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  • iheartsubtitles 1:18 pm on May 2, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , UK, ,   

    Subtitles for VOD, whose responsibility is it anyway? 

    UK based charities behind the #SubtitleIt campaign received a letter from Ed Vaizey, Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy. It was not the response that the campaign had hoped for.

    Action on Hearing Loss have summarised:

    Mr Vaizey has told us that, during autumn 2015, Department for Culture, Media and Sport officials met with platform operators, content providers and broadcasters, and that the discussions gave clarity into the problems limiting the availability of access services and what’s needed to improve provision levels.

    The Minister has concluded that a lot has been achieved by broadcasters, content providers and platform operators towards increasing the provision of subtitles, and that “the 2013 commitment is being met”. He states that the introduction of legislation and the prescription of targets “could have a detrimental impact on what the sector has shown it is able to achieve on a voluntary basis”. In short, he has refused to take decisive action to end the digital exclusion faced by people with hearing loss due to the lack of subtitles.

    SOURCE: Action on Hearing Loss – Government decision on subtitles, April 2016

    And the crux of the issue:

    Mr Vaizey states that it was “encouraging to hear that several players throughout the supply chain of access services are working together” to overcome problems that limit the availability of access services.

    In reaching this opinion Ed Vaizey has ignored the evidence of the regulator, ATVOD. They reported that a “stalemate” persists between the broadcasters (content providers) who provide the programmes (e.g. ITV and UKTV) and the set top box operators (platforms) who pull together content from lots of different providers (e.g. Sky and Virgin), and a lack of clarity about whose responsibility it is to make content accessible.

    SOURCE: Action on Hearing Loss – Government decision on subtitles, April 2016

    This issue keeps cropping up. Whose responsibility is it?

    Netflix who do subtitle the majority of its content have published an article on their subtitling workflow. It’s interesting to read how Netflix tackles the problem of different devices requiring different formats, and how different languages can sometimes require different rendering capabilities that may not always be available on the device being used by the end user, and how before all of that is tackled, quality control checks are put in place. They have chosen to take on much of the responsibility in the sense that if a content provider does not provide a subtitle file in the correct format, they have invested in systems to overcome the problem and solve the problem of different devices requiring subtitles in different formats (phones, tablets, smart TVs, PC etc) The industry has made similar steps in this regard to with agreeing industry standard subtitling formats (such as EBU-TT which the UK regulator recommends is adopted). BBC iPlayer have also subtitled content as the “norm” for years and have very detailed guidelines documented here. I haven’t found many other articles on this subject, but it would appear the iTunes platform in the US have taken responsibility – sort of. It’s not that the platform is saying it will take responsibility to provide closed captioning, but iTunes (US) will remove content supplied by providers if they have failed to include a closed captioning file. It’s an interesting tactic, but its a move that I feel reflects regulatory requirements in the US, rather than a bold statement from Apple that they will only accept accessible content. (If anyone disagree’s with this conclusion – please do comment).

    Blackboard with a chart written in chalk saying if not us who? if not now when? if not here where?

    VOD subtitles – whose responsibility is it?

    So, back to the question, whose responsibility is it, and what is the right way to ensure accessibility via subtitling and captioning is implemented for VOD services? It’s a question the FCC in the US asked, and also recently answered. The UK VOD industry currently does not have this clarity, and the regulator cannot set it. In the interest of full transparency I should point out to those who are reading who may not be aware, I’ve been employed by a broadcaster, and a platform in my career so far. Whilst I have some insight into the differing workflows – it doesn’t make the answer to the question any easier except to say if both work together (that is a platform makes sure it has no barriers to access and can support accessibility features, and a broadcaster can provide those features (e.g. provide subtitle files / audio description files with its video content), it can be solved. I don’t necessarily think its and either/or answer here. The responsibility probably lies with both. Yes, there are challenges which some broadcasters will face more than others, and there are some platforms that will find it easier to do than others (for various reasons: do they make their own programmes, do they buy them from other content providers, do they control the full end-to-end chain? Has the platform been built to support accessibility features or do they have to tackle that first? etc) But it is absolutely technically possible for any VOD service to provide an accessible service. We know that, there are good guys who have been doing this for ages. The question is, how time-critical is this goal considered to be by either one of these parties? If it even is a goal for those services which are not accessible? Why not set a (regulatory) target – no goal is ever reached without setting a deadline. And whatever well-meaning action is currently being taken by VOD services that are planning to add accessibility features, if you need them, the progress certainly does not feel fast enough. And that is why Action on Hearing Loss are continuing their #SubtitleIt campaign, encouraging anyone who relies on subtitles to enjoy VOD services to contact their TV providers. The charity will also be targeting those working in the VOD industry by giving a talk at the VOD Summit taking place in London next month.

