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  • iheartsubtitles 10:24 pm on February 26, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: blu-ray, ,   

    The DVD media format – is it the best example of closed captioning and subtitles workflow? 

    Screen shot of the Video Caption Reader logo explaining captions will appear if a decoder is connected to your TV and video recorder.

    Video Caption Reader – Some VHS players could decode captions that were provided on some VHS releases.

    Remember the above? When the DVD replaced the VHS it was a revolution in access to media for those of us that use subtitles or closed captioning. No longer did you require the more expensive end of the market of VHS players capable of decoding a captioning track that only some released titles on VHS had available. Distributors started to supply captions and subtitles with many titles released on the DVD format. And so I have heard many say that the DVD supply chain is the best subtitle or captioning model to follow when it comes to other ways that we are now choosing to view our media content be it streamed or downloaded to and from multiple devices. On a general level I would agree with this statement but there are still issues with it which I will discuss in this post.

    • Regions – DVD distribution globally is split into regions. This allows distributors to control release dates, content and price, according to the region in which it is being sold. I don’t actually think there is any benefit to the consumer for this, it is only a benefit to the distributors themselves. Please comment and correct me if you think otherwise. In fact when it comes to subtitles or captions it can lead to much frustration. To give an example, a region 1 DVD for a particular title may be subtitled or captioned, but in another region it is not. This can be for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it is because different distributors are responsible for the DVD release in different regions. Has anyone reading had to buy a different region DVD to their home region in order to get access to captioning or subtitles? I have.
      Animated GIF of a scene from the TV series Due South

      TV Series Due South, Region 1 DVD has English subtitles, Region 2 does not. Why? Because the different regions have different distributors responsible for the DVD rights. IMAGE SOURCE: tumblr

      My DVD home region is region 2 but the DVD release of one of my favourite TV shows Due South is not provided with subtitles because the distributor for region 2 Due South DVD has not provided them on the disc. Instead I had to purchase a Region 1 DVD released by a different distributor who has provided captions and subtitles on the disc. In order to play this disc however I have to ensure that my DVD player is multi-regional. What was a simple work-flow has become complicated by the creation of different regions for the sale of DVD media to the consumer.

    • Not all distributors choose to provide subtitles or captions for every single release. It is probably fair to say however that the DVD is the most widely subtitled/captioned format.
    • Many distributors for reasons I cannot understand do not subtitle media that they consider exempt. This is often applied to DVDs on sports, music (see my blog post here), and documentaries. Why should any of these be exempt?
    • DVD labelling – You would think that distributors could get this right. Now on the whole they do but I have purchased DVDs which according to the labelling has subtitles available only to find that when I insert the disc into my DVD player, there are no subtitles available. Even worse, some distributors are missing out on potential sales by not making it clear on labelling that subtitles are available for titles (this is a much rarer occurrence in my experience). This situation worries me more than it did recently. Over recent weeks in the UK there have been announcement of the closure of high street stores and DVD stockists HMV and Blockbuster. Changes in buying habits from the high street to online and from DVD to download have been some of the claimed reasons for the closure of these stores. I fear that the subtitle user has much more to lose from this. This is because online shops don’t always provide the information to the consumer for DVD titles as to whether subtitles are available. When this information isn’t listed online I have often picked up the DVD media in the shop to check the labelling which usually does provide this info. I might not be able to do this for much longer*. Moreover it is subtitle users that are probably more likely to purchase the DVD format over downloads or streaming since these formats currently are rarely subtitled.

    Do I want to go back to VHS? Of course not, DVD has certainly seen a massive step in the right direction with subtitles and captions availability. Wouldn’t it be nice if the new ways in which we are choosing to watch media eventually does even better than the DVD with subtitles and caption availability? Get rid of regions, provide captions for all titles – including music, sports, documentaries, and make it clear when subtitles and captions are available.

    *A fantastic resource for those in region 2 DVD and Blu-Ray zones is DVD subtitles which tries to correct where labelling and/or online shops go wrong. It provides detailed analysis of subtitle availability for all aspects including extras on DVD discs. This information is collated by volunteers so do help contribute if you find this useful. I know I do.

    • codeman38 1:53 pm on February 27, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      The situation with captioning on “Due South” is even weirder than you’ve suggested here.

      There are two different Region 1 releases of the show; it was originally distributed by a Canadian company (being a Canadian show), but then a US studio picked it up and started handling distribution on the American side of the border. The original Canadian release, which is still sold in Canada, is captioned. The US re-release isn’t.


    • iheartsubtitles 1:57 pm on February 27, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for the info. The inconsistency is a nightmare!


    • Nick Tee 3:02 pm on February 27, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      I thought you might be interested to see that the US Department of Education has just published in January 2013 – the first Research paper on the link between the use of subtitles and the ability to improve Reading and Literacy skills.

      This is wonderful for all of us here at Zane Education – and those of you that are supporting the use of captions. Although extensive research has been done by different parties over the last 20 years into this link, this is the first research published by a Government organisation. Furthermore most of those researchers have been forced to use either children’s Hollywood Movies or Karaoke videos.

      However here at Zane Education we provide subtitles on K-12 curriculum-based videos which enables each child or student to improve their reading and literacy skills AT THE SAME TIME they are studying school subjects in the classroom or at home.

      With the publishing of this Research we might all start to see a much wider acceptance and awareness of the value of subtitles beyond those who think subtitles are simply of use to the hearing impaired.

      Here is a link to that Research document:



      • iheartsubtitles 10:15 pm on February 27, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        Hi Nick, thank you for the link. It is great that the value of captioning is being recognised in more areas.


    • happyzinny 9:16 pm on February 27, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      I downloaded the first episode of a massively popular series- I think it was Game of Thrones- off iTunes and was bitterly disappointed by the lack of subtitles. Perhaps they’ve added them by now, but this consumer is afraid of getting burned again!


      • iheartsubtitles 10:13 pm on February 27, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        iTunes does support closed captioning but for reasons I fail to understand the distributors often don’t provide them. They did for the DVD format, why stop for downloads? iTunes should listed when closed captions are available – you can filter searches to show only those results. I haven’t done this for a while because the results were so few titles. I hope this improves.


  • iheartsubtitles 10:31 am on January 17, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: blu-ray,   

    Universal blu-ray DVDs – uHear™ 

    Looking at my blog stats I can see which of my posts have received the biggest number of hits, and the search terms being used that bring people to my blog. By a long shot the most popular post and term is something I had to research myself and couldn’t find much on when I blogged about it over a year ago, and that is Universal blu-ray DVD featured called uHear™. Turns out its not actually that complicated a thing. It is a feature that allows viewers who might not always have the subtitles or closed captioning turned on to “rewind” the blu-ray DVD they are watching by 15 seconds and the subtitles will display. The idea being this featured would be used by hearing people who can’t make out the dialogue for certain scenes.

    Universal now have an explanation of this feature and how to use on their website:

    Experience BD-Live – uHear – Universal Studios Home Entertainment Hi Def.

    You can see my original post on this here. I would like to say I have used it but then I have the subtitles on all the time and so I never need to rewind to hear the dialogue! It is nice to see that something provided for access reasons its being marketed at another audience.

  • iheartsubtitles 12:20 pm on January 5, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: blu-ray   

    uHear™ never miss a line of dialogue 

    I like movies and often purchase DVDs including the blu-ray HD format. Recently I came across a review for The American DVD which discusses a feature on the disc called uHear:

    Universal Studios Home Video has introduced an overdue upgrade… On its Blu-ray release of the new suspense drama “The American,” there’s a feature called uHear™. Hit the pop up menu and click on the uHear button and the movie skips back a few seconds and turns on the subtitles just for the patch of dialogue you missed.

    Wow. Why’d this one take so long to get here?

    SOURCE: explorehoward.com

    I can’t find out much more about this on the internet other than it also seems to be a feature available on what I assume are Region 1 blu-ray DVDs of the movies: Despicable Me, My Soul To Take, and It’s Kind Of A Funny Story.

