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  • iheartsubtitles 4:00 pm on October 25, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Access, , , ,   

    #SubtitleIt campaign and other UK regulatory news 

    Earlier this year Action on Hearing loss created a survey to gather the experiences and thoughts of subtitle users access to video on demand (VOD) services in the UK.  The results have been published and the report titled Progress on Pause is well worth a read.

    It’s part of the #SubtitleIt campaign which is a joint effort from multiple UK charities that wants to see VOD accessibility regulated as a mandatory requirement as is currently the case in the UK for linear TV.  Individual advocates alongside the charities efforts has resulted in some success so far including a statement from Sky to commit to increasing their on demand subtitled content.

    Graphic of Houses of Parliament and #SubtitleIt logo

    The deadline to ask your MP to back the bill is November 2015.

    The campaign is far from over however. For any legislation to become a reality, it needs support from MPs. If you do not see your local MP listed here please write to them asking them to back the bill. (Note this also includes other important accessibility features such as audio description and signing). Please don’t miss the deadline.

    ATVOD logo

    From 1st January 2016, ATVOD will no longer exist as a co-regulator and its responsibilities will be carried out by Ofcom

    In other regulatory news that effects VOD services in the UK, the regulatory body Ofcom announced that it would take over the role of ATVOD:

    The regulation of ‘video-on-demand’ programme services is being brought fully within Ofcom to sit alongside its regulation of broadcast content.

    The move follows an Ofcom review to ensure regulation of broadcast and on-demand content remains as effective and efficient as possible for the benefit of consumers, audiences and industry.

    The review included the current co-regulatory arrangements for video-on-demand services. These can include catch-up TV and on-demand services on the TV and the internet. Ofcom designated the Authority for Television On Demand (ATVOD) in 2010 as a co-regulator to take the lead in regulating editorial content for video-on-demand services.

    Following the review, Ofcom has decided that acting as sole regulator for video-on-demand programmes is a more effective model for the future than having two separate bodies carrying out this work. This will create operational efficiencies and allow editorial content on video-on-demand to sit alongside Ofcom’s existing regulation of broadcasting.

    SOURCE: Ofcom brings regulation of ‘video-on-demand’ in-house

    This (in my opinion) is good news. It means a far less confusing regulatory model and that all TV will sit under the same regulator.   Ofcom recently published its results into access services on UK TV for the first six months of 2015.  With Ofcom to take over the duties of ATVOD in 2016, wouldn’t it be great if we could have the same level of transparency on how each VOD service is performing with more regular (and legally required) statistical reporting on levels of access services here too?

     
    • virginia 12:15 am on January 4, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Hi there,

      I’ve read a few of your posts as have been researching ‘live captions’ for news websites. The live captions to display on a screen would read a bit gobblydeegook if you know what I mean? So they are in a flat text file, so the image you show in the post below “How subtitles add value, not just access” about Video Metadata.

      Any thoughts on how best to display this for news stories and videos that have not been captioned properly? Was thinking of an accordian drop down.

      Obviously this is a big SEO plus if it can be done correctly.

      The video content has to remain on the actual news website.

      Rgds
      Virginia

      Like

      • iheartsubtitles 12:09 pm on January 6, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        Hi Virginia – Are you talking about live news being captioned online when it is no longer live, or are you looking to improve live captioning of live news? If so this is something that is in its infancy compared to other media that is captioned or subtitled online.

        Like

  • iheartsubtitles 10:04 pm on April 10, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Access, , ,   

    Live Music & Live Lyrics & Live Subtitles 

    Last month I did something I’ve never done before, and I don’t think many others will have done it either. What was it? I attended a live music gig with live subtitles! The gig was called Club Attitude. It was organised by Attitude is Everything and the live subtitling was provided by StageTEXT.

    Having been to several StageTEXT captioned plays, and live subtitled talks I was pretty confident that the quality of the live subtitles would be excellent. But I also know that high quality subtitling doesn’t just happen without a lot of prep, a lot of technical set up, and of course skilled subtitlers.

    I am sure that this gig had its challenges, especially considering it hadn’t been done before but I was really pleased to see that even for this first ever subtitled gig, the access worked well. I felt for the stenographer wearing their headphones listening intently in order to deliver the lyrics in a time accurate manner in what was already musically noisy environment. Talk about powers of concentration!

    The subtitles were displayed on both sides of the stage at a high height on the right so that the screen could still be seen at the back of the venue (as per the Vine above) and also on a screen at a low height on the left side of the stage in case wheelchair users also wanted to read the captions throughout the gig. I should also point out there was also a signer on stage translating the lyrics into BSL for BSL users. None of this got in the way of the band members performing. It was lovely to see full access had been thought of and was indeed being provided including an accessible venue (if only this was the norm and I wouldn’t even point it out in a review like this but sadly it is not always the case).

