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Captioning the 3Play Way [TRANSCRIPT]

SAMANTHA SAULD: So thanks for joining this webinar entitled, Captioning the 3Play Way.

I’m Samantha Sauld from 3Play Media. And I’ll be presenting today with my colleague, Ryan Martinez, who’s an implementation specialist here at 3Play.

Today, we’re going to talk about who we are, why you should caption content, how we, at 3Play, approach captioning, and the tools we have available that we think are important. Ryan will also give a live demo for our account system. And then we’ll use some time at the end for questions.

Please note that if you want to ask questions, you can type them in the QA tab in your control panel. You can ask questions throughout the presentation, and we’ll compile them to answer at the end.

All right, so let’s get started. Who is 3Play Media? We’re a captioning, transcription, subtitling, and audio description company. And we’re really focused on video accessibility.

We have over 2,500 customers across a number of different industries like education, eLearning, corporate, ecommerce, media and entertainment, and more. We were spun out of MIT around 11 years ago, and are located here in Boston.

So why caption content? There are a number of benefits to captioning content. Certainly the most obvious and most traditional one is accessibility.

There are over 48 million Americans who are deaf or hard of hearing, and that’s a very large percent of the population. There are also legal requirements that go along with accessibility, in many cases.

Then there’s comprehension. More and more data is coming out about how comprehension is positively affected by having texts. For example, if you are someone where English isn’t your native language, captions can be very useful.

Captions also give you flexibility. So if you’re in a sound sensitive environment, having captions will allow you to view a video if there’s a lot of loud noise around.

Another thing, too, is that transcripts and captions, they aid with video search and SEO. So if you’re putting marketing-oriented content out and you want to make sure you’re optimizing it, it definitely makes sense think about search engine optimization and how you can use text that you’re creating with captions for search engine purposes.

And certainly, if you want to reach a larger audience by translating your content into other languages, the first step is to create captions.

And finally, captions are also reusable. So if you want to create other content like blogs, study guides, infographics, white papers, they’re helpful for that as well.

We’ve been doing more and more research on the effects of captions. What we’ve gathered from a study we did with Oregon State– which you can download free on our website– is that 98.6% of students find captions helpful. And 75% of students are using captions as a learning aid.

Also, the number one reason why captions and transcripts were used wasn’t about having a disability. It was more about focusing. Captions have been helping students a lot with focusing on content.

At 3Play Media, we’re all about making video accessibility easy. And that’s really what it all comes down to. So how do we make it easy?

Well, we have an online account system. And we give you a number of turnaround options, lots of ways to automate the workflow, and a number of tools to make your video interactive.

In terms of captioning, we’re using ASR, which not all companies do. We use speech recognition as a starting point in our process. We don’t believe it can really stand alone for captions, but we do believe it can add some value. So we’ve designed [AUDIO OUT]

–to create the draft from speech recognition engine and then clean it up really efficiently.

That cleanup process, that full scrub that happens in step 2 is doing things like correcting mistakes, putting in speaker changes, and also putting in the non-spoken elements that are required for captions. So there’s a lot that happens in that cleanup process.

And then in step 3, there’s another human step, which is a QA step or a quality assurance step, where a human reviews the final transcript to ensure each file meets at least a 99% accuracy rate.

And with that, I’ll pass it on to Ryan for more information about our process.

RYAN MARTINEZ: I’m Ryan here. I’m an implementation specialist with 3Play, as Sam mentioned. And as we described earlier in this presentation, we’re here to make accessibility initiatives as easy as possible for you. So I’m going to take some time to go through some of the benefits of our system, some specific features and functionalities that we offer. And then we’ll conclude this session with a brief demonstration of how media files are uploaded into the 3Play account system.

So first and foremost, for the reason of ease of use and, of course, flexibility when it comes to your workflow and when you need deliverables returned, we do offer a number of flexible upload and turnaround options. The upload methods span a variety of different options, from uploading direct files from your computer to potentially linking video platforms you’re using to host your content directly to the 3Play account system. But no matter how you decide to upload your content, we offer turnarounds ranging from as little as two hours to 10 business days.

