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BBC subtitling spreads

  • By Paul Crichton
  • 26 Nov 07, 10:36 AM

More news on the subtitles front, you lucky lucky people. In addition to the programmes available via the iPlayer, which is the BBC’s seven-day catch-up service, subtitled content is also being made available on some of the various BBC platforms.

BBC Wales is running a campaign called,Capture Wales. This is a “digital storytelling” project, and members of the public can submit short videos about matters important to them. There are a wide variety of interesting stories, from anecdotes about a father’s fifteen minutes of fame, to Lyndon Wray’s recollections of the natural beauty of North Wales.

All of these short films carry subtitles, and many also have transcripts. Whether you are Welsh or not, so long as you are interested in people, then a lot of these short clips are worth dipping into.

It is a similar story on the Film Network website, where up and coming filmmakers showcase their short films. These include animation, comedy, drama and more experimental films, and there is plenty to interest everyone. Well worth checking out is God & Dave, a short film about relationships, traffic jams, and whales. No, really.

Both of these websites also provide plenty of help in setting up your media player to show subtitles, and you can also provide feedback on them if you want to help the service even better.

Signs of Life is well worth checking out as well. This is an interactive online occult thriller with games threaded throughout the story.

It has everything that the sullen, moody, emo listening teenager could want. There’s romance, creepy twins, skulls, tarot, astrology and, er, a rather sinister stalker. Games range from simple exercises like uncovering energy lines in the ground, to psychometric-like tests to reveal your personality.

And to think, when I was a kid, interactive meant making stuff along with Blue Peter. Kids today don’t know they’re born, etc etc.

It is subtitled as well, which is pretty cool. We’ve looked at a few interactive online experiences before, like HBO’s Voyeur (why are they all so dark?) and bemoaned the lack of inclusivity. So it is good to see something like Signs of Life that is making the effort.

If I have one criticism of the subtitles, it would be that in the first episode, sometimes a different colour is used to show different speakers, and sometimes that wasn’t the case. By the second episode, though, that issue appears to have been resolved.

I would also like to see a way to skip the games. Now I know that sounds counter-intuitive when it comes to inter-activity, but Signs of Life is interesting enough for people to want to watch it without them. And if, for example, you can’t see the dots to join them up in order to progress to the second half of the first episode, well then, you’re a bit stuffed.

But lets not get too critical here. Signs of Life is the BBC’s first major interactive experiment of this nature, and as grand as it is, they are bound to learn from it for similar future projects. And I’ll look forward to seeing what they come up with next.

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