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


    • 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.


      • 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 😦


    • 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.


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


      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.


    • Jodene Antoniou 9:35 am on June 7, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Hi Dawn, nice article!

      I believe a lot of the issues really come down to price. There is a huge gap in the market between incredibly cheap automated subtitling which is of a very poor quality and subtitles that are written by professionals but are incredibly expensive.

      Converting between subtitle formats is relatively simple with professional software and subtitles should be supported on most platforms. Most companies, including the BBC are shifting away from EBU-STL subtitles and more into Timed Text that can be used on more platforms. But supplying subtitles for all formats is still a cost and it’s far too tempting for providers to choose not to save money and not use VoD subtitles when still not all platforms support them.

      I have a son who has moderate hearing loss, and run a subtitling and closed captioning company, http://www.capitalcaptions.com. Our subtitles are ALWAYS written by professionals but offered at reasonable prices in order to encourage more TV providers to utilise them for all formats. But without the platform providers also taking responsibility soon, real changes are going to take a very long time.


  • 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 2:24 pm on April 28, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    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.


    • 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 🙂


    • 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.


  • iheartsubtitles 7:31 pm on December 1, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    Information Safety Video – Virgin America #VXsafetydance 

    Thanks to @mxincredible for alerting me to this. Think safety videos for air flights are boring? Take a look at this one from Virgin America with some great visuals used in the subtitles:

  • iheartsubtitles 10:09 am on September 12, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    SMPTE Internet Captioning Webcast 

    This webcast posted by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) is a good introduction to current US captioning regulatory requirements and new requirements due to come into play in the USA. All US broadcasters must caption content online that has previously been broadcast on linear TV by the end of this month. This includes pre-recorded content that has been edited for broadcast online. By March 2014, this also applies to live and near live content. Whilst the webcast is US-Centric the technical problems and solutions it discusses around captioning formats for online, and multi-platform broadcast content is relevant to all global broadcasters. The webcast covers both pre-recorded/block style captioning as well as live subtitling. It is captioned and you can view it below:

  • iheartsubtitles 9:15 pm on July 9, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    CEA – UK published report on cinema subtitling technology and my experience in the USA 

    Back in March 2013, some, including myself were lucky enough to take part in a trial to test some personalised technology that provides subtitles to cinemas. The trial took place in London and was organised by the Cinema Exhibitors Association and they have now published the results to those that attended. I have summarised the main points below:

    The project was designed to gather:

    • Findings from a demonstration of four of the leading CC technologies for interested industry partners;
    • Initial and headline structured feedback from a small sample of people with varying degrees of hearing loss on their experience of using the systems;
    • And preliminary feedback from an operator perspective on the potential management, practical and technical considerations around each of the systems.

    The suppliers and products involved were:

    • Doremi – Captiview for CC, and Fidelio for audio description (AD) and hearing assist.
    • Sony – Entertainment Access Glasses (SEAG) for CC and connecting headphones for AD and hearing assist.
    • USL – Captionwear glasses and screens for CC and connecting headphones for AD and hearing assist.

    While the AD functionalities of the products were part of the industry showcase, the audience screenings concentrated solely on CC, that being the technology which offers something completely new for customers.

    For more details read the CEA’s published report. Now that this detail has finally been released I can talk more freely about the device I got to test. I was given the Captiview device to watch the movie Wreck It Ralph. The good thing about it was that the subtitles worked, were pretty accurate with the exception of a few letters dropping of the ends of words at the end of a line on the screen. They were easy to follow for someone used to reading subtitles but trying to watch the action on screen is much harder and so the movie experience itself was not as immersive as it would’ve been through no fault of the movie itself. More recently whilst on holiday in the United States I got to use the device again in a real screening for Iron Man 3:

    I got a few strange looks from some people in the cinema who clearly hadn’t seen this device being used before but that didn’t bother me. What did bother me was the fact that I couldn’t get the device positioned correctly. Why? Because the device is supposed to sit in the cup holder on your seat. Except in this cinema it didn’t fit correctly. This made it an even worse experience than during the trial where the device was fitted for me and correctly before sitting in my seat. Again whilst the subtitles were accurate, it’s the practicality of using the device that left me feeling a bit disheartened by it all. For a start, collecting a device at the point that you purchase the ticket, and then having to carry it around. It is not very heavy but it is bulky. Trying to juggle carrying that whilst also purchasing popcorn, and then what if you want a toilet visit prior to being allowed into the cinema to take your seat? What do you do with the piece of kit you are carrying around? (I hope the cinema’s that provide these devices consider hygiene and that they are wiped clean after each use).

