AI Powers VoCaption Live Subtitling

AI and the Next Broadcast Automation Wave…

As COVID-19 forced the world into lock-down, quarantine and work-from-home, educate-the-kids-from-home, social distance, wear a mask, don’t wear a mask, wear a mask, and don’t forget to wash your hands, it changed the way we do almost everything. Sweeping changes that saw companies transition from an office only environment to an only work from home environment for adults and schools transition to a learn at home environment for all school age kids regardless of grade level.

One of the predictable results was a spike in breaking news and total news about the pandemic and how the world was coping. Another predictable result was a spike in television viewing and streaming video as we all looked for escapes after working and learning from home and cooking meals and cleaning and any other necessary activities, like TikTok, that have become the new normal for many.

A side benefit of watching more video on our TV’s and devices while quarantined is anecdotal, as well as research-based. There is evidence that the use of captions and subtitles has expanded. We are watching much more video with subtitles and not because of hearing issues but because of a desire to improve our comprehension, make up for poor audio, a noisy room, language barrier or the use of a second screen.

Prior to the pandemic, researchers noticed that more and more people were watching video on their devices with the sound off and the subtitles on because they didn’t want the audio to get blasted out while working or in the doctor’s office or at a restaurant (remember those?). So it’s becoming more the norm to have captions on all the time.

What does this tell us? For the most part broadcasters and content providers were only providing captions and subtitles because a government agency or special group mandated it for the deaf or hearing impaired. Now, however, it appears that it makes good business sense to add captions to everything because:

  • It helps with comprehension
  • Assists those with language barriers
  • Helps when you are watching in a noisy room, think kids in the background, but also think bars, airports and other venues that have TVs mounted on walls or hung from ceilings and because of the environmental noise, you need captions to understand what’s going on.
  • As an added benefit, if your video is being watched over the Internet, the subtitles help with SEO so more people will find it as part of search or browsing.

A quick note to advertisers and agencies. Most commercials don’t provide captions so if people are watching with the sound off or turned down it’s very likely they don’t know what you’re selling, heck, half the time, even with the sound I’m not sure what you’re selling.

Behind the scenes, market forces may soon have a negative impact on the captioning market. This is because the number of qualified professionals, called stenographers, who can deliver live captions and subtitles with a high degree of accuracy is declining as older seasoned professionals retire and are not being replaced.

This trend has resulted in a shortfall of over 5,000 stenographers just in the US alone. These openings remain unfilled because this career is no longer viewed as desirable by young people entering the job market. The qualifications are tough and require candidates to be able to type 200+ words per minute with a high degree of accuracy, have highly focused concentration skills and the ability to sit for long periods of time and just type.

Because of the skill and focus required, most who attend stenography school dropout. The average graduation rate is only 4%. The resulting low enrollments have forced many stenography schools to close their doors.

It’s reasonable to expect the current decline in stenographers to continue so broadcasters may soon face an availability problem when they need a human captioner. Thankfully, there’s an alternative for broadcasters and it’s available today.

With the acquisition of Screen Subtitling Systems, BroadStream is focused on solutions to help broadcasters and content providers save money and improve efficiency and accuracy with both live and filed-based captioning and subtitling.

We’re focused on this for several reasons:

  • When broadcaster’s budgets are squeezed they look to automation to help them solve problems and do more with less, and their budgets have been hammered by the loss of ad revenue from the pandemic.
  • Artificial Intelligence is becoming more important and finding its way into daily workflow.
  • We acquired Screen Subtitling Systems as a way to add new features and workflows to OASYS Integrated Playout without having to start from scratch, and we’re doing that with the introduction of…VoCaption – Live, Automated Captioning and Subtitling for broadcasters.

VoCaption helps broadcasters:

  • Reduce their dependency on human captioners
  • Save over 2/3’s the cost of live human captioning
  • Consistently maintain accuracy standards
  • Enjoy added protection with stand-by emergency captioning & subtitling

Built around artificial intelligence, VoCaption delivers highly accurate, real-time, speech-to-text processing to provide captions and subtitles in 31 different languages with accuracy rates in the high 90’s easily achievable, depending on audio quality.

Accuracy is further improved by the use of VoCaption’s custom and alternate word dictionaries that allow you to add local or difficult to pronounce words, phrases and geographic terms in advance and create substitutes for words you don’t want going to air.

Speech-to-text processing has been around for a long time but the early results were not that impressive. However, the industry has made great strides over the last few years with faster hardware, significant software improvements and big jumps in the ever expanding AI knowledge base.

