Saturday, March 12, 2011

A New Family Tree.. and a question!

We have a question from formspring that is an actual question! Here we go with something I can sink my teeth into!
If you could teach a class on 'Captioning' what would the title be?
Well, what an interesting and thoughtful question. Maybe "A Brief History of Time by Steven Hawking" as I could probably make a few bucks doing a captioning class if I called it that. "Do It Exactly like I Do It, or It'll Completely Suck" sounds too confrontational and egotistical. I think I'd probably go with "Ways to Not Fuck Up your TG Captioning Projects with Professor Dee"

LESSON ONE: Don't run your caption into the ground by over-thinking and over-writing it.

Captions should be proofed to the best of your ability, but that is not what I am talking about with over-thinking. Both the picture and the story should breathe, and work together to form a cohesive whole. HOWEVER, there is no reason to have to explain every little detail. If there is a red skirt and heels in the picture, you do not have to describe them as they are already seen, You can mention them getting caught in a street grate if it is imperative to the storyline, but not, "his shoes turned a bright red color, the heels lifting his now silk-stocking covered feet several inches higher than they were a moment ago, as his ankles felt restrained by the strap of the now-changed pumps." Guess what, the picture is already showing this. It would fit into a normal story, but you have pictures so don't bother!!! Use the picture(s) as a shortcut to establish what happened before, is happening at that moment, or is about to happen at the end of the caption. Often, you've got the whole background mapped out for you in picture form, and you just have to supply the action!

LESSON TWO: Stereotypes/Archetypes  are your friends .. use them accordingly and with aplomb!

Once again, you've got instant back story. You can either go straight ahead with the standards of behavior, OR go for a twisted version. Either way, people will follow because what you are providing is expected. Guy with a white coat and a clipboard is obviously a doctor. Goths are obviously witches, and cheerleaders are ditzy! Ladies Rooms are where women go to contact the mother ship and enslave the men of this planet. A woman laying on a couch is obviously trying to get a psychiatrist to believe that she used to be a man. Use these to your advantage!

DISCUSSION QUESTION: Yes these are not exactly Post-graduate level topics, but some ideas on how to not fuck up a caption you are making. What words of wisdom would you impart on someone just starting to make captions? I will call this "Captioning 101" and ask that everyone think about something basic that SHOULD be done, but isn't always done. If you had a time machine, what advice would you tell the you that was just starting to make captions? The above lessons are things I think that would be a big help to someone just starting out.


  1. Maybe you are pointing out the obvious but those advices are leaning toward the good direction, thank you for those pointers teacher...
    I would rather ask for more advices, but then again i would say for an advice that it's better to think what you want to write about and make a draft with your possible ideas, then let the story flows thinking what the characters you are making would say in the situation you are putting them on...

    I would like to ask, how you can make a good drescription of a character without turning it overdescriptive, like when you are telling the changes from man to woman
    Hugs and Kisses Alectra

  2. I think the best advice I could give a new captioner is not to be afraid to try something new. Whether it is with a story telling style, a photo type, a layout, or a story idea. If you have any interest in it, then it will shine. And don't worry about being 'original'. In all likelihood if you thought of it, then someone else probably already has a cap out that is similar. Your voice will be your originality, and that will be enough!

    As to the advice I would give my former self. I would have to say SLOW DOWN! Take the time to read the story. And then read it again. And then proof read it. Once you are finished with it, read it again! And then proof read it again! Only then can you post it.

  3. A good lecture Prof. Dee.

    This is what I would say to a person just beginning to make captions: Above all, have fun with it. Write about things you yourself would like to read about, but don't be afraid to go down roads you've never been down before. A good spell checker is a good friend. Don't give up, the more you write these, the better you will get. You'll get a feel for them.

    Advice to my rookie caption self: I don't think I could give any that would have changed much about what I've done. I pretty much followed the advice I would give to a new captioner. Although there is one thing. Formating. I would tell my rookie caption self to use more paragraphs and avoid those ugly and monstrous walls of text. I don't do this anymore, but it was something I am guilty of in the past.

  4. I think I would tell someone starting out is to take your time and proofread. I've been captioning for years and I still find big mistakes in captions almost months down the line. Take your time and give yourself a moment to breathe on a caption, then come back and revise it. Nothing wrong with being careful.

    Play around and find a process that works for you - if you have a process, you can go back to it when you have issues with starting points. Doesn't mean everything is uniform in the caption itself, but just find a process for writing and making the caption work.