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  • iheartsubtitles 11:57 pm on January 16, 2016 Permalink | Reply
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    A look back at 2015 

    2015 saw a lot of accessibility advocacy around subtitles/captioning and audio description with some great victories. This is by no means a complete list but it does summarise some of the highlights for me.

    Amazon Instant Video UK finally started added subtitles to their VOD service after some great advocacy which had its origins in the Love Subtitles campaign.  In 2014, there were no subtitles at all, and by the end of 2015, approximately 50% of its content is subtitled (see ATVOD report detailed later in this article). Let’s hope that percentage figure continues to rise in 2016 .

    Animated gif of Matt Murdock aka Daredevil

    Marvel’s Daredevil on Netflix

    Netflix US / UK found itself the target of an advocacy campaign to add audio description to its content after it released an original series about a blind superhero Daredevil based on the Marvel comic book character of the same name without making it accessible to blind and visually impaired viewers. Thanks to the efforts of The Accessible Netflix Project,  there was a pretty fast response from Netflix in releasing audio description tracks for this series and more on its platform.

    The Action On Hearing Loss #SubtitleIt! campaign succesfully obtained a public comittment from Sky that it would increase the amount of  subtitled VOD content on it’s services by summer 2016 following a petition from Jamie Danjoux. I think a lot of people will be watching this one closely and look forward to seeing the comittment being met in 2016.

    All of these campaigns are far from over and many are continuing their advocacy into 2016. The #SubtitleIt campaign just published a useful summary of ATVOD’s final report  (before being taken over by Ofcom) into the Provision of Access Services published at the end of 2015.

    There were many other interesting publications around accessibility in 2015:

    There were many other successful advocacy and awareness campaigns in 2015.

    I had great fun taking part in the UK’s first #CAPaware week launched by Stagetext to celebrate its 15th birthday which amongst many activities that week included tweeting alongside watching a captioned play from Digital Theatre.

    Turn On The Captions Now  was a campaign that successfully passed a local city law in Portland, Oregon USA which states that all public televisions in public areas such as bars and restaurants must have closed captioning switched on. The Portland: Turn On The Captions Now! group have since published a website that includes instructions for turning on closed captions and advice for Portland residents on how to request captions if they spot non-compliance.

    American Airlines showed everyone how not to respond to a query on social media to a request for closed captioning to be made available on their in-flight entertainment.  It lead to a Twitter campaign with the hashtag #DeafInTheAir

    But it wasn’t just airlines, Braam Jordaan was successfull in getting the White House to make its video content accessible with a campaign predominantly on Twitter using the hashtag #WHccNow

    In fact it seems when it comes to social media, (whisper it carefully, I don’t want to jinx it) but it seems that the knowledge that subtitling and captioning your video media leads to other benefits outside of accessibility is starting to become mainstream. Video marketing websites have been quick to report research showing that adding subtitles can increase the video completion rate and  the video share rate. I for one have noticed more and more videos on social media with auto-play *and* open subtitles.  I hope that this trend continues as it can only lead to more accessible content online for everyone. Roll on 2016…

     

     
  • iheartsubtitles 12:19 pm on June 27, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    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
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    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 8:16 pm on July 15, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    Sherlock – The Clue is in the Subtitles 

    I have blogged previously about this popular BBC TV series before and how Sherlock uses visual text on screen as part of the storytelling process (this is actually one of my most popular posts for hit counts!). Last week the BBC did something rather cool involving the subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for this series.

    On Friday 12th July the BBC scheduled a repeat of an episode and urged viewers to tune in to look for clues not previously released in any other broadcast of the episode that would give fans a sneak peek into an episode title for the next series due to air later this year/beginning of 2014.