    I’d love to have known what the artists performing at the gig thought of the live subtitles (although they cannot really see it from their position on the stage.) But if they are reading this article, or any other bands who might be thinking about captioning or subtitling their gigs, an overlooked but massive benefit isn’t just the lyrics. I shall try to explain:

    Because the subtitling provided at this gig was live, the dialogue and conversation that the bands had with the audience is also subtitled. I am taking about the intro and chat between songs. “Hello everyone, thanks for coming.” etc That might not seem important but what if you happen to be talking to the audience about where they can buy your music or your merchandise?  Ordinarily this information is lost on me. The number of gigs I’ve been to where I can enjoy the music (because I’ve listened to the songs over and over and looked up the lyrics on the internet) but cannot understand any of the talking is well pretty much all of them without a hearing friend confirming what’s being said. Even if I am close to the stage, I can’t lip-read you – your microphone is in the way. And this means you’ve lost communication with me and a connection. What I often hear is something like, “And so fdfgddfas this is our next song that dfawesfasdf  and its called dfaefavdfa.” What this means is, I never catch the song title, so if I like the song, I can’t go home, search the title online, listen to it again, and you know maybe buy it!

    So, we know live subtitling of music can be done, so why isn’t it done more often? I do hope we have got rid of the misconception that deaf and hard of hearing people are not music lovers. I can relate to an awful lot written in this great article from @ItsThatDeafGuy especially the bit about getting the lyrics from Smash Hits magazine and subtitled music on TV! Being Deaf Doesn’t Mean You Don’t Care About Music.

    I too have blogged several times already on this subject including my frustration that music DVDs seem to be exempt from requiring subtitles, and how having access to subtitled music via TV was hugely important to me as a teenager. And it still is. Search the music tag for more articles.

    And who doesn’t love knowing what the lyrics are? The way we consume music has changed drastically in the last 20 years, and technology is providing new ways to get the lyrics. Recently the music streaming service Spotify launched lyrics integration and the company has been retweeting the positive feedback it is getting about it.

    I also can’t help but notice that the trend of official lyric videos being released by music artists isn’t going away. And that’s just fine by me because a probably unintentional side effect is that it gives me access to the song and allows me to consume the music in my preferred way by reading the lyrics alongside listening to the song. Arena and stadium artists have started to incorporate this into some of their video screen stage graphics during concerts. And naturally I love this.

    Given all of these trends maybe this reviewer of Club Attitude is right: Perhaps the most extraordinary thing is that this gig night does not feel extra-ordinary at all. Now that would be something.

     
    • Victoria O'Hara 5:47 pm on August 30, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Afternoon. I am working on a research proposal, and I was wondering if there was any way that I could ask you a few questions about closed captioning in the UK?

      Like

    • iheartsubtitles 3:43 pm on September 7, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Hi Victoria, I have sent you an email.

      Like

  • iheartsubtitles 3:13 pm on February 19, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Access, , ASR, , captions, ,   

    #withcaptions Fixing You Tube’s auto-captions 

    Last month some high-profile vlogger’s that include Rikki Poynter and Tyler Oakley on the popular video sharing site YouTube got the attention of some mainstream press with a campaign that started with the hashtag #withcaptions.  It’s fantastic to see other’s campaigning and educating their audience as to the importance of not just captioning your online videos but captioning them accurately. I won’t repeat what mainstream media coverage reported but if you missed it or have no idea what I am talking about click on the links below:

    Animated gif of 1980s Apple commercial of a a kid at a computer looking impressed and giving a thumbs up to the camera

    To anyone who accurately captions their online videos. Good job. Thank you.

    It is so refreshing to get some positive mainstream press coverage about the importance of subtitling and its even more brilliant that the message is being spread by individuals outside of the subtitling, captioning or SEO industry. To all of you individuals doing this or perhaps have acted on this information and are now accurately captioning your own You Tube video’s – a massive thank you from me.

    As most of you reading should already know, You Tube does use automatic speech recognition (ASR) technology to automatically create captions from the audio track of uploaded video content on its site but these are very rarely, if ever accurate.  But what if you could fix these to make them accurate, rather than have to start from scratch to create accurate captions? That’s exactly what Michael Lockrey, who refers to these as ‘Craptions’ aims to solve with nomoreCRAPTIONS.  As Lockrey explains:

    nomoreCRAPTIONS is a free, open source solution that enables any YouTube video with an automatic captioning (‘craptioning’) track to be fixed within the browser.

    Craptions is the name coined by me for Google YouTube’s automatic craptioning – as they don’t provide any accessibility outcomes for people who rely on captioning unless they are reviewed and corrected. As this rarely happens and as Google rarely explains that they haven’t really “fixed” the captioning accessibility issue, we have a huge web accessibility problem where most online videos are uncaptioned (or only craptioned which is just as poor as no captioning at all).

    If you don’t believe me, then look at Google YouTube’s own actions in this space. The fact that they don’t even bother to index the automatic craptioning speaks volumes – as their robots hunt down pretty much everything that moves on the internet. So it’s obvious from these actions that they don’t place any value in them at all when they are left unmodified by content creators.

    There is also no way to watch the automatic craptioning on an iOS device (such as an iPhone or iPad) at present, unless you use the nomoreCRAPTIONS tool.

