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BBC Subtitle Trial

  • By Paul Crichton
  • 15 Dec 06, 11:35 AM

Next week sees the public trial of new subtitling features from the BBC’s Access Services team.

We’ve mentioned before that the team have been working on some exciting features for the iPlayer – which is the media player to be used in the delivery of programmes for the BBC’s video on demand service from next year onwards. Amongst these features is a new subtitling service. As the subtitles are ready to be tested in advance of the iPlayer, they will be used on programmes currently streamed from the local and national BBC websites.

One of the things that I’ve been asked a few times since starting this blog is, why is it that programmes shown online do not have subtitles when the televised programme does? I asked Andrew Strachan, Content Producer Accessibility for BBC Future Media & Technology what the answer was. “Recordings for television are fundamentally different from their digital equivalents. On TV, captioning is embedded in the signal rather than the programme itself”, he explained. “Subtitling can’t just be taken from the broadcast version, it needs to be re-done for the internet.”

Given that the subtitling needs to be done specifically for the web, it presented an opportunity to include extra enhancements not possible on TV.

A key feature of the trial will be to provide the user with the facility and option of turning subtitles on/off as well as changing the media format such as Windows Media & Real Media. An additional feature is the provision of subtitles to facilitate the Welsh and Gaelic indigenous language.

The testing phase is expected to last for 3 months. Once completed, any adjustments needed once users have tested it and provided feedback will be integrated ready for the launch of iPlayer next year.

Comments   Post your comment

I look forward to this long awaited development!

I notice Mr. Strachan correctly uses the term "Captioning". When will the rest of the BBC catch up and do the same?

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