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Closed Captioning In Web Video?

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the obvious-improvement dept.

Television 164

mforbes writes "Like many geeks, I enjoy watching TV, movies, and streamed video. However, in company with 2%-3% of the population, I suffer from a problem known as Central Auditory Processing Disorder, which essentially means that I have difficulty separating the sounds of human voices from various background noises. When watching TV and when watching movies at home, this isn't a problem, as I can simply turn on the closed captioning. (I find radio to be simply an annoyance.) How much effort would it take the major purveyors of Internet video (the broadcasting majors, etc.) to include an option for CCTV? I doubt the bandwidth required would be more than 1% of that required for the video already being presented. As a social libertarian, I would never ask for government regulation of such an enterprise; I ask only that the major studios be aware of the difficulties that those of us with auditory disorders face. If it's rough for me, how much more difficult can it be for someone who can't hear at all?"

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AOL Video Provides CC (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19543181)

AOL video provides CC on some videos. It really is up to the studio to provide the CC (which there is a defined spec) to their online counter parts. After that its just a matter of the player supporting it - which the AOL video player does.

Re:AOL Video Provides CC (1)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 7 years ago | (#19543357)

CC on some videos. It really is up to the studio to provide the CC

At this point I think the lion's share of the effort is in the transcribing the audio into text. This is viable for movies and TV because of the large viewership, but if you are talking about CC for YouTube, you're out of luck for now, except perhaps a few directors videos. I suppose it would be possible to create a program/plug-in that would do real time transcribing, but it's gonna be one mother of a complex program to decypher home-video quality sound.

Re:AOL Video Provides CC (1)

pgillan (1043668) | more than 7 years ago | (#19543467)

Isn't it more an issue of FCC regulations that require television broadcasts to include closed-captioning, as part of their agreement for the airwaves, in the same way that they're supposed to provide X hours of publix service content? I assumed this had something to do with Americans-with-Disabilities Act,

Re:AOL Video Provides CC (1)

colfer (619105) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544071)

they're supposed to provide X hours of publix service content

Once upon a time. Now it's more like this:

Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] :

A substantial portion of other regulations were repealed, such as guidelines for minimal amounts of non-entertainment programming in 1985.
They are still supposed to operate in the public interest though.

Re:AOL Video Provides CC (1)

ayf6 (112477) | more than 7 years ago | (#19543559)

If you can do transcribing of video on youtube/yahoo whatever you'd be able to corner the video search market in a second there is $$$$ in that market right now for someone that figures it out.

SLASHDOTTERS REMEMBER TO SHOUT (-1, Flamebait)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#19543183)

SO YOUR POST CAN BE UNDERSTOOD

lameness filters suck lameness filters suck lameness filters suck lameness filters suck

Re:SLASHDOTTERS REMEMBER TO SHOUT (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19543209)

cruise control, etc.

Closed Captions online are awesome (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19543203)

Lots of google talks have closed captioning and I use them to watch the talk without listening to the audio. This is really nice sometimes and often beneficial when there are foreign speakers with heavy accents.

Wouldnt this.... (-1, Flamebait)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 7 years ago | (#19543213)

Wouldnt this be covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act already? You didnt give any hints of country of origin, but pretty much every first world country has some sort of rule.

And please spare us your political views. That has nothing to do with enforcing a passed law.

Re:Wouldnt this.... (5, Insightful)

eck011219 (851729) | more than 7 years ago | (#19543345)

His political views are pertinent to the discussion -- he is suggesting that it should not be regulated by government. By mentioning that, I would imagine he has limited the amount of "the government should regulate it" comments and therefore minimized the politically charged discourse. Please spare us your policing (and your unkind sig).

Re:Wouldnt this.... (2, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 7 years ago | (#19543387)

The question is not whether the government should regulate it, but whether they already do. I recall a minor uproar amongst Libertarians here last year when it became a legal requirement for web sites in the USA to conform to accessibility regulations (even though it's pretty trivial for standards-compliant code). I wonder if this same law extends to video on the web, and whether the likes of YouTube are operating illegally. There might have been some opt-out clause for user-provided content (otherwise I can't imagine MySpace existing), but what about web sites for TV companies?

Re:Wouldnt this.... (1)

eck011219 (851729) | more than 7 years ago | (#19543749)

Point taken. But that begs the question (if YouTube IS operating illegally, for example) of whether having and enforcing such regulations would so stifle creativity that it would deny EVERYONE the advances in question. In other words, if you let YouTube become YouTube and then require it to add things like closed captioning, eventually everybody benefits from it. If you make it harder to be YouTube in the first place, maybe no one will ever see what it can be. I'm just thinking out loud here, and it's admittedly not really the point we're talking about. But it struck me as an interesting side point, I guess.

You're right, though, the question should be whether such laws are already on the books. I wonder, though, whether the original poster would very likely know about it if it was already law, given the fact that (if he lives in the U.S.) he lives with aspects of the Americans With Disabilities Act every day.

Re:Wouldnt this.... (1)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544753)

---Point taken. But that begs the question (if YouTube IS operating illegally, for example) of whether having and enforcing such regulations would so stifle creativity that it would deny EVERYONE the advances in question.

For quite a long time, there was a void in people with disabilities using the internet. Even today, screen scrapers for braille readers really dont work well, due to nefarious HTML/CSS/javascript tricks. Considering that the meat-space USA is governed by ADA, why not US based websites? The ruling from last year only reaffirmed that net-space is NOT different than meat-space with respect to federal law.