    Lockrey who is profoundly deaf has taught himself web development skills to solve a problem that he feels Google (You Tube’s owners) have largely ignored.  This hasn’t been easy as although there’s a huge amount of learning materials on YouTube and other platforms, most of them are uncaptioned or craptioned. Lockrey explains:

    Previously if I encountered yet another YouTube video that was uncaptioned or craptioned, I would often spend my own money and invest personal resources (my own personal time, effort, etc) in obtaining a transcript and / or a timed text caption file.  This usually also involved taking a copy of the YouTube video and then re-uploading the video onto my own YouTube channel so I could add the accessibility layer (i.e. good quality captioning).  Quite often I would end up being blacklisted from Google YouTube’s automated copyright systems, when I was only trying to access content that was freely and publicly made available by the content creators on YouTube and was not trying to earn revenue from the content (via ads) or any “funny” business, etc I knew that there simply had to be a better way.

    Screen grab of No More Captions hompage

    No More Craptions lets you edit You Tube’s auto-captioning errors

    With nomoreCRAPTIONS you simply paste in a YouTube URL or video ID and it instantly provides you with an individual web page for that video where you can go through and fix up the automatic craptioning (where there is an automatic craptioning track available).

    At the moment it’s a very simple interface and it is ideal for shorter YouTube videos of 4 or 5 minutes in duration (or less). It works in all languages that Google supports on YouTube with automatic craptioning. Here’s an example of the Kim Kardashian superbowl commercial which is very short and sweet.

    Screen shot showing edited auto captions via the No More Craptions tool.

    You can modify the text of the auto-captions to correct any errors via the yellow box on the right.

    Lockrey explains:

    There’s very little learning curve involved and this was intentional as whilst Amara and DotSub have great solutions in this space, they also have quite a substantial learning curve and I wanted to make it as easy as possible for anyone to just hop on and do the right thing. One the biggest advantages of the tool is that the corrected captions can be viewed immediately once you have saved them. This means it’s possible for a Deaf person to watch a hearing person fix up the craptions on a video over their shoulder and see the edits in real-time!

    We’ve even had a few universities using the tool as there’s so much learning content that is on YouTube, and this is simply the easiest way for them to ensure that there’s an accessible version made available to the students that need captioning – without wasting time on copyright shenanigans etc.  I’ve also been using it as a great advocacy tool – it’s so easy to share corrected captions with the content creators now and hopefully we can bridge that awareness gap that Google has allowed to fester since November 2009.

    noMORECRAPTIONS is still very much in the early development stage and there is more to come. The next steps are a partnership with #FreeCodeCamp to help with rolling out improvements and new features in the very near future. This includes looking at other platforms such as Facebook and Vimeo videos as part of the next tranche of upgrades as more and more platforms cross over to HTML 5 video.

    Lockrey is keen to get as much user feedback as possible so what are you waiting for – try the tool for yourself. For more information please contact @mlockrey.

    And when you’ve done that, you might also want to read: OMG! I just found out there’s only 5% captioning* on YouTube.

     
  • iheartsubtitles 4:54 pm on December 22, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Access, , , , , production, ,   

    Accessible film making or what if subtitles were part of the programme? 

    I was prompted to write this blog post by a recent tweet from director Samuel Dore who bemoaned the fact that he felt that film directors and distributors seem to ‘moan’ about the cost of subtitling content:

    And I’ve seen tweets from others with comments of a similar nature.  This is a tricky topic because it would be wrong to label everyone individual or company out there as having this belief or attitude. However it’s another repeated theme I’ve seen discussed at access and language conferences this year.  That’s a good thing – it means its recognised as a potential issue for some companies or individuals and others in the same industry are challenging this assumption and trying to change it.  At the 2014 CSI Accessibility Conference Screen Subtitling’s John Birch asked the question “What if subtitles were part of the programme?”  He pointed out that in his opinion funding issues are still not addressed. Subtitling is still not a part of the production process and not often budgeted for. Broadcasters are required to pay subtitling companies,and subtitling companies are under continued to pressure (presumably to provide more, for less money). It is a sad fact that subtitling is not ascribed the value it deserves.

    I would also argue that there is some lost opportunity with the current Ofcom Code on Access Television Services that gives new TV channels a one year grace period in which regardless of audience reach, if the TV channel is less than one year old it is not required to subtitle/caption any volume of its output at all. Whilst I understand the cost of doing so might be considered a barrier to even launching the channel in the first place, the problem is it promotes an attitude or thinking once  again of not budgeting for subtitling/captioning from the start of the business process.  So two or three years down the line when the grace period is over,the risk is that it becomes an additional cost that the channel has not budgeted for and could be perceived as hindrance or ‘punishment’ rather than something positive that adds value for the channel and its viewers.

    The same is also true for translation subtitling. At the 2014 Languages & The Media Conference Pablo Romero-Fresco gave this statistic: Subtitling and translation make up 57% of revenue generated from English speaking movies but translation subtitling only gets 0.1% of budget. He argued that there needs to be a shift of change in the production process of filmmaking.  His suggestion is that film production should recognise and create the role of Producer of Accessibility who is involved before the final edit is locked.

    Sherlock - text message - on screen typography

    Sherlock – text message – on screen typography

    He observed that in recent years text and typography effects like those seen in the BBC’s Sherlock, and Netflix’s House of Cards (and many, many more), which uses text on screen as part of the storytelling and is part of the post production process should also be integrated in this role.  I too have observed the increase in recent years of using typography on screen as part of the story telling process. It’s also being widely used in music videos. For lots of examples of kinetic typography be sure to check out this Vimeo channel.