Captions and subtitles are traditionally done by humans for both live and file-based content and the cost for live captioning is quite expensive. The average is around $125 per hour but depending on the event it can range anywhere from $60 per hour to over $300 per hour depending on who you talk too.

In addition to higher levels of accuracy, automated captioning is less expensive than human captioning and can offer savings, as much as 2/3’s or more depending on current arrangements.

One of the early knocks against AI based solutions was it took too long for the systems to learn and  they often stumbled with hard to pronounce names and words, foreign words, local or regional dialects, geography and similar issues.

VoCaption takes a different approach to accuracy. Yes, we use an AI based, speech engine to convert the speech-to-text but we looked for ways to accelerate learning and teach the system to eliminate the typical start-up issues many products on the market experience.

  1. We include a custom dictionary that we begin building during the commissioning process to add local and hard to pronounce words that are unique to each area. In addition to traditional spelling we can also include the phonetic spelling to assist with proper pronunciation.
  2. We include an alternate words dictionary that will substitute certain words you don’t want going to air. It can also be used to include proper words and nouns that should be capitalized when written. So, taking the time to properly commission your system will dramatically improve your accuracy from day one, and it will only get better.

VoCaption is available in several options:

  1. Single 1RU rackmount unit to work with 3rd party subtitle encoders.
  2. Integrated with Polistream, BroadStream’s global leader in caption and subtitle encoding.
  3. Integrated with OASYS Integrated Playout available in SD, HD and IP.
  4. As a software only solution with specific hardware that are customer provided.

If you remember that the typical price range for live captioners is $60 to $300 per hour with an average of roughly $125 per hour. VoCaption will provide significant savings because the human is removed from the cost structure.

Make sure you are in control as it relates to captioning and subtitles. Don’t wait until the shortage of stenographers catches up with broadcasters and begin to save money now.

Want to see VoCaption in action for yourself? We’re happy to show you an online demo and you get to pick the video we use. To schedule your own demonstration please click here and complete the Product Inquiry at the bottom of the page.

BroadStream Promotes Shelinder Sachdeva to VP of Sales for South Asia and the Middle East

Duluth, GA USA –  25 June 2020 – Integrated playout and subtitling specialist, BroadStream Solutions, announced today that Shelinder Sachdeva has been promoted to handle a new role, to expand the Company’s business and operations in the Middle East, reporting to CEO, David Bowes.

“Shelinder Sachdeva, performed an excellent job of expanding the business and operations for BroadStream Solutions in South Asia while maintaining the brand’s industry leadership position,” said CEO, David Bowes.

His extensive background in playout automation software sales and deep understanding of BroadStream and our OASYS Integrated Playout solution and services, has helped BroadStream gain a significant market position in the region. We congratulate Shelinder on his new position and responsibilities, and are confident that his expertise will continue to help BroadStream expand our product portfolio and business in the Middle East for years to come.

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BroadStream Contact:
Chuck Jones, CMO
BroadStream Solutions, Inc
[email protected]

 

About BroadStream

BroadStream (https://broadstream.com) specializes in flexible, highly scalable solutions for integrated playout, live automated captioning & subtitling, file-based captioning & subtitling, caption encoding and subtitling software tools. Our OASYS Integrated Playout solution is used world-wide by broadcasters from single channel operators to operations scaling from 3 – 12 channels and service providers with 50+ channels. OASYS delivers on Content Preparation, Playout and Management to improve workflow efficiency for broadcasters at every level. Solutions are available in SD, HD, and IP as well as SD/HD-SDI and SDI/IP hybrid playout configurations to provide a solid migration path to future technologies, including cloud implementations.

In 2018, BroadStream acquired Screen Subtitling Systems in the UK. Screen specializes in products for the preparation and delivery of captions, subtitles and value-add information services across multiple platforms and devices. With Screen we recently introduced VoCaption, a new AI-based, automated live captioning and subtitling solution to provide highly accurate subtitles for live programming, breaking news, emergency subtitling and more.

Broadcast Control Room

OASYS Integrated Playout with Live Captioning and Subtitling

With the acquisition of Screen Subtitling Systems, BroadStream is capitalizing on Screen’s captioning and subtitling expertise with new, value-added integrations that combine OASYS Integrated Playout with Polistream and VoCaption.