To further accommodate your desired workflow, we’ve also built a multitude of roundtrip integrations designed not only to simplify the upload process, but also to give you the option of automatically posting captions back to your videos upon completion. Now, during the walk-through portion of this session, we’ll go through and upload specific to the linked account integrations, and just how that process is simplified.

But no matter how you intend to upload your media files, we try to give you as much flexibility around that upload process, including the ability to take content that is scripted ahead of time and upload it for what we refer to as transcript alignment. You’re able to provide us, using this workflow, your verbatim transcripts to sync to your media files. This option comes at a reduced rate with same-day turnaround. And you’re still able to access all of the products and services that come with our standard transcription and captioning service.

One of those benefits is the fact that we deliver over 60-plus formats compatible with virtually every media player out there. The idea behind this functionality is to make you future-proof. So if you decide to host your media files online with different platforms, you have access to all the necessary formats, as opposed to requesting specific ones for specific files. This, along with most of our account system features, are simply benefits of working with 3Play and are offered at no additional cost.

For files you upload that feature lower third graphics, such as speaker labels or headlines, our optional caption placement service will move captions from the lower third of the screen to the upper third and back down once the graphics disappear to ensure the words on screen are never interfering with the 3Play-generated captions.

In addition to our transcription and captioning service designed to make your content accessible to the deaf or hard of hearing community, we also offer a built-in audio description service that makes the same content accessible to the blind or low vision audience.

How does this service work? Using your caption file as a roadmap for speech to non-speech time in your video, we then pass those caption files to a separate audio describer routine. And those audio describers watch your content, and, using the caption file as a roadmap, determine what the key visual elements are that a blind user would need to understand in order to fully understand the content.

If the audio describer feels as though there are enough room within the natural pauses of the video to insert those descriptions, the synthesized speech is inserted within those pauses. And the video continues to display to play with no disruption.

Similarly, if the audio describer feels as though there are not enough natural pauses to accommodate the necessary visual descriptions, we have an extended audio description service that actually allows for the video to be automatically paused and automatically resumed in order to allow for enough time for the descriptions to be read.

A good example of this would be a movie trailer, where sound effects and dialogue are super heavy. There’s not a lot of downtime to insert descriptions. So extended description would be particularly useful by allowing the trailer to be automatically paused to accommodate the descriptions.

Audio descriptions can be embedded into an MP4 video file and downloaded as a separate asset or hosted online using the 3Play plugin.

Regardless of the services you order, it’s possible to compile all videos into a single library and search across everything for keywords using our video search functionality. Designed with educational institutions and learning management systems in mind, search results are displayed on visual timelines for all relevant media files. This feature has been shown to increase engagement, as well as the length of time folks spend on your web pages. So there’s a lot to be gained by making your media accessible in this way.

Now that we’ve had a chance to review at a high level some of the features that we offer in the account system, I’m going to go ahead and move into a brief account system demo featuring how to upload media files to 3Play.

To start, every user that’s given access to the 3Play account system will be given access to what we refer to as the My Files page. Now, despite the fact that we offer a number of different upload methods, all of your files will wind up here on this My Files page, regardless of the upload method that’s chosen or the services that are ordered. So you can really think of this My Files page as your central repository for all media.

Over on the left-hand side, we offer a number of filters that are designed to allow you to trim down the list that you see in front of you in order to easily find the work that you’re looking for. These filters will be automatically added based on the type of services that are ordered. And you also have the ability to create folders within your 3Play project to further organize that work, depending on how you’d like to do so.

In addition to the central repository that you see giving you a running total and a chronological order of the files that are uploaded, we also provide a number of different real-time reports directly built into the account system, such as the account overview report.

Designed to give you a complete holistic view of the activity in your account, we first and foremost populate an overview of all of the different projects you may have access to. Most 3Play accounts are created with a single project so you may not see the list that I see here. But you will have access to reporting information on any of the projects you’ve been given access.

