How often are sirens described as wailing in closed captioning? What else do sirens do in closed captioning other than wail? Does it matter?
Subtitles in foreign language films don't have to be visually boring, uninspiring, or ugly. But too often, that's exactly what they are.
Each sustained sound in the closed caption track creates a sonic timeline that continues to persist until it is terminated through a change in visual context or a stop caption.
When the same nonspeech caption is repeatedly associated with a specific character or recurring context, it comes to serve as a kind of leitmotif for that character or context.
Comparing the default yellow closed captions on Hulu.com with the yellow color of the animated characters on The Simpsons.
Check out Reading Sounds, my new book on closed captioning. The supplemental website at ReadingSounds.net includes all of the video examples discussed in the book.
Do you watch closed-captioned programming regularly? Take this anonymous survey
designed to measure viewers’ assessments of caption quality.
An email I received recently from a professional captioner. Posted with permission.
How writing homogenizes speech and how the non-speech manner caption attempts to re-embody speech...
Sometimes, punctuation in captions can provide important clues about what's going to happen, regardless of how well or poorly timed the captions are.
Speaker IDs can humanize nameless characters...
On the importance of verbatim captioning, especially when names are involved.
Examples of fictional characters breaking through the fourth wall...
Recurring sounds on TV shows allow us to explore questions of consistency and accuracy in closed captioning.
Closed captioners don't caption sounds in isolation. They caption shows.
Interview participants needed. Must have experience with offline/prerecorded closed captioning. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
On the need to consider differences among varieties of English when captioning non-speech sounds...
In some well-defined situations, silence must be captioned.
When a character's accent is meaningful or when a scene or line of dialogue hinges on how a character speaks, manner of speech needs to be indicated in the closed captions.
Does logocentric thinking shape closed captioning practices?
In the case of captioned wordplay, the difference between writing and speaking, text and sound, is obvious.
Inspired by the notion of dramatic irony, I offer a definition of "captioned irony."
Should poems and other quoted material be captioned as they were originally written?
Should a running gag be captioned the same way each time it occurs?
How should cultural allusions be closed captioned?
What would closed captions be like if diehard fans were in charge of captioning their favorite shows?
What if closed captions were bought and sold as a form of product placement?
When speaker IDs, musical lyrics, and sound descriptions have their own distinctive stylistic treatments, they can be extracted from closed caption files and studied as separate units of discourse.
An analysis of three captions from Shaun of the Dead (2004) suggests how sound descriptions need to be informed by the sounds and captions that surround them. In this case, "moaning" is suggested as a better fit than "groaning."
An analysis of one scene from Moon (2009) starring Sam Rockwell. The scene's captions make use of Speaker IDs to identify speakers who are off-screen. But in doing so, the Speaker IDs fill in a major piece of the narrative puzzle.
Recently, I conducted an informal survey of two hours of TV in an effort to track which and how many ads were closed captioned.
Speakers don't need to spell things out for caption viewers when these viewers can read it for themselves at the bottom of the screen. Speakers only need to spell it out for those audio-only viewers who don't have the added benefit of reading.
Captioning is not always a simple transcription of what speakers are objectively saying. In some cases, captions are intended to reflect what the protagonist subjectively hears.
A screencast on how to use SMIL to make video accessible to users who are blind or have low vision. The screencast also makes use of an interactive transcript.
An analysis of five sounds from Curb Your Enthusiasm (Season 2) that should have been captioned. Only dialogue is captioned in this season of Curb on DVD.
Closed captions can help viewers recognize themes and patterns in movies that might otherwise remain latent.
Having closed captions is always better than not having them at all. But sloppy captions -- that is, captions that are misspelled, ignore rules of capitalization, or are simply illegible in one way or another (low contrast, too small, all caps) -- show a lack of respect for viewers who use them.
If viewers can't read the foreign language subtitles, they are worthless. Subtitles that are encoded onto the video track itself (so-called "hard subs") need to be large in size with high contrast.
How many words do you need to know to be able to host a national morning show? Captioned speech provides the foundation for this parody video.
Speaker IDs are only necessary when it's not clear visually or from the context which person is speaking. A Speaker ID is not needed in this Windows 7 commercial.
Scratching sounds play a prominent role in this episode from Curb Your Enthusiasm. But because they are not captioned, the full significance of the episode is only available to hearing viewers.
When sounds in the background are captioned, they come forward. All sounds become equally "loud" on the caption track.
Which sounds are significant? How does the captioner choose which sounds to caption? Are some captions unnecessary? Why isn't it possible to caption every sound in the environment?
How should gasps, groans, sighs, grunts, scoffs, moans, pants and other assorted "breathy" sounds be captioned? When should they be captioned? What's the difference between them? Why does it matter?
Humor depends on timing and delivery. Captions should be sensitive to what comedy requires.
Are there options for signaling the tempo and mood of wordless music aside from the traditional musical note?
