Closed Captioning Troubleshooting

Closed Captioning Troubleshooting

Closed Captioning Troubleshooting

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Top Troubleshooting Issues

If you purchased software from Telestream after October 28, 2013:
You will have received a serial number which you can activate in version 6.0 or later of the software. You do not require a USB dongle to run the software.

If you purchased software from CPC or Telestream prior to October 28, 2013:
Your software was shipped with a hardware USB dongle. This dongle is required to use the software. If you have a dongle and are having trouble with it, please see the steps below.

If the dongle does NOT light up with a red light:
If it is not lit, it usually means that the HASP drivers are not installed, or became uninstalled. Installing the latest version of the software (licensed version) from our Download page will automatically re-install the HASP drivers. If this doesn't work, the key might not be inserted fully into the USB connector, or it might have been damaged and will need to be sent in for repair. In that case, please contact Caption Sales for a key exchange (there is a fee for this service.)

If the dongle DOES have a red light lit:

  • If you are using a Mac, please make sure you are using at least version 5.5 or later of MacCaption. Older versions included a HASP driver that would sometimes stop working, requiring a reboot of the machine. The newer versions of MacCaption will automatically install a driver update that fixes this problem.
  • Often, all you need to do is unplug your dongle from the computer, restart your computer, and after it boots up fully, plug the dongle back in. This works surprisingly often.
  • Are you sure you are looking at the correct dongle? A number of other high-end software packages use similar dongles. Make sure the dongle you are looking at has a CPC key chain on it.
  • Is the dongle plugged into a keyboard, USB hub, or extension? Some hubs create problems for dongles, so it's best to plug the dongle directly into your computer's built-in USB ports.
  • Are you running on a restricted corporate or secure network? The dongle driver uses TCP/UDP port 1947 to communicate. It does not require Internet (WAN) access, only LAN access. Please ask your IT administrator to make sure port 1947 is not blocked on the LAN side.
  • Do you have any other dongles from other companies (e.g. Avid, DaVinci Resolve, Eclipse, Autodesk, etc.) plugged in at the same time? Try removing any dongle except for CPC, reboot your machine, and run our software again. If this works, we can usually work around this problem by updating your dongle drivers.

When you are in time-stamp mode, the caption that you see on the screen is not the caption that will appear at the current time (the part of the video that is currently playing). Rather, you are seeing a preview of the NEXT caption that will appear at the time when you hit the "In" key. This makes time-stamping much easier, because you can preview the next caption coming up and you know what to listen for. You simply hit the "In" key when you hear the first words that match the caption currently shown on screen.

When you go to Autosync mode to watch the video in sync with the captions, the correct caption should appear in sync with the video. If you made a mistake, you can easily correct one (or all) captions using the "Ripple Time Codes" feature, instead of re-doing the time-stamping from scratch.

Drift, in this case, refers to captions that start out with the correct timing at the beginning of the video, but slowly become earlier and earlier (or later and later) over the duration of the video. If all of the captions are off by the SAME amount, that is not drift (and in that case, it can easily be fixed with "Ripple Time Codes").

The most common reason for drift is the difference between drop frame and non-drop frame time code. The difference between them is about 3.5 seconds per hour, or about 1 second per 20 minutes of video. Most NTSC videos are drop frame but some videos are non-drop frame. This refers to the way frames are counted and has nothing to do with "dropped frames" that occur in an NLE system.

Make sure you are in the right mode (DF or NDF) for the video you are time stamping. If you already did some time stamping in the wrong mode, CPC software can easily convert a caption project from DF to NDF mode or vice versa. You can also use the "Stretch/Shrink Time Code" feature to adjust the drift by a certain number of seconds, even if you don't know which mode you're supposed to use.

If the drift is more severe, it could be another time code issue (NTSC vs. PAL, 30p vs. 24p, etc.), or the captions/subtitles may have been timed incorrectly.

First, make sure you're viewing the authored DVD in something that can enable closed captions and that the closed captions are turned on. You will not see the captions in the DVD authoring program. If you're not sure if your DVD player supports captions or that captions are turned on correctly, try playing a purchased commercial DVD to see if the closed captions (not subtitles) appear. One common issue is that many DVD players and TVs use HDMI connections, but HDMI does not support closed captions. The DVD player must be connected by analog such as composite or S-video.

Assuming that your player is playing back closed captions from other DVDs but not from the one you authored, the most common issue is a time code mismatch between the DVD project and the SCC file which contains the closed captions. Many NLE systems use a timeline that starts at 1 hour (01:00:00:00) instead of at zero, and this timing is sometimes preserved when you move into authoring the DVD.

If your SCC file captions start at zero hours but your DVD track or MPEG-2 file starts at 1 hour, then all of the captions will be 1 hour early or not appear at all. Conversely, if your SCC file captions start at 1 hour but the DVD track or MPEG-2 file start at zero hours, then all of your captions will be 1 hour late (or if your DVD is less than one hour, they'll never appear at all).