But more so than this overview, we allow for you to export these reports at any time so that you can keep tabs on the work that you’ve ordered, the turnaround times that are delivered, and the costs of each of the jobs.

Similar to the account overview, we also update your invoices in the form of official statements real-time. We believe in transparency and want you to be in the know without having to reach out to our customer support teams or wait until the end of the month to find out exactly what you’ve ordered and what you’re being charged.

Without going into the process of creating users, we also have the ability to add additional users to the account system with varying levels of permission. So don’t worry if you happen to be the individual assigned to the accessibility initiatives. You can certainly add other colleagues to the platform to help shoulder some of that responsibility.

Now, I’ll go ahead and demonstrate an upload of a media file into the account system, as well as showing you the various options that you have for requesting services. All of our upload methods in the account system that we offer are contained within this single Upload Media menu in the top left of the account system.

Now, it is possible to choose from any of the different upload methods that you see here. But once again, the options that are presented to you are going to be consistent across all upload methods. So you won’t have to memorize or understand different processes depending on which method you’d like. There’s going to be some consistency across the board.

So From Computer is our most basic, straightforward upload option, where you’re able to choose local files on your computer and request services on them. We also offer an option, called From Links, that allows for you to upload third-party content you’re not the owner of. And this, once again, came as a result of our partnership with so many educational institutions and the need to produce accurate captions even for videos they didn’t create directly.

Now, our Linked Account options are going to be your most seamless, easiest way of getting files to us, but also give you the option to automatically post your captions upon completion of that work. When I select one of my linked accounts that’s already been linked, you’ll notice that the entire library of public-facing videos that exists on that account shows in 3Play as if I was logging directly into that player. And the process of linking these accounts is as simple as selecting the Linked Account menu and choosing from the variety of providers that we offer.

Once your credentials for that video player are entered into the 3Play account system, you should expect to see a very similar view to what’s displayed here. And in order to upload your files, it’s as simple as checking the boxes next to the videos that you’d like to process and selecting the Process button to initiate the upload.

Now, before I get into that, one of the nice benefits of the 3Play Linked Account upload process is that we do keep very close track of the videos that you’ve already uploaded to our system. So if you attempt to reprocess a file that’s already been run through, we’ll let you know and give you the option to cancel that order.

Once I’ve selected all the files that I want to upload to 3Play Media, I can click Process to choose the various services and turnaround options that are available to me. The first option is going to be our default transcription and captioning service, where we’re producing both transcripts and captions for you as well as delivering those back to you in over 60 output formats.

It is possible to select a language from this dropdown, but just know this is specific to files that are spoken in a language other than English. Our translation service is a separate service.

Now I mentioned earlier in the slideshow about the fact that we can accept transcripts that you have for scripted content you intend to upload. Our alignment service features no human interaction so it does require that you [AUDIO OUT] your transcripts [AUDIO OUT] basi text, and feature verbatim spoken words for your video content. But this is available at a reduced rate and a same-day turnaround because we take those two resources– your video file and your transcript– and synchronize the two in order to create those caption file formats we discussed.

The add-on services at the bottom here, both caption placement and audio description, can be added on at the time the original order is placed. But they can also be ordered as separate standalone services if they’re not needed at this time.

When I hit Continue, the next page that I’m taken to are the various turnaround options that we offer. Our default turnaround for most accounts in the 3Play system is the standard, four-business-day turnaround. We feature a number of different expedited options at a slightly increased rate per minute. But we also feature an extended turnaround option that pushes your turnaround from four business days to 10, but it saves you an average of $0.20 per minute on those jobs and is ideal for backlogs of content that may not trickle to the top in terms of priority, but you understand that there are still captions required for that content.

On the next page, you’re given the option to upload into a previously created folder or the ability to create a new folder at the time of upload. I mentioned the folder structure is visible on the My Files page. But the other added benefit of creating folders and uploading your files into those folders is that we automatically include folder breakdowns on your invoices. So folders can be a particularly useful tracking mechanism if you’re looking to keep tabs on the spend for a particular initiative over another.

