We've all gotten used to watching video--lots of it--on desktops, laptops and mobile devices. Whether it's an episode of a TV show on Hulu
, catching up on your favorite HBO
series, or just watching YouTube
videos, everyone does it.
Everyone, that is, except those people who need closed captioning to understand and enjoy video content.
That's about to change. On October 8, 2010, the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act
(CVAA), sponsored by Senator Mark Pryor (D-Arizona), was signed into law by President Obama. The Act is intended to ensure accessibility, usage and affordability for disabled persons to broadband, wireless and Internet technologies. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2005, 54.4 million people report some level of disability and 35 million reported a severe disability in 2005.
One provision of the law instructed the FCC
to form an advisory committee to produce a report of recommendations to the FCC for closed captioning of Internet-delivered video. The committee--called the Video Programming Accessibility Advisory Committee
(VPAAC)--consists of representatives of distributors, providers of video programming; vendors, developers, and manufacturers of systems, facilities, equipment and provision of video delivered using Internet Protocol; consumer electronics; video programming producers; national TV organizations; a group on accessibility; and anyone else the FCC chair deems appropriate.
Dr. Ann Marie Rohaly|
Director of Accessibility Standards, Microsoft
Ann Marie Rohaly, who is Director of Accessibility Standards in Microsoft
's standards group and a SMPTE
fellow, chaired VPAAC, spoke to Creative COW about the work of the committee and how close we are to providing closed captioning.
The make-up of the committee, says Rohaly, is to "capture all the stakeholders that are affected by the requirements in the new law," she says. "How SMPTE fits into this is that the committee was tasked with producing a report of recommendations for the delivery of closed captioning for online programming -- and our report recommended that a SMPTE standard be used."
VPAAC met over a six month period, drafted a set of requirements for any standard and studied existing industry standards and technologies before coming to the conclusion that the SMPTE Timed Text standard--also known as SMPTE 2052--was the technical solution that best met the requirement.
BIRTH OF A STANDARD
The move towards captioning online video actually began in 2006 when a group of companies in the industry--WGBH-TV
(Boston), the National Center for Accessible Media
, Microsoft, Yahoo
--formed the Internet Captioning Forum. "They all came together because they realized there was going to be a need for a solution and the forum allowed them to explore the issues," explains Rohaly. "They came to the conclusion that an industry standard would be needed to ensure interoperability along the pieces of the chain and to encourage wide-spread adoption." The group then decided that SMPTE was the most appropriate standardization body to undertake the work and, in 2008, sent SMPTE a project proposal.
The result was SMPTE 2052, a common set of instructions for authoring and distributing captions or subtitles for broadband video content. While it ensures commonality among web browsers and devices, it also allows room for innovation without creating interoperability issues. SMPTE compares it to "companies that develop plug-in modules for Web browsers."
SMPTE 2052 is already used in production environments to repurpose TV content for the internet, and is integrated into the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem's UltraViolet
format as the caption/subtitle format for movie/TV content. SMPTE 2052 is also specified in draft standards for Internet TV delivery in the U.K., France, Germany, Italy and other European countries and is currently used by several video services and internet video players.
To speed up adoption of the closed caption standard, SMPTE made its Timed Text standard available free for download
, with the overview document ST 2052-0-2010, the Standard ST 2052-1-2010, and a FAQ document available.
THE FUTURE OF ONLINE CLOSED CAPTIONING
As to the future acceptance of the standard, Rohaly outlines the path. "Right now, the FCC is writing an NPRM, a notice of proposed rule-making," she says. "There will be a period of time for the public to review the proposed regulations and comment on them. The FCC will then study the comments, revise the draft regulations as they deem appropriate and then issue the final regulations."
Because the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act requires the final regulation to be issued in January 2012, Rohaly believes that the FCC will issue its NPRM in the near future. "They don't have a lot of time between now and January," she says. "They need to leave enough time to solicit and digest comments and update the rules as necessary."
|Recent Articles / Tutorials:|
Adobe After Effects
Adobe After Effects Energy Ball
In his latest high-energy Adobe After Effects tutorial, VFX guru Tobias Gleissenberger of Surfaced Studio combines a variety of effects to create the pulsating energy ball, composited with motion tracking, optical flares, and more.
