KANSAS CITY, MO. — KCCG-TV2 is the government access channel for Kansas City, Mo., airing council meetings, special events and original programming designed to keep residents connected and informed. The 24/7 TV channel is a function of the City Communications Office and on Spectrum, Google Fiber and AT&T U-Verse, and online through Granicus and our YouTube channel.
We have closed captioned our programming for more than 15 years, for regulatory requirements and as a best practice. Until recently, we had been using closed captioners in real time. For government meetings, the captioners would call in via phone line or connect over IP to our Link Electronics 3000 closed caption encoders. They would do the captioning live, and we would record the video with its encoded captions.
We scheduled weekly captioning sessions for our short-form programming, but if we received a new program request from a department or elected official that needed to go on-air more immediately, we had to coordinate with a captioner at the last minute. We also needed to take the time to play back the new show in real time for the captioning to be performed, and if there were any issues along the way, we had to start over—sometimes doing two or three passes.
In all of these cases, we also needed to trim the beginning and end of the captioned recordings, as they were not precisely timed. These were extra steps we wanted to eliminate.
With so many consumer devices offering various forms of natural voice transcription, I started researching professional solutions for automated closed captioning. Some vendors allowed us to send short video samples for them to run through their system as a test, but the results were usually not very good, and a 20-second video clip wasn’t sufficient to convince us whether or not the systems would meet our needs. In contrast, ENCO allowed us to demo enCaption in-house, which gave us the confidence it would work the way we hoped and eliminate unnecessary steps.
I’m also an engineer, not an accountant, but I know we’re saving a pretty significant amount of money.
Installation of the enCaption system was straightforward—SDI in, SDI out, a network cable, monitor, keyboard and mouse, and we were up and running. The enCaption system takes our master output right before it hits our transmission gear, creating the captions and passing them over IP to our Link 3000 encoder, which then connects to our transmission chain. Our complete live channel is thus captioned 24/7, which we couldn’t afford to do with live stenographers.
The enCaption system has taken many steps out of our day-to-day operations, particularly when putting new programming into rotation. I no longer need to worry about issues like trimming; once our editors have finished a show, I can drop it into our playback system, and call it a day. The enCaption system handles the captioning on the way out.
Ultimately, that efficiency translates into financial savings. We try to use our citizens’ money responsibly, and by saving us time, manpower and operational costs, enCaption allows us to be more productive on a smaller budget.
Joel Cogan is the engineer for KCCGTV2 and has worked at the station for over 18 years. He can be reached at Joel.Cogan@kcmo.org. For more information, visit enco.com or call 248-827-4440.