    Back in the UK and open subtitled cinema screenings has been a bit of mixed bag. I failed to get to see Star Trek into Darkness with subtitles because the advertised subtitled screening I wanted to go to got cancelled. More recently though I did get to successfully go to a subtitled screening of Man Of Steel. A life long fan of Superman, Man of Steel is actually the first ever Superman-related subtitled cinema screening I have attended. To be able to hear all the dialogue prior to the movies DVD release and turning on the subtitles months after struggling to watch it without is a complete joy and something I suspect hearing people take for granted (I can’t tell you the number of movies I’ve re-watched on DVD with the subtitles on after its cinema release to find myself thinking ‘Oh, so that’s what they said, now I get it!’).

    Will the UK see personalised subtitling solutions in cinemas? The CEA don’t have an answer for that just yet. Since the feedback from the trials was mixed and sometimes conflicting I hope that there are more trials to come before committing to the right technological solution. The CEA have said that if/when there is further progress they will make this known so keep an eye on the CEA website.

    • Richard Turner 10:19 pm on July 9, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Great blog. I do feel in the future that personalised captioning is the only way that cinema will become fully accessible. However it is work in progress.


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


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

      Thanks for the info Larry. Good to know.


  • iheartsubtitles 12:29 pm on January 23, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    Film & Television Awards Season and subtitles 

    Awards season for the film and television industries has started already.Last week was the Golden Globes during which a rather rambling speech from Jodie Foster in which she came out received a fair amount of media coverage. Here’s the real transcript For Funny Or Die’s truncated Foster’s speech:

    Robert [Downey Jr], I want to thank you for everything: for your bat-crazed, rapid-fire brain, the sweet intro. I love you and Susan and tonight I feel like the prom queen. Thank you. Looking at all those clips, you know, the hairdos and the freaky platform shoes, it’s like a home-movie nightmare that just won’t end, and I guess I have a sudden urge to say something that I’ve never really been able to air in public. So, a declaration that I’m a little nervous about but maybe not quite as nervous as my publicist right now, huh Jennifer? But I’m just going to put it out there, right? Loud and proud, right? So I’m going to need your support on this. I am single. Yes I am, I am single. No, I’m kidding — but I mean I’m not really kidding, but I’m kind of kidding. I mean, thank you for the enthusiasm. Can I get a wolf whistle or something? Jesus. Seriously, I hope you’re not disappointed that there won’t be a big coming-out speech tonight because I already did my coming out about a thousand years ago …. if you’d had to fight for a life that felt real and honest and normal against all odds, then maybe you too might value privacy above all else. Privacy. Some day, in the future, people will look back and remember how beautiful it once was. I have given everything up there from the time that I was three years old…There are a few secrets to keeping your psyche intact over such a long career. The first, love people and stay beside them. That table over there, 222, way out in Idaho, Paris, Stockholm and of course, Mel Gibson. You know you save me too. There is no way I could ever stand here without acknowledging one of the deepest loves of my life, my heroic co-parent, my ex-partner in love but righteous soul sister in life, my confessor, ski buddy, consigliere, most beloved BFF of 20 years, Cydney Bernard. …Well, I may never be up on this stage again, on any stage for that matter. Change, you gotta love it. …I want to be seen, to be understood deeply and to be not so very lonely. Thank you, all of you, for the company. Here’s to the next 50 years.

    Now watch the speech with Funny Or Die’s amusing ‘translation subtitles’ by clicking on the link below:

    For a more serious analysis of the speech, read this article.

    Sticking to serious but still on the topic of subtitles and the awards season, there was an interesting article published by The Observer claiming that the nomination of ‘Best Picture’ for Austrian film Amour indicates a growing acceptability into the mainstream for subtitled films:

    Academy voters appear to be hinting at a new openness to other cultures and the growing acceptability of subtitled entertainment. “It really is unusual for a foreign language film to do this well and to be nominated in two other main categories too, for best adapted screenplay and best director,” said Charles Gant, film editor of Heat magazine.

    Not since Clint Eastwood’s Letters from Iwo Jima, shot almost entirely in Japanese, was nominated in 2007 and Ang Lee’s action-packed Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in 2001 has a work in another language stood as an equal next to the best of English language cinematic storytelling.

    Audiences in Britain in particular are responding to the growing accessibility of high-quality foreign films, which are easier to access at home now.