---In other words, if you let YouTube become YouTube and then require it to add things like closed captioning, eventually everybody benefits from it. If you make it harder to be YouTube in the first place, maybe no one will ever see what it can be. I'm just thinking out loud here, and it's admittedly not really the point we're talking about. But it struck me as an interesting side point, I guess.

Can YouTube legally modify them? I would ask around to see if the DMCA exception for media aggregation (I forget the exact exception, but that DMCA exception is what allows YouTube) allows a content poster to MODIFY a copyrighted work...

I'm thinking the kind of problems one can get into is similar if a common carrier starts filtering "bad stuff". Doing that makes them liable for bad stuff that gets through.

---You're right, though, the question should be whether such laws are already on the books. I wonder, though, whether the original poster would very likely know about it if it was already law, given the fact that (if he lives in the U.S.) he lives with aspects of the Americans With Disabilities Act every day.

From what I understand, meat-space places meant for the public must follow a convoluted set of ADA guidelines. The ruling also applied that to US based websites, but I believed that also had a time frame for ADA compliance.

After reading the code and the opinions, it seems ADA would only apply if YouTube sold something, but I'm sure it could be argued.

BTW, I'm not handicapped, but I have a few friends who are, and I have designed a few ADA accessible websites.

Re:Wouldnt this.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19545157)

Great. Captions on YouTube videos. I can see it now...

"... and then the mentos goes in the coke bottle LOLLOLLOL!!!1111 Roxorz!"

Re:Wouldnt this.... (0, Troll)

kv9 (697238) | more than 7 years ago | (#19543711)

Wouldnt this be covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act already?

perhaps he just needs a firmware upgrade?

Re:Wouldnt this.... (1)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544557)

Heh, point taken ;)

And BTW... Whoever modded this troll go read my history WRT Solar system and digitizing humans for space travel.

He is not a troll.

It absolutely sucks for deaf people (2, Insightful)

JoshJ (1009085) | more than 7 years ago | (#19543215)

Youtube, Google Video, etc; aren't captioned at all. It'd be great if videos were captioned- it'd also serve as a nice way for people to browse those sites at work without having to deal with people overhearing the videos.

Google should get on it.

we can't coddle the deaf (1, Funny)

hildi (868839) | more than 7 years ago | (#19543273)

that will just teach them to be lazy welfare cheats.

let them pull themselves by their own bootstraps, and caption all their own video.

i suppose next you are going to want to make all video 'full screen' for people with bad eyes! thats what you liberals do,
tax and spend and waste the money of the hard working to benefit the slovenly lazy whiners that undermine our fatherland...
i mean.. uhh.. yeah. i mean our .. uhm, homeland.. no no no i mean, our great country of freedom and uhh yeah.

thats the american way.

Re:we can't coddle the deaf (2, Insightful)

Bastard of Subhumani (827601) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544561)

let them pull themselves by their own bootstraps, and caption all their own video.
Probably be ruled an illegaly derived work, or somesuch.

Re:It absolutely sucks for deaf people (5, Informative)

dotpavan (829804) | more than 7 years ago | (#19543297)

it is left to the uploader to give the subtitles, as per their FAQ here [google.com] , so they do support .SUB

Re:It absolutely sucks for deaf people (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19543307)

Or maybe you shouldn't be browsing YouTube and Google Video at work?

Re:It absolutely sucks for deaf people (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19543323)

deaf people suck anyway... you guys can't even hear

Re:It absolutely sucks for deaf people (4, Funny)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 7 years ago | (#19543629)

deaf people suck anyway... you guys can't even hear
You know, the coolest thing about that is that we can talk about them behind their backs and they can't even hear us. Just like we're doing just now! Ner-ner ner-ner-ner! You can't hear us!

Oh, hang on...

Open-source version here (0, Troll)

trolltalk.com (1108067) | more than 7 years ago | (#19543351)

Here's your generic open-source internet video closed caption. Please feel free to distribute it under the BSD license.

BEGIN CLOSED CAPTION

[cheesy elevator music]

Oh ah yes that's it yes baby ooohh right uh uh yes yes ysss ysss! oh god yes more omigod YES

[sound of bed breaking]

[cheesy elevator music]

END CLOSED CAPTION - LOOP

Google Video's samples. (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 7 years ago | (#19543765)

There are a lot on Google Videos [google.com] . I would like to see more since I am partially deaf and can't hear well as well.

Re:It absolutely sucks for deaf people (2, Interesting)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544107)

The hassle is not into distributing it, but in making it ! Hopefully, we are not that far from voice recognition softwares that would caption videos automatically

Re:It absolutely sucks for deaf people (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19544343)

Youtube, Google Video, etc; aren't captioned at all. It'd be great if videos were captioned- it'd also serve as a nice way for people to browse those sites at work without having to deal with people overhearing the videos.

Google should get on it.


Yeah wouldn't it be nice if we had a way of transmitting information in a text format saving huge amounts of bandwidth and without the need for any fancy browser plugins? Oh wait, we have this thing called html, or heck even plain text.

Video is killing the internet, making information inaccessible to many users. As a 28.8Kbps dial-up user, I simply cannot get the information contained in huge videos that so many people link these days, when a simple text transcript of perhaps a few kilobytes would download in seconds or less.

And how does one spider the content of a video? (yeah sure, download the video use sophisticated software the separate the audio track and transcribe it... blah, blah - wouldn't it be so much easier to just post a transcript?)

Damn kids! Get off my lawn! I want my text based internet back!

dotSUB (4, Informative)

Raindance (680694) | more than 7 years ago | (#19543217)

You may want to check out dotSUB.com -- a site dedicated to collaborative subtitling of videos. Not a panacea, but it's something.

http://dotsub.com/ [dotsub.com]

Re:dotSUB (2, Insightful)

acidrain (35064) | more than 7 years ago | (#19543633)

Then there is the the fact that less than half of the world population speaks English. These kinds of community driven subtitling projects are the best way to reach all the different language groups. To address the "ask slashdot" question I think we need players that support third party subtitles, then we can work on building communities to provide the content. This is a rapidly growing area on the internet. My favourite right now being subscene.

Re:dotSUB (2, Informative)

squarefish (561836) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544783)

yes, exactly what I would recommend starting with.
here's [dotsub.com] a rocketboom on dotsub about dotsub and how it works.

Re:dotSUB (0, Troll)

Snaller (147050) | more than 7 years ago | (#19545411)

Try disabling font sizes in explorer and visit that site -Someone should, I won't again.

The market (2, Insightful)

PopeOptimusPrime (875888) | more than 7 years ago | (#19543227)

As a social libertarian, you should know that the market drives companies to produce closed captioning, so as to expand their viewing audience. If you're referring to free content on the web, you don't have very much leverage to convince them to spend the extra resources.

Re:The market (5, Insightful)

codegen (103601) | more than 7 years ago | (#19543695)

.. the market drives companies to produce closed captioning, so as to expand their viewing audience

*wipes soda off of the screen*. What planet are you from? The reason most close caption is because they are required to by law. Most really don't care about the small segment of the marketplace. If you want proof, look at the large number of complaints about poor close captioning, and the vast majority of commercials without CC (Commercials are not required to CC by law). If the market drove companies to produce close captioning, then the commercials would be CC'd as well. Your argument does not stand up to scrutiny.

Re:The market (2, Interesting)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 7 years ago | (#19545255)

Most really don't care about the small segment of the marketplace.


It's getting bigger every year, and as time goes on, it's probably going to become an important minority. I've just recently developed high-frequency hearing loss, and my audiogram shows a typical "artilleryman's notch." Not surprising, considering the time I spent on the Gun Line back in '72. More and more 'Nam vets, Gulf War vets, and Iraq vets are going to be needing hearing aids as time goes by, and it's a good thing that the VA provides them! (FYI, the VA is the biggest purchaser of hearing aids in the US.)
But we're not the only ones who's hearing is being ruined by noise exposure, there's a lot of you out there who are doing it to yourselves. What do you think all those rock concerts are doing to your ears, and your boom-boxes set to 10? Your hearing might be fine now, but give it time and you'll be wanting closed captions just like the rest of us. I think having them on video clips (as an option) is a great idea, but I'd rather see it done voluntarily than by government fiat.

Re:The market (2, Insightful)

eobanb (823187) | more than 7 years ago | (#19545807)

No, I'd say that the number of hearing-impaired people to the number of shows is surely getting smaller, not bigger, because there are more and more TV channels and videos out there. If you're old enough, you'll remember when cable TV didn't exist and the US just had a few networks, like NBC, ABC, CBS, and NET (predecessor to PBS). Everyone who watched TV then watched those networks. The Nielsen ratings for a show in the 70s and 80s was absolutely superior to the ratings shows get now. Only stuff like the Superbowl comes close anymore. Most people don't realise this.

The TV, and now online video, is so diverse and diluted to the point where viewers can only watch so much. Speciality channels in particular have very small audiences. With the multiplication in the number of shows, the number of viewers for each show diminishes, yet the cost of captioning each show remains the same (until machine speech recognition evolves to a suitable point). Thus, it is actually become less and less worthwhile--if it was ever worthwhile at all--for stations to caption their shows, because the number of hearing-impaired people *per capita* is not really growing.

So, personally, I'd rather see it done by government regulation rather than trusting content providers to just 'be nice.' We all know how well that tends to work. What would end up happening if captioning laws were revoked would be that 1) almost all stations would cease closed captioning, 2) then a speciality station catering to the interests of deaf people would start up, and 3) this single station would be the extent of the choices that hearing-impaired people would have.

A brief history of closed captioning (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 7 years ago | (#19543793)

As a social libertarian, you should know that the market drives companies to produce closed captioning

Try again.

Closed Captioning wasn't a market-driven process, it was a social-equity driven process, a government-driven process.