    Romero repeated this vision and idea at the Future of Subtitling Conference 2014.  You can read more in-depth information in the Journal of Specialised Translation.  I’ve also collated further tweets and information on this topic at Storify: Why subtitles should be part of the production process.

    I think its a really interesting idea. I also think that it will require a monumental shift for this to happen in the industry but never say never. What is good, is that certainly between broadcast TV production companies and subtitling companies is that collaboration of a sort is happening. Information and scripts are shared well in advance so that subtitler’s can prepare as much as possible in advance of broadcasts. Clearly, Romero’s vision is to be much more integrated than that.

    Currently for broadcast TV that is licensed under Ofcom, the responsibility for access and provision of subtitling lies with the broadcaster/TV channel. If the creation of subtitles and captions is implemented wholly into the production process then should subtitling provision then solely lie with the production company?

    At the moment it would appear that the responsibility shifts between the two depending on a number of factors:

    1. Regulation, if there is any and whom is considered responsible for providing subtitles.
    2. The production company and/or the distribution company making the content (some will provide subtitles, some will not, and a broadcaster may have bought programmes from either one of these or they may be one and the same thing)
    3. The country broadcasting the content (what language do you need subtitles in and how many languages will a production company be prepared to produce?)
    4. The method of how content is viewed (digital TV, satellite, cable, online, download, streaming subscription, pay per view,)

    It really shouldn’t be complicated but there is no denying that with all these variables it is. A lot of the above is complicated further by distribution rights which is another topic entirely. I do like the idea a lot though as it has the potential to simplify some of the above. I also think production companies would benefit greatly from the knowledge and expertise gained from years of experience from translation and subtitling companies as to the best methods to achieve collaboration and integration. What do you think?

     
    • Claude Almansi 11:08 pm on December 22, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you, Dawn: so many creative proposals in your post. It reminded me of a tutorial that Roberto Ellero made for the Italian public administration in 2009, entitled rather sternly – well, due to the target audience – “Accessibilità e qualità dei contenuti audiovisivi”, Accessibility and quality of audiovisual content. It’s in https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wy34n09tvKo , with Italian captions and English subtitles (1). I think you might agree with the part from 1:47:

      “Every audiovisual product begins with a text, a script, a storyboard, some writing geared towards visualization, which then gets enacted in a series of frames and sequences. Every video alway starts from a text and returns to a text (a book, being read generates images in our mind, and the reverse path leads to audiodescription, which, in turn, is also a text)…”

      (1) Apologies for the typos in the English subs: I translated them on a train journey with TextEdit and sent them from a station where I got a wireless connection: he needed them urgently for some talk he was to give the following day 🙂

      Like

  • iheartsubtitles 10:08 pm on December 3, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Access, , , ,   

    Access 2020 – Languages & The Media 2014 

    Access 2020 was an interesting panel hosted by Alex Varley at the 10th Languages & The Media conference. The theme was for the panel to discuss what they thought media access might look like in 2020.

    Although it is difficult to summarise all of the discussions, Media Access Australia have written a summary of 20 highlights. Below is my two-cents.

    • Broadcasters have to start to think what is their role?  The industry still need content producers which broadcasters are likely to continue to play a big role in producing. There is likely to be a merge of broadcast and IPTV.
    • In Europe, there is a keen focus to develop in the areas of: Machine Translation (MT), User Experience (UX), and Big Data.
    • Subtitling is becoming a language technology business rather than editorial. Greater levels of interest and innovation in technology will lead to greater quality and lower cost.
    • The industry is aiming for interoperability by 2020 (if not before) to ensure no technological barriers to access exist.
    •  Two interesting ideas/questions raised:  Will access services start to go into/become a part of the production process for audio-visual content? Will we start to see closed signing?

    How to achieve all of this:

    1. Talk to end users more.
    2. Deal with the complexity. (interoperability)
    3. Different jobs will be created by new technology, but we still need humans to provide access.
    4. Regulators are not always the answer and can get it wrong. Target the businesses to provide access.
    Animated gif of the hoverboard from the film Back To The Future

    Personally I’m still waiting for the hoverboard.

     
  • iheartsubtitles 12:19 pm on June 27, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Access, , , , , , , ,   

    CSI TV Accessibility Conference 2014 – Live subtitling, VOD key themes 

    Photo of CSI TV Accessibility Conference 2014 brochure

    CSI TV Accessibility Conference 2014

    Earlier this month the CSI TV Accessibility Conference 2014 took place in London. I had hoped to be able to give a more detailed write up with a bit of help from the transcript of the live captioning that covered the event but I’m afraid my own notes are all I have and so I will summarise some of the interesting points made that I think will be of interest to readers here. It will not cover all of the presentations but it does cover the majority.

    i2 Media Research gave some statistics surrounding UK TV viewing and the opportunities that exist in TV accessibility. Firstly, TV viewing is higher in the older and disabled population. And with an ageing UK population the audience requiring accessibility features for TV is only going to increase.

