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Case Study: Captionmax

The Opportunity

Captionmax has grown from a one-man operation in 1993 to a multi-location business with remote employees spread throughout the country. Its core service offerings allow for viewers across the globe to enjoy video content that might not otherwise be fully accessible. Captionmax’s service offerings include live and pre-recorded closed captioning, multi-language subtitling, voice-dubbing and video description.

The Challenge

One of the value additions that Captionmax offers with their live captioning service is dedicated quality monitoring of all the work they deliver to their clients. Captioning and monitoring that, on average, cover over 1,000 hours of live content weekly across multiple networks and connections was at the root of the challenge. The growing volume of programming presents challenges to their coordinator team who are responsible for the monitoring of each feed to ensure caption quality.

Their prior solution used dozens of individual monitors, each dedicated by a single purpose controller and carried on traditional analog systems. This system represented a challenge to manage and due to this there was inherent risk to the Quality of Service (QoS) that they expect to provide their clients. When Captionmax moved their headquarters in January 2019, they took the opportunity to design a new and integrated solution to monitoring their live captioning service.

The Solution

“We didn’t have an old system; it was only four years old. But technology and high-reliability of IP based media delivery had rapidly evolved in that time.” said Tony Cleveland, Captionmax CTO. “We wanted to leverage IP communication and move away from the antiquated world of analog cables, splitters, and single purpose monitors. We also needed a system that would ensure both our ability to grow with our clients and to enhance our best-in-class approach to services.” Captionmax looked at the market to see who would be best positioned to help them with their goals. “We had Alpha Video come in to review our objectives and the project, and we were blown away. They quickly understood our unique business challenges and were able to pair it with the options that quickly enabled us to move from our analog world to a custom IP delivery solution,” Tony continued.

An essential aspect of the live monitoring process was that Captionmax needed to pull down various feeds that included network satellite feeds, DirecTV and Comcast channels, and a host of different non-traditional streaming points of origin. With expertise in multiple markets, Alpha Video was able to propose a custom solution.

Alpha Video integrated a K-Tech solution to convert satellite feeds to IP along with Thor encoders to convert Comcast Xfinity channels to IP. A Technicolor COM3000, a solution that had been traditionally used in large entertainment venues for IPTV, was integrated to convert DirecTV channels to IP. Using the COM3000, Captionmax can now monitor programs from a variety of DirecTV sources without the need for dozens of dedicated set-top boxes for each channel.

To control and monitor all the IP channels throughout Captionmax’s facilities, Alpha Video integrated a broadcast-class Grass Valley Kaleido K2 IP solution. The Kaleido helps Captionmax easily route and switch channels to their multi-view 1 x 3 video wall, as well as to any workstation monitor or wall display around their facilities. Content for hundreds of incoming channels and sources can now be selected with a simple mouse click on any desktop web interface or button press on a control panel.

The Impact

The solution quickly streamlined the time and effort required to manage the monitoring process and provided the flexibility to prioritize and control the presentation of the source feeds all while ensuring the system can scale to meet the needs of the company in the foreseeable future.

“We knew that to scale the company we had to have an IP infrastructure in place,” said Tony. “As we look at the market, we know that IP delivery is the direction our industry is headed and we needed to invest in supporting that infrastructure for our clients and our organization."