[T]he Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 1976 set aside line 21 for the transmission of closed captions in the United States. Once the Commission gave its approval, PBS engineers developed the caption editing consoles that would be used to caption prerecorded programs, the encoding equipment that broadcasters and others would use to add captions to their programs, and prototype decoders.
Toward the end of the technical development project at PBS, it became clear that in order to get the cooperation of the commercial television networks, it would be necessary to establish a nonprofit, single-purpose organization to perform this captioning. And so in 1979, HEW announced the creation of the National Captioning Institute.
On March 16, 1980, NCI broadcast the first closed-captioned television series. The captions were seen in households that had the first generation of closed caption decoders. A silence had been broken. For the first time ever, deaf people across America could turn on their television sets-with a caption decoder-and finally understand what they had been missing on television.
With this success, it was only natural that captioned television viewers would want more accessible programming like prime-time series, soap operas, talk shows, game shows, sports, children's programming, cartoons, and home videos--the same rich and wide variety of programming that hearing people take for granted. They wanted instant access to live programs such as national and local newscasts. In 1982, NCI developed real-time captioning, a process for captioning newscasts, sports events, specials or other live broadcasts as the events are being televised. In real-time captioning, court reporters who have been trained as real-time captioners type at speeds of over 225 words per minute to give viewers instantaneous access to live news, sports and information. As a result, the viewer at home sees the captions within two to three seconds of the words being spoken.
In addition to a wide variety of captioned TV programs, viewers also can enjoy their favorite releases on home video. In 1980, there were only three-captioned home video titles. Today, deaf viewers can routinely expect new home video releases on VHS and DVD to be captioned.
NCI ensured a bright future for captioned television by partnering with ITT Corporation to develop the first caption-decoding microchip that could be built directly into new television sets at the manufacturing stage. This led to the introduction and subsequent passage of the Television Decoder Circuitry Act in 1990, which mandated that, by mid-1993, all new television sets 13 inches or larger manufactured for sale in the U.S. must contain caption-decoding technology. Now, millions of people have access to captions with the push of a button on their remote controls. Also in 1990, The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed to ensure equal opportunity for persons with disabilities. The ADA prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in employment, State and local government services, businesses that are public accommodations or commercial facilities, and in transportation. Title III of the ADA requires that public facilities, such as hospitals, bars, shopping centers and museums (but not movie theaters), provide access to verbal information on televisions, films or slide shows. Captioning is considered one way of making such information available to people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Federally funded public service announcements also must be captioned. The U.S. Congress continued to show its support of closed captioning by passing the Telecommunications Act of 1996. To implement the closed captioning requirements included in the Act, the FCC established rules and implementation schedules for the captioning of television programming. The rules went into effect on January 1, 1998 and established an eight-year transition period for new programming at which time 100% of non-exempt new programs must be captioned. A ten-year transition period was established for programs that originally aired prior to 1998 with a requirement of 75% captioning by the end of the ten years. An implementation schedule was also established for the captioning of Spanish-language programming.
A Brief History of Captioned Television [ncicap.org]

Brothers and sisters, we bought the first decoder from Sears, Roebuck as a Christmas gift for our father. It cost $180-230, as I recall, and was about the size and complexity of the Atari VHS. A New Civil Right [gallaudet.edu]

Hey (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19543239)

Just get a Q-Tip. We don't need you to make up some disorder because you're too lazy to clean your ears. I bet you have ass problems from the lack of wiping.

Re:Hey (1)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 7 years ago | (#19543645)

Just get a Q-Tip. We don't need you to make up some disorder because you're too lazy to clean your ears. I bet you have ass problems from the lack of wiping.
Yes, but that's not as serious a problem for him as it would be for you, as he doesn't actually talk out of his ass.

Re:Hey (3, Funny)

trolltalk.com (1108067) | more than 7 years ago | (#19543865)

"Just get a Q-Tip. We don't need you to make up some disorder because you're too lazy to clean your ears."

[X] That's how I poked my eardrum out in the first place, you insensitive clod!

Wait for the start up (1)

blanks (108019) | more than 7 years ago | (#19543247)

I don't think any of the big companies will do this for a very long time. What I expect will happen is some startup company will offer this as a way to get that 1%-2% market share. Then once the big companies realize what they are doing they will follow behind. Because there is no point for them to offer it until someone is taking their business away from them.

This is actually a disorder? (1)

pongo000 (97357) | more than 7 years ago | (#19543257)

I always thought the difficulty of separating voices from background noise was the result of poor sound editing (especially when movies are transferred to DVD). I was watching "Flags of our Fathers" the other night, and the remastered sound editing was so piss-poor, with dialog dynamic levels well below the background sound levels, that I found myself repeatedly re-playing scenes. It saddens me that studios are so quick to rush their movies to DVD they don't even take the time to preserve the sound quality.

Re:This is actually a disorder? (1)

Cygfrydd (957180) | more than 7 years ago | (#19543491)

I seem to be finding the dialogue is completely intelligible in the surround mix, but more and more often the stereo mixdown or matrixed audio is nearly impossible to understand; I don't know if it's poor mastering or just a side-effect of ProLogic II or whatever, but it's aggravating as hell.

I almost always watch with subtitles.

@yg

Re:This is actually a disorder? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19544105)

I am curious, what DVD's do you think have the best sound mixing?

Re:This is actually a disorder? (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 7 years ago | (#19545325)

There are two basic types of hearing loss. If the problem's mechanical (wax buildup, punctured ear drum, problems with auditory bones) it affects all frequencies the same, and a simple amplifier is all that's needed. The other type is nerve damage, and that affects different frequencies in different amounts. Generally, you find high pitches harder to hear than low ones, and most of what makes language understandable is the high parts. You need an amplifier that passes the low tones as is, and boosts the high ones. With my high-frequency loss, and my hearing aids out, I can often hear people speaking but can't make out the words.


Imagine listening to a talk-radio show with the woofer turned high, the tweeter low. You'll hear all the words, but you'll be surprised to find how hard it is to follow what's going on. Try it some time, and you'll see what I mean.

I don't know if it is a good idea. (3, Funny)

Brad1138 (590148) | more than 7 years ago | (#19543291)

Subtitles [youtube.com] can create problems.

There's no need ... (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 7 years ago | (#19543311)

Its not like TV - you have a hi-res monitor capable of displaying plenty of text. Just include a text link, or embed the video in a page with text, displaying the dialog.

Now there's a thought - a REAL dialog box :-)

Laws (1)

kingduct (144865) | more than 7 years ago | (#19543315)

To be frank, the reason why TV has closed captioning is because of laws. I don't think it is a question of social libertarianism, but rather a question of equal access. There is NO reason of any sort why closed captioning can't be done. It is cheap and easy and the only thing it does is expand the market for the producers of videos. It is a thing that should be required, otherwise an important minority (people with hearing impairments) is being ignored. It has the added bonus that a lot of non-hearing impaired people like them.

The real question is, do the various video codecs include specifications for easy to add captions? I know that with videos I've worked on, I've just used Adobe Premiere to add in a text layer, and it seemed like a really clunky way of doing things.

