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Sub-Titles

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Messages: 1 - 27 of 27
  • Message 1. 

    Posted by trt (U14556666) on Thursday, 26th September 2013

    Cant something be done about appalling subtitles that the hard of hearing have to put up with?

    The spelling and delays of them coming up on screen are terrible.

    Report message1

  • Message 2

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by Peta (U24) on Friday, 27th September 2013

    Hi trt

    There are two types of sub-titles, those on pre-recorded programmes like dramas and television series and those on live TV.

    The area that you will be experiencing delays and incorrect spellings/wrong word used, will be on live TV programmes.

    It's relatively easy to create accurate subtitles for pre-recorded programmes because they have lots of time to create them and correct them, and often have a script to work from, but there's no script for live programmes, so they have to be done instantly, on the spot.

    Live TV programmes are subtitled using 'respeakers'. Subtitles are mainly produced by speech recognition and not by typing. Respeakers listen to a broadcast and repeat it live (or “respeak” it) in a flat, toneless voice, as well as enunciating any punctuation marks and speech recognition software that has been specially tuned to their individual voice converts it into text.

    Because the respeakers have to listen and respeak the words, which are then converted to the text that you see on your screen, there will inevitably be a delay - the words have to be spoken and converted in the few seconds, between the words going out live and appearing on your screen. The respeakers don't have time to correct spellings or change words that are incorrectly converted into text - they just have to keep going speaking the new text that is going out live.

    You can read about a day in the life of a subtitler here:

    www.redbeemedia.com/...

    There's an article about the voice recognition software used here:

    www.redbeemedia.com/...

    More articles about subtitling at the BBC through Red Bee Media here

    www.redbeemedia.com/...


    I hope that a greater understanding of the difficulties of live subtitling will help you to understand why there are delays and problems with live subtitles.

    Perhaps in the future it will all be able to be done perfectly and automatically just using automatic voice recognition software, but that isn't the case at the moment. The software is improving over time, but at the moment it isn't perfect or fully automated, and there's still a man or woman sitting watching the live broadcast trying to keep up and respeak behind the scenes.

    Report message2

  • Message 3

    , in reply to message 2.

    Posted by wolfie (U15842015) on Friday, 27th September 2013

    There was a very unfortunate mistake in subtitles on itv the other day.


    I wonder if a speaker could sue for libel if theyve been maligned in some way by being misrepesented by what they said on subtitles.

    The hard of hearing would certainly think bad of this speaker if they relied on subtitles for what he said.

    Report message3

  • Message 4

    , in reply to message 3.

    Posted by germinator hebdo (U13411914) on Friday, 27th September 2013

    The hard of hearing are not (necessarily) hard of thinking and relying as they do on subtitles, they have probably, like the rest of us, realised long since that 'live subtitles' contain many 'typos'.

    Report message4

  • Message 5

    , in reply to message 4.

    Posted by olicana_man (U14156932) on Friday, 27th September 2013

    Why would anyone think live subtitles will be necessarily correct?.

    Technology is not that good yet!

    Think about what you're saying before complaining.

    Report message5

  • Message 6

    , in reply to message 5.

    Posted by technologist (U1259929) on Friday, 27th September 2013

    Can I point out that OFCOM have put a Consultation on Subtleing quality .....
    stakeholders.ofcom.o... can I suggest that you read the report ....... I outlines where there are limitations of the technology and what matters most accuracy or Timing .... (and it is different where you are viewing!)
    ... and that people speak fast than you can read!

    But as the Red Bee links that Peta has point out - everyone is trying to get things more accurate and on your screen quicker.

    You might like to look at the work the North Lab of BBC R&D has been dong
    www.bbc.co.uk/rd/pro...

    and I can recommend MIke Armstrong's paper .....

    and point out how automatic reformatting can be done for the real time subtitles on Iplayer etc....

    Report message6

  • Message 7

    , in reply to message 3.

    Posted by technologist (U1259929) on Friday, 27th September 2013


    I wonder if a speaker could sue for libel if theyve been maligned in some way by being misrepesented by what they said on subtitles.

    The hard of hearing would certainly think bad of this speaker if they relied on subtitles for what he said. 


    The answer is YES ....
    and this highlights why / where accuracy is important...


    But it is a commercial decision as to take the risk of libel but have a more rapid presentation , or to get it 100% accurate but with some delay - Noting that all subtitling in the UK also Summarises what is being said which also has the ability for misrepresentation.

    In Japan real time subtitles are often 30 secs or more behind the programme speech ... and less than 90% accurate

    Here we are looking about 6 seconds now and hope to get it down to less than 2 secs,/ 6 words. and greater than 98% accurate ( but what is accuracy!)

    Report message7

  • Message 8

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by Leslie Knope (U15651766) on Friday, 27th September 2013

    I always use subtitles and am entirely forgiving of typos and delays on live transmissions. Indeed, the typos can be rather entertaining.

    What I do think unforgiveable is the lack of subtitles on films / shows provided online by Apple, Netflix et al. If the