nuts if your batter is too loose, add a bit of water if it is too tight. It should press together easily.

Form into balls. Roll the balls in a bit of coconut or cacao nibs, if you like, and put them into the freezer for 10 minutes or longer to stiffen them up.


Via The Vancouver Raw Food School as reported in the Vancouver Sun.

November 3, 2011

What is Closed Captioning? CC Explained

Closed Captioning


Closed captioning (CC) is often a misunderstood aspect of the post-production process. Below are common questions about closed captioning that we often hear at Line 21:

1. What’s the difference between closed captioning and subtitling?

While both CC and subtitling display text on screen, closed captioning is meant for a non-hearing audience and so includes non-verbal information in addition to what speakers say. This can include sounds effects, speaker IDs, and positioning (left, right, centre) to indicate who is speaking.

Subtitling assumes that the audience can hear but doesn’t understand the language, so it deals with what the speakers say but doesn’t include the non-verbal information.


Hint: If you are planning to do both captioning and subtitling for your project, let your closed captioning provider know. It is more efficient to build captioning and subtitling at the same time. A good practice is to build a timed master English subtitling list to form the basis of all future language versions.

2. What’s the difference between open and closed captioning?

Open captions are visible to all viewers, whereas closed captions are only visible to those who activate them.

3. When do I need closed captioning?

You need closed captioning any time you want to include viewers who can’t fully hear or appreciate your audio for reasons that might include hearing loss, a noisy surrounding environment, or because they are learning the language.


Broadcasters are required by law to include captioning, but it is also a great way to give viewers another way to receive information. For instance, have you ever watched a film where the accents were so strong, or the voices were so quiet, that you weren’t entirely sure what was said? Good captioning would help you out here.


Captioning transcripts can also be used as the basis for fantastic dialogue lists and other post-production scripts. If you are planning a web presence, consider posting the transcript (or portions of it) to your blog or website.

4. Are there different types of closed captioning?



You probably see online captioning fairly often when watching sports and news or current events programming that goes straight to air. Online captioning is also known as realtime captioning, and is performed by stenographers. You should expect excellence in realtime captioning, but also realize that the captioner can’t stop to look up any unfamiliar terms, and that they don’t have the opportunity to go back over their work. Realtime captioning is done as rollup-style captioning.


Line 21 does offline captioning, where we work on captions in advance of broadcast. This gives us the opportunity to give your captioning an extra several passes. There are two main kinds of offline captioning:


Roll-up captioning: is used when time is tight to broadcast, and when there are few changes of speaker. The captions are not phrased for clarity, and normally the viewer has to figure out from the picture who is talking. Rollups are the least labour intensive method of captioning, and should therefore be the least expensive…but the transcript should still be perfect.


Here’s an example of roll-up captioning:



Pop-on captioning: more closely resembles subtitling, where the captions are phrased into 2-line titles which display sequentially, each one individually timed. Each caption should form a unit of meaning, and should be phrased to make it easy to read and understand.


Here’s an example of pop-on captioning:


5. How can the closed captioning process be made easier?

Know what all of your deliverables are and in what formats (as much as possible), before you start captioning, post production scripting, or subtitling.


Let your service provider help you plan the best process for your project. For instance, sometimes you will not be able to provider a copy of your show with final audio and picture, but your captioners will be able to start with preliminary media and finish to final media or final notes to shorten your final delivery timeline.


Also, always make sure to tell your captioners about any changes made to audio or picture after they have started work, or your captioning won’t match your final picture.

Find out more information about Line 21’s captioning services.


October’s Recipe: Broiled Vegetables with Yogurt

This might sound crazy, but… trust us.

  • 2c yogurt
  • 1t thyme
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 or 2 onions
  • some heavy-bodied vegetables: maybe 3-4 potatoes, 2 eggplants, or a head of cauliflower
  • some medium-bodied vegetables: zucchini, mushrooms, peppers, enough to cover the  bottom of a roasting pan when chunked
  • 3/4 c olive oil
  • lemon wedges
  • salt and pepper

Coat the bottom of a roasting pan with 1/4 cup olive oil.

Slice your heaviest vegetables into 1/2 inch slices or use cauliflower florets to make a single layer in the bottom of the roasting pan. Sprinkle with salt, and broil until brown and tender, flipping once. Remove from pan and put in mixing bowl.