Re:Laws (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19543573)

Your statement that the captionign is "cheap and easy" is not at all correct. As someone who works in education where captions are often required to be added to material that wasn't previously captioned, I can tell you that it is a major PITA to get this done. First you have to send the video to a transcriber, who generally charges about $15/hour (their hours, not running time hours). If the material is highly technical or specialized, than somebody who is a subject matter expert needs to proofread the transcript for accuracy and spelling of terminology, etc. There exists NO MAGIC BULLET for this work. The best computer voice-to-text program (Dragon Naturally Speaking) is only 95% accurate when recognizing text from a voice to which it is trained with no background noise or music - so you can't just feed a video to it, which would result in complete gibberish.

Next the transcript needs to be broken up into phrases and sentences for the screen using natural cadence (can't be done by computer automatically) and then the resulting captions need to be synchronized to the video - basically creating time stamps for each caption bit which are then turned into a caption track able to be read by a computer media player like Real, Quicktime or Flash.

This is very labor intensive work. It's basically costing around $100/hour of video to do right now, and that's prohibitive in the public education system where resources are scarce - and there's the question of whose responsiblity it is to pay for it and have it done, not to mention intellectual property issues wherein a caption or transcript is being publicly released for a video obtained from a copyright owner - legally the transcript belongs to the owner!

So don't tell me this is cheap or easy unless you're willing to come do it at my college, cheapy and easily.

Re:Laws (1)

BrianH (13460) | more than 7 years ago | (#19543923)

Indeed. I work at a mid sized college and subtitles have been an ongoing issue for distance education. We currently have a telecourse system that REQUIRES students to check out physical DVD's and VHS tapes to complete their for-credit classes. These DVD's generally all have existing SAP and CC tracks to accomodate our legal obligations and to serve the widest possible audience. We would love to put these videos online, but it there is no straightforward way of transferring that information from the existing physical media into an online-capable one. Our options seem to be re-captioning everything, or spending an enormous amount of money to have people with specialized equipment do it for us. Those might be reasonable options for organizations with one or two tapes, or with millions of dollars of spare budget, but for state run colleges looking at video libraries containing thousands of hours of video, it's simply not an option.

So for now, and for the forseeable future, our students will still be required to check out the physical tapes and DVD's. That means waiting lists for tapes, limited viewing times, and continuing expenses to replace the tapes and DVD's as they wear out.

Re:Laws (1)

Fluffy Bunnies (1055208) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544259)

Why would putting it in Matroska container be a problem? It accepts the dvd subtitle format as-is. Simply re-encode the video with a modern codec to make it small enough for download and mux it in matroska with the subtitles. Or if you simply must have the subtitles in a text-based format (for whatever reason) there are specialized OCR programs around (Subrip...)

Re:Laws (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19544671)

I've always wondered why there is so little contact between people doing closed captions and the fansubbing scene. Maybe they see us all as "pirates" and prefer to buy overpriced software rather than using some free tool that has "rip" in its name. I don't know about CC ripping software, but Google Video started years ago by distributing ripped TV shows with ripped captions, and subs for TV series are being ripped from CC and published on shooter, seriessub, opensubtitles, etc. within 2-3 days even if nobody gets paid for doing this, so it can't be that hard. What is hard is transcribing/translating subtitles by ear, but even that is being done by a lot of people, just for the sake of serving the community and fame for their group.

Laws Plus Money (1)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 7 years ago | (#19543581)

At the end of the program, they credit whomever payed to develop the closed captions. Until recently, it was always one government agency (at least, whenever I noticed it. Small sample size warning.) I forgot which one.

Re:Laws Plus Money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19543981)

At the end of the program, they credit whomever payed to develop the closed captions. Until recently, it was always one government agency (at least, whenever I noticed it. Small sample size warning.) I forgot which one.

ON PBS, a lot of it is done by large corporations. I believ one is Fireman's Fund Insurance.

Closed captions on The Weather Channel (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#19545583)

At the end of the program, they credit whomever payed to develop the closed captions. Until recently, it was always one government agency (at least, whenever I noticed it. Small sample size warning.) I forgot which one.

At least on The Weather Channel, closed captioning is sponsored by HeadOn, apply directly to the forehead. HeadOn, apply directly to the forehead. HeadOn, apply directly to the forehead. HeadOn is available without a prescription at retailers nationwide.

Re:Laws (2, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 7 years ago | (#19543637)

Video codecs don't, because it's not part of the video. Most container formats allow a subtitle track, and there are also some formats for including a subtitles in separate files. Subtitles are basically text with a small amount of markup (often none, sometimes colours for different speakers) in a stream with timestamps. It's up to the player to display them at the correct time. VLC manages it, I've not tried others.

Re:Laws Neither Cheap nor Easy (1)

veggiebear (992272) | more than 7 years ago | (#19543831)

>There is NO reason of any sort why closed captioning can't be done. It is cheap and easy

The true mark of someone who's never done something is when they say "It is cheap and easy". (The engineer in me knows that too well.)

It is neither cheap nor easy.

NOT CHEAP: The prices for closed-captioning production and encoding software start at around US$2k, and quickly climb to almost US$10k. I own a video production business, and those prices are simply out-of-reach for the few times (zero) that a client has ever asked for CC.

NOT EASY: There have been a few times when clients have asked me to add captions (open, on-screen text) to training videos at selected points. Simply transcribing dialog takes a long time. It also takes time (ie: costs money. ie: is not cheap) to synchronize the caption with the video.

OH, AND THERE'S STANDARDS: Closed captioning is not a one-for-one straight transcript of the words spoken. There are paraphrasings, there are audio hints. There is a reason why there's only a small handful of companies that do CC for professional production... It takes training. It takes practice. It takes discipline. It's not flashy, trivial, or cheap.