The last page of the upload process, or any upload process for that matter, is your ability to review a compete summary of the order. So in the interest of transparency from both a pricing perspective as well as a service perspective, before any order is placed, we certainly recommend looking over these fields to ensure what you’re ordering is exactly what you intended.

Once you verify this information, the final step is to check the Cancellation box. In acknowledgment of and in the interest of hitting your turnaround time, we’re going to start processing your file immediately.

As soon as the order is placed, you’ll be automatically taken back to the My Files page of the 3Play account system interface. And you’ll have the ability to upload specific file instructions so that our editors can complete your files as accurately as possible. And when I click on that pending file, this Add Cheat Sheet Glossary is exactly where that’s done.

We stand by our accuracy percentage, 99% and above, regardless of whether these instructions are uploaded. But they can be hugely beneficial if there are technical terms or proprietary terminology you feel as though our editors may not be aware of.

One of the main benefits of the 3Play account system, other than the flexible options that we offer for upload, is your ability to make edits to your files once they’ve been completed. So when I click on a file, you’re brought into our editing interface that allows you to preview the transcript that we’ve created. And if changes need to be made, you can certainly edit the transcripts that we’ve produced to accommodate your content however you’d like. For example, I could find and replace all instances of speaker 2 in the above transcript and replace speaker 2 with the actual name of the speaker in that file.

Once my changes are complete, these two buttons up at the top here have very specific functionality and benefits related to your linked account upload. If Save Changes is clicked, the changes that you’ve made in this transcript are saved locally in the 3Play account system. So you can come back and continue working on this transcript at another time.

But once you’ve made all of the changes that you need to make and you’ve verified this transcript appears exactly how you would like it, clicking Finalize File actually initiates a repost out to the linked account that this file came from. So whether it’s the initial post back on completion of the file or your ability to edit the transcript in post-production and initiate a repost, you’ll always be able to ensure the most updated transcript and caption file is available to your users.

That concludes the main features of the account system as far as your ability to upload and edit the files. And I understand that there are some services that we weren’t able to cover in detail on this call today. But for simplicity’s sake, we’ve wrapped up all additional services that we offer in a Single Order Services menu from the Completed File page.

The reason for this is to provide you a one-stop shop for adding on other services, but also because of the fact that certain services such as translation depend on the accuracy of the English captioning file. So we really believe in providing the opportunity to preview the work that we’ve produced before some of these other add-on services are ordered.

And thank you for taking the time, everyone, to hop on this call. We have a couple more pieces of information to cover. And then we’re going to go ahead and open it up for questions in the event that there’s anything that you’re curious about.

SAMANTHA SAULD: Great, thanks Ryan. We have a one-day conference called ACCESS coming up in Boston on October 3. ACCESS is focused on web and video accessibility. So we’ll feature expert speakers like disability rights lawyer Lainey Feingold, actor CJ Jones, and representatives from companies like Adobe, HubSpot Wistia, and more. Be sure to register with the promo code “webinars” to receive 10% off of your order.

And now we can get started with the Q&A. So the first question is, “how much does it cost to get started with the 3Play?”

RYAN MARTINEZ: That’s a great question. Well, we do offer the ability to– what we refer to as pay-as-you-go. So you can upload your files without a pre-purchase balance and pay for the services that are rendered in the 3Play account system.

We also do offer a reduced permanent rate from $3 per minute to $2.50 per minute for a $750 pre-purchase commitment. And that $750 locks you in at that lower rate. But the pre-purchase amount can be used for any of the services that we offer in the 3Play account system. So you’re not restricted to use that money for captioning versus audio description. You’re able to apply it to anything that you need.

SAMANTHA SAULD: Great. And the next question is, “how does the integration work?”

RYAN MARTINEZ: Sure. So we partnered with a variety of video platforms to allow certain levels of access or requested access directly from the 3Play account system. So each of the 3Play accounts is provisioned with specific API credentials. So when you enter your username and password that is used on that video player, one of the screens that we didn’t navigate to is a permission screen from 3Play. As soon as your credentials are entered, we will request access to view your video library. And we’re only able to dip into that library and pull in content for captioning or other services after you’ve approved that connection.

