YouTube is clearly very high on video captioning. They've continued over the last few years to roll out and refine services for captioning—including an auto captioning service we wrote about back in March. And now they've created a badge of sorts for the various vendors that sell captioning services to video creators.
YouTube Ready is a new designation from the video portal, intended for use by video captioning services that YouTube has verified as trustworthy. The YouTube Blog article announcing the service suggests that there are numerous video creators that either don't have the time to caption their own videos or have videos with special elements that require extra captioning care. These content producers often turn to third party companies to get captions created for their videos.
And now the YouTube Ready badge will show us which providers are the most trusted. They've collaborated with the Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP) to compile the list of trusted vendors, and you can view the full list here.
In order to make it onto the list, a vendor must:
- Be certified by the DCMP to appear on the DCMP's list of "Approved Captioning Service Vendors" and have been approved on or before May 15, 2010.
- Have a valid YouTube account and channel.
- Maintain at least one video on its YouTube channel that displays captions provided by the vendor's own captioning services.
- Maintain at least one captioned video on its YouTube channel that describes vendor's captioning services in detail.
- Publicly post online the rates it charges to provide captions for videos that may be uploaded to YouTube.
- Publicly post online its contact information for questions and complaints.
- Be able to receive videos from its clients through online delivery. Vendor may not require its clients to provide videos on a hard DVD or VHS copy in order to receive captioning services.
They're also careful to point out on that page that just because a vendor is on the list doesn't mean that YouTube or DCMP are offering guarantees about the quality of work.
There are currently twelve approved vendors on the YouTube Ready list, with more to be added in the coming weeks.
That's all very well and good. Sounds like a good idea, and it should help unsuspecting content creators avoid getting fleeced by shady captioning companies. That being said… are there really a ton of scammy captioning companies out there? I'm asking because I don't know. It doesn't sound like the kind of industry that's likely to be overrun with criminals and deadbeats. And yet… for YouTube to create an official recommendation list and badge… it signals that there must be some kind of confusion or recurring problem in the captioning world.
Also, why release a list of trusted captioning vendors three months after releasing your own auto-captioning service? Does this mean that YouTube's auto captioning doesn't work very well? Or just that there are enough professional content producers seeking professional captioning services to warrant this list? Is auto-captioning even still a live service? It's odd to me that there's no real mention whatsoever in the announcement about it.
If any of our readers have any experience with any of the vendors on this list (or with any shady captioning companies not on the list), I'd like to hear about it. Captioning is becoming more and more vital for video creators, to reach not only the hearing-impaired, but also foreign-language speakers. And it's looking more and more like captioning is going to be the SEO savior for video, finally giving the engines a better way to access the keywords and content of a particular clip.
For a little fun, check out this tongue-twister video created by the folks at VITACCaptions--who are on the YouTube Ready trusted list--as a way to show off their captioning abilities: