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March 3, 2003

MAGpie 2.01 Released

Captioning and Description Tool for Multimedia

Boston, MA. Version 2.01 of the Media Access Generator (MAGpie) — free, do-it-yourself captioning, subtitling and audio-description software for digital multimedia developed by the CPB/WGBH National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) — is now available to download at

By adding captions, subtitles and audio descriptions to Web-based media, CD-ROM and DVD-ROM, multimedia specialists, publishing companies or service providers enable full access to millions people with hearing or vision loss, as well as speakers of other languages in the US and abroad. Audio descriptions provide access for people who are blind or visually impaired by adding narration that describes the visuals, including action, scene changes, graphics and on-screen text. Descriptions can also assist students with learning disabilities by reinforcing through audio what the user is watching on the screen.

Using MAGpie 2.01, authors can add captions and audio descriptions to the most popular media platforms: Apple's QuickTime, RealNetworks' RealPlayer and Microsoft's Windows Media. MAGpie is friendly to those who are new to multimedia, educators and even to young users. MAGpie 1.0 was released in early 2001. New features greatly expand the software's capabilities and ease of use.

MAGpie 2.01 features:

  • Java-based - will run on Windows 98, NT4, 2000 and XP, and on Macintosh OS X. (There is currently no support for earlier versions of the Mac OS.)
  • Support for playback of QuickTime, Real and Windows media file formats
  • Audio description support, users can write, time and record audio descriptions for digital media
  • Caption, subtitle and description tracks can be created in multiple languages
  • Multiple captions and description tracks can be created for a single multimedia clip
  • Spell check eliminates typographical errors more easily
  • Segmented captioning enables users to create captions with karaoke-like effects
  • Improved user interface/authoring grid
Quotes from MAGpie 2.01 users:

"I use MAGpie 2.01 to caption instructional videos. MAGpie 2 is the easiest step in post-production of a video for the Web. Import a text transcript and easily mark the start point for each caption on the fly, in real time. And then MAGpie 2 creates all the files for you!"

Candace Lee Egan Educational Technology Consultant and Adjunct Professor of Mass Communication California State University, Fresno

"I use MAGpie and teach people to use it for a number of reasons. The fact that it is cross platform, it can prepare caption files for QuickTime, Real and Windows Media and that it available free of charge are all factors in my use of the program. I like MAGpie because it can be used in a number of ways: I can transcribe with the program, import text files of media transcribed elsewhere, or even pull in caption files from previously captioned material. I have often taken QuickTime text files with caption information, pulled it into MAGpie and transcoded it to Real or Windows Media captions. What a time saver! I want to thank NCAM for all the hard work that went into creating this product. They have done a tremendous service for the community working to create accessible media."

Alan Wolf University of Wisconsin - Madison

Funding for MAGpie Development

Funding for the development of MAGpie 2.01 comes from the U.S. Department of Education's National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research ( and the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation (

Funding for MAGpie 1.0 was provided by the Trace Research and Development Center at the University of Wisconsin (, as part of its Information Technology Access Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center which itself is funded by the U.S. Department of Education's National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research.

Additional Resources Available from NCAM

Samples of accessible multimedia delivered in the various formats (QuickTime, SMIL and SAMI), and source code and tutorials, are available from NCAM's Rich Media Access Project at Additional resources on making Web sites and software accessible, including general captioning conventions and general audio description guidleines, are available from NCAM's recently published "Making Educational Software and Web Sites Accessible: Design Guidelines Including Math and Science Solutions." The Guidelines are available free of charge in print form (contact, or call 617 300-3400) and to download at

Media Access Group at WGBH

The Media Access Group at WGBH, with offices in Boston, New York and Los Angeles, is a non-profit service of Boston public broadcaster WGBH. The service group includes Descriptive Video Service®, which has made television, film and video more enjoyable to viewers who are blind or visually impaired since 1990, as well as The Caption Center – the world's first captioning agency – founded in 1972. The third branch of the Media Access Group, the CPB/WGBH National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM), is a research, development and advocacy entity that works to make existing and emerging technologies accessible to all audiences. Members of the Group's collective staff represent the leading resources and experts in their fields. For more information, visit

WGBH Boston
WGBH Boston is America's preeminent public broadcasting producer. More than one-third of PBS's prime-time lineup and companion Web content as well as many public radio favorites are produced by WGBH. Its best-known productions include NOVA, Frontline, American Experience, Antiques Roadshow, ExxonMobil Masterpiece Theatre, This Old House, Arthur, and Zoom on PBS and The World and Sound & Spirit on public radio. WGBH also is a pioneer in educational multimedia and in technologies and services that make media accessible to people with disabilities. Since its establishment in 1951, WGBH has been recognized with hundreds of honors, including Emmys, Peabodys, duPont-Columbia Awards — even two Oscars. For more information visit


Mary Watkins, Media Access Group at WGBH
617.300.3700 voice/fax
617.300.2489 TTY