    Andrew Lambourne, Business Director for Screen Subtitling Systems had an interesting title to his presentation: “What if subtitles were part of the programme?” In his years of working in the subtitling industry he questioned why are we still asking the same questions over recent years. The questions surround the measurement of subtitling quality, and if there is incentive to provide great subtitling coverage for children. He pointed out that in his opinion funding issues are still not addressed. Subtitling is still not a part of the production process and not often budgeted for. Broadcasters are required to pay subtitling companies,and subtitling costs are under continued to pressure (presumably to provide more, for less money). It is a sad fact that subtitling is not ascribed the value it deserves. With regards to live subtitling there is a need to educate the public as to why these errors occur. This was a repeated theme in a later presentation from Deluxe Media. It is one of the reasons I wrote the #subtitlefail! TV page on this blog.

    Peter Bourton, head of TV Content Policy at Ofcom gave an update and summary of the subtitling quality report which was recently published at the end of April. This is a continuing process and I’m looking forward to comparing the next report to this first one to see what changes and comparisons can be made. The presentation slides are available online.

    Senior BBC R&D Engineer Mike Armstrong gave a presentation on his results to measuring live subtitling quality. (This is different to the quantitative approach used by Pablo Romero and adopted by Ofcom to publish its reports) What I found most interesting about this research is that the perception of quality by a user of subtitles is quite different depending on whether the audio is switched on whilst watching the subtitled content. Ultimately nearly everyone is watching TV with the audio switched on and this research found that delay has a bigger impact on perception of quality compared to the impact of errors. The BBC R&D white paper is available online.

    Live subtitling continued to be a talking point at the conference with a panel discussion titled: Improving subtitling. On the panel was Gareth Ford-Williams (BBC Future Media), Vanessa Furey (Action On Hearing Loss), Andrew Lambourne (Screen Subtitling Systems), and David Padmore (Red Bee Media). All panelists were encouraged that all parties – regulators, broadcasters, technology researchers are working together to continually address subtitling issues. Developments in speech recognition technology used to produce live subtitles has moved towards language modelling to understand context better. The next generation of speech recognition tools such as Dragon has moved to phrase by phrase rather than word by word (the hope being that this should reduce error rates). There was also positivity that there is now a greater interest in speech technology which should lead to greater advancements over the coming years, compared to the speed of technology improvements in the past.

    With regards to accessibility and Video on Demand (VOD) services it was the turn of the UK’s Authority of Television Video on Demand (ATVOD) regulatory body to present. For those that are unaware, ATVOD regulate all VOD services operating in the UK except for BBC iPlayer which is regulated under Ofcom. In addition because iTunes and Netflix operate from Luxembourg, although their services are available in the UK, they are outside of the jurisdiction of ATVOD. There are no UK regulatory rules that say VOD providers must provide access services, but ATVOD have an access services working party group that encourage providers to do so as well as draft best practice guidelines. I cannot find anywhere on their website the results of a December 2013 survey looking at the statistics of how much VOD content is subtitled, signed, or audio described which was mentioned in the presentation. If anyone else finds it please comment below. However, in the meantime some of the statistics of this report can be found in Pete Johnson’s presentation slides online. What has changed since 2012 is that this survey is now compulsory for providers to complete to ensure the statistics accurately reflect the provision. Another repeated theme, first mentioned in this presentation is the complexity of the VOD distribution chain. It is very different for different companies, and the increasing number of devices which we can choose to access our content also adds to the complexity. One of the key differences for different VOD providers is end-to-end control. Few companies control the entire process from purchasing and/or creating content for consumers to watch right through to watching the content on a device. So therefore who is responsible for a change or adaptation to a workflow to support accessible features and who is going to pay for it?

    I should also mention that the success of a recent campaign from hard of hearing subtitling advocates in getting Amazon to finally commit a response and say that they will start subtitling content was mentioned positively during this presentation. You may have read my previous blog post discussing my disappointment at the lack of response. Since then, with the help of comedian Mark Thomas, who set up a stunt that involved putting posters up on windows of Amazon UK’s headquarters driving the message home, Amazon have committed to adding subtitles to their VOD service later this year. See video below for the stunt. It is not subtitled, but there is no dialogue, just a music track.

    You can read more about this successful advocacy work on Limping Chicken’s blog.

    Susie Buckridge, Director of Product for YouView gave a presentation on the accessibility features of the product which are pretty impressive. Much of the focus was on access features for the visually impaired. She reminded the audience that creating an accessible platform actually creates a better user experience for everyone. You can view the presentation slides online.

    Deluxe Media Europe gave a presentation that I think would be really useful for other audiences outside of those working in the industry. Stuart Campbell, Senior Live Operations Manager, and Margaret Lazenby Head of Media Access Services presented clear examples and explanations of the workflow involved in creating live subtitles via the process of respeaking for live television. Given the lack of understanding or coverage in mainstream media, this kind of information is greatly needed. This very point was also highlighted by the presenters. The presentation is not currently available online but you can find information about live subtitling processes on this blog’s #SubtitleFail TV page.

