Advanced Closed Captioning Software

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Closed captioning professionals use commercial software to produce and edit closed captions for offline (not live) video. The captioning software market is very competitive. What follows is a sampling of companies that sell this type of software and, where possible, a brief description of the software's capabilities.

Note: The captioning industry changes quickly, and the information below was gathered in late 2011.

Available commercial software ranges from basic, simple software to advanced software that is heavy with features. This is software that goes beyond "do it yourself." Customers for this software are usually professional captioning service providers, network broadcasters and other high-profile companies.

Most companies do not post their prices and usually require that you call to get a cost estimate for professional captioning software. In addition, the same software can often be used to create subtitles (similar to open captions in that decoding technology is not needed to view the text) and closed captions. The advanced capabilities of professional software may be essential in enabling a company to follow legal requirements for closed captioning.

  • Cheetah International offers a series of captioning software packages for both closed and open (can be viewed without needing to use closed captioning decoding technology) captioning. The company sells software for live and offline captioning. Their offline captioning software consists of two packages. The first package is for creating and editing captions; the second package is for actually encoding the captions onto the video.
  • CPC recognizes the complexity of captioning needs by offering software for preparing and encoding closed captions in multiple situations. For example, the company sells software for captioning webcasts, DVDs, live broadcasts and text streaming. Caption creators can input text data four different ways: by hand (typing the data); a stenographer's strokes; speech recognition; and a written script.
  • Evertz primarily sells hardware but does offer a captioning system for adding captions and subtitles. The software extends Microsoft Word to enable the use, or creation, of transcripts and the editing and positioning of captions. There is support for traditional Line 21 captions, digital captions and DVD subtitles. Among other features, the software can encode captions directly onto the video when an Omneon media server is used.
  • EZCaption software is primarily for offline use. The features include the ability to create captions for DVD, Windows Movie Player videos, QuickTime and RealPlayer. There is support for roll up (captions that move up the screen) and pop-on captions (captions that "pop" onto the screen, one after the other).
  • Softel is in the United Kingdom and the United States, and its software is focused on subtitling and captioning. One of the company's sales points is that its software will allow for the re-purposing of captions/subtitles. Re-purposing captions means that a caption file that is for, say, an old, offline television program, can be reformatted for use on a web broadcast.
  • SoftNi products also focus on subtitling and captioning, with the primary focus apparently on subtitling. In late 2011, the company offered two software packages for subtitling and captioning. The first package is a non-digital suite with captioning and subtitling capabilities. This suite also has multilingual capabilities. The other package is a digital package for digital (web) video, and can generate both legacy closed captions and digital closed captions.

The above examples of professional software are not inexpensive. A non-professional who wants to closed caption video, can use free online services, buy less expensive software with fewer features or use shareware/freeware.

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