    Critically rated television shows such as the French series Spiral, Hatufim – the Israeli show Homeland is based on – the Sicilian Inspector Montalbano, and BBC Four’s smorgasbord of Scandinavian shows, The Killing, The Bridge and Borgen, have allowed British audiences to appreciate foreign entertainment. Home delivery services such as Love Film, Apple TV’s iTunes, Netflix and Curzon On Demand mean that viewers can download and stream new and classic foreign titles on a whim, rather than seeking out a DVD. “There was previously a real access problem for this kind of film,” recalls Gant. “There was a short run at your local cinema, and that was your only chance.”

    Changes in technology have helped at the cinema as well as at home, Gant said. “Digital projection now means cinema programmers have a lot more flexibility. They don’t just have to run a film for a week now. And with Curzon on Demand they are actually offering people the chance to see foreign films at home on the day of release.”…..Gant suspects the increasing use of computers and phones for social media means that resistance to reading type while relaxing has disappeared, making subtitles less frightening.

    SOURCE: The Observer

    On a related note, be sure to read Lipreading Mom’s blog post on her reports of watching Best Picture Academy Award nominee’s in US cinemas in captioned performances with various technology options on offer:

    Lipreading Mom's Nominees for Best Captioned Oscar Movie Are….

    • sgrovesuss 12:50 am on January 24, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you for your excellent articles about quality captioning. Stay tuned for the next and final installment in my Best Captioned Oscar Movie blog series at LipreadingMom.com. Blessings!

      Shanna / LipreadingMom.com


  • iheartsubtitles 2:35 pm on January 9, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    CSI User Experience Conference 2012 Part 5 – Broadcast subtitles and captions formats 

    CSI User Experience Conference 2012: TV Accessibility

    CSI User Experience Conference 2012: TV Accessibility

    For background info on this conference read:Part 1.

    Frans de Jong, a senior engineer for European Broadcasting Union (EBU) gave a presentation on the history of work and current work being done to ensure standardised subtitle formats as broadcast technology evolves whilst ensuring that legacy formats are still support and compatible. The subtitle format evolved from teletext technology STL has evolved to a format called EBU-TT Part I. Jong explained:

    We have published this year (2012) EBU-TT part one. This is the follow up specification for that old format (STL). It takes into account that nowadays we like to define things in XML and not in binary format because its human readable, and because there many people who read XML…and of course nowadays [broadcast] its all file based, network facilities. Because if you look at the way that subtitles are produced, this a very generic sketch, typically it comes from somewhere, external company or internal department, can be based on existing formats, then it goes into some central content management system. Afterwards it archived and of course its broadcast at a certain moment, then provided to several of the platforms on right. This list of platforms growing. Analogue TV, digital TV, now there’s HDTV, iPlayer, we have IPTV streaming platforms all these platforms have their own specific way of doing subtitling. But in the production side we have for a long time being using STL and also proprietary formats based on them or newly developed. There’s several places where this format is useful but we felt we had to update that format to make sure we can fulfill the requirements of today. That is HD TV and the different web platforms mainly. So the new format published was focusing on that, very aware of web format, but focused in our case on production. Our goal is to really optimise the production, to help the broadcasters get their infrastructure up-to-date.

    The EBU-TT format is not a stand-alone invention and is based on W3C Timed Text (TTML) but restricts the featureset, makes default values explicit, and adds (legacy STL) metadata. Similar work has been done in the US by SMPTE with the captioning format SMPTE-TT. This captioning standard received an honor from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) —a Chairman’s Award for Advancement in Accessibility last month:

    The FCC declared the SMPTE Timed Text standard a safe harbor interchange and delivery format in February. As a result, captioned video content distributed via the Internet that uses the standard will comply with the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, a recently enacted law designed to ensure the accessibility, usability, and affordability of broadband, wireless, and Internet technologies for people with disabilities.

    SOURCE: TV Technology

    The EBU are currently working on EBU-TT Part II which will include a guide to ensuring ‘upgrading’ STL legacy subtitle files and how they can be converted to EBU-TT file. This is due to be published early this year. Looking further ahead Jong’s said:

    There is also a third part coming up, that is now in the requirements phase, that’s on live subtitling. Several countries, and the UK is certainly leading, are working with live subtitling. The infrastructure for this and the standards used are not very mature, which means there is room also to use this format to come to a live subtitle specification. We will provide a user guide with examples…One word maybe again about live subtitling that’s coming up. What we did here is we had a workshop in the summer in Geneva at the EBU. We discussed the requirements with many broadcasters, what would you need this type of format. There are about 30 requirements. Some of the things that came up for example, is that it would be really good if there is a technical situation for routing, if I am subtitling for one channel maybe 10 minutes later I could be subtitling for another channel – to make sure that the system knows the what channel I am working for and that its not the wrong channel. And you need some data in the format that was used. Again the issue of enriching the work you are working on with additional information, description and speaker ID.