Re-oil the pan and blacken the medium-bodied vegetables and onions, roughly chopped, under the broiler. Remove from pan and put in bowl.

Re-oil pan and put in the tomatoes, halved, cut side down. Broil until the skins blacken, remove the tomatoes, and chop. Add to bowl.

Toss all vegetables in the bowl with the yogurt and thyme. Salt and pepper to taste, put the mixture in the roasting pan, and broil until charred on top. Serve with lemon. Amazing!

Thanks to Mark Bittman.

September 22, 2011

5 Time Management Tips for Fall

Welcome to Fall!

The strategies we use to manage our time are top of mind this time of year, as work schedules heat up, the kids go back to school and film festivals begin. Not only does better time management mean less stress, but it also means more time to spend at the VIFF this year.

Here are 5 time management tips we follow at Line 21:

1. Block out the time you need, plus a buffer. When a project comes in at Line 21, we get it on the calendar right away and carve out the space the job will need, working backwards from the deadline. We also make sure to add a buffer at each step so that if emergencies arrive, we have a bit of flexibility and don’t get completely derailed by small delays.

2. Handle the small “must dos” first. At the start of each day, tackle the manageable jobs first. This prepares you for the bigger tasks. Once all the “must dos” are crossed off your list, you can move on to your optional tasks or, as we like to call them, “floating priorities.” Just make sure you don’t float them for too long or they become urgent, and no one wants that!

3. Have designated days for repeated tasks. Try to have designated days each week for repeated tasks, like bookkeeping day, cold calling day, and networking day. Of course, our favourite day is client lunch day!

4. Fit in 1 personal task a week. In between shows and deadlines, we all have daily life to fit in. If you have a long list of appointments – doctor, dentist, bank, furnace cleaner, industry surveys for Statistics Canada etc, – try to work one in each week.

5. If you work late nights, have a variety of activities to do. It is really exhausting (and sometimes impossible) to focus your attention on the same task for hours, especially at night. We are in our jobs for the long haul, so try to view it as an endurance event, and make sure your work habits are sustainable.

4 Films We’re Excited To See At VIFF This Year

Waking the Green Tiger

Gary Marcuse and Betsy Carson’s newest film about a burgeoning environmental movement in China. The film is at the VIFF as part of the Heaven and Earth environmental film series. A broadcast on the Nature of Things is planned for December 1. We love this film!

A Family Portrait in Black and White

Julia Ivanova’s amazing story about biracial children in Eastern Europe. The film has been to Sundance and will also be on The Knowledge Network on October 25 and 26 as part of their Storyville series. We are proud to have been able to work on it, and look forward to seeing it at the VIFF!

Bone Wind Fire

Jill Sharpe’s new film for the NFB about Georgia O’Keeffe, Frida Kahlo, and Emily Carr. This short film is absolutely gorgeous — it’s extremely evocative and completely inspirational.

Sisters & Brothers

Carl Bessai’s newest film follows up his earlier Mothers & Daughters (2008) and Fathers & Sons (2010). This film has some serious starpower in Cory Monteith (Glee), and one of our super favourites, Gabrielle Miller. As with the previous two in the series, you can expect some hilarious and true ensemble storytelling.

Download a PDF sneak preview of all the films at VIFF this year.

September’s Recipe:

Snickerdoodle dessert hummus! A comfort food with some major health appeal.
Source: The Wannabe Chef via Carrots n’ Cake

Snickerdoodle Dessert Hummous - a great recipe for Fall

Snickerdoodle Dessert Hummus
2 cups chickpeas, washed and drained
¼ c almond butter
¼ c maple syrup
2T brown sugar
1t cinnamon
Garnish with cinnamon sugar

Method: food processor for the lot!

January 8, 2011

Smells like new mayonnaise to me: captioning/subtitling music

When I first started captioning, I worked on a team of captioners which peer-reviewed each other’s work. One day, I watched this go by on a co-worker’s show:

I feel like my head is gone

And what the hell is going on

And it smells like new mayonnaise to me

This was the editor’s best guess at the lyrics of the song in his show. His peers stridently encouraged him to contact the producer of the show for lyric confirmation, and we all learned a lot that day. First of all, lyric sheets with producer sign-off are far preferable to guesses. Second of all, it is really worth considering when listening to lyrics (or any other dialogue) whether you are parsing the phonemes correctly. Did you hear “Linda’s farm” or “Lindesfarne”? And ultimately, if it can’t be determined what the lyrics are… they have to be left out. We can’t provide viewers with total nonsense.