So the integration on a high level works by allowing both of our systems to communicate. But that process is only possible by an approval from an admin in the 3Play account system.

SAMANTHA SAULD: Great, thanks. The next question is, “do your captions meet requirements for TV broadcast, such as PBS?”

RYAN MARTINEZ: Yes, so our captions are compliant in terms of broadcast media. In any situation, we do recommend consulting with legal counsel if you have specific questions about the requirements for your business or your industry.

But we offer compliant captions for broadcast, in addition to the ability to burn in or encode your captions to the video files themselves. So this would, of course, allow you to download a video file asset that has the captions included, and can then be shown in more of a broadcast arena.

SAMANTHA SAULD: The next question is, “how do you handle non-speech elements?”

RYAN MARTINEZ: Sure. So non-speech elements are handled in terms of captioning in the ways that you primarily see captions out there in any form of media, such as music playing or background noise. We will actually capitalize non-speech elements and surround them in brackets. So it’s very clear what is spoken word dialogue and what is a non-speech element, such as music playing.

SAMANTHA SAULD: The next question is, “can YouTube videos that are not live but are set to be scheduled be sent to 3Play Media through the linked account option?”

RYAN MARTINEZ: So as of now, we’re working through a live captioning option specific for those sorts of live captioning events that are scheduled on YouTube. We don’t have anything that is fully fleshed out at this time. Videos going through the YouTube integration should be uploaded prior to the captioning request. And currently, there is no built-in solution, but we are targeting that for the months ahead.

SAMANTHA SAULD: Great, thanks. The next question is, “which formats are compatible with the caption placement option?”

RYAN MARTINEZ: So that is sort of a tough question to answer off the top of my head. The formats, for the most part, are SCC, WebVTT, and SMPTE-TT– S-M-P-T-E-T-T.

But in any case, the vertical caption placement, for the most part, is embedded within the caption files. So it really, in large part, depends on the caption file format that is compatible with the media player that you’re using.

For example, though a traditional SRT file is compatible with YouTube, if caption placement is ordered, that SRT’s metadata is updated to accommodate the caption placement. So there are specific formats that are recommend for placement. But most players out there– YouTube as a good example– will be able to recognize the metadata when caption placement is ordered for a file like SRT.

SAMANTHA SAULD: Cool, thanks. And we have time for one more question. And that is, “can a PBS or NatGeo-type video be captioned via your upload link feature?”

RYAN MARTINEZ: Yes. So the upload links feature or the From Links feature, I should say, was built with YouTube in mind, just because of our partnership with YouTube. But it also works well for videos that end in a movie file extension, like .mp4, or .wav, or .m4v. So those were designed with a specific type of link in mind. For the most part, it works well with all links that end in that movie extension.

SAMANTHA SAULD: Cool. So we’re actually going to just take one more question. And the question is, “if the video changes after captioning is complete by more than you would want to self-edit in the browser, is there a specific rate to redo and update the few paragraphs that have changed? Or does the entire video have to be recaptioned at the standard rate?”

RYAN MARTINEZ: So the entire video would have to be recaptioned at the standard rate. The reason for that is that each video file comes with to the millisecond or to the word time codes that are embedded in that caption file. And those time codes allow for the words to display at the appropriate time. So if the duration of the video changes in any way or the content specifically of that file changes in a substantial enough way, such as paragraphs being added or removed, the timing of those embedded time codes is greatly skewed.

So depending on the extent of the edits that are made, a word or two here and there doesn’t cause any sorts of issues. And our Finalize option actually resynchronizes all of the time codes in your caption file to accommodate those changes. But if substantial enough changes are made, the file would have to be recaptioned in the interest of ensuring that those time codes match up with the spoken words in your video file.

SAMANTHA SAULD: Great, Thanks, Ryan. And thank you, everyone, for joining.