    A later panel discussed VOD accessibility. The panelists acknowledged that the expectation of consumers is increasing as is the volume and scale of complexity. It is hoped that the agreed common standard format of subtitle file EBU-TT will resolve a lot of these issues. This was a format still being worked on when it was discussed at the 2012 Conference which you can read about on this blog. The UK DPP earlier this year also published updated common standard subtitles guidelines.

    Were any of my readers at the conference? What did you think? And please do comment if you think I have missed anything important to highlight.

     
    • peterprovins 4:48 pm on July 21, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Interesting blog. No excuse for TV, Film, website or even theatre not to be captioned…we do it all. Currently captioning university lectures and looking at doctors surgeries which are currently limited to BSL only. Keep up the good work.

      Like

  • iheartsubtitles 12:59 pm on August 5, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Access, , , , , , ,   

    Q&A with Films14 Director Shaun Sadlier 

    A fully subtitled from launch, with the aim to also eventually provided full BSL signed movies from a Video On Demand service.  Imagine that? Well one business entrepreneur Shaun Sadlier is planning to do just that through Films14.  Read the Q&A from Shaun below and watch the video for more information:

    Q:  Your service is called Films14.  Is there a story behind the name?
    A: I was looking for a name which it is easy to remember and maximum is 7 letters or numbers, films is what we provide and 14 references 2014 when we want to launch.

    Q: You are based in the UK but the internet is global. Can anyone sign up to Films14 or is it UK residents only?
    A: That’s correct, we are global brand but we start out in UK and if it goes well then we will expand across the world. Anyone can sign up but it is for UK residents only. If I found anyone who aren’t UK residents then they have to wait for us to come over.

    Q: Can you reveal what content there will be available to watch?
    A: We’ve got two types of content, Subscription and On Demands. There will be 50+ movies / TV shows in the first month and additional 50 or more on every month for Subscription. There will be 60+ blockbusters movies every year for On Demands.

    Q: The subscription content – does that cost extra to access it in addition to the monthly fee? Or does the monthly fee give you access to the subscription content?
    A: No, it will not cost extra. It is a monthly fee to access subscription and discount blockbuster movie from On Demand.

    Q: Are there any benefits to signing up in advance of the Films14 launch?
    A: Yes, there is a benefit.

    1. £4.99 for first month and then £6.99 monthly
    2. Access to subscription movie’s and TV series (50+ Movie’s & TV Series addition every month)
    3. Discount Blockbusters movie’s On Demands (60+ New movie’s in a year)
    4. Can cancel membership after first month
    5. Pay nothing until launch
    6. 100% Subtitles and In-vision signer for sign language (On and Off feature!) – World first!
    7. Mystery Gift on the Launch day for Pre-Launch membership only

    About the Mystery Gift.
    1. If we get over 20,000 UK residents sign up before launch then Pre-Launch membership will get £4.99 monthly for life.
    2. If we get over 50,000 UK residents sign up then before launch Pre-Launch membership will get £3.99 monthly for life.
    3. If we get over 150,000 UK residents sign up then before launch Pre-Launch membership will get £2.99 monthly for life.

    Q: How is this service funded?
    A: This service will be funded by crowdfunding and then membership sign up on the first month of launch. Our Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme and Enterprise Investment Scheme are currently pending which take up 4 to 6 weeks.

    Q: How will the subtitles be provided, are you creating them?
    A: Our content distributors provides movies with subtitles included. I won’t accept any movies or TV show without subtitles available because in my view, it is pieces of junk.

    Q: How will the BSL be provided, are you creating them?
    A: I have a studio which I can use and hire professional BSL signer’s but it will take lots of time to edit them therefore I am looking around for a professional company that can offer a good deal.

    Q: Will all content released on the website have subtitles and BSL immediately?
    A:  All will have subtitles immediately and BSL will start out with a few titles because it is very expensive and it is new technology. Eventually, all movies will have Sign Language included. That’s our mission.

    Q: What are the challenges you are facing in getting this service up and running?
    A: The most challenging is to get as many subscriber’s as possible to cover the costs and in-vision signer features. I am very confident it will go OK.

    Q: Will you be able to watch the content on all internet enabled devices or desktop and laptops only?
    A: It will work on Playstation 3, Wii, iPad and any devices with an internet connection and screen because we are going to use HTML5 video player.

    Q: What can readers do to help get the service up and running?
    A: Readers can help us to find weakness in our services and sign up please.

    Q: What is your favourite subtitled content?
    A: 100% Subtitles with options of size, colour and background colour to suit their need.   I don’t have a favourite subtitled movie because I love so many movie’s so it is very difficult to choose. But I mostly watch Sci-fi, Horror, Thriller, Adventure and Drama. Sometime Comedy.

    Q: What is your favourite BSL content?
    A: In-vision signer with on and off feature. We are going to start with British Sign Language and when we expand to USA we will put in America Sign Language. American’s are excited and want us to come over, even Australia as well!  I don’t have a favourite British Sign Language movie because I haven’t seen one yet considering we don’t get 24/7 access to entertainment and currently it is very limited access.  When I heard about a movie with in-vision signer on TV, they normally show these at 2am in the morning which it is frustrating for us. And, some BSL TV series are shown on PC or Laptop which is limited devices. Therefore, our company is 24/7 access, you can watch anytime, anywhere and any devices with internet connection and screen. It will also be the fastest way to watch movies.

