Why We Created Closed-Caption Training

Posted on by Larry

Last week, we released a new version of my Final Cut Pro X training that includes closed captions. Shortly after the release, Allan Freeman wrote, both to say thanks and take us to task:

Larry, I think it’s great that you have added captioning to your training videos, but I am a bit taken aback that you are considering this an upgrade. Your email even says that you “cleaned up a few mistakes, but this upgrade essentially adds closed captioning.” So you haven’t really upgraded the content, you’ve simply (and I realize it isn’t really simple) made it accessible to more people.

I have no need of closed captioning so am not affected by this, but if I were hearing impaired I would, on the one hand, be thrilled to have access to your training videos, and on the other hand greatly resent being asked to pay extra for it.

[ He goes on to describe the changes that he’s seen in technology of providing equal access to the deaf starting with the early days of captioning 20 years ago to all the different options available today. ]

I’m telling you this stuff to give you an idea of where I am “coming from,” which is probably not the experience of your average customer, but it does make me recoil a bit when I see someone charging extra for what could be argued is simply equal access.

Here’s my reply.

Allen, thanks for taking the time to write.

Last year, we offered a FCP X seminar at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC. They had a great meeting room and a great price. While we designed our seminar for everyone, the University required us to provide 10 free seats for students and a sign language interpreter.

This was our first experience with the world of the hearing impaired and we were fascinated. Mandy David, and her company JFD Communications, provided the signing and we spent a lot of time talking with her and her husband, Tim, about what we could do to meet the needs of this market – and the market where English is a second language.

As we both quickly discovered, the problem was the scope of the project – adding captions to our Final Cut Pro X training was HUGE – 93 movies, more than 11 hours of deeply technical training. It took five months, more than 20 people and thousands of dollars to create the captions. And we were not sure whether the market would be interested.

During this time, I was reminded of the work Adobe went through with the CS5 release of Photoshop – rewriting every single line of code to support Intel processors. A MASSIVELY intensive effort that left almost no time to add new features. At release, they were hammered by their users saying, “OK, so it supports Intel. What have you done for ME?”

So, the question we are wrestling with is whether it makes sense from a commercial point of view for a small independent company to provide closed captions on their training. I grant that this should simply be considered “equal access,” but the costs and effort involved make it more complex than that.

The time and expense involved in adding captions means that we can only add it after the fact to our most popular titles. Otherwise, we would be months late in coming to market with any new training.

What we have done is add closed captions to our product so that if you purchase the training NOW, the captions are included for no extra cost. For people that want to add the captions to a product they have already purchased, they can upgrade.

That way, going forward, there is no penalty.

As always, I’m interested in your comments.


7 Responses to Why We Created Closed-Caption Training

  1. Joseph Potts says:

    It is not right to charge for “an upgrade”. This is not an upgrade issue, it is a doing the right thing issue. Of course it is costing you more, but what does it say about your organization that you are charging for a client to understand? It is sort of like putting a toll on a wheel chair ramp because you only discovered after the stairs were built that it was needed. I don’t think so!

    • Larry says:


      Thanks for your thoughts. We tried to find a middle ground here. It is not always possible to see all the options the first time we create something.


  2. Martyn Bull says:


    Creating closed captions and time codes is a great feature to include with your training movies.

    Providing content for public sector organisations, we are required to do this all the time.

    What we do in addition is provide the captions as a transcript of the movie. This adds value. People can skim through and read the text to find quickly the part they want. Bloggers can quote sections of training easily via cut and paste. You ca take the whole lot and make a book out of it.

    These are ways to get extra mileage out of the upfront captioning costs.

    We also embed our movies on web pages that include the transcript and that benefits search, driving more traffic our way.

  3. Tom says:

    As “a small company” you can’t be blamed for asking who pays for the extra work involved in providing subtitles. You just need to realise that charging deaf people more money than hearing people, for what amounts to the same thing, is discrimination.

    You may well find there is charitable or government funding available to help pay the extra costs. I’m from the uk so I have no idea what the US is like for this. And like a previous poster said, there may well be new ways to make money from the effort.

    If we want society to have equal access for all it will cost more. If the financial burden is carried by the minorities it isn’t equal access!

    • Larry says:

      No – you misunderstand. We are NOT charging extra.

      If you purchase our FCP X training today you get closed captions for ZERO extra. In other words, captions are included in all the files. This has been true since we first released captions with our FCP X – New Features training in January.

      If, on the other hand, you purchased the files prior to captions being available AND you decide you now want access to captions, there is an upgrade fee. The content is the same – so the update only provides captions. For most people, access to captions is not something they particularly need, so the percentage of people upgrading has been fairly small.

      I agree with you, and others, that say we should not penalize folks with hearing problems. What we are trying to figure out is whether there is enough interest in providing closed captions for training in audio and video software to justify the cost of creating captions.


  4. Chip Gallo says:

    Larry — my day job is in the federal government, where captions or subtitles are required by the Section 508 regulations on anything we procure or have done for us by a contractor. My experience has been, like another poster upstream, that captions can add value for many including deaf or hard of hearing. I’m happy to see you including them now.

    I use a service called automaticsync.com where you can upload your audio or video file and have it captioned to match a transcript you provide, or transcribed and captioned. It may cost less than the method you are using now and you can get caption files in many different formats including Flash, Quicktime, Windows Media, etc. at no extra charge.

    Thanks for all you do. I will be back to buy FCP training again!

  5. Andy Kaczé says:

    I dont get why everyone is exhausted about the fee. It is normal. If you make a living out of the things you do, you charge the things you provide. This is industry. As Larry was mentioning, no extra fee is charged when you buy totally new. This is just the start for the captioning thing, and with time the small upgrade fee will be forgotten. If it stays free from now on (captioning addition) then everything is fine!

    Greetings from germany,

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