Broadcast Captions

Closed captioning is more than just words on a screen. It takes expertise to craft captions in a way that effectively communicates to deaf, hearing-impaired and hearing audiences alike.

We create captions worthy of your message. Proven techniques are the reason producers trust us with the transcription, closed captioning, tape duplication and digital delivery of their broadcast programs. Our staff knows more than just captioning – we are also producers, editors and techies, which gives us an unmatchable level of proficiency for the demands of the broadcast industry. With this in mind, we’ve streamlined the captioning process, and we specialize in 24-hour, and even same-day, turnaround.

We understand the whole picture, and how quality and speed impact your message.

Benefits of the Lab

All Tape and File Formats

Edit Suite Captions

Digital Delivery


Quick Turnaround

Why caption my broadcast program?


Closed captioning extends television viewing to the deaf, hearing impaired, and non-native English speakers. Providing quality closed captioning ensures a larger audience, namely the 40 million Americans who are deaf and hard of hearing.


Nearly 100% of all English and Spanish broadcast programming in the United States must be closed captioned. Rules and guidelines for quality of closed captions have been established by and are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The FCC has also provided a way for viewers to submit complaints for caption-related problems.


Research shows that closed captioning has academic value. Many classrooms are turning to captioned media for struggling readers to increase speed, comprehension, and vocabulary. Captioned media is also a powerful tool for people who are learning English as a second language (ESL) and for English speakers learning to read. Just like “word walls” that are so highly recommended in schools throughout our country, captioning continues that text-rich environment of the classroom, and carries it to each child’s TV time. Using captions mimics the techniques used in educational videos, but instead of learning just colors and numbers, a child can discover new vocabulary in anything that comes across your TV set — words that pertain to sports, economics, geography or far-away cultures.

Types of Closed Captions

Offline ROLL UP

Online (LIVE)

Offline POP ON

Roll-up captions behave as the name implies—the text “rolls-up” the screen. Post production roll-up captions offer a high level of accuracy at an affordable price. Best used when one person is speaking at a time, roll-up captions are suited perfectly for sermons, education, infomercials and documentaries.

A specially trained captioner uses a steno machine to type in real-time at 250+ words per minute, much like a court reporter. The live captioner relies on experience, years of training, and an extensive dictionary to make accurate captions, while keeping pace with the live program content.

The text pops on and off the screen. Each caption can hold several lines of text. They are positioned to avoid covering graphics and faces, or moved around the screen to identify different speakers. Pop-on captions are useful when there are multiple speakers at one time or for commercial spots, dramas, films, game shows and interviews.

File Formats

The most common caption file format is .scc. Other popular formats include .cap, .tds, .cin, .mcc, .onl and .asc. Sometimes broadcast stations may be able to accept these files, but usually they request captions to be embedded with the video when delivered via tape or file.

Web Conversion

Converting broadcast captions to web formats can be straightforward or complex, depending on the web player. The use of SMPTE-TT captions makes the conversion easy. Conversions to other popular formats, such as SubRip (.srt), SAMI (.smi), WebVTT (.vtt), TTML/DFXP (.xml), are also possible with some formatting adjustments.

SD/HD compatibility

EIA/CEA-608 is the standard for legacy captions in Standard Definition, and is sometimes referred to as “Line 21.” The newer EIA/CEA-708 was created for digital broadcasts and adds new fonts, characters and symbols, text colors and styles, and more. Both EIA/CEA-608 and EIA/CEA-708 captions are required for ATSC digital broadcasts.


After the scripts are written, the studio lights are turned off and the editing is complete, it’s time to release your masterpiece. But in order to reach the widest audience, your project needs subtitles, and we make it easy.

Including subtitles is very important to DVD and Blu-ray projects. Many viewers rely on subtitles in both the spoken language and in multiple foreign languages. When they aren’t available, your project can’t reach its full potential audience. Even if your release is domestic-only, you still risk alienating the deaf, hard-of-hearing and non-English speakers alike.

For DVD and Blu-ray, you can choose to create subtitles in up to 32 languages, which sets you up for global circulation. Your subtitles can be made compatible with voice dubbing should you choose to add foreign language audio tracks.

We can provide you with a finished subtitle file that can you can import into the DVD yourself. You can also let our production team author the DVD for you in one of our multimedia suites and deliver it to your doorstep, ready to go. If you need subtitles that are always seen (open subtitles), we can create a file allowing you to overlay subtitles in your edit suite or we are able to encode subtitles directly to videotape or file.

Benefits of the Lab

Any Authoring System

DVD or Blu-Ray

Up to 32 Languages

Section 508 Compliance

Open Subtitles

Turnkey Mastering

Subtitles vs. Captions

People often use the terms closed captioning and subtitling interchangeably. Both display the transcription text on the screen, but there are some technical and stylistic differences worth understanding.

Closed Captions

Closed captioning is transcribed text encoded into a video signal. A special decoder turns the captions on or off, hence the term closed captions. Since 1993, the FCC has required closed caption decoders to be installed in television receivers 13 inches or larger sold in the United States. Closed captioning is primarily used in broadcast television and consumer videotape formats, such as VHS.