    Like previous broadcasts the episode was subtitled for the deaf and hard of hearing. But in addition for this repeat only, the subtitles also displayed in the top left hand corner, letters that acted as clues to viewers and was part of the promotion to encourage repeated viewing and speculation about the new series. Nothing to do with providing access, but a fitting way to uses subtitles as part of a promotional campaign for the series. If you were watching without the subtitles switched on, you would have missed the clues but  this is entirely fitting as a campaign to the programme to think outside the box and consider all your options.  Below are screen shots showing the letters being displayed in the subtitles in the top left of the screen so not to be confused with any of the subtitled audio dialogue:

     

    Screen shot of Sherlock BBC TV series subtitles

    Sherlock BBC TV series – clues in the subtitles – The letter ‘H’

    SOURCE: tumblr

    Screen shot of Sherlock BBC TV series subtitles

    Sherlock BBC TV series – clues in the subtitles – The letter ‘I’

    SOURCE: tumblr

    Screen shot of Sherlock BBC TV series subtitles

    Sherlock BBC TV series – clues in the subtitles – The letter ‘S’

    SOURCE: tumblr

    It spells HIS, now fans just have to work out its significance in terms of the episode title.

     
    • NPHule 4:22 am on December 5, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      The subtitles look far better and cleaner on Indian television.

      Like

    • iheartsubtitles 2:33 pm on December 5, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Hi Natalia. Better how? The images themselves are not of the highest quality which might be why the subtitles don’t look as clear as they could if that is what you mean.

      Like

      • NPHule 8:39 am on December 14, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        Hello! The subtitles are lower on the screen and they are not highlighted in black. That way the screen appears cleaner.

        Like

    • Tessa 11:13 pm on October 9, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for this post! I’m only a recent follower, so coming late to this post. I am a screen scholar and I research issues around translation, access, etc… Just wondering if you can explain this Sherlock promotional campaign in some more detail. Were the clues only visible when closed captioning was switched on? If so, was this advertised? Was the promotion for both hearing and hard of hearing viewers?

      Like

      • iheartsubtitles 8:53 pm on October 15, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Hi Tessa. Yes the clues were only visible if you had closed captioning switched on. I believe the campaign was promoted via social media telling viewers to watch the repeat closely to look for clues but it wasn’t made obvious that the clue would be in the subtitles. That didn’t stop viewers putting their Sherlock cap on and finding it though 🙂 In fact without those fans, I wouldn’t have known about it myself! Hope that helps. Good luck with your research.

        Like

        • Tessa 3:26 am on October 16, 2014 Permalink

          Thanks so much for your reply and for clarifying. Wow. Pretty innovative to use closed captioning in this way – and fits in really well with Sherlock’s other forms of textual play. Would love to hear about it, if you come across any similar types of promos. Cheers.

          Like

  • iheartsubtitles 3:23 pm on April 21, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    Subtitles and Captioning – Regulatory requirements update part 2 and adding business value 

    As a follow-up to my previous post, I am going to discuss recent reports specific to UK broadcasters which are regulated by Ofcom.

    Last month the charity Action on Hearing Loss published the results of a survey carried out at the request of Ofcom to investigate the quality of subtitles seen on UK linear television. The results for me were not that surprising:

    The highest percentage of problems experienced with subtitles were in relation to news programmes, with nearly half of respondents reporting this as a problem in our survey. Entertainment programmes received 18% of complaints and drama programmes received 16%. Around one eighth of respondents complained about subtitles during a sports programme. A high proportion of these programmes are likely to have at least some live subtitling.

    SOURCE: Action On Hearing Loss – Research – Getting The Full Picture

    Of the live subtitling more than half the complaints were about delay and time lag between speech audio and the subtitles on screen. Again, not surprising. If you want to make subtitles completely unusable – being out of sync with the audio is the way to do it! What the survey does not cover and what I would be interested to see is how Ofcom as a regulatory body could measure the quality of subtitles that broadcasters provide on a regular basis. I have written about this in more detail in CSI User Experience Conference 2012 Part 2 – Live Subtitles & measuring quality.

    Ofcom have published the full year 2012 TV Access Report. The table illustrates the percentage of programmes certain channels are required to subtitle. The good news is that with the exception of ESPN, channels have met their required quota and some have done even better and exceeded it.

    The percentage of content that Ofcom require broadcasters to subtitle is based on the individual channels total audience share. This means that smaller channels are not legally required to provide subtitling and therefore those channels don’t even appear in the report. Is this right? I recently had a conversation via twitter with a TV viewer unhappy that the SyFy channel has not subtitled a brand new and exclusive show called Defiance. Take a look at the tweets I collated at Storify: UK broadcasters linear and VOD TV channels not subtitled.

    In response to a complaint about lack of subtitles SyFy wrote:

    Under current Ofcom regulations channels are obligated to provide access services according to their size. The bigger the channel, the more they must provide. On this basis we are not currently required to provided subtitles on SyFy, and unfortunately as the costs involved in creating those versions are high, we therefore cannot do so at this time.

    SOURCE: @topofthetree

    First off, it is good that SyFy sent a reply to the query (some channels don’t even bother with that). The answer is of course not what those of us who require subtitles to follow a programme want to hear. Whilst SyFy are correct with regards to regulations it the last sentence I question. The costs are high. Well yes there is a cost to subtitle a programme, but cost is relative. How expensive is creating subtitles for viewers compared to the costs spent on the UK marketing campaign promoting the series? I for one haven’t failed to notice the billboard posters promoting the series – the money was found for that. So here is my opinion:

    Really what SyFy is saying is that they have not chosen to budget the cost because it’s not legally required. This is a real shame SyFy because you can spend as much money as you want on promoting the show but having chosen to not provide subtitles, you’ve lost potential audience members before you’ve even began. How silly is that? It’s a kick in the teeth to see the publicity and the posters knowing full well you can’t tune into the premiere even if you wanted to because no subtitles are available! And here’s another thing, the value added by providing subtitles stays with that programme throughout its run on the TV channel. The marketing does not! Once this series has premiered, all that money spent on publicity, done, finished. If you choose to also spend money on providing subtitles, they can be used again and again and again every time the programme airs (and lets face it almost every linear TV channel out there has an awful lot of repeats) that is surely value for money right there? SyFy state they hope to provide subtitles in the future. Given the points I have made in this article, I ask SyFy and similar smaller channels, what are you waiting for?

    Going back to Storify: UK broadcasters linear and VOD TV channels not subtitled and a response from Sky with regards to no subtitles being provided on their VOD (Video On Demand) service:

    The technology used in providing subtitles for TV broadcasts is different for On Demand. Unfortunately it is not possible to just transfer these over as different versions have to be created…We are investigating options at the moment to increase the availability of subtitles On Demand but we cannot at this point confirm when this will be available.

    SOURCE: @Shelle02

    Unlike linear TV channels, VOD is regulated by ATVOD (Authority for Television On Demand) in the UK (except for BBC iPlayer), and unlike Ofcom they currently have no power to compel VOD channels to provide subtitles. I have written about this in more detail in CSI User Experience Conference 2012 Part 1 – Subtitling & Video On Demand Services.

    VOD is growing, in size and complexity. And with that comes technological challenges in providing the service, and access services. But here’s the thing, the content provider who solves the access issue in working out how to provide subtitles for VOD services, much like the SyFy example will be adding business value. According to an article by Red Bee Media, there are four ways add value to VOD:

    WHERE DOES VALUE GET ADDED?

    In my view, value for Video On Demand is added in four areas:

    1) Of course, the majority of the value is in the content creation and is generated when the item is first made. This, after all, is the reason content is purchased, watched, saved, shared and rewatched. This value drives all other values.
    2) Additional value can be added during content manipulation. For example when a French movie is translated and localised for German audiences.
    3) Content transcoding adds value by ensuring content will play on an end device like a tablet.
    4) The last value-add is the ability to return consumption, demographic and interaction data to content and platform owners to generate additional value, which includes simple upselling like “if you like this, you’ll like that…”. Also, given that 64% of Generation X and 74% of Generation Y use a second screen while watching TV, metadata gives us the ability to synchronise second-screen content with first-screen action.

    SOURCE: Red Bee Media – How Do We Handle The Growing Complexity In VOD

    Looking at (2) above, content manipulation includes adding subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing, not just translation surely? Looking at (4) subtitles can be used as a metadata source to assist a broadcaster with its workflows. Subtitle files are a data source – it contains valuable editorial information (i.e. all of the spoken dialogue) for that programme with a time stamp. This data could be used for search functionality to pinpoint exact parts of a programme where ‘x’ might be mentioned, potentially saving hours of time for a human to manually look for such instances. For more information on metadata’s use in VOD read An Introduction to Video Metadata and CSI User Experience Conference – Part 4 – Access business models. For VOD channels operating online there is also the added benefit that subtitles and captions give to video SEO. I have written about examples of this in Captioning, subtitling and SEO and the second screen and if you want more information on this subject taken a look at 3 Play Media blog series on Video SEO.

    In conclusion then, adding subtitles provides access benefits and business value to broadcasters. Providing access is not a punishment because you’ve reached a certain audience percentage (linear TV), it’s a way to increase audience reach in the first place. Why wait until Ofcom tell you it is a legal requirement? And for VOD, it is no different. The quicker solutions are found for the technological issues in adding subtitles the quicker you can add business value and extend audience reach. The VOD service that does this, is the one that will get my money and customer loyalty.

     
    • Beth Abbott 4:09 pm on April 21, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Great, thorough and well-researched article – thanks Dawn!

      Like

    • oldmoan 4:12 pm on April 21, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      This is a very well constructed arguement, it is something I think needs to be addressed by OFCOM urgently. Using SyFy as an example, my biggest bugbear, saying subtitles are costly is, as you rightly state, shortsighted. There are thousands of deaf sci fi fans, surely a bigger audience potentially is worth fighting for! Bigger ad revenues?
      I am also at a loss as to why TV/ Film companies do not create a central repository for subs that can be accessed for a minimal fee controlled by, well, lets say an independent body set up by the industry itself!
      It is the 21st century, it is unbelievable that in this day and age of in your face technology that something that is available, actually isn’t!

      Like

    • Michelle 7:18 pm on April 21, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      An excellent piece of writing, very precise and informative! It seems technology is leaving deaf people behind as the competition hots up between the sky and cable channels and also streaming services. They all use the same excuse that it is not yet possible to subtitle their services but quite simply it isnt good enough. I have Sky with its huge number of channels, and yet I find despite OFCOM, I am restricted to only a number of channels with subtitles. Day after day I see programmes that I would so love to watch but cant due to lack of accessibility.

      I would never demand 100% access – I am not that unreasonable. All I ask is that they make some effort in subtitling more of their channels and programmes and increase that over the years.

      What we need is just one channel to be daring, to be the good guy and stand up and say they are going to be innovative and subitle some of their stuff despite not being legally required by OFCOM!

      I for one am going to contact a few of the channels, using emails, Twitter and Facebook and see what I get back. Would love to get something back from them other than the standard replies we are so familiar with!

      Like

    • Alan 10:22 am on May 2, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      The argument here is quite a valid one. I, too, emailed Syfy last year, (2012) asking about subtitling as they did before for the likes of Eureka,(up until the very last series of it). Then, suddenly, subtitles were nowhere to be seen on any of their popular output.I am disheartened. And, enlightened by your dissertation on this subject.

      Like

    • Kate B 12:10 pm on December 29, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Hi, have just discovered this blog and this thread is very pertinent right now. How does Sky get away with no subtitling for a flagship programme on Sky One over the holiday season? Syfy is not a maonstream channel, but Sky1 is. I’m referring to Moonfleet. Who do I complain to? I don’t use Twitter, but have put a comment on Facebook – though I don’t expect anyone from Sky actually reads that 😦

      Like

    • Kate B 10:53 am on December 31, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you very much – I did find that (after a bit of searching) and have put in a complaint. Since then, Sky have finally managed to attach subtitles – they say – and these will be transmitted on Friday’s repeat. But I still think it’s scandalous to make so much fuss about a programme and then omit something vrey basic in the accessibility. I also got a rreply on Facebook, so something did get through!

      Like

  • iheartsubtitles 6:59 pm on April 14, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , TV, , ,   

    Subtitles and Captioning – Regulatory requirements update 

    In the USA the deadline set by the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVVA) passed at the end of March. This was the deadline for US broadcasters to ensure that any live or near live programmes captioned for TV linear channel broadcast are also captioned on online catch-up services. So for anyone living in the USA reading this should you wish to file a complaint due to lack of captions online you can do so by completing a FCC Form.

    Currently in the UK there are no regulatory requirements covering online catch-up services. The major broadcasters services such as BBC iPlayer, itv player, 4OD, and Demand 5 do provide subtitles where available. In addition BBC iPlayer and 40D provide audio description online if it has been providing during TV broadcast. This is assuming you are streaming the content online from a PC, as opposed to downloading for which subtitles are not yet available. So, a fairly good start has been made without regulatory requirements being put in place. The question is, is it enough? I don’t think it is. Not all broadcasters are doing it. This is not equal access to a catch up online service.

