Captioning Corner: Offline Captioning Primer
By Deanna Baker
For some time now my husband has been encouraging me to consider retirement from active reporting. After more than 40 years of reporting, that time will soon be drawing near. However, I feel I'd like to continue to use my skills and have thought about part-time offline captioning as an alternative, wrote one reader.
I referred her questions to Vicki Haskins Zdanowski, the president of Caption Technologies, Inc. (If you want to ask Vicki a question yourself, you can contact her through www.captiontech.com or by calling 800-676-0211 .)
Will I be able to use my reporting skills?
You could do the takedown of videotapes to create ASCII files for offline captioning for several caption companies, or you could purchase an offline edit system to work with several caption companies.
What equipment will I need?
For takedown, you would need your steno machine, court reporting software, a hi-fi VCR and TV and a headset, if desired. For complete offline, you would also need a computer, offline edit software, time-code card, specific video card, hi-fi VCR and closed-caption encoder.
What training will I need?
You will need to learn the functionality of the software, to understand generally accepted standards of offline captioning per the National Association of the Deaf and a few other resource groups, and to watch a lot of captioning to see how others are doing it.
How will I find work?
There are several captioning-related web sites and lists to get on. You can get in touch with those in the industry and let them know that you're available. Word of mouth is a great way to find those companies who need help. It's a small industry and word spreads fast!
How much can I make?
Each company will pay differently for takedown and for completion of their caption files; however, you should be making a fairly good part-time salary, with great flexibility to still enjoy life! I would speak with several companies privately to discuss their payment for services. For contract work, you usually would be paid by the job rather than by the hour.
How demanding is the work?
Depending on how loudly your clients are screaming, or how close that deadline is encroaching, the work usually flows at an even pace and is very enjoyable. You always need to be cognizant of the fact that adding captioning is one of the last steps before broadcasting, so it's often a quick turnaround.
What is the turnaround time?
Depending on the material, we can do a 30-minute program from start to finish in around six hours, but we usually tell the client two to three days because of our other in-house work. That doesn't mean we always get what we want. Ultimately, to make clients happy, we always do whatever's necessary to make the clients' deadlines.
What facilities or workspace will be required?
Just a desk for your computer, TV and VCR to sit on, but your workspace should be fairly quiet.
About the Author
Deanna Baker, RMR, is from Flagstaff, Ariz. If you have a question about captioning, you can ask her at email@example.com.