    Q: Why do you think current content providers are so slow at providing access?
    A: They don’t think how important about our access need because they don’t see how we feel after all these years. I feel so frustrated to have limited access to entertainment and it is getting worse. So, here I am.

    Q: Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about Films14?
    A: Films14 is Deaf-led company and we know what we need to access the enjoyment of movies and TV Series. Also, we are world first to have sign language with on and off features. Just like subtitles.

    All the best!

    Shaun Sadlier
    Director
    Films14

    Shaun has already made a BSL signed and subtitled video explaining the service which you can watch on the Films14 website or watch it below:

     
  • iheartsubtitles 10:33 am on April 28, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Access, , , ,   

    History of subtitling and cinema in the UK 

    

The film industry is forever devising new ways to capitalise on technological advancements to attract audiences.

    But back in the 1920s, and on the verge of going bust, Sam Warner, co-founder (with brothers Harry, Albert and Jack) of small studio Warner Bros. introduced some fancy tech that, with the help of jazz singer Al Jolson, unintentionally alienated many film fans for the next 75 years.

    
Before the Movietone sound-on-film system became the industry standard, the short-lived Vitaphone sound-on-disc system was the most hi-tech audio product available. Originally intended to cut costs of live musicians, the 1.0 non-surround system was responsible for the innovative synchronized mix of Al Jolson’s singing, dialogue and music for Warner Bros’ The Jazz Singer (1927).

    
Although it contained few spoken words, and played silently in many cinemas that had yet to be equipped for sound, The Jazz Singer launched the ‘talkies’ revolution, taking $3m box-office (spectacular in those days), putting the US touring stage production of ‘The Jazz Singer’ out of business, and confirming its studio as a major player in Hollywood.

    (Sadly, just before the premiere, Sam Warner died of complications brought on by a sinus infection. He was 40).

    Jolson’s next WB musical, 1928’s ‘The Singing Fool’, was an even bigger success (almost $6m) and held the box office attendance record for 10 years (eventually broken by Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs). Jolson become America’s most famous and highest-paid entertainer of the time.

    So how exactly was the cinema experience ruined for many film fans?

    
The end of the ’20s signalled the end of the silent era as sound and dialogue in movies became standard practice. With ‘talkies’, the essential plot-following device – the caption card – was deemed no longer necessary.

    For people with hearing loss, a cinema visit was suddenly, if unintentionally, no longer enjoyable or accessible. By and large, they stopped going. For 75 years. A major step backwards for equality, inclusion and community integration.

    Which is all the more ironic as Thomas Edison, ‘man of a thousand patents’ and pioneer-creator of the first copyrighted film, was almost completely deaf from an early age. Without captions he wouldn’t have been able to follow many of the new ‘talkies’.

    I often wonder what Edison and Alexander Graham Bell, the two inventors responsible for introducing many of the film, sound and light technologies we take for granted today, would have thought of this ‘talkies’ development, as they chatted over their latest inventions with Étienne-Jules Marey, who was a major influence on all pioneers of cinema, at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia.

    Of course they could never have had such a discussion – Marey died 25 years before ‘The Jazz Singer’, Bell died 5 years before, and Edison 5 years after. (And, er, the exhibition was held half a century before the film, in 1876…)

    But let’s imagine they were all having a chat over a cappuccino, at the same exhibition, held just AFTER the films release. I would expect that they would have been very disappointed at the demise of caption cards.

    A few decades before the release of ‘The Jazz Singer’, Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone, created the Photophone – a device that enabled sound to be transmitted on a beam of light (the principle upon which today’s laser and fiber optic communication systems are founded).

    Étienne-Jules Marey had combined a camera and a Gatling gun to create a mutant photographic machine-gun/steadicam device, capable of shooting 60fps (more than a century before James Cameron and Peter Jackson attempted HFR).

    Edison came up with the Kinetophone, the first attempt in history to record sound and moving image in synchronization.

    All three pioneers were well aware of the importance of captions – words on screen (or a piece of cardboard).

    Edison – almost completely deaf from an early age – most likely wouldn’t have liked the film. He hated Jazz, preferring simple melodies and basic harmonies, very possibly due to his high-frequency hearing loss.

    Bell had founded and helped run a school for deaf children with his wife, who was also deaf. Caption cards were used to teach the deaf children reading and literacy skills.

    And Marey was a foreigner! (It’s well known that captions/subtitles are beneficial to students studying English as a Second Language).

    Photo of people at the cinema

    Your Local Cinema – lists screening of subtitled and audio described cinema across the UK

    Fast forward to the end of the century, and reality, when caption cards were re-introduced to UK cinemas in the form of on-screen subtitles. Steven Spielberg, an early investor in the sound company, Digital Theater Systems (DTS), championed its new cine audio format – a digital sound-on-disc system – and encouraged cinemas to install it ahead of his highly anticipated new release, Jurassic Park (1993). A decade later, DTS updated its (by now popular) system to include, alongside music and dialogue tracks, multi-language subtitles and a caption track, enabling cinemas to project synchronised captions directly on to cinema screens.

