I pit closed-captioners

I turn on the closed captioning every once in a while, even though my hearing’s fine, either because of extreme volume fucking (fuck you, Scorsese, for The Departed soundtrack) or because of thick accents or generally unintelligible dialog. And every single time I’ve done so, the closed captioning has been seriously shitty.

What an incredible disservice to the deaf and hard of hearing! Don’t they have enough to deal with already?

Every single time there have been:

(1) lines of dialog completely dropped

(2) lines coming up far too late to match the action

(3) words dropped

(4) words or lines replaced with utter gibberish, like “&(*4ert” and “__vxt”

I don’t understand how they’ve been getting away with it. Why hasn’t there been an uproar from the deaf community? Or has there been but they’ve been ignored? I mean, WTF?

maybe their uproar has fallen on deaf ears. Sorry.

My only experience with CC is in sports bars, trying to keep up with a game or race on a muted TV. You might as well take lip reading and divination. Completely useless.

Yeah, but at least with something live and fast-moving, there’s only so much you can expect. The problems I outlined above have been from TV series and movies, where there is no excuse whatsoever.

That was going to be my next question. Agreed, movies and non-live TV shows should have flawless CC.

How do news shows do it? Is there some kind of voice-recognition going on, or is it being transcribed by humans? I am betting on VR, because sometimes it guesses at the word and comes up with some off the wall substitutions.

I’ve seen some wide release American films in Japan where the subtitles were like someone had translated everything into See Spot Run-level, kiddy Japanese. I imagine that if there’s little push to up the quality for movies in the second biggest market in the world, then deaf people are fairly well screwed.


Sometimes errors come up due to poor reception as well. I’ve watched CC on TV’s with rabbit ears, and even though the picture looks OK, sometimes the CC gets a bit screwy (#4 in the OP, in particular.)

Whenever you see gibberish like &(*4ert" and “__vxt”, what you’re dealing with is an incompatibility between the CC signal and your television’s decoder, so try pitting your TV (or simply adjusting your settings) first. Reception issues can also garble the CC signal; it’s being transmitted through the magical aether as part of the regular TV signal.

On a lot of local news I see, it appears to be the teleprompter feed, including camera information, pronunciation, “toss to weather,” etc.

A couple of observations from one who used to be in the business:

  1. VCO3 is right – a lot of it could be a reception or a decorder issue.

  2. The number of captioning agencies in recent years has exploded. Some agencies are good, some not so good. TV and film producers do not, as a rule, care about the quality of captioning. In some circumstances, they have a legal obligation to caption (prime-time TV shows, for example), but I doubt the laws speak to quality. As a result, the lowest-cost providers get the work, and sometimes you get what you pay for.

  3. As a corollary to number 2, producers don’t often go out of their way to help the captioning agencies by providing written scripts, or full audio. Sometimes the tape comes in late, and it’s not the final cut, and the captioners have to do what they can with it in the time allotted.

With respect, concerning point 1, I very much doubt incompatibilities or reception is the problem. I don’t use any broadcast signals. I’ve seen all of the problems I outlined in my OP on all 3 of my TVs, with the sources being cable, satellite, and even movie DVDs. I haven’t seen any difference in the (low) CC quality between them, and I tend to doubt late-arriving scripts contribute all that much to the problems I’ve seen, which have been present in every closed-captioned program I’ve ever seen.

So your point 2 must be the main explanation. Were I hearing impaired, I’d try to get a class action suit going.

Well, I had lots of problems with a TV of mine and the closed captioning. Broadcast signals, DVDs, VHS, didn’t matter. It was especially bad with DVDs, since those were always played using the composite video. My guess is that either the decoder in the TV (a Samsung from like 1998) sucked or that the signal does not get transferred (or perhaps it just doesn’t get transferred properly) through the composite input. I know it wasn’t the DVD itself, because when I would watch it on another TV with a different DVD player (also hooked up using composite in) the subtitles always came out fine.

Why would anyone use CC on a DVD? The available subtitles on 99% of all DVDs are almost always better and pretty close to perfect.

And I’ve definitely noticed the CCs on some TV shows I watch go in and out with the reception. It may not be why your specific TV is having problems, but reception/decoder problems are pretty common on my TV’s CC.

I know sometimes the dialoge and CC mismatch, but there’s one that always bugged me. In Run Lola Run (bear with me, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen it), with normal audio on and the english subtitles, the bank guard says “Lola, you’ve come at last” but when you have the English over dubbed, he says “Lola, my angel” Now IIRC, he had been shot or had a heart attack or something and again IIRC he got better when she showed up. To me, saying you’ve come at last and calling her an angel are two different things.

It’s not just a reception issue - the average TV now has something like 8 different modes for the CC decoder, and the different agencies out there that create CC’s use different protocols or variations, as well as different styles within that protocol, all of which your TV’s decoder may have issues with on its default setting. Try switching between one of the many other CC modes if you’re having issues.

I kinda rely on the subtitles on DVDs coz my hearing is a little off. I only get about 2 out of 3 words by listening.

Personally, I have no complaints. I have to wonder if that’s because I’m not deaf or because we have a different set of rules in Europe. I’m off to look that up.

I had to use the CC when I watched “The Office (BBC)” recently. Even with it on, sometimes I was left going :confused:

I mean, what’s a Scotch egg?

Scotch Egg

Some DVDs do not have English subtitles. For instance, I believe the first few seasons of Stargate SG-1 only have French and Spanish subtitles. Others do funny things with the subtitles. For instance, the later Simpsons DVDs have deleted scenes available while watching an episode, but that disables the subtitles. (There are ways around it, but not always.) Very annoying if you want to listen to the commentary while still reading the script. Sometimes the subtitles are simply difficult to read and then the simple white text in a black box of the closed captioning is much easier to read.

According to KPIX, Channel 5 CBS here in the Bay Area, it IS an issue with reception if you’re not on a cable box. Their antennas are high in the hills and sometimes the signal is garbled due to wind or weather in general.

That’s what they told me when I complained about poor captioning while my DirecTv box was out of commission.

Though even through my box I get poor captions quite often. I’ve attributed it to captioner’s error. I could do a better job than whoever’s doing it for the Channel 2 news at 5 AM. They suck. Hard.