Robert McLachlan: Cinematographer for Game of Thrones
Robert McLachlan is the cinematographer of Game of Thrones, Westworld and Ray Donovan, and he joins commercial director and Go Creative Show host Ben Consoli to share behind the scenes stories from some of his most iconic scenes including The Red Wedding and The Loot Train Battle.
Feature, People / Interview
Art of the Edit
What Picasso Can Teach Us About Filmmaking
Feature film editor Sven Pape takes a unique, entertaining look at Pablo Picasso's approach to art, and offers specific examples from a variety of movies, as well as Picasso's own advice. As Sven puts it, success requires action. Make a film. Fail. Then fail harder. Of course, Picasso and Sven have great advice for succeeding too! You'll get a kick out of this one.
Blackmagic Design Fusion
Blackmagic Design Fusion 9 Tutorial: The New Planar Tracker
Editor, VFX artist, post-house owner, and plug-in developer Simon Ubsdell draws on over 25 years of experience to dig deep into the compelling features found in the new Planar Tracker found in Blackmagic Fusion. Along the way, Simon offers a wide range of tips and tricks, as well as new perspectives on the relationship between tracking and compositing: in short, tracking done right.
Art of the Edit
Growing Up on YouTube: Video Production, The Next Generation
Through accessible tools and ease of engagement, young people like Sabrina Cruz have been able to grow up on YouTube and find one another. Underneath the amusing titles and colorful thumbnails, her videos have drawn over 10 million views with thoughtful messages woven together with high production value and editorial skill. Dismiss her as just a YouTuber at your peril. It's not that she's after your job. It's that she's one of the young creators helping change the world with intelligence, wit, drive, and an infectious optimism. Are you keeping up?
Feature, People / Interview
Art of the Edit
3 Mistakes All Beginning Editors Make, And How To Avoid Them
In the latest edition of his enduring series "This Guy Edits", Sven Pape covers the three mistakes that all beginning editors make -- mistakes he knows well, having made them all in his own editing career. Fortunately, he's learned the fixes by now too, and shares the easy workarounds in a high-energy, humorous fashion that will have even the most experienced editors nodding along and smiling in recognition.
RED IPP2: Real-World Looks At An Image Processing Revolution
Science is one thing, the real world is another, and yet beautiful things can happen when the two interact with each other. Our conversation begins with RED Digital Cinema's Graeme Nattress explaining the ways that RED's customers are shaping the company's new approaches to color science, as reflected in RED's new image processing pipeline, IPP2. From there, filmmakers Chris McKechnie and David Battistella get specific about how RED IPP2 has revolutionized their RED workflows, both in the field and in post. No hype here. Just the facts, plus some very pretty pictures, and, okay, more than a little bit of excitement in the lab, in the field, and in the edit suite.
Business & Marketing
Authenticity: The First Step to Stock Video Success
His stock footage has sold to the tune of $7 million dollars over the past 10 years, earning on average over $30,000/mo. Here, Robb Crocker shares the specific steps he took, and that you can take too, to build a successful stock video business: free from clients, deadlines, and creative limits.
People / Interview, Business
An Open Letter to Incoming Women Freshmen in Media Programs, by Kylee Peña
A lot of so-called “open letters” on the internet address the outgoing graduates of programs. And while they should bask in the glow of congratulations and good luck because they worked hard, they earned it, and they have some serious challenges on the horizon, this letter isn’t for them. It’s for you: the young woman who is leaving high school behind and beginning your first year of college in the next few weeks. Read on as Hollywood workflow supervisor and president of the Blue Collar Post Collective Kylee Peña reminds you: You have so much ahead of you!
My Illegal Internships: An Oral History, by Kylee Peña
Sure, unpaid internships aren’t exclusive to post production; however, for some reason we’ve collectively decided that the single biggest way to prove one’s merit is by working in some capacity for free. It’s almost as if everyone believes that because they suffered the difficulty of doing often humiliating or degrading work for free, everyone else should too. There are certainly times that personal enrichment worth the sacrifice to work for free, but employers, do you know if what you're asking interns to do for you is even legal? Follow along as Kylee gives examples from her own past internships to highlight current requirements, and lays out some suggestions to a fairer, more productive future for everyone.