By: Fereidoon Khosravi
In my last blog, which coincided with the official launch of CapMate, our Caption and Subtitle Verification and Correction platform, I gave the background on how the concept of CapMate came about and, at a high level, what the capabilities are that it brings to the table. Here is the blog, in case you need a refresher! It is now time to dig in a little deeper into what CapMate can actually do and why we think it will add great value for any organization that has to deal with Closed Caption/Subtitle files.
We had many conversations with our customers and heard their concerns about the issues they ran across when processing or reviewing captions, and why the closed caption verification and correction is a slow and time-consuming process. Based on those feedbacks, we derived a list of key functionalities which would allow them to reduce the amount of time and effort they regularly had to spend in verifying and fixing the caption/subtitle files. For our first release, we set out to tackle and resolve as many of these issues as we could, and to provide an easy and user-friendly interface for operators to review, process, and correct their caption files.
Here is a subset of those functionalities and a short description for each. Some of these items are complex enough that deserve their own dedicated blog. Hopefully soon!
How many times have you been bothered by the fact that the caption of a show is just a tad bit behind or ahead of the actual dialog? The actor stops talking and the caption starts to appear! Or the caption and audio seem to be in sync but as time goes by, there seems to be a bigger and bigger gap between what is being said and the caption that is being shown on the screen. It makes watching a show with closed caption/subtitle quite annoying. There are many reasons for such sync issues, which I will leave for a different blog. But suffice to say, fixing such sync issues is a very time-consuming effort and probably as challenging for the operators who have to deal with them, as it is for you and I who want to watch the show! The operators have to spend painstaking time, adjusting the timing of the closed captions all the way through, making sure that fixing the sync issue in one section doesn’t have a ripple effect of causing sync issues elsewhere. The time to fix the sync issue could vary from a few hours to more than a day!
CapMate, with the use of Machine Learning techniques, can provide a very accurate analysis of such sync issues, determining what type of sync problem exists, and how far off is the caption from the spoken words. And deploying a complex algorithm, CapMate can actually automatically adjust and correct the sync issue throughout the entire file at the operator’s press of one button! This action alone can save a substantial amount of an operator’s time, with amazing accuracy. Users can also perform a detailed review of the captions using CapMate viewer application and perform manual changes.
Another item that can be annoying to an audience, is when the caption text, usually placed at the lower part of the screen, overlaps with burnt-in text in the show. Operators need to manually review the content with the caption turned on to see if and when the caption may overlay a burnt-in text present on the screen. This is another time-consuming process.
CapMate, using a sophisticated algorithm can examine every frame and detect any text that may be part of the content. It can then mark all the time codes where caption text is overlaying on the on-screen text, simplifying the process for the operator who can quickly adjust the location of the caption and remedy the issue.
While this sounds similar to the previous feature, it is actually quite different. There are instances where due to missed caption timing, the beginning of a caption may occur before the end of the previous caption. That, as you can imagine, has a big impact on the viewing experience and is not acceptable.
CapMate can easily detect and report back on all instances where such caption overlaps exist and like many of its other features, CapMate provides an intuitive interface for the operator to have CapMate make the necessary adjustment to all affected captions.
SCC (and other) Standards Conformance:
Closed caption and subtitle files come in many different formats. One of the oldest and most arcane formats (and yet quite prevalent) is called SCC, which stands for “Scenarist Closed Captions.” It’s commonly used with broadcast and web video, as well as DVDs and VHS videos (yes, it is that old!). It has very specific format specifications and is not a human-readable file. Therefore checking for format compliance is a very difficult task for an operator, always requiring additional tools. And making corrections to such files is even more difficult as it is easy to make matter worse by the smallest mistake. There are also a variety of XML-based caption formats that while more human-readable, are still difficult to manually verify and correct.
CapMate has automated Standards conformance capability, and can quickly and easily not only detect file conformance issues for SCC and other formats, but it also can make corrections accurately, and effortlessly. There are a variety of different templates defined for IMSC, DFXP, SMPTE-TT, etc, which CapMate can verify for conformance.
Profanity and Spell Check/Correction:
While some content may include profanity that is spoken, many broadcasters may choose not to have such words spelled out as part of the caption/subtitle. In many cases where automated speech-to-text utilities are used to create the initial caption files, such profane words are transcribed without any discretion. And in case of human authoring where captions are generated manually, spelling mistakes can be easily introduced by the authoring operators.
CapMate provides quick and accurate analysis of the caption text against a user-defined profanity database, and a user-extendable English dictionary to detect both profanity and spelling mistakes. Similar to word-processing software, CapMate allows the operator to do a global replacement of a profane word with a suitable substitute, or fix a spelling mistake. This work will take a fraction of the time using CapMate compare to manual caption/subtitle detection and correction.
Many other Features:
To detail all the features of CapMate here would make this a very long blog! Suffice to say, there is a wealth of other features that deal with items such as CPL (Characters Per Line), CPS (Characters Per Second), WPM (Words Per Minute), or number of lines, that CapMate can verify and provide an intuitive interface for the operator to fix.
I will have to leave those for a separate blog (it is called job security! J )