Movie captions should never reveal information prematurely. In this example, the captions give away a key plot detail before the narrative is ready to do so.
Over the last ten days, the percentage of full episodes and movies with closed captions on Hulu has actually gone down. Overall, that percentage of cc content is embarrassingly low, hovering at around 4.5% for full episodes and 6.5% for movies — and appears to be on the way down.
In this example, captioned music lyrics draw meaning out of hiding as the backchannel breaks through into the viewer's consciousness.
Caption users sometimes know what’s happening before the characters themselves. In this way, captions tell the future.
In this example, the caption user recognizes a heartbeat before the non-caption user that because the bad guy's captioned sentence is unfinished ("We can nego-"), he will be shot before he can finish saying "negotiate."
An analysis of attempts by fans to make audible the whisper at the end of Lost in Translation.
Every feature-length movie distributed over the Internet needs to be closed captioned. That goes without saying. But there's a special category of movie -- the low-budget cheesy feature -- that may be inaccessible to all viewers if the movie's production values are not sufficiently high.
Closed captions, when done well, provide access to dialogue and other important sounds for those who need them. But captions have the potential to do much more. Captions can make visible those layers of meaning that may not be readily available on the uncaptioned surface of things.
Videos need to be closed captioned from the moment the first movie logo appears on the screen, particularly in cases where theme music or other important sounds are playing over the logos of movie studios such as Warner Bros Pictures.
On Saturday at the 2009 Masters, TV captions were just as likely to be placed at the top as at the bottom of the screen. When captions are placed at the bottom, so much of the action is obscured. Bottom captions make for a miserable, frustrating viewing experience.
On February 19th, the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) filed a complaint in California Superior Court against the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) alleging that the LSAC's website is inaccessible to blind users. To date, the NFB’s press release is dominating the rhetorical landscape — indeed, the one-sided press release is passing for objective...
In “Virtually Accessible,” a short article published in the Spring 2009 issue of Access: The inclusive design journal, Diane Carr reports on protests that erupted in Second Life among deaf and hard-of-hearing users when in 2007 “Second Life’s developers added a feature enabling residents to speak verbally to each other using microphones.” What’s especially interesting about...
Alex Reid has some interesting things to say about the “disposable” nature of web video. In a video response to a post by Paul Bradshaw at Online Journalism Blog, Reid considers the value and nature of web video at a time when anyone can create, store, edit, remix, mod, share, and delete video cheaply and...
I'd be interested in seeing the results (if any) of usability tests for NBC.com
's video player
, which has built-in support for closed captioning on full episodes. Captions are displayed on the right side of the video player and automatically scroll either up or down. Rather than occupying a layer within (or on top...
I just finished an article-length webtext on accessible podcasting. The webtext 1) is a critique of the dominant approach to podcasting, an approach that assumes (mistakenly) that everyone involved can hear, see, and move well enough to manipulate a mouse, and 2) describes a set of solutions for making podcasts (both audio and video) universally...
While browsing Hulu.com the other day, I caught a glimpse (on the site’s scrolling image bar) of what looked like a cochlear implant attached to the head of a contestant on American Gladiators. Because I have an ongoing interest in how deafness and cochlear implants are visually and discursively constructed in the media, I located...
YouTube recently added support for video annotations and in-video links. Three types of annotations are supported: speech bubbles, notes, and spotlights. As Bill Creswell rightly pointed out a couple days ago, YouTube’s implementation is similar to what users can do with “bubbles” on BubblePly.com. One key difference is that YouTube’s annotations do not fully capitalize...
On the subject of captioned programming on the Web, Closed Captioning Web suggests in a recent blog post that More major network channels are setting up video players on their sites..and the good news is, the players show captions! More and more captioned programming is now available through Fox.com (read the review at Disabled in the Digital...
Mainstream discourse about podcasting rarely discusses the affordances of the body. It rarely makes explicit the minimum requirements for participating, at the level of embodiment, or the bodily differences among users and producers that threaten to exclude some people from profitably using web audio and video. Instead, mainstream discourse about podcasting tends to assume a...
So I’ve been thinking about audio description as technical communication, and in particular the value that an audio description assignment might have for technical communication undergrads. According to the BBC’s Ouch!, audio description is an extra audio commentary for blind or partially sighted people. When there is a gap in the dialogue on TV or...
We all know how terribly unreliable and inaccurate TV captions can be. On the local TV news in my area (Lubbock, TX), the captions are usually pretty good because the written transcript being fed through the teleprompter is also used for captioning. Problems with captions occur when announcers ad-lib, for example during sports and weather segments. On the...
“Dozens” of “electro-sensitive” residents of Santa Fe want a ban placed on public wireless signals because the signals are allegedly causing allergic reactions in people with radio wave allergies. Sufferers of “electro-smog” reportedly experience various degrees of sickness, including chest pains lasting a couple days. According to USA Today, The [TV] station says Firstenberg and...