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Old 03-24-2020, 01:30 AM
Rucksinator is offline
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A modest proposal - Subtitles for people who occasionally miss something

My hearing is fine, I think. But inevitably, when watching a movie or TV show, somebody will say something that I don't quite catch, so I have to rewind, and that will usually remind me to turn on subtitles "for the hearing impaired". (I especially had to do this with Game of Thrones, because of the different accents.)
But the problem is that the subtitles spoil things by just a few seconds. The text is posted before the words are said, and it's very obvious if someone is going to get cut off mid sentence.

How difficult would it be, from a programming standpoint, to simply delay the subtitles by a few seconds, so that they get displayed after the words have been spoken? I really just want to be able to delay them, so that I only need to read them when I realize that I didn't quite catch something. Would this be something that Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO Go, etc. would need to do separately? My Hisense Roku TV remote has an * button on the remote that allows me to change some options. On HBO Go and some other apps, this is where I turn on subtitles. [On a side note, one subtitle option here is "on replay". With this, I hit the replay button on the remote, and it will rewind about 10 seconds, and display the subtitles for only those few seconds, then continue on as normal. It's great.] On Netflix, you pause, then arrow up to an "OPTIONS" icon in the top-left corner to turn on subtitles. So this programming change might be something that I could theoretically implement by updating my TV's firmware for HBOGo, etc, but something that Netflix, etc. would have to do on their end. So, how hard would this be? And why don't they get on top of this? I'm pretty sure that I'm not the only one that wants this.


Of course, if we're going to do this and want to go all out, while we're at it maybe we could also drop the lyrics of the song playing in the background, "*loud crash*", "<music playing>", "<scratching sound>", "horse whinnies", "*stabbing sound*" *, etc. I mean, if we're going to add a completely separate option, let's go all the way. But if I'm asking too much, please just let me delay the text by 3 or 5 seconds (further testing needed to determine the exact best delay).

* I was watching a movie with the subtitles on and "stabbing sound" was posted in the subtitles, which spoiled a plot twist.

In this movie,
a distressed girl was running from someone who was trying to kill her. She ran into the arms of her friend ["stabbing sound"], then slowly backed away, looked down, and saw that her friend has stabbed her. I didn't even hear the stabbing sound, but the subtitles made sure that I know what had happened about 5 to 10 seconds before I was supposed to realize it. It was totally unnecessary.

The movie was
All The Boys Love Mandy Lane
Old 03-24-2020, 02:52 AM
Ellis Dee is offline
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Location: New England
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I'd love for there to be an additional "Trouble with Accents" subtitle feature that ONLY shows the actual words people say, as opposed to the stage direction and song lyrics they include for people with hearing issues. That's a fantastic idea.

Not sure I agree with the idea of slightly delaying them. I get where you're coming from, and see your point, but I occasionally run into some bad subtitles that are delayed and I find that almost as unwatchable as if the audio track isn't quite synced up with the video track.
Old 03-24-2020, 06:06 AM
Mean Mr. Mustard's Avatar
Mean Mr. Mustard is offline
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Agreed. I would prefer a slight delay - then you would be able to ignore the subtitles unless you miss something, at which point you could glance at the text to see what was said.

And I also would prefer an option that would exclude "soft jazz music playing", for example.

Old 03-24-2020, 06:48 AM
don't ask is offline
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I use subtitles all the time, in the smallest available font, because I like listening with the volume low and occasionally miss a word. Only then do I glance at the subtitles. For movies that I am watching with VLC or Videostream I slightly delay the subtitles for the reasons mentioned in the OP. I am not constantly reading them like during a foreign movie. Look for the non-HI or HI removed subtitles - they have the hearing impaired stuff removed.

Oh, the correct delay is only a fraction of a second.

Last edited by don't ask; 03-24-2020 at 06:51 AM.
Old 03-24-2020, 07:39 AM
solost is offline
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Posts: 990
We have subtitles on all the time because we have two loud talkative teenagers who (especially the older one) have no sense of other's personal boundaries.

I totally agree with the spoiler aspect. Comedies especially are ruined by the subtitles stepping on the joke delivery.

How to improve subtitles is a challenging question. They're doing so much by spelling out what people are saying, adding sound descriptions and spelling out background song lyrics. But I don't think removing descriptions is the answer, since they're there to give the hearing impaired an overall impression of what's happening. Also, I kind of like the descriptions sometimes-- they carry an opinion of the transcriber: "scoffs"; "sarcastic laughter". Was it a scoff? Was that laughter sarcastic?

So I think it would be very difficult to do a real-time transcription. A couple-second delay may be a simple solution, but it may be annoying in practice. Maybe have a time-delay control where you can set the subtitle appearance time you prefer.
Old 03-24-2020, 08:11 AM
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JKellyMap is offline
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My wife and I always use subtitles for streaming and DVDs, though we are both fluent English speakers and not hard of hearing.

We’ve been enjoying all seasons of the West Wing as Netflix DVDs (yes, we’re old fashioned). For Season 6, no English subtitles are available. Luckily, I speak Spanish at about 85% fluency — so we watch with Spanish subtitles, and when my wife doesn't quite catch something (rather common in Sorkinesque chatterbox shows like this one), and I didn’t hear it clearly either, I’ll translate from the Spanish for both of us!

Last edited by JKellyMap; 03-24-2020 at 08:12 AM.
Old 03-24-2020, 08:14 AM
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terentii is offline
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I miss a lot of the dialogue on shows like St Elsewhere, where two people will be having a quiet conversation as they walk through a hall with all its ambient noise, and then the camera shifts to follow two other people talking as they walk in another direction. Fortunately, it's usually possible to figure out the broad strokes of what's going on, since a lot of the dialogue is superfluous anyway.
"Makes you wonder why we bother, eh, Fawlty?"
"Didn't know you did, Major."
Old 03-24-2020, 08:19 AM
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We watch a lot of British and what not stuff so subtitles are a must for just about all that. We've gotten so used to them that we sometimes watch American stuff with subtitles. (Most recently the David Crosby-Cameron Crowe bio pic.) I also turn on CC on Youtube nearly all the time.

Sometimes there's a goof and the subtitles are slightly off for some or all of the show.

No. I never want this. Uh-uh. It just makes it harder to follow along.
Old 03-24-2020, 08:32 AM
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I use Dish for most of my TV and never noticed the sub titles being ahead of the audio. I use them on some shows where the music tends to drown out the dialog.

I'll have to pay more attention tonight.
Old 03-24-2020, 12:54 PM
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ThelmaLou is online now
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Oh, please. Just put the g.d. subtitles on.
Old 03-24-2020, 02:03 PM
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Voyager is offline
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Originally Posted by GaryM View Post
I use Dish for most of my TV and never noticed the sub titles being ahead of the audio. I use them on some shows where the music tends to drown out the dialog.

I'll have to pay more attention tonight.
Me neither, and we use subtitles all the time for the British cop shows we watch. My wife has lots of problem with the accents.
I'd think delayed subtitles would be very annoying. If you miss something, it is very easy to skip back and rewatch it.


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