Today Apple have released some amazing videos about the great work they do with accessibility. And it is great work, don’t get me wrong. The fact that these abilities are built into the systems of Mac and iOS is perhaps the best sign that Apple is interested in more than just profits, they truly do see their goal of a strong bottom line as being enhanced by being a good corporate citizen. For that I applaud them.
I own a small business, and in that business I made videos for my clients. From commercials to industrials to little fun weird projects, I get to let my creativity flow and madness revel in ideas and explorations. It’s amazing fun, and I really do enjoy it.
Until I have to deliver a final project to a client.
Not because I’m unhappy with the work I’ve done, or because I think it could be better – it could always be better, but then it would never be done – or because I don’t want to leave the project. It’s because I have to deal with Closed Captions.
Actually, I don’t have to, I want to. I have several friends who are deaf or hearing impaired in some way, and while those who can use hearing aids in some format don’t need captions to understand what I’ve created, the deaf do. Badly.
Final Cut Pro is where I produce my video work. I’ve been using FCP since 2003, and FCPX since it was released in 2011. I made the switch to FCPX completely in 2013, and I love it. Except for captions, but then, no version of FCP has been good with captions at all. Now that we’re in 2017 it’s disheartening to say the least. Way back in 2010 I wrote about how I create and manage captions and not much has changed, except I don’t ever produce a DVD and instead just deliver the .scc file with the MP4 and let the broadcast station deal with the mess on their ingest cycle. It’s pathetic and gross. And in many cases, it means that local production doesn’t get captioned because while I think it’s important, the FCC gives companies at my level and out, and most use it.
Captions can be just text at timecode, which is simple. In their most complex, they are styled, located text at timecode. That’s it. Nothing more. I work in text and titles and timecode every day in every video I do, so there is no reason that this simple function isn’t baked in at this point. Words at timecode. That’s all it is.
That Apple is making their systems and products accessible is great. Xcode grants programmers the ability to build accessible apps, and has from the beginning, which is even better as it makes a massive part of the ecosystem accessible.
That Final Cut Pro hasn’t ever and still doesn’t create closed captions is a smudge on that image.