Captioning Types and Styles!

Captioning types and styles

Captioning is the key to unlock the vast amount of information that comes with the video asset for the deaf and hard of hearing people. By converting audio content of a television, film, video, webcast, live event or other production into text, it enables them to watch synchronized presentations. Captioning also provides additional information like speaker identification, music description, and other non-speech information, including sound effects. Though the idea behind captioning is to provide hard of hearing people additional information and help them enjoy the dialogs the same way as others do, 80% of viewers who prefer captions are not audibly challenged.

During the time when captions were introduced, only open captions were available, and authors found it difficult creating captions on-time for time sensitive information, resulting in undue delays. Over time, other captioning techniques including tools for captioning and building of captions into the delivery process were introduced, and that shortened or eliminated such delays.

Captions are created either offline or online. Offline captions are added after a video segment has been recorded and before it is aired. Online captions, also known as real-time captions, are created and displayed as the program happens. Examples would include live sports relays and news.

Captions basically are of two types; open and closed. Caption types relate to the way in which captions appear on screen, the way they are accessed, and the information they provide.

Captions that come with an option to be activated or deactivated by the viewer are called closed captions, and the ones that always stay on, are open captions. Open captions are a part of the video stream and cannot be turned off. This primarily, is the major difference between the two. But each of them have their own pros and cons. Since open captions don’t come with an option to deactivate when not required, it is always available and is universal. But the disadvantage is that, they cannot be disabled even if the user doesn’t need them, and its quality is directly connected to the quality of the video.

Closed captioning, with its captioning decoders, allows viewers choose whether or not they want captioning, and can be turned off when not required. They appear at the bottom of the screen and are made visible by a decoder at the time of viewing. Closed captions are normally white letters enclosed in a black box.

Another captioning system similar to open and closed captions are Subtitles. These are typically employed to translate dialogues from another language into the language native to the viewer. Subtitles come with the option of either being always on, or disabled, depending on the video. While open and closed captions also help the viewers understand other important sounds in the video including the music that’s played and speech that happens off-screen, subtitles are exclusively focused on the dialog content. Subtitles usually are white or yellow letters with no casing. Some, like open captions, are always visible.

Captions are presented in three styles.

Pop On: Pop On captions generally consist of a couple of lines in one frame and remain visible for a few seconds before they disappear. These captions describe the frame along with background sounds, speaker identification, and non-speech sounds. Being the preferred mode of captioning due to its accuracy, they tend to ensure that the text displayed is in sync with the audio. Pop on captions are widely used in post-production and online videos.

Roll Up: These type of captions roll up one after the other either at the bottom or top of the screen. As roll up captions are verbatim and synchronized, they tend to go with the video, and hence don’t include accurate grammar or punctuation. Speakers are identified with double chevrons, and each sentence rolls up about two to three lines. The top line disappears when a new line is added in the bottom to ensure continuous roll up of captions.

Paint On: Paint On captions are very similar to Roll Up captions. But instead of the text rolling up, individual words are painted from left to right. Similar to Roll Up captions, these are also verbatim as they follow the video.