Shop LC Automates Live Closed Captioning Cost-Effectively with ENCO enCaption3R3
The Shop LC is a 24/7 home shopping cable TV network based in Austin, Texas that reaches more than 80 million households in the U.S. and Canada. It is carried locally by Time Warner, Verizon Fios, DIRECTV, AT&T/U-Verse and other MVPDs, and streamed live on the network’s website.
The program day is divided into blocks presented by one of the channel’s many hosts, who present and demonstrate the products in a spirited and animated way to drive interest and sales. Despite each host’s enthusiastic cadence, all speech is automatically converted in near-real-time to text with exceptional accuracy.
“For us, the biggest selling feature of this closed captioning system is the cost,” said Jeremy Mott, senior broadcast engineer for the Shop LC. “When it comes to live closed captioning, especially for a 24/7 broadcast network like this, you can be looking at a multi-million-dollar investment to retain a live captioning service. But with enCaption3R3, we can have live closed captioning around the clock for an affordable monthly fee, making it a very cost-effective way to caption 24/7 broadcasts.”
While the software-defined system performs speaker-independent voice recognition in near-real-time, it doesn’t require any respeaking, pre-programming of information, or voice training of the speaker’s voice in advance to generate an accurate, high-quality caption stream. As a fully automated workflow, the process never requires manual entry by a skilled, real-time captioner or attention by an operator on-duty.
During live programs, a mix-minus AES audio stream is output from a Logitech Jet Stream digital audio mixer. This mix-minus feed isolates sound picked up by the microhones minus the music, sound effects and other background noise that could hamper the speech recognition process. From there, the signal flows through a variety of audio processors to the enCaption3R3, a 1RU rack-mounted device.
The enCaption3R3 sends the CEA-608/CEA-708-compliant serial data stream of the captions to the house router, which sends the video, audio and caption data to an EEG HD492 ATSC encoder. The encoder has been programmed by the Shop LC to place the captions in the upper right hand corner of the screen, without interfere to adjacent on-screen text and lower-third supers. The caption stream is then embedded into the SDI video program signal and distributed for broadcast.
“We especially like the extensive vocabulary database,” Mott said. “It also has a local library with a notepad where customers can enter and save words that are unique to their application. For example, since we specialize in gemstones, one term we’ve entered is ‘Kanchanaburi,’ which is a type of blue sapphire that we sell. It’s not a common word, but it’s one we use all the time.”
Introduced at the 2016 NAB Show in April, enCaption3R3 uses the company’s latest enhanced speaker independent neural network based speech recognition engine to closely inspect and transcribe a program’s spoken dialogue in near real-time (typically 4-6 seconds). Mott is pleased that system maintenance and technical support is included as part of the monthly service model.
“ENCO is always improving enCaption’s capabilities, and updating our system so we stay current with their latest advances,” Mott said. “Since serving our customers is a top priority, we’re fully committed to providing high-quality, regulatory compliant closed captioning for our hearing impaired viewing audience.”
“Shop LC is an ideal example of how specialty broadcasters and cable/OTT networks can both accurately and cost-efficiently serve closed-captioning in compliance with industry standards and practices,” said Ken Frommert, general manager, ENCO. “enCaption3R3 ensures that our customers have a flexible and compliant across all captioning needs for live and recorded file-based content.”
Founded in 1983, ENCO Systems is a world leader in playout and automation system solutions for demanding radio and television organizations. ENCO is headquartered in Southfield, Michigan USA and retains a worldwide distribution network.