    Now I’ve missed the bit off from the above review in which the author claims that this feature solves the issue of having to watch an entire movie with the subtitles for the hard of hearing switched on throughout. Firstly, I don’t agree with that being a ‘problem’ – no surprise there, and also the feature wouldn’t be available if the whole movie wasn’t subtitled in the first place! I am pleased that the author is positive about this new feature on the blu-ray disc though.

    However, all of this misses the point because the fact that this feature is available means that someone at Universal Studio Home Video decided they could market subtitles as an extra feature. That’s actually kind of awesome. Somebody realised that it isn’t just people diagnosed as hard of hearing or deaf that might well appreciate subtitles being available. I’ll repeat that – somebody in a marketing department has thought about subtitles! I find that exciting! (Next time can that same person remember that ALL extras on a DVD should be subtitled – that includes the commentaries). The very nature of subtitles or closed captioning being an option to switch on means most people have probably never thought about them that much. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve reminded people subtitles and closed captioning exist and to turn them on is the solution to the problem they are having! I wonder how many more movie titles will have this feature and if other distributors catch on and do the same. I’ll be looking out for it on my next Universal blu-ray purchase.

    • Michael Lockrey 9:12 pm on January 7, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Wow! This sounds great and it is a mainstream initiative too! I always get a warm, fuzzy feeling inside when we are the recipients or beneficiaries of new technology (even if the intent wasn’t specific)!


    • acsbloggo 1:09 pm on January 8, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      That’s fantastic. It’s really aggravating not to understand the “extras” on DVDs because they lack captioning. This goes for trailers of movies both on television and at theaters. Even when there are open captioned films, only the films themselves have the captioning, not the endless trailers that precede the film. Captionfish.com does show captioned trailers….anybody know how they do it?


    • Ally Woodford 12:12 am on January 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      I believe the Uhear feature is also available on ‘The Kids are All Right’ and ‘Robin Hood’. I’m trying to track down more information from Universal about it, but it’s not related to the Iphone app, Uhear.


      • iheartsubtitles 10:32 pm on January 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        Hmm, I’ve been meaning to purchase Robin Hood, maybe now is the time! Thanks for the info. I wasn’t even aware there was an app with the same name. I wonder how long before they are asked to change it, since it seems to be registered as a trade mark.


    • cpaulg 6:25 am on January 5, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      The uhear feature was mainly designed for people who miss a line or two due to a heavy foreign accent or if the dialogue was drowned out by music or sound effects. Amazon and Netflix have this same feature for streaming videos. Being a person without a hearing deficit, I don’t like leaving subtitles on for an entire movie just because of the rare chance there might be a line or two that I miss. Subtitles just isn’t the default setting for someone like me when I pop in an English language movie. The uhear feature is perfect for an occasional need so that I don’t have to stop the movie when I miss a line, rewind it 30 seconds, go in and enable subtitles, replay the 30 seconds, then turn off the subtitles. Talk about a mood killer.


      • iheartsubtitles 12:07 pm on January 6, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks for your comment. I can completely see why for the reasons you state it is useful feature that allows for a quick way of switching on then off with one click. Because I use the subtitles button a lot I usually look for DVD/Blu-ray players that have a subtitle button that allows me activate them quickly rather than having to go back to a DVD Menu for similar time-saving reasons.


    • otladministrator 11:32 pm on February 13, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      The Option doesn’t always work. It doesn’t work on my Straight Outta Compton blu ray


      • iheartsubtitles 11:52 pm on March 7, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        Interesting. Thanks for your comment. I don’t think all blu-ray DVDs have it. How a distributor choose whether to add it to a title release or not I have no idea.


  • iheartsubtitles 10:12 pm on January 30, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: blu-ray,   

    DVD Subtitles 

    If like me your enjoyment of a DVD can largely depend on whether it provides same language subtitles for all of its content – the main feature, and any extras including commentaries etc then DVD-Subtitles.com is a great resource.  It is a site worth visiting to find out how much DVD content has subtitles available before parting with your money.  (Currently the database only refers to region 2 DVD or blu-ray releases)

    And if your not a user of subtitles but you are a DVD collector – please contribute – it takes seconds to check a disc to see what subtitles are available and this site relies solely on people providing such information.

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