I have worked on hundreds, possibly thousands of music videos since then, and we always request lyric sheets, despite my reputation for “spidey senses.” We have had hip-hop video producers tell us that there are no lyrics used in their videos… in which case we ask them for a transcript of the words. Most hip-hop videos would be impossible to caption intelligibly without transcripts provided by the actual artists… but not surprisingly, most videos are not true to their lyric (or word) sheets. We are always filling in blanks.

The hours we have spent researching lyrics are countless. Before we had the internet (I started captioning in 1991), we would go to the library, buy CDs, tapes, albums for liner notes, or call anyone we could think of with our questions. My dad was always particularly helpful. “Hi, Dad, do you know this song: whoa, back buck and gee by the lam? At the end of the line, could he really be saying “Cunningham?” The internet really transformed how we perform our work, but a second (third, fourth) set of ears is still invaluable. On occasion I have had someone else say the phrase we are working on out loud, and then we go through the process of attempting different parsings of the sounds until finally the words start to pop out. Then we go for verification.

In dramas, we always ask producers whether they want lyrics for incidental music included, and if so, we request lyric sheets. And we check for producer and broadcaster preferences. Some producers and broadcasters request that every word of incidental music be included. Some request that incidental music be left out. On many occasions we have captioned, even, to preliminary sound mixes, then completed the captioning to final mixes… discovering that the music has changed. And always when international, pulled-up-blacks, second broadcaster versions, or DVD versions of previously captioned materials come up, we check for music substitution.

Music substitution occurs during the production of a show for obvious creative reasons, like the piece doesn’t fit the tone the director would like to achieve, but there are also possible rights questions for music inclusion. The show may not secure the clearances they need to use the song at all, in which case there  may be a last-minute substitution which needs to be updated in the captioning.

As well, a song may be cleared for use for a short period of time, making it unsuitable for inclusion on DVD or in international versions. We have recaptioned entire seasons of dramas, removing the high-profile pop songs they used on first broadcast and replacing them with (generic) instrumental only. Music clearances of incidental music is the reason that WKRP in Cincinnati will not be appearing on DVD any time soon.

We have, however, had requests from clients to leave the captioning off performances in performance shows, captioning only the interview sections of those shows, and we had a lively exchange one time with a broadcaster who supplied us a broadcast of a sung performance all in Latin (sung in four parts! extremely challenging on a number of levels); when we completed the captioning, the broadcaster said that they were expecting something a lot more like [SINGING IN LATIN]. We are still very proud of the captioning for that episode; every word was researched, it was all positioned to indicate the singer, and the interweaving of the captioning of each singer really represents the hear experience. It’s a portfolio piece for us, an also a way of explaining the continuum we operate on sometimes, between the bare minimum amount of information a caption can convey, [SINGING IN LATIN], which at least supplies the language information, which a hearing viewer may or may not have. Word accuracy with timing and positioning supplies the full information, and very few hearing viewers would have all of that in their viewing experience!

The broadcaster was very happy with the job we did for them, by the way, and just had not considered that we might do the… full approach on the captioning of that material.

In my opinion, there is no excuse for not captioning music performed by characters on screen. The basic principle of captioning is to provide the information that a non-hearing viewer would miss but that a hearing viewer would have access to. The time we take to perform the captioning means, however, that we should be able to supply details that a hearing audience might not have time to catch. What Eastern European language was being spoken? What was that phrase again? We can mitigate the effect of accents and timing, foregrounding information that might otherwise be lost.

In captioning, there is no special style, aside from italics, to indicate incidental music, which presents interesting questions. If you caption incidental music, you really foreground what might be more subtle cues to a hearing audience. Some incidental music comments strongly on the action. Sometimes we feel that captioning every word of the incidental music might draw attention to it unduly. I like to consider as a guideline how much strength the song has received in the mix. As with everything in captioning, we are trying to work with the producers and directors to make sure that the entire audience has access to the same information. This is the bottom line and the pride we take in doing the job well.

Kelly Maxwell