The non-broadcast demand for is so incredibly small. So, it's incredibly expensive in money and time and expertise.

Yeah, I'd love to be able to add CC to my work. It's how I view most TV and movies myself. But without some breakthrough, it ain't gonna happen soon.

Tom

Re:Laws Neither Cheap nor Easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19544073)

The true mark of someone who's never done something is when they say "It is cheap and easy". (The engineer in me knows that too well.)

  Don't I know it! Somebody once said that to me about chewing bubble gum, and I STILL haven't gotten all that crap out of the jet's intake. All those poor monkeys, gone forever, and me out of work now!
  Cheap and easy, my ass!

Client-side voice recognition? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19543381)

I see a project here for client-side voice recognition software that converts incoming sounds to text. Anyone want to start a new project?

Politics aside, I also have that problem (1)

MikeLip (797771) | more than 7 years ago | (#19543417)

Mine stems from a different cause - Alports syndrome. I wear hearing aids, and as anyone who could once hear normally and now wears then can attest, they suck! Well, they're better than being deaf, but in some circumstances you may as well be. I am a habitual user of CC, but not all programs have it and many that do, do a very poor job of syncing the captioning up with the video. Argh. ANYWAY, that out of the way, the reason is of course money. CC costs money. Someone has to sit down and transcribe every word said and enter in into the CC system. That someone probably wants to be paid for their work. Free online content isn't going to support that sort of thing, and I kind of doubt that most ad-driven sites are making enough bucks to cover the cost either. Americans with Disability Act? Hah. OK, force content providers to add CC to their streams. Guess what? You're going to lose a bunch of streams - and probably the most interesting ones. Big guns like CNN will handle it, but small providers? The very ones who aren't spitting out the mass produced pap and biased (well, at least not all biased the same way) journalism? Bu-bye! Online content does not follow the same financial model as commercial broadcast. So, while I'd love to see it, it's not going to happen any time soon.

Maybe they could offer a swap? (1)

zogger (617870) | more than 7 years ago | (#19543745)

Offer x large numbers of hours of decent content mailed back on disk for every hour of volunteer transcribing? There might be a ton of semi or full retired folks might want to get into that, if the software deal was setup for them and it was easy to use and understand.

Re:Maybe they could offer a swap? (1)

trolltalk.com (1108067) | more than 7 years ago | (#19543839)

Offer x large numbers of hours of decent content mailed back on disk for every hour of volunteer transcribing? There might be a ton of semi or full retired folks might want to get into that, if the software deal was setup for them and it was easy to use and understand.

"Offer x large numbers of hours of PORN mailed back on disk for every hour of volunteer transcribing? There might be a ton of semi or full retired folks might want to get into that, if the software deal was setup for them and it was easy to use and understand.

There ... fixed it for you.

could be (1)

zogger (617870) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544883)

...whatever the particular media company that is offering the swap has on the shelf I guess. If they have porn, they could offer that. Like..hmm...retired geezers doing the transcribing..what might they want.. hmm ... MATLOCK AND GOLDEN GIRLS PORN!!1

heh heh heh

Re:could be (1)

ZzzzSleep (606571) | more than 7 years ago | (#19545465)

Quoth zogger

MATLOCK AND GOLDEN GIRLS PORN!!1
Please pass the brain bleach.

More than 2-3% of a population would benefit (2, Interesting)

Nairoz (856164) | more than 7 years ago | (#19543449)

According to the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (A UK charity), there are nearly nine million people deaf and hard of hearing people in the UK alone. I'm sure a fair proportion of these would benefit from subtitling for online content - I certainly would. I am deaf in one ear, and wear a hearing aid to help boost what remains of my hearing in the other, and have difficulty understanding a lot of online content. I find the only reliable medium for subtitles to be DVDs - TV subtitling in the UK differs widely depending on network. And when the content is available online, for example from the BBC, subtitling is not present - even for content that was subtitled on TV!

Whilst it needs to be done, I doubt it will be - seems there's just not enough money in it. Guess I'll have to keep on buying those DVDs, or missing out on a lot of content.

OpenCaptions.com (5, Informative)

everyplace (527571) | more than 7 years ago | (#19543515)

A friend has been working on Open Captions [slashdot.org] for quite a while, that seems to address a lot of these issues. From what I understand, its aim is to pick up where video distribution companies and content authors have left off.

When you think about sites like youtube, you can't hope to have users caption their videos before uploading, but you still want this content available in an accessible way. OpenCaptions takes any online video source, and allows user-captioning, that can be layed over video in a number of ways. It still requires a captioner, like any other captions, but allows the tasks to be distributed to anyone who wants to lend a hand at captioning a video.

From the about [opencaptions.com] page:

Open Captions allows anyone to add captions and subtitles to Internet video - caption your own work, or a favorite video from another website. Captioning allows for everyone to share the same media experience on the Internet regardless of hearing abilities and language barriers. Open Captions wants to encourage more people to caption videos for each other, this site will help provide the tools and forum for online captions. The phrase 'Open Captions' is referring to a community of people transcribing and translating Internet videos for the world to watch. The term 'open captions' is also used technically to describe captions that are always available on some videos.

Fail at life (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19543661)

Like many geeks, I enjoy watching TV, movies, and streamed video.

Geeks? Are you cereal? How about a good book?

However, in company with 2%-3% of the population, I suffer from a problem known as Central Auditory Processing Disorder, which essentially means that I have difficulty separating the sounds of human voices from various background noises.