    A broader but related issue to this is that broadcast services and the technology behind it is moving at a fast pace. One of the poorest areas for captions and subtitles availability is in OTT* services. When connected TV becomes the norm, it makes sense that these OTT services will sit next to traditional broadcast channels and online catch up services. Maybe they will even appear in the same EPG (Electronic Programme Guide) on your TV. The issue here is, consumers aren’t going to know or be interested in the difference. Both are TV channels offering content to watch, both should provide the same kind of access through captions or subtitles. And why shouldn’t consumers think and feel like this? For OTT services, Netflix is probably currently leading the field in the provision of captions and subtitles (anyone disagree?) but it’s interesting that this appears to have come about as result of the company being sued by National Association for the Deaf (NAD) back in 2011 for violating the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) for doing the exact opposite and failing to provide closed captioning! Maybe we do need more regulatory requirements. What do you think?

    *OTT refers to ‘Over The Top’ Television and refers to broadband delivery of video and audio without a multiple system operator being involved in the control or distribution of the content itself. For example Netflix provide content but to access their services you need a broadband connection that they do not control but ‘ride over the top’ of this service to provide content to consumers. Consumers can access OTT content through internet-connected devices such as PCs, laptops, tablets, smartphones, set-top boxes, Smart TVs and gaming consoles such as the Wii, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

     
    • Larry Goldberg 7:59 pm on April 14, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Though Netflix is definitely building up their inventory of captioned (subtitled) TV programs, Apple’s iTunes (available via their OTT Apple TV device or Mac or PC) probably has just as much captioned content.

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    • iheartsubtitles 10:33 pm on April 14, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for the info Larry. Good to know.

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  • iheartsubtitles 8:03 pm on April 8, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , TV   

    Fajri’s Take on Subtitling – How To Make The Subtitles 

    Here’s an interesting blog post written by someone working in the industry. This post covers process of creating translation subtitles and the journey from translating text to delivering a subtitle file to a broadcaster.

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    Fajri's Little Journal

    Have you ever wondered how the texts on your favorite TV series, movies on cinemas, anime you watched on your PCs, YouTube videos you streamed, even on LED screen in an opera (some people told me that there are subtitles in operas too) displayed? I mean, subtitles aren’t magically appearing out of nowhere. People made them, or even, are still making them up until now for you who don’t understand the language spoken/written and for you who have a problem in hearing. Now, how do they make these subtitles? On this blog post, I’m going to give some insight regarding the trades in this field, especially on how do we make them.

    How do you make the subtitles?

    There are various methods and ways to add subtitles to the certain materials. For YouTube videos, you can make them by using the CC feature on the video (personally, I don’t really…

    View original post 1,646 more words

     
  • iheartsubtitles 3:11 pm on March 22, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , TV,   

    New subtitling technology for TV broadcast and the cinema 

    Last week was a bit of subtitles technology themed week for me for two reasons. First I had the opportunity to visit the London offices of Red Bee Media who showed me their current workflows for providing access to broadcast TV for the deaf and hard of hearing, as well as giving me the opportunity to learn about the new bespoke software that they have been working on and are looking at rolling out soon. It is called Subito (which translates as ‘immediately’ in Italian). The hope is that this will result in a signficant improvement in the output of live subtitles which is currently nearly always produced by the process of respeaking (See #Subtitlefail TV). Most of the complaints people have in the UK around TV subtitling is when live subtitles are used. There are times when the process of live subtitling is not ideal because it is a process that can have an inconsistency in accuracy. It is hoped that this new software will result in much better consistency and accuracy of live subtitles.

    Subito allows the subtitler with far more options to prepare text which may come from a number of different sources to use in addition to respeaking the audio output. These sources might be a script or an autocue, or if they themselves type or respeak it and the audio video content is repeated later on (this is common on 24 hour news channels).This text can be accessed to use later on rather than the subtitler having to respeak the same content over again. The text can also be edited if and when required. At the moment the existing software does allow some prepared text content to be included with respeaking content but with very limited options including a lack of control and options for the subtitler to determine the speed of how that prepared text is seen by the viewer at home – it might appear too fast to be read for example as blocks rather than scrolling that you see with most live subtitles. The new software gives the subtitler much more control and flexibility to incorporate prepared subtitles. There are also improvements behind the speech technology used for computers to convert a subtitlers speech into text with accuracy and speed.(Speech technology was never designed with live subtitling in mind. The technology is being used in ways few would’ve thought of when it was first introduced into products the late 80s/1990s.) So why should this new software have a significant impact on live subtitling output? Well it is currently still being trialled. But the hope is that the effect should be twofold:

    (1) The skill of respeaking which is actually very difficult should become a little easier thanks to the improvements in speech recognition technology and further bespoke changes that have been made to the back-end to compliment it use for the purpose of creating broadcast subtitles.
    (2) The greater number of options and flexibility a subtitler will have to get the subtitles out during live programmes to the viewer with speed and accuracy should see an improvement in the output.

    The software has been designed with the end-user – the subtitler in mind. This is actually key for me – who better to know what tools they need to deliver a better output. There has also been thought put in to work out how to automate some of the options available to subtilers such as automatically cueing the text to the screen/viewer once it has been associated to the video content (for repeated segments on 24 hour live channels for example). The benefit is to free up a subtitler to work on something else that they can see is coming up on the live channel that they are subtitling. It should in theory make job satisfaction higher and hopefully slightly less monotonous. As a viewer I look forward to its roll out and the impact on the output of live subtitling on some of the UK TV channels.

    As a side note – last month I met with the manager of STAGETEXT who kindly showed me the software their subtitlers use and the process they go through to provide subtitled theatre. They too have gone down the bespoke software route to ensure that subtitlers or captioners have as much control as possible on the output – both the content and the speed. An awful lot of prep work is done to aid this. In the same way that TV broadcast subtitlers have to react quickly to any changes to audio on live broadcasts, the challenges are the same if an actor or actress goes off script or there are time delays / or increases and the software needs to allow for quick reactions. Those specific details are issues faced by both companies and it is interesting that bespoke software is the solution both companies have chosen.

    I was also lucky enough to take part in a cinema subtitling technology demo in London at the weekend. It was organised by the CEA. They have asked for us not to publicise too much information about what we used and that the CEA would publish public information about the trials results soon. I want to respect that request so the details of the devices we used are deliberately vague in this blog post. I was part of a screening which tested two types of personal devices that allow the individual to see subtitles without any being displayed on the cinema screen. I was allocated one of them. I took part in the focus group afterwards during which the feedback was very mixed for both pieces of technology. For those that don’t know the CEA has already done a lot of work in getting open subtitles screenings in cinemas across the UK which I am grateful for. We are one of the few countries to do this. I am of the opinion that the best technological solution is open subtitles. The UK cinema industry currently does not use any other form of technology to provide subtitles (to my knowledge). There were several different views expressed by different people at the focus group such. I hope that the CEA publish a summary of the feedback soon so it can be discussed in a more open way. As a reminder, you can find listings for subtitled cinema (as well as audio described screenings for those with visual impairments) in the UK at Your Local Cinema. If a subtitled screening is not taking place near you and you own a smart phone then why not try these options.

     
    • Richard Turner 4:07 pm on March 22, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      I agree that open Subtitles are the best option. However I feel in the future the tech that we tested will open up accessibility. I will be interested to see feedback. I would love to go to the Cinema tonight but unfortunately no subtitled films on a friday night. This tech will make my wish possible. great blog !

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  • iheartsubtitles 5:14 pm on February 11, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , TV   

    A poem made from live TV subtitling errors #subtitlefail! 

    Here is a blog post from Karen Corbel which contains a #subtitlefail! TV poem in tribute to the errors made from live TV subtitling of the weather reports. No one likes seeing errors but you have to admit they can be a source of hilarity. Enjoy!

    TV subtitles « karencorbel.

     
  • iheartsubtitles 1:14 pm on February 6, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Campaign, , Malta, TV   

    Subtitles at the cinema and on TV – Malta campaign 

    Here’s a campaign video that by not subtitling any of the sign language gives hearing people the chance to understand the isolation felt by those that need subtitles to enjoy audio. The campaign is from Malta, and I hope achieves success in improving access to TV and cinema via subtitles.

    If you are interested in any advocacy relating to subtitling or captioning please consider joining the CCAC which is international in scope and covers all aspects of access via captioning including transportation, healthcare and education.

     
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