    
Dolby launched a similar system soon afterwards. Not long after that – probably feeling bad about the Al Jolson episode – cinemas across the UK collaborated with the UK Film Council to install this new ‘access’ technology.

    After 75 years, people with hearing loss could once again enjoy, rather than endure, the cinema experience. Hurrah!

    And, for the first time in the UK, people with sight loss could also enjoy it as an audio description (AD) track – a recorded narration – could also be delivered to wireless headphones. Double hurrah!

    (But sadly, for people with loss of smell, things were not so good. ‘Smell-O-Vision’, introduced in the 1960s, just never caught on).

    As before, Warner Bros. was at the forefront of this quiet revolution in cinema.

    
The first film to utilise the new digital caption/subtitle/AD system was Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001). (Steven Spielberg, having played his part in re-introducing captions to cinema audiences, had declined an offer to direct – he’d done enough).

    Today, another decade later, UK film distributors routinely ensure the provision of caption/subtitle/AD tracks for most popular titles. More than 1,000 have been produced to date.

    Almost every UK cinema is now accessible in that all d-cinema systems have built-in ‘access’ facilities and can broadcast caption/subtitle/AD tracks. Every week hundreds of cinemas present a total of around 1,000 shows with on-screen captions. Thousands more shows are screened with audio description, received via personal headphones.

    
But as the number of shows and the audience have grown – by around 20% year-on-year – the current UK caption format has inevitably become problematic. Since captions in UK cinemas are on-screen, inconvenient and costly separate shows are necessary, segregating people and restricting the choice of films and showtimes that a cinema can provide. A limited audience, combined with limited opportunities to attend, ultimately results in limited box-office returns.

    
For some time, the industry has wrestled with the conundrum of how to provide an economically viable service to people with hearing loss – how to get a good balance between what the public wants and what it’s possible reasonably to provide.

    
Digital cinema brings with it digital participation – inclusion – which is just as important as digital infrastructures and digital content.

    For the UK film industry, a commitment to diversity and inclusion is not just a social and legal responsibility. It aims to ensure that cinema is accessible to all, regardless of age or ability, by understanding and catering for audiences with physical or sensory impairments, and their diverse technological needs.

    The UK film industry is currently investigating recently-developed solutions that could improve the cinema experience further for people with hearing loss. For example, ‘personal’ inclusive caption/subtitle solutions are now available from Sony, Doremi and others that, instead of projecting captions on to the cinema screen, display them on wearable glasses or small, seat-mounted displays. So, any ‘regular’ cinema show could also be a captioned show. These solutions are already being rolled out in the US and Australia.

    It’s hoped that for audience members with hearing loss, as well as cinema exhibitors and film distributors, the convenience of a personal solution, and the vastly increased choice it can offer, will be more favourable than separate, inconvenient, costly on-screen captioned shows.

    It is hoped that within the next few years, audiences with hearing or sight loss will be able to enjoy the big-screen experience as never before.

    As Al Jolson (who really should be forgiven by now) famously said: “I tell yer, you ain’t heard nothin’ yet!”

    With thanks to Your Local Cinema for this article. Posted with permission.

    Stay tuned for another follow-up post very shortly to this on subtitling technology for the cinema.

     
    • Mikel Recondo 2:18 pm on April 29, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      In Spain, there’s a tradition of dubbing all the foreign films into Spanish. It dates back to the dictatorship of Franco, that in 1940 stablished that all movies should be dubbed into Spanish.

      Then the dictatorship ended and some cinemas chose not to dub the movies and run them in their original languages with subtitles. Nowadays, these are the only cinemas that I know of that offer any kind of accessibility services.

      Like

    • markbutterworth 7:58 pm on June 30, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Reblogged this on Mark Butterworth learning journey BSL level 3 and commented:
      History of Subtitles

      Like

  • iheartsubtitles 8:58 am on April 24, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Access, , , ,   

    Festival Of The Spoken Nerd – subtitled comedy 

    Last week I attended an event captioned by STAGETEXT but this time it wasn’t a play but live comedy. Consequently rather than scripted and cued captions being used, the comedy event called Festival Of The Spoken Nerd was captioned live by a stenographer. To get an idea of the comedy show style watch this clip:

    What was great about the event was that there was very much an element of audience participation both on stage and through the use of smart phones and Twitter. I think it is the first time I have ever been in a theatre and been encouraged to keep my mobile phone switched on and use it! As a result I was able to capture some great moments that were unique to this particular gig. Because it was captioned the Festival Of The Spoken Nerd cast sometimes spoke about and interacted with the live captions appearing above their head:

    Later on in the show the stenographer Kate was made part of the show with the use of a video camera that recorded her typing away and displaying this on screen:

    It was such a refreshing change to see technology being used for access celebrated and then being integrated into the show. There were no complaints, everyone in the audience thoroughly enjoyed it. Captioning aside, the show is both funny and fascinating. I’ve not seen anything like it before. This was the first comedy I have ever had the pleasure of attending that has been captioned live for audience and I certainly hope it is not the last. I would love to see more.

    Caption users are needed for STAGETEXT film. If you are available on May 7th and can get to London, why not help STAGETEXT promote the services it provides by taking part in the film.

     
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