Isn't it enough that youre physically "handicapped" (yeah right, you probably think PMS is a disease too; fucking deal) now you have to be mentally handicapped too?

When watching TV and when watching movies at home, this isn't a problem, as I can simply turn on the closed captioning. (I find radio to be simply an annoyance.)

Watch ye olde boob tube only at home then. Problem solved?

How much effort would it take the major purveyors of Internet video (the broadcasting majors, etc.) to include an option for CCTV?

A lot? And what does Closed Circuit TV has to do with this?

I doubt the bandwidth required would be more than 1% of that required for the video already being presented.

You're an expert now?

As a social libertarian, I would never ask for government regulation of such an enterprise;

Oh a fucking hippie too. Get a job, shower, etc.

I ask only that the major studios be aware of the difficulties that those of us with auditory disorders face.

How about you stop stealing content then? And stop being such a little drama queen. "Oh I suck at multitasking. Poor me." Boo fucking hoo. Perhaps if your slut of a mother laied off the crack for 9 months.

If it's rough for me, how much more difficult can it be for someone who can't hear at all?

A lot rougher? Like a sandpaper condom?

In conclusion, kill yourself.

Re:Fail at life (1)

janrinok (846318) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544083)

I hope that one day you too suffer from a genuine physical disability. That is, of course, in addition to the obvious mental disability that you suffer from now. I see also that you were not brave enough to post as anything other than AC.

2x fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19544245)

Nonetheless, AC is right.

Mandatory U-Tube closed captioning? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19543767)

Ok, so, we go with the laws for equal access does that mean that u-tube should be mandated to add closed captioning to all it's videos too?

What about quality control? (1)

pwizard2 (920421) | more than 7 years ago | (#19543803)

I have Dyspraxia, which creates symptoms very similar to Central Auditory Processing Disorder in some people. (this situation applies to me). For me, closed captions are Essential.

I'm often dismayed by closed captions on regular TV that are often garbled (words are omitted, grammar is improperly done, and worst of all, sentences trail off into a garble of random characters that are impossible to decipher. Also annoying is the fact that on some shows, the dialogue and captions are out of sync, so it makes it even more difficult for me to follow.

I feel that it is necessary to impose some sort of quality control that will keep these problems from happening in web video as often as they occur on broadcast TV.

Re:What about quality control? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19545677)

Errors occur because people are human. Synchronization errors happen when television is being captioned live - just like translators are a little behind during UN session.

When sentences trail off into garbage characters, it's not because the captioning is bad but because the video signal from which the captions are being decoded (line 21 of the NTSC broadcast specification) isn't good enough to decode the captions clearly. The failure could occur because the satellite signal isn't good enough, or even if the caption feed has interference before it is injected into the cable broadcasting system, which would explain why you might see a clear picture but garbled captions sometime.

Speech Recognition (1)

BinarySkies (920189) | more than 7 years ago | (#19543811)

How hard would it be to adapt speech/voice recognition software to this purpose? Everyone talks about how far along that kind of stuff has come... I know the background noise would present the biggest problem, but I think that there's got to be some software company out there that can tackle it.

Re:Speech Recognition (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#19545621)

How hard would it be to adapt speech/voice recognition software to this purpose?
That would be a Hard Problem(tm). Off the shelf dictation software expects a clean signal, not a signal in front of music and foley. How many PhD's are you willing to hire?

duuuuuude (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19543833)

Just get a massive sound system, and turn that bitch up til you can make out what's happening!

Anime... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19543847)

Of course, if you're into anime you don't have that problem. :-)

As a social Libertarian... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19543903)

...I shouldn't be forced by law to hire handicapped people, even if they can do the job as well as any normal person.

Nor should I have to be forced by law to hire people with dark skin, even if they can do the job as well as any normal person.

Nor should I have to be forced by law to hire people with breasts and vaginas, even if they can do the job as well as any normal person.

Nor should I have to be forced by law to hire people who are Jewish, even if they can do the job as well as any normal person.

Vote Libertarian! It All About The Money, Really!

Vista Compatability (1)

greedyturtle (968401) | more than 7 years ago | (#19543905)

When the major TV broadcasters are still not bothering to get their players compatable with Vista, maybe they just aren't interested in getting everyone connected...

Seperate caption software (2, Interesting)

Roy van Rijn (919696) | more than 7 years ago | (#19543939)

IMO with today's voice recognition software it shouldn't be very hard to make a problem that makes closed captions on-the-fly. A good commercial product that does this would be very good for people with hearing problems. Maybe software like this already exists, I don't know. Might be worth checking out. Then you can have closed captions with every video/youtube/thingy on the web.

Re:Seperate caption software (3, Interesting)

Roy van Rijn (919696) | more than 7 years ago | (#19543971)

Did a little googling, and it seems this kind of software already exists.
Example #1 [cpcweb.com]
Example #2 [intlc.com]
More links... [captions.org]

Re:Seperate caption software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19544785)

That's not speaker-independent speech recognition. It uses the "shadow speaker" technique, i.e. you have to first train the software to recognize your voice, then speak along with the video. Hardly possible in realtime (without pausing/rewinding the video) IMO. Shadow speaking is used in court and in conferences. Speakers use funny-looking masks to muffle their voice for everybody else. For videos, I doubt it is more efficient than just doing the transcript by hand if you're a good typist.

I've got a double whammy (1)

Yonder Way (603108) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544047)

Not only am I moderately deaf, but my healthcare coverage (USA) is so poor that I don't have coverage for hearing aids or anything that would give me any relief. So I just have to crank the volume up and hope for the best. Youtube videos tend to have very poor audio, with a lot of background noise, so I do miss out on a lot there.

