Each month we are spotlighting two of our On Demand team members, so we can start to get to know each other a bit better, and to recognize each other’s individual contributions to Amara’s mission.
This month’s spotlight is on Tracey Hill-Bensalem and Brendan Ferreri-Hanberry! We got a chance to hear more about their daily lives, and their advice to a new team members.
I am located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where I am currently attending graduate school at UNC Chapel Hill in the information science program. I recommend the area if you like pine trees.
Subtitling is actually my idea of a break; it is more entertaining than much of my schoolwork. Other than that I read books, largely nonfiction relevant to politics, and practice meditation. One tip I’ve found is to use the Tab key to start and stop videos. I used to use the mouse to click on the play/pause button and it slowed me down somewhat.
I found out about Amara through Rick Doblin’s appearance on Joe Rogan’s show (which I had never heard before that night). He mentioned that the videos of the Psychedelic Science 2013 conference, sponsored by his organization, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, were available for volunteers to caption on Amara. I started captioning them as a volunteer and that was my first involvement with the company. I was hired as a paid team member soon afterwards. So thanks, Rick. Also, I like languages and information science, and Amara lets me deal with material relevant to both.
After spending most of my 20’s in Spain and France, working and studying, I got a job at The New Yorker magazine. I assisted with their transition to a digital workflow, first learning how it had been done for so many years (the Smithsonian actually came and photographed us amidst the pieces of cut paper, sentence fragments that were then pinned to boards, glued, and faxed to Chicago for typesetting! Imagine splitting a line by literally cutting it in two!)
I came across Amara while taking a few online classes via Coursera, where a professor suggested we might volunteer to improve the captions for their videos, and I did. With so many friends and family from other countries, many non-English speakers, as well as my love of learning, I am keenly aware and supportive of the importance and transformative power of giving people access to information.
My advice to new captioners? Nothing they don’t know already, being such a talented, bright group of people. I guess just take the time to make sure it’s your best work. Listen to the speakers, review your transcription as a reader, and watch the video as if you were a viewer. Good captioning, like good translation, should be transparent, smooth. If I learned anything after my time in publishing, it’s that no one is perfect, and we all can benefit from feedback and an extra set of eyes. I also learned that words…well, they are everything and they are magic.