Closed captions are recognized by white, mono-spaced text on a solid black background. This hallmark look characterizes captions because early technology (CEA-608) was very limited in characters, fonts and style options. Newer digital technology (CEA-708) allows for more characters, fonts, and better style options for how the captions are displayed by the receiver.


Subtitles are preferred over closed captions for DVD and Blu-ray discs. This is because subtitles do not rely on a special decoder to display text over video. Instead, the text is overlaid on the video, meaning that displays that do not require a closed caption decoder can display subtitles without any additional equipment. A computer can play a DVD or an iPad can play video from Netflix. Neither device has the ability to decode closed captions, but both can play video with subtitles overlaid on the video. Subtitles are also necessary where legacy closed captions are not available to the decoder, as is the case with HDMI and Blu-ray disc technology.

Legacy captions are displayed in uppercase only, but subtitles can be formatted in upper- and lower-case, and offer many options for size, font and special characters.

SDH & ESL Subtitles

Subtitles for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (SDH) only differ from closed captions in appearance, depicting transcription as well as non-verbal audio. ESL subtitles are designed for English as Second Language viewers. Used primarily to aid with language interpretation, they do not include non-verbal moments.

Common File Types

We create files compatible with professional disc authoring software. Common DVD file types are .stl for DVD Studio Pro (Apple) and .txt for Encore (Adobe). The file type for Blu-ray subtitles is a .xml file along with individual .jpg images for each subtitle.

Captions & Blu-ray

Closed captions work on DVD discs; however, this is not true for Blu-ray. Standard Definition captions work by encoding data directly into Line 21 of the video, but high definition video does not use the same technology. Blu-ray only supports subtitles, which are turned on/off in the disc’s menu.

Web Captions

The Internet has revolutionized the way we watch videos. Developments in technology mean that online viewers are no longer tied down to their computers, either. Mobile phones, tablets such as iPad, Roku and other streaming boxes, and services like Netflix and Hulu all use Internet Protocol (IP) to distribute video content over the web.

CaptionLabs can make your online library accessible to the deaf and hard of hearing, foreign speakers, and viewers in low- or high-noise environments. Internet technology means your audience is limitless, but if you aren’t including captions and translations in your media strategy, your reach is greatly stunted. Whether you are streaming live video of an event, hosting a video on your website, or offering your video on YouTube, iTunes, or Roku, we have the tools to max out your audience.

Benefits of the Lab



Versatility of formats

Conversion from broadcast

Multiple Languages

Why caption media for the web?


Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Google and other search engines crawl through the web, cataloging information for web searches. Search engines can’t watch your video, but they can read captions. When videos are captioned, the text can be scanned for key words, which boosts the searchability of your media. You can’t ask for a better marketing side-effect than a video that climbs the search engine ladder on its own!




The 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) became law in 2010. Among other things, it required that if video is broadcast on television with captions, those closed captions must also be made available when viewing the program over the Internet. The scope is not limited to a web browser or even a personal computer, but includes any device that uses Internet Protocol (IP). Mobile smartphone apps, services like Hulu or Netflix, websites, YouTube, internet-enabled televisions, and some DVD players and gaming consoles are all examples of IP distribution devices.

When videos are produced by federal and state agencies, universities, non-profits, and many other NGOs (non-governmental organizations), accessible media is required by Section 508. Creating accessible media means more than providing a written transcript. Captions or subtitles must be synchronized to the audio and be SDH-formatted, meaning they must include non-verbal information such as speaker indication, sound descriptions and onomatopoeia.

Types of Web Captions

Flash Player


Windows Media



Real Player

Custom Player




Streaming Box

iTunes & iOS

Popular File Formats

Web caption formats can sometimes resemble alphabet soup. Here some of the most popular web caption formats: DFXP, SRT, SBV, SMI, SMPTE-TT, VTT, XML and SCC.

Timed Text Files

Many video players use external Timed Text files to make web captions work. These files are formatted to standards set by the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) and displayed by the video player.

Meetings & Live Events

In-Room Captions

The conversation surrounding closed captions has traditionally focused on TV and Internet. But there is a growing need for closed captioning at live entertainment events and meetings.

One of our experienced, remote stenographers will listen to your meeting and transcribe in real time. The text will then be sent through the Internet to a special web page. A projector, large TV screen or even a tablet can be used to display the real-time text. If you are webcasting the meeting, online participants can view the text stream with the video window.

After your event, we’ll provide you with a transcript, which serves as a powerful resource for attendees, presenters, meeting coordinators and event planners.

Why caption a meeting?

Many meetings and live entertainment events use ASL interpreters in order to reach those in the audience who are hearing impaired. But what about those with age related hearing loss or participants who don’t know ASL? Also, because of visual obstacles or distance, audience members are unable to see the interpreter.

In addition to engaging hearing impaired audience members, you’ll find that displaying captions at your meeting ensures overall participation and improved comprehension.

Perfect Captions. On time. Every time. If you’re not thrilled with our service, we won’t expect you to pay. We’ll refund 100% of every penny paid AND pay our competitor to complete the project for you. No fine print, no hassles, no questions asked. That’s our promise and your guarantee.

(813) 560-0000