So if you created your SCC file with the first caption starting after 01:00:00:00, try doing a ripple time code and setting it to start after 00:00:00:00, or vice versa.

If you are having problems, the most common reasons are:

  • Using DV via Firewire (IEEE1394, iLink): The black movie workflow does not work if the NLE is connected to a DV deck by Firewire, because DV video is only 720x480 and the black movie method requires 720x486. You must either connect to the DV deck by a video cable (SDI, component, S-Video, composite), or for Firewire use one of the DV workflows instead of a black movie.
  • Wrong Row/Column settings: See NLE calibration test and follow the calibration procedure. You must set the correct Row & Column before exporting a black movie. If you used the wrong settings, you will need to correct them and export a new black movie.
  • Wrong Sequence settings in NLE: they must be 720x486 (not 720x480), 29.97fps, with the proper field order set.
  • For Avid systems, use the codec "Avid Meridien Compressed" with a color depth of "Millions of Colors" (not millions+). For other NLEs (Premiere, Final Cut Pro, etc.) the recommended codec is Animation.
  • Avid users: use "ITU601" Effect Aperture, 1:1 Render setting (not DV), and enable "VBI Preserve" in the Video Output Tool. To crop the black movie, use the "3D Warp" effect on the black movie track with Crop > Bottom set to 980 (leave Crop > Top at 999), then render the effect.
    External link: Avid knowledgebase.
  • Garbled captions (such as dropped or repeated letters) are usually caused by dropped frames in the NLE system output. You may need to render the video first so it can play out real time without dropping frames.

This common issue is due to the way FCP7 reads the closed captions track. FCP7 expects that 00:00:00:00 in the caption file aligns with the first frame of your sequence, no matter what time code the sequence starts at, I.e. the caption file time codes are not linked to the sequence time codes. See this diagram for a visual explanation.

If your FCP sequence starts at 00:59:50:00 and the first caption is supposed to appear at 01:00:01:00, the first caption time in MacCaption should be 00:00:11:00, because the caption appears 11:00 seconds after the first frame of the sequence. If you incorrectly set the caption time code at 01:00:01:00 in MacCaption, the first caption will not appear until 01:59:51:00!

The easiest way to work around this issue is to make sure your proxy/reference movie (for time stamping) includes the whole sequence from the very first frame (including any leaders which are on the timeline), and that the Movie Time in MacCaption/CaptionMaker is set to start at 00:00:00:00. This will ensure that everything syncs up both in MacCaption and in FCP.

Another way to work with this in MacCaption is to have your Movie Time start at the FCP sequence start time (e.g. 01:00:00:00), and also have the captions match up with this movie time (e.g. first dialog in movie is at 01:00:01:00, and the first caption is at 01:00:01:00). In this case, when you export the QuickTime CC track, you MUST enable the checkbox called "Use Movie Time to position captions at 00:00:00:00". That checkbox should always be checked if the captions are timed relative to the movie's time code track instead of relative to 00:00:00:00.

Note that the FCP generated leader options in the Edit to Tape/Print to Video dialog (such as FCP's bars & tone, countdown, etc.) DO NOT count towards the sequence time code. The caption track will start when the actual sequence starts to play. However, any bars/leaders/etc. which are in the sequence DO count towards the sequence time code.

One more note about FCP: If the caption file is shorter in duration than the sequence, FCP will start to loop the captions from the beginning when it reaches the end of the caption file. This sometimes shows up as the first captions from the start of the movie start playing during the ending credits or during the tail after the movie. If you did not caption anything during the credits, the last caption in your project ends before the FCP sequence does, so the captions start to loop. The solution is simple: The caption file must be longer (or at least just as long) as the FCP sequence. You can fix this by putting a blank caption at the end of your project, and make sure that blank caption's time is at or after the end of the FCP sequence.

Pop-on captions need a few seconds to pre-load the data before the caption actually appears. If you have a caption that starts very close to the start of the program or a cut point, the data for that caption might get cut off and the caption won't appear. See the "lowest limit" feature in the manual for more information. The workaround is to either set the lowest limit, or make the first caption in paint-on mode (which requires far less time to pre-load a caption).

There is no special trick to transcription. It is by far the most time-consuming aspect of the closed captioning/subtitling process. But, there are methods that ensure that you are transcribing in the most efficient way possible. Below are a few methods to transcribe a video.

Use a Video File
If you are not already doing so, make sure that you are using a video file, and not videotape, as your video source. Trying to transcribe from a tape can wear out your tape deck, and you'll spend too much time starting and stopping the tape.