Realistically, I seriously doubt that most producers (and I'm including YouTubers in that group) are going to subtitle any video that they aren't legally required to. And I don't support any legal requirement to do so.

Basically, I think those of us that are deaf or hard of hearing are either going to have to just suck it up or find another way around the problem.

Re:I've got a double whammy (1)

Associate (317603) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544173)

They don't cover it because there is no pill.

Most beneficial to foreign-language speakers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19544087)

I actually think this would be most beneficial to foreign-language speakers who represent a big percentage of viewers at popular sites like YouTube.

In my case the only think I ask is for a common standard to be used by such video providers, and also to have the ability to be able to share our translations with the rest of the community.

We need more differently-abled CEOs. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19544139)

It gets better (worse). On DVDs, Closed Captions and Subtitles are not the same thing, nor done by the same people. A series like West Wing, where seasons 6 and 7 completely forsook English subtitles, still have CC files, you just can't use a plain DVD player to select it. Your TV has to be compatible, or you're using above-average player software on your computer. (Thanks Apple! Now could you make it stop crashing?)

Personally I have both been paid and paid others to transcribe audio/video for accessible internet consumption. It's a huge effort, and the mere fact that 18 billion videos don't have it is evidence that it will never become commonplace, laws or not.

(./ prophecy captcha word: encumber)

Re:We need more differently-abled CEOs. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19544349)

Just following up to myself.

Even when there is access to official scripts and whatnot, CC and Subtitles can differ and *both* can be inaccurate. Some actors are just plain hard to hear, and it's not like there's a decent system to feed in a script and spit out a CC timing file. I'd be amazed if more than 15% of the work was automated.
Listen, type, re-listen, re-type...

No. Stop trying to kill the web. (0, Troll)

russotto (537200) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544231)

One of the great advantages a new medium has over older media is it hasn't accumulated the amount of cruft the older media have accumulated in years of special-interest pleading. One of the best ways to kill the new medium is to dump all that cruft upon it.

Oooo! I'm a social libertarian! Look at me! (1)

wolfpaws (112843) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544367)

Broadcasters would have never adopted Closed Captioning technology unless the government forced them to...And mforbes is banging a Libertarian socialist gavel while talking about adopting Closed Captions on web content??

Just goes to show you that the hearing impaired can be just as fucking ignorant as any Cletus T. Jigglebelly you'd see on Jerry Springer.

Re:Oooo! I'm a social libertarian! Look at me! (1)

Neuticle (255200) | more than 7 years ago | (#19545195)

Take a rage dump, then re-read the GP post: he clearly stated "As a social libertarian, I would never ask for government regulation of such an enterprise"

He's clearly not calling for gov intervention like the TV version.

Re:Oooo! I'm a social libertarian! Look at me! (1)

Goondra (855859) | more than 7 years ago | (#19545507)

There is a real need. Whether the politics will support it is quite a different matter. First the need and then the solution.

What about the blind? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19544369)

If it's rough for me, how much more difficult can it be for someone who can't hear at all?


It would probably be even more difficult for someone who is blind.

Revver uses Project ReadOn (2, Informative)

seaotter02 (979726) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544463)

Revver [revver.com] has a link under their videos going to Project ReadOn, which is a user-requested captioning system. Users first request captioning for a video and Project ReadOn assigns the video to their staff to caption it. It's what Barack Obama uses on his site [barackobama.com] .

They announced it on their blog [revver.com] a few weeks back.

The Ask A Ninja videos tend to be captioned, here's an example one with captioning already done [revver.com] , just click the closed captioning link under the video.

ReadOn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19544865)

Applied DIRECTLY to the Obama!

Google Video... (1)

dave420 (699308) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544591)

... already has support for closed-captions.

Ironic (1)

Snaller (147050) | more than 7 years ago | (#19545393)

http://www.sanctuaryforall.com/ [sanctuaryforall.com] is a site trying to see if they can make a new entertainment model to work: They produce "webisodes" (roughly 15 minuttes a piece) only for the website, its not for tv, its not for dvd's its for tv. If enough people buy it they'll make more - but... no subtitles, except some fans haved started to make their own and link to them in the forum.

You'd think that someone who tries to be inventive and use the internet as a new medium would take that in to cosideration, but apparently they can't be bothered.

(With their prices I doubt they'll last long anyway, but that's a differen story)

Other languages too (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 7 years ago | (#19545579)

As a french-Canadian watching mostly english content, I'd like to see subtitles available on all videos. Sure, I have no problems watching things like The Simpsons, Futurama or Family Guy. However I've started watching the new Doctor Who series and sometimes it's quite hard to understand what they're saying (as in, figuring out the words spoken, not their meaning).

Subtitles would be quite useful in cases like these.

Adobe provides CC in their video player (1)

VGfort (963346) | more than 7 years ago | (#19545763)

Watch any of the "featured tours" of on Adobe's CS3 programs and you'll see them use this option.

example: http://www.adobe.com/products/flash/ssi/iframe/fea ture_tour.html [adobe.com]
http://www.adobe.com/products/photoshop/photoshope xtended/ssi/iframe/feature_tour.html [adobe.com]

Now whether they make it easy for others to do the same with their products, I'm not sure. I haven't seen Flash CS3's video options.

Read a book (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19545783)

I really don't like your chances of getting CC in web content.

Transcription (1)

NNland (110498) | more than 7 years ago | (#19545847)

In terms of technology, obviously there is VideoLAN client combined with any one of the embedded (or secondary file) subtitle formats. The real issue is transcription for the subtitles. Transana is a project that can be used to help transcribe audio and video, but there is still the issue with needing people to actually do the transcription.
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