VoCaption

VoCaption is BroadStream’s new, AI-based, speech-to-text solution that provides broadcasters with an accurate and lower-cost, live captioning alternative to human captioning. VoCaption is ideal for captioning live news, breaking news, remote field reports, sports, weather and other events like church services or local special interest programs, as well as, occasional file-based events.

We include an easy-to-use Custom Dictionary so users can easily pre-load local and regional words, phrases and geographical terms plus unique names so there’s no waiting for the system to learn. You can teach it and benefit from increased accuracy right from the start at a fraction of the cost. There is also an Alternate Words Dictionary that can be used to swap out words that you don’t want to go to air or words that need to be capitalized as an example. Much of this work can be done during commissioning so the system becomes much more accurate from first air date.

What about accuracy? Five to ten years ago, AI based systems were in their infancy and accuracy was not very good. But over the last 5+ years we’ve seen accuracy improve dramatically along with significant increases in machine speed and power that combine to provide much greater accuracy with reduce latency and this trend will continue.

Polistream

Polistream is a closed captioning encoder available as a 1RU solution or software only integrated into OASYS. The combination of both Polistream and VoCaption provides live closed captioning and caption encoding within OASYS for a streamlined, all-encompassing playout solution that runs on cost-effective COTS hardware with no special purpose devices.

OASYS

OASYS Integrated Playout is a modular playout solution designed to streamline media ingest, preparation, and management, along with playlist creation, switching, channel playout, advanced dynamic graphics, secondary recording, time delay, archiving and logging in a solution that is agile, flexible and fully scalable for any sized broadcast facility.

VoCaption Diagram

With the addition of Polistream and VoCaption, OASYS can be triggered manually, by pre-scheduled triggers or in emergency mode to caption on-the-fly if it detects the lack of captions in the live signal to protect you from unwanted fines or angry viewer complaints.

The combination of OASYS, Polistream and VoCaption eliminates several pieces of hardware and replaces them with software designed to work together to provide a more efficient system that has fewer potential points of failure and much improved automation capabilities that can eliminate programs without captions or subtitles and save you significant money versus human captioners.

For more details, click the links above for each solution. If you need specifics including a quote or demonstration please visit our Contact Us page and our team will be respond to provide whatever you need.

BroadStream Withdraws from IBC 2020

For Immediate Release                

BroadStream Solutions Withdraws from IBC 2020 Due to COVID-19

Our employees’ health and safety come first for us.

Duluth, GA USA –  14 May 2020 – Integrated playout specialist, BroadStream Solutions, announced today it will not attend the IBC 2020 Conference and Expo in Amsterdam for the safety and well-being of our employees.

“BroadStream is a family company, and despite the economic shutdown due to COVID-19 we have declared to all our staff that we are, all in this together,” according to David Bowes, President and CEO at BroadStream, “We view our whole team as essential, and as such no individual or team will be asked to do any more or less than any other – across all our offices in USA, Europe and India. We have been fortunate to be able to help many of our customers adapt to working from home by using our technology and our software.  We have also helped many students study from home with special licenses. In addition, the generosity of our staff has enabled us to help the communities where we work, particularly reaching out to those people around us who are most at risk.

As many countries begin to open up and businesses start to move back to their offices, we are committed to ensuring that our staff remain safe and healthy. With this as our only priority, we have decided to cancel our plans to attend IBC 2020. We respect that other companies are making tough decisions, but we strongly urge those in our community to evaluate what is absolutely necessary and essential at this time of high risk.

We extend our blessings to all who work in our industry, whether partners, customers or competitors. May you all survive and thrive through 2020, staying safe, healthy and prosperous, and we very much look forward to demonstrating our exciting new products virtually this year.

It is our most sincere desire that we will see all our great friends and colleagues in Amsterdam at IBC in 2021.”

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BroadStream Contact:
Chuck Jones, CMO
BroadStream Solutions, Inc
[email protected]

About BroadStream

BroadStream (https://broadstream.com) specializes in flexible, highly scalable solutions for integrated playout, live automated captioning & subtitling, file-based, captioning & subtitling, caption encoding and subtitling software tools. Our OASYS Integrated Playout solution is used world-wide by broadcasters of all sizes for Content Preparation, Playout and Management. Designed to improve workflow efficiency, solutions are available in SD, HD, and IP as well as SD/HD-SDI and SDI/IP hybrid playout configurations to provide a solid migration path to future technologies, including the cloud.

