Monday, September 10, 2007

The Art of Subtitles

My lovely daughter is on the Aspergery side of life, which has its ups and downs. One of the positive ups is that she has a freakish ability to read, demonstrated since before she could walk (which she was late to, but she totters sweetly nonetheless).

A very small part of what this means is that when she and I watch TV she'll pay closer attention when the captions are on. I have learned, to my chagrin, that Spanish or French audio does not match the Spanish or French subtitles in many cases, making most DVDs kind of crappy aids to my charming Braniac 5's attempts to learn all languages on Earth.

I have also learned that television captioning is sometimes outsourced to some place where English is not spoken, or used as makework for drunken hobos, or most likely generated automatically using the Very Latest Technology.

Enjoy what I have gleaned from my venerable televisual reception device.


Kiddo said...

Thank goodness that it's not just me. This has really been bothering me, honestly, and mine are only on when the TV is put on "mute". Still bothers me. It's nice to see documentation.

BTW, my "outrage" isn't because I'm an Aspie, I'm not, supposedly....I only come from a family filled with Aspies. But once you enter 'the spectrum' in any way, it really does turn into an us vs. them sort of world, doesn't it? So I'll just be content with being told that I'm like Tony Shaloub's character "Monk".

Lovely post, you've encompassed many of my own quirks. I wish your daughter well:)

joeclark said...

Most of the photographs here show dropped frames. A frame typically transmits two characters (fewer if the characters are control characters, i.e., nonprintable). Look carefully and the missing characters appear in pairs.

In practice there is no way to avoid dropped frames. Now, if it happens every 20 seconds on a specific episode of a program, that suggests that the master tape needs to be reduplicated or re-encoded. Your implication that outsourced captioners are just leaving out the letters is correct. They make all sorts of errors; they just don’t make errors of that sort.

Righteous Bubba said...

Thanks Joe.