    To conclude the presentation Jong’s discussed his views on future technology and the next steps for subtitling including automated subtitles and quality control:

    There is an idea we could be much more abstract in how we author subtitle in the future. We understand that the thought alone can be quite disrupting for a lot of people in current practice because it’s far from current practice. Just to say we’re thinking about the future after this revision. I think later we’ll see on more advanced methods for subtitling, there is a lot of talk about automation and semi-automation. I think it was a week ago that You Tube released their automated subtitling with speech recognition, at least in the Dutch language. I am from Holland originally, I was pretty impressed by the amount of errors! … It’s a big paradox. You could argue that Google (owners of You Tube) has the biggest corpus of words and information probably of all of us.. if they make so many (automated subtitles/captions) mistakes how can we ever do better in our world? For the minority languages there is no good automated speech recognition software. If you ask TVP for example, the Polish broadcaster, how they do live subtitling, they say we would love to use speech recognition but we can’t find good enough software. In the UK it’s a lot better. It’s a real issue when you are talking about very well orchestrated condition and even there it doesn’t exist. I am really curious how this will develop.

  • iheartsubtitles 4:11 pm on October 31, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , USA   

    Captioning, subtitling and SEO and the second screen 

    If you’ve read the about page you’ll know that one of the aims of this blog is to highlight how subtitles and captioning are not just an accessibility aid. One context that it keeps coming up in is in the discussion of online content and search engine optimisation (SEO).

    This is important to internet marketing because getting your website high up the search engine results list means more prospective customers and web hits. According to Wikipedia:

    As an Internet marketing strategy, SEO considers how search engines work, what people search for, the actual search terms or keywords typed into search engines and which search engines are preferred by their targeted audience. Optimizing a website may involve editing its content, HTML and associated coding to both increase its relevance to specific keywords and to remove barriers to the indexing activities of search engines. Promoting a site to increase the number of backlinks, or inbound links, is another SEO tactic.

    SOURCE: Search Engine Optimization

    More and more website content is video. The problem is unlike text,a search engine cannot automatically read online video content to determine if the video content is relevant to a search term someone carries out. The solution? Yes you guessed it – adding closed captions or subtitles. This text can be read by a search engine and ensures that the video content is not missed out or lost during a web search. There have been numerous articles explaining this benefit (here’s one, and here’s another) so this makes me wonder why the heck don’t we see more content online with captions or subtitles available? There are premium services offering captioning within this context such as Speaker Text’s Caption Box* They point out that using their service of adding captions allows a viewer to point to a particular area of the video and share easily on social network sites.

    Recently I came across some interesting services that are taking this concept a step further. The Internet Archive website has launched a service TV News – Search Borrow. It’s a search engine that trawls the closed captions of online news videos (currently predominantly US channels) and displays the results. Here’s what I searched:

    TV News - Search Borrow

    Search results using closed captioning from the query ‘binders full of women’ from a recent US Presidential debate.

    I like this is a lot, and it seems others are wondering if this is “The Newest Technology That Could Transform Internet Media” There is also tveeder live stream which highlights closed captioning taken from Australia’s ABC News 24 . What I like about this feed is that it displays different speakers in different coloured text. Another live stream of captioning online is Opened Captions which streams the live captioning coming from TV channel C-SPAN. I encourage you to read this blog entry from its creator for his suggestions on some creative and clever things it could be used for. It is interesting also to discover that researchers working on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show are using a software application that searches the text from closed captioning of C-SPAN and news programs to find keywords and phrases that politicians probably want to forget.

    It’s not just TV programme researchers using it, TV broadcasters are constantly trying to come up with new ways to embrace the relatively new trend of the second screen. Research shows more and more television viewers are using a second screen (such as a computer or a smart phone) to compliment their TV viewing. Boxfish is an iOS app that searches the the closed captions from US cable and local broadcast stations and indexes and analyses all this data in real time. The result is presented as a constantly updating stream of trends and topics. I haven’t used this myself yet but you can read a review and see screen shots in this article.

    *This is not an endorsement, and there are others out there. Go research! And of course, there are numerous free resources that allow anyone to add captioning or subtitles to online content.

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