In 2018, BroadStream acquired Screen Subtitling Systems in the UK. Screen specialises in products for the preparation and delivery of captions, subtitles and value-add information services across multiple platforms and devices. Our combined 60+ years of hands-on experience consistently delivers quality, flexibility, dependability, improved workflows and operational efficiency that scale from single channel facility to multichannel broadcasters and service providers.

BroadStream Releases VoCaption-Live, Automated Subtitling Solution

For Immediate Release      

 BroadStream Announces Official Release of VoCaption for Live Automated Captions and Subtitles

Acquisition of Screen Subtitling Systems creates new product launch.

Duluth, GA USA –  8 May 2020 – Integrated playout specialist, BroadStream Solutions, announced that it will officially release VoCaption, Live Automated Captioning & Subtitling Solution during the NAB Express Show May 13-14, 2020.

This represents the Company’s first new product launch since the acquisition of well-known subtitling experts, Screen Subtitling Systems, Inc. Located in Suffolk, in the UK, Screen has specialized in developing products and solutions for the preparation and delivery of subtitles and captions, including value-added information services across multiple platforms and devices for over 40 years.

We’ve been working very hard to combine the two teams together under one umbrella brand since the acquisition,” said David Bowes, BroadStream’s President and CEO, “and VoCaption represents a great joint effort between our Development and Engineering teams.”

The new BroadStream Engineering Team incorporated AI, artificial intelligence, in the form of a speech-to-text processing engine to create an automated solution that can be used to support live captioners or provide captioning where live captioners are not available and do so at a fraction of the cost of human captioning, with significant quality improvements over previous AI efforts that will benefit hearing disadvantaged viewers, as well as, viewers in locations where television is available, but without sound.

Stenography, as a profession, has been in decline since 2013. As senior professionals retire they are not being replaced by younger candidates who are passing on transcription as a career in favor of other professions. Coupled with this industry decline, we’re seeing increased demand for live captioning due to new regulations in multiple countries, more live and breaking news, 24-hour news cycles, increased use of subtitles in social media and an explosion of new streaming options for viewers. Additional competition for live captioners is coming from corporate events, government briefings, meetings and increased usage from the legal system for depositions and trials are creating resource issues and rising prices for human captioning.

“While many will say machine captions are not as accurate as humans, or, they’ve tried it before and it wasn’t good enough, we’ve watched the AI technology improve dramatically over the last few years, and find it to be on a par and sometimes better than humans with quality audio, and it will only get better and better,” according to Melissa Preslar”, BroadStream’s Chief Operating Officer, “in addition, broadcasters tell us that even when a few errors do pop-up, the significantly lower cost for VoCaption is too good to pass up.”

VoCaption will be available as part of OASYS Integrated Playout, as well as, with Polistream our leading, subtitle inserter. A stand-alone solution that integrates with 3rd party caption inserters will also be available, along with a non-broadcast version for live on-premise captions at events, meetings, briefings, and presentations.

“We are especially excited about VoCaption’s integration with OASYS Integrated Playout and our Polistream Caption & Subtitle Transmission system as these options will enable broadcasters to reduce their hardware investment and take advantage of the automation from OASYS along with the great features that Polistream and VoCaption deliver,” Bowes commented, “plus, many of Screen’s customers have requested a playout solution from Screen that provides all the features they need for playout with a tight integration to Screen’s subtitling and value-add products.”

You can see more about VoCaption at the NABShow Express and at BroadStream’s website.

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BroadStream Contact:                                                                                

Chuck Jones, CMO
BroadStream Solutions, Inc
[email protected]

About BroadStream

BroadStream (https://broadstream.com) specializes in flexible and highly scalable solutions for integrated playout, live automated captioning & subtitling, file-based, captioning & subtitling, caption encoding and subtitling software tools. Our OASYS Integrated Playout solution is used world-wide by broadcasters of all sizes for Content Preparation, Playout and Management. Designed to improve workflow efficiency, solutions are available in SD, HD, and IP as well as SD/HD-SDI and SDI/IP hybrid playout configurations to provide a solid migration path to future technologies, including the cloud, to make transitioning easier.

In 2018, BroadStream acquired Screen Subtitling Systems in the UK. Screen specializes in products for the preparation and delivery of captions, subtitles and value-add information services across multiple platforms and devices. Our combined 60+ years of hands-on experience consistently delivers quality, flexibility, dependability, improved workflows and operational efficiency that scale from single channel facility to multichannel broadcasters and service providers operating hundreds of channels.

 

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