USB Foot Pedal
A very popular tool for transcribing is a USB Foot Pedal. The VPedal is a tool that allows you to control QuickTime, Windows Media Video, and a number of other types of digital media. You can start, stop, rewind, and fast-forward your digital video with your foot, while typing directly into your word processor. What makes the foot pedal method so efficient is that you never have to take your hands off the keyboard. Eventually, you're able to get into a rhythm with your hands and foot so that you are constantly typing.

Speech Recognition Software
Speech Recognition Software has advanced greatly in the past few years, and has become a reliable transcription tool. The transcription method using speech-recognition employs "shadow speaking", whereby the user repeats what he or she hears in the video into a microphone. Before you use any type of speech-recognition software, such as Dragon Naturally Speaking or MacSpeech, you'll need to train with the software. This usually consists of reading stories provided by the software. After you've read a story, the software analyzes your voice and compares it to the text in the story. You'll also need to practice the technique of shadow speaking, which isn't difficult but takes time to get good at.

At this time, there is no technology that can reliably take a video or audio file and automatically transcribe all of the text without human intervention. Speaker-independent speech recognition systems typically achieve around 60-70% accuracy, whereas 90-95% accuracy is the minimum for closed captioning.

Transcription Service
Often, it is more cost-effective to simply pay a service to transcribe your material. Transcription is faster and much less expensive than farming out the whole captioning process, so you can still save time and money by doing the captioning steps in-house. There are many online services that allow you to upload an .mp3 and they will provide you with a text transcription within a day. Ideally, you should be able to find a local individual whom you can trust for quick and accurate transcription.

See this white paper about the different options for monitoring HD closed captions. Basically, you can't monitor HD captions via HDMI or component outputs. The only baseband HD video that carries closed captions is HD-SDI. Also, most devices (except for the Matrox MXO2 and AJA FS-1) do not preserve the captions when down-converting HD to SD. You need an HD-SDI device that can decode HD (CEA-708) captions. Not all monitoring devices follow the complete CEA-708 spec, so the captions may not always appear exactly as intended.

Only a few hardware devices (such as the Matrox MXO2 and the AJA FS-1) can preserve the closed captioning when down/up-converting a video. For other devices, you must use a separate workflow or separate output step to create the SD video with closed captions. For example, if you have a HD sequence in FCP, you can render this into a SD sequence and then use the SD captioning workflow. Or, you can print to SD tape (taking advantage of hardware down-convert), then capture SD back in and caption it using the SD workflow.

By default, most Sony HD decks are factory set to not record VANC Line 9 where the HD closed captions are stored. You must go into the deck setup or maintenance menu and look for the "VANC Packet RX" setting. This should be set to: VANC Line 9, DID 61, SDID 01. The exact menu depends on your deck. Please contact Sony for more information.

XDCAM EX (solid state) and HDV decks do not support closed captioning.

Several different kinds of files have the same extension of .CAP. If the file isn't working then you are probably trying to import or export the wrong type. If you drag & drop the file into the text area, the software will automatically determine the right file type to import.

If you need to export a .cap but you don't know what kind, try to determine if the file is supposed to be a CaptionMaker project file (.cap), Cheetah caption file (.cap), or NCI caption file (.cap). There are some other rare .cap formats as well.

CaptionMaker .cap files are opened/saved in CaptionMaker using the File > Open and Save commands, whereas the other types are imported/exported using the File > Import and Export commands.

MacCaption cannot open CaptionMaker .cap project files, but it can open the other types of .cap files. To move projects between the two platforms, we recommend using the Ultech .ult import/export for caption files, or the DVDSP .stl import/export for subtitle files. So if you have a CaptionMaker .cap file, open it in CaptionMaker (you can use your MacCaption dongle to run CaptionMaker and vice versa), and then export the captions as a Ultech .ult file to import into MacCaption.

You can use QuickTime Pro, Windows Movie Maker, or a number of free video utilities to save your video into a compressed format which is faster to transfer online.

A good recommendation is:

  • QuickTime: Use "iPod" preset if available, or 320x240, H.264 codec 250kbps, AAC audio 128kbps
  • Windows Media: 320x240 250kbps (broadband medium quality preset)

As of version 6.0 of the software, Auto Time Stamp is permanently available to all users of the software and is no longer licensed as a yearly renewal. If you are running an older version of the software, the easiest way to get going is to download version 6.0 or later, provided that you have a current support plan with Telestream. If you don't have a current support plan, you won't be able to download this update. Please contact us for more information.

Auto Time Stamp will be grayed out if you have not yet loaded a video/audio file or some text into the CaptionMaker/MacCaption window. ATS needs the video/audio and script in order to run.

Windows users: You must have Java 1.6 (or later) installed. You can download it here:
Java JRE for Windows

Mac users: If you have loaded a video/audio file and script, and the Auto Time Stamp menu item is still grayed out, please see this note.