     
    • Robyn Carter 1:45 pm on May 2, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Facing similar problems x 10 here

      Like

    • Probably shouldn't say 12:24 am on May 3, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I don’t believe that any such “stalemate” exists – in most cases the providers of VOD content are the same TV channels who already create and provide subtitles on their broadcast TV channels. The problem is wholly with the TV platform providers – Sky, Virgin, YouView, etc. I work for a VOD content provider and we have never been able to get the platform providers to accept subtitled content – they are just not interested.

      ATVOD failed because they pressured the content providers to provide subtitles, but ATVOD had no power over the platforms. If the platforms don’t provide the ability to carry subtitles (and AD) then no content provider can offer accessible content, end of story. This is why even BBC iPlayer content – accessible nearly everywhere else – has no subtitles or AD when viewed on-demand on Sky or the non-TiVo Virgin platform.

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      • iheartsubtitles 7:00 am on May 3, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks for your comment. I do believe it takes work from both content providers and platforms. It’s frustrating to hear that a content provider wants to be accessible but has difficulties in getting platforms to support accessibility features 😦

        Like

    • Dean 2:48 pm on May 10, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Another great article Dawn. This is such a contentious issue. Sadly, the technology is available for VOD content to carry subtitles but it’s difficult to get the platform providers to engage with it as there’s no legislation. Also frustrating is that my local MP when approached never backed the Action On Hearing Loss SubtitleIT campaign, and turned down my offer to talk to her about the available technology. I don’t see this happening any time soon.

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    • Nathalie 11:15 am on December 1, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Hello!

      I came across this blog because i am doing my thesis on music subtitling. You have lots of very interesting information here!
      I am looking for any info I can get on music genres in music subtitles. Would you be familiar with anything/any styleguide being used anywhere? Is there any “reference list” used anywhere, is this being practiced? I can’t really find anything in my world of academia..especially not in German subtitling (which is what I am looking into)
      I’d be happy for any help I can get.
      =D

      Like

  • iheartsubtitles 11:57 pm on January 16, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , UK, ,   

    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 4:00 pm on October 25, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , UK   

    #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 4:53 pm on November 14, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , UK   

    The Power of Accessibility: A Personal View from a Life-long Subtitling User 

    Below is a transcript of a presentation I gave to attendees at the 10th Languages & The Media Conference 2014 in Berlin. Thank you to the organisers for asking me to present.

    My name is Dawn and I run a blog and Twitter account on subtitling called i heart subtitles. And I currently work in broadcast TV so I think I understand both sides of the story. I both require access subtitling and I understand the challenges that have been overcome in the industry and challenges still to face.

    I was born in the early 80s in Oxford, England. I must have been in a hurry to get into this world because I was born three months premature and my hearing loss can be attributed to my early arrival. However it was not diagnosed until I was four years old. This meant that I was registered into a mainstream school and fitted with hearing aids and was never encouraged to learn sign language. I instinctively learnt to lip read as my parents discovered when I told them what a newsreader on TV was saying when the sound was turned down.

    A screenshot of a BBC Ceefax page (the BBC's version of Teletext)

    BBC Ceefax (the BBC’s version of Teletext)

    Image of a BBC1 Station Ident with 888 indicating subtitles are available.

    BBC1 Station Ident with 888 indicating subtitles are available.

    I first discovered subtitles for TV in the mid-90s when my parents acquired a new television with teletext facilities. Programmes that had subtitling were indicated by an 888 caption in the top right hand corner of the screen. 888 was the Teletext page number which provided subtitles

    Still of Neighbours opening credits from the 1990s

    Neighbours opening credits from the 1990s

    My earliest memories of subtitles are from an Australian soap opera called Neighbours and once I discovered them I never switched them off. However, this may surprise you, at first I found subtitles a bit depressing. Because it made me very aware of how much I was not hearing without them even with my hearing aids in and I took pride in coping in the hearing world. That quickly faded to loving them because it made TV viewing so much more relaxing. Hearing aids help a lot but wearing them is not the same experience as wearing glasses to help poor eyesight. I still unconsciously strain to hear everything – at work and at home all day . So to be able to rely on text and use my eyes to hear via subtitles is nothing short of amazing.

    A screenshot of Take That on Top of The Pops with subtitles.

    Take That on Top of The Pops with subtitles.

    In my teens subtitles gave me a peculiar benefit in that I could recite the words to the latest pop tunes which I had seen on a TV pop music chart show called Top of the Pops. If you’re a 90s music fan some of you may recognise the above screenshot of a subtitled Gary Barlow from the boyband Take That. I used to be and still am a big fan.

    In the mid 1990s I don’t remember seeing much, if any live subtitling for live television programmes. I always had the Teletext 888 subtitles page turned on. And so when programs without subtitles aired this would be indicated by a blue 888 icon showing on the top right of the screen. I used to refer to this as the “blue screen of death”. And I hated it seeing it because I knew it meant that I was going to struggle to follow what was going on throughout the rest of the programme.

    Seeing the “blue icon of death” instead of subtitles appearing left me feeling left out and frustrated so as a teenager I took my first steps in advocacy by supporting an RNID campaign to increase the amount of subtitled content on major UK channels. This small involvement in an effort from numerous parties led to the UK telecommunications regulator Ofcom, implementing the code on television access services.

    Seeing this change come about relatively quickly was the start of me maintaining an awareness of the issues surrounding SDH subtitling.

    By the end of the 90s/early noughties I had left home and gone to university. At that time real-time subtitling for university lectures was not available. However I had access to a note taker which certainly eased the task of picking up what was being said during lectures.

    During this time I also witnessed the move away from analogue to digital broadcast which I am happy to say had no negative impact on subtitling provision so far as I can remember as a subtitling user. It was also a time when VHS was being replaced by the DVD and blu-ray. As I am sure you are all aware, this had a hugely positive impact when it came to being able to access far more content that came with When I left university I got my first job in broadcasting. Both as a consumer and as a broadcast TV employee I have witnessed huge changes in the way we consume content, in particular the rise of video on demand (VOD) services. Some VOD providers are meeting the challenge of providing access to content via SDH subtitles despite no regulatory requirement to do so. For that I am grateful. However the majority do not and I find myself facing a blue icon of death in very different circumstances. I am not going to go too much into why I think this here today. But I have discussed this in various publications and on my blog.

    Screenshot of Twitter Image search results of #subtitlefail

    Twitter Image search results of #subtitlefail

    Instead I want to focus on another observation of change. Not only has the way we choose to watch content changed but the type of content has too. In particular traditional scheduled linear TV has seen a huge rise in the number of hours of live content. What was once limited to news and sport is now hundreds of hours of live entertainment programmes on prime-time TV. Format shows such as Big Brother, The X Factor, The Voice, Strictly Come Dancing and Dancing On Ice to name a few are shown as live broadcasts for months at a time.

    These shows are subtitled live and with the rise in social media attract a huge amount of public comments from viewers tweeting online as the show airs. The popularity of this sort of event TV viewing means subtitles and in particular live subtitling errors have attracted mainstream attention via social media. If you search the Twitter hashtag #subtitlefail you will see that much of the attention focuses on the hilarity of the errors and even I do often find them funny. What gets lost in translation sometimes is how lucky we are in the UK to have the volume of live subtitled TV content that we have. I won’t go into too much detail about how it’s done except to say there seems to be little mainstream awareness as to how live subtitling is produced and why errors occur. Again you can read more about this on my blog. I am hopeful that the technology behind it will continue to improve and improve faster in the next 10 years than it has in the last 10.

    Screenshot of BBC Genome project website

    BBC Genome project website

    Taking a pause for a minute, I’d like to reflect on how far we’ve come in the UK. Recently the BBC made available a TV and radio channel listings search facility called Genome.

    The first entry for subtitling came in March 1975 on BBC2. This was a subtitled opera programme and so doesn’t really count as access subtitling. Second entry was June 1975. On BBC1 a series called I See What You Mean. The synopsis states: “A series for hearing impaired people and in this episode a studio audience discusses a preview of Ceefax a new BBC technical development which provides some exciting possibilities for the subtitling of programmes for the deaf and hard of hearing.” It seems so understated!

    The next four entries were again subtitled opera and we have to wait until February 1977 for BBC2’s News On 2 Headlines with subtitles for the hard of hearing.

    In March 1980 the momentum begins when on BBC1 Life on Earth, a David Attenborough program is subtitled. By the end of 1981 subtitling of BBC programmes for the hard of hearing was just starting to slowly expand a little bit more.

    Coming back to the present day. Since working in the broadcast industry and seeing the operational workflow involved in getting a TV channel to air and attending industry events, I’m excited by the business benefits SDH subtitles can bring particularly in regards to metadata and search engine optimisation. I hope online Video On Demand providers are listening to this. Again you can read more about this subject on my blog.

    So SDH subtitles – why does it matter? The obvious answer is that it’s the right thing to do, to include all members of society. It should be the only answer required for businesses to act but often times it is not and that’s why I’m grateful for regulation in the UK. But to talk about regulation somehow dehumanises it all that’s the crux of it.

    You might think giving access to a trashy entertainment programme is trivial but it’s really not. It’s about the positive social impact that this access goes on to have.

    You remember earlier on I spoke about Neighbours and Top of the Pops as being early subtitle memories. The reason is because these TV shows were a talking point in the school playground and because they were subtitled it meant I could join in with such conversations about Neighbours plot points or I would know the lyrics of a song that has aired on Top of the Pops and subsequently could bond with a schoolmate over the latest chart music. My life could have been much lonelier.

    To give another example, in my first year at university I stayed in hall of residents but my TV reception in my room was so poor I struggled to get reliable subtitles. But not wanting to miss my favourite soap I plucked up the courage to ask my neighbour if I could watch EastEnders with her on her TV which had better reception. She happily obliged and we got to know each other quite well. This friendship that started over sharing a TV and watching a subtitled programme has stood the test of time and we remain close friends.

    Such social impacts are hard to measure but are not to be underestimated.

    Today I live and work in London and advocate for subtitling in all forms of media. The UK is one of the few countries that has open SDH subtitles in cinemas and whilst there are limitations with screening times this is a fantastic result and resource to have. I have also spent the last year volunteering for a charity called STAGETEXT which provide open captions for live theatre as well as talks and lectures in art galleries and museums across the UK.

    I’m excited about where else we can see SDH subtitles being provided. There are various companies offering live subtitles for lectures, talks at conferences, and meetings in the workplace. And you can access this live real-time subtitling through PCs, laptops, tablets smart phones and even Google Glass.

    There are always improvements to be made and battles to be won with access to audiovisual media via SDH subtitles. Some of the biggest challenges are the direct result of new technologies but I remain hopeful that new technology will also provide some of the solutions.

    To anyone who has ever typed, spoken, edited, or QC’d subtitles. Or if you have built and contributed to technologies that allow me to switch the subtitles on I thank you for doing so. Thank you for your patience and indulgence. I hope you enjoyed my story.

    Sound label subtitles image saying CHEERS AND APPLAUSE.

     
    • Michelle 6:13 pm on November 14, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Wow! Turns out we have similar parellels in our lives! Although I was born in the 70s, like you I was probably born deaf due to complications but not diagnosed until 3 years old, and was in mainstream school most of my education! We got our first teletext tv in 1982 and I can remember all the first milestones of the various programmes – Cornation STreet, Grange Hill, Neighbours, Top of the Tops, Auf Weidershein Pet, Olympics, Doctor Who, Wimbledon and the list goes on!! I remember the first subtitled episode of Neighbours, we were on holiday at the time and we had to get back to the caravan especially to watch it!! Subtitles enhanced my social life at school too, especially in the playground as we talked about last nights episode!

      I do feel that a lot of people who have had subtitles all their lives (and the sheer volume) take it for granted and dont appreciate how slow progress can be. It took a long time to get to the stage where the terrestrial channels would subtitle a huge amount of their content, and that is exactly how it is for Satelite and VOD services. We cant have it all at once (as much as I would love that!) it has to be gradual. I accept that. What isnt acceptable is when they seem to make no effort at all and not bother with any percentage at all.

      Anyhow, I loved your blog and glad you shared it 🙂

      Like

    • Sabrina 8:35 pm on November 14, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Great post, Dawn! Congratulations, and thank you for this informative and candid story. 🙂

      Like

    • Claude Almansi 11:35 pm on November 14, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you, Dawn. Your post is very instructive for me as non-deaf.
      Best,
      Claude

      Like

  • iheartsubtitles 12:25 pm on July 24, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , UK   

    Invisible Subtitled Live Theatre – Trial in the UK 

    Giojax, the company using 3D technology to create invisible subtitles for use by cinemas have just announced that the same technology is to be trialled in the theatre.

    Originally set up as a crowd-funded business, the now private company with private investors is running a trial of the invisible subtitles technology to subtitle a musical in October this year.

    The principle is the same as for the cinema. Audience members who wish to see the captions running during the live performance can wear 3D glasses and view the subtitles via a box situated on the theatre stage. The subtitles will be in English and is aimed as a solution to provide subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing so should not be confused with translation subtitles or surtitles that you may have seen at opera performances.

    If you are interested in trying this technology out, the trial will take place on Saturday October 4th at the matinée performance at the Harlow Theatre for the Barry Manilow musical Copacabana:

    Her name was Lola, she was showgirl… So begins this tale of romance and stardom that has captivated audiences in the West End, Atlantic City and on-screen across the US. With sensational original songs by Barry Manilow, dazzling costumes and fabulous choreography is a show that will leave you breathless. Featuring hits such as Dancin Fool, Who Needs To Dream, Aye Caramba, and of course the Grammy award-winning Copacabana, this is a show sure to have you humminh the tunes all the way home. Harlow Playhouse is proud to present the premiere of Barry Manilow’s revised version of the original show for 2014.

    For more information on the musical and to purchase tickets visit the Harlow Playhouse website.

    For more information on 3D subtitles technology please visit the Giojax web page.

    And if anyone is wondering, the 3D Invisible Subtitles for cinemas project is still under way, testing took place earlier this year in Milton Keynes and the next stage is to finalise the software for the cinemas.

     
    • Mamtha 11:04 am on December 6, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      We are experienced in Video/Audio Transcription and subtitling, kindly give us opportunity to work as a vendor for your company.

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

    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 2:24 pm on April 28, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , UK,   

    Subtitling and Captioning Campaigns 

    Spring has arrived, and with it seems to be some new campaigns on the horizon relating to subtitling advocacy. It seems more people are getting frustrated at the lack of captioning or subtitling that is available to them or at least have become more vocal about it online in an attempt to create change.

    Just before Christmas last year, @sjmcdermid and @lovesubtitles spearheaded a change.org petition aimed at Amazon providing subtitling information and subtitles to their video on demand services. Formerly called LOVEFiLM the company has since rebranded to Amazon Prime Instant Video presumably to match the brand in other countries. The petition gained a huge number of signatures but what is truly disappointing is the lack of response from Amazon themselves.

    Another campaigner has set up a different petition, this one aimed in the direction of BSKYB requesting subtitles be added to their video on demand offerings.

    UPDATE: And another subtitling campaigner based in the UK is @whatshesay76 who has just launched a website.

    It seems TV viewers in Ireland are not happy with the levels of subtitling offered to them by RTE, TV3, Setanta,TnaG and TG4. @SubtitleIreland have set up a Facebook page publishing responses to their enquiries as to why more content is not subtitled.

    UPDATE: Robyn, got in touch to alert me to captioning campaign in New Zealand aimed at increasing the volume of broadcast output that is currently subtitled. The campaign called Caption It NZ has a blog and Facebook page. You can also follow them on Twitter @captionitNZ

    Not to be outdone by individuals efforts to advocate, there has also been some activity with corporate backed campaigns.

    Firstly the crowd sourced subtitled content platform @Viki has teamed up with @MarleeMatlin to launch the #billionwords campaign advocating for more subtitling globally in more languages.

    And @121Captions is behind the @CaptionEverything campaign which has just recently launched.

    Have I missed any? Are there other’s you know about? Comment below and I can update this blog post to include it.

    Finally, it’s worth noting that wherever you are based in the world the CCAC for several years and has helped run and/or contributed to advocacy campaigns to get captioning in all sorts of scenarios – in schools, at work, online, at church, online and so on. Their most recent campaign surrounds the US Election and captioning election campaigns, but its members and participants consists of both users of captions and providers of captioning services spanning the globe.

     
    • MM 6:13 pm on April 28, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      We cannot mount an honest captioning campaign whilst the sign user has an legal opt out to them. we have to show we are willing too.

      Like

    • messagesfromouterspace 1:11 am on April 30, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Yes – You’ve missed the one in NZ. #CaptionitNZ We only have 23% of captioning on our television, none on internet, and only a small percentage of DVDs. No wonder people turn to pirating.

      OUr blog is http://www.captionitnz.co.nz We have a facebook page https://www.facebook.com/captionitnz

      Please join in and help – we need all we can get 🙂

      Like

    • Tina 9:46 am on May 3, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Hi Dawn, Thanks for the mention! Would you like to help support the Caption Everything campaign? I believe an email came in from you but I can’t find it. Please contact me or help yourself to the logo.

      Like

  • iheartsubtitles 5:30 pm on December 13, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , UK   

    The Killing – Christmas Jumper Day (with subtitles) #xmasjumperday 

    Today is Christmas jumper day in the UK. A charity campaign from Save The Children. Check out this video of a clip of popular subtitled Danish series The Killing also with its own ‘translation’ subtitles:

    Hope it made you smile! Maybe not if you understand the original language, but I love the idea for the campaign.

     
    • Funny Video 8:00 pm on January 5, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I tried to stop but this stuff makes me laugh over and over again. Its really very funny

      Like

      • Ripley Trout 7:07 pm on March 1, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Nice one. Particularly liked the line “I look like a loser while you ponce about like a Christmas tree”. All so much better for the seriousness of the original show.

        Like

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

    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
    Tags: , , , , UK   

    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

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