[Athen] need help understanding current caption technology

Prof Norm Coombs norm.coombs at gmail.com
Tue Jul 7 08:59:41 PDT 2009

Because I am blind, some basic parts of actually creating captioning are
not accessible to me. Nevertheless, 5-10 years ago I had a fair
understanding of how the process worked using magpie etc. It spit out a
SMIL file a video file a rt file with the text and they were synchronized
through the SMIL file.
I now understand that using something like Camtasia the process can be
simplified even allowing the end user to click on buttons to make the
captions visible or hidden. I am guessing this outputs just a single
file. I have read the Techsmith tutorial on step-by-step creation of the
Here are my questions:
1 does this output a single file or does is still provide a group of files
controlled by the SMIL file?

2 while a blind person does not need to find and use the player buttons to
make captions visible or not, could a blind user with a screen reader find
the buttons for play or pause and stop or can't a screen reader manipulate
any of the controls

3. can the output be set either to start when opened or set to require
using a start button to start the actual video?

4 Are there still any reasons that someone would want to output multimedia
using magpie and the SMIL file? Is magpie and SMIL now irrelevant?

5. I assume that any decent commercial product similar to Camtasia will do
all the same things?

I need to be brought up to date on the technology so I can talk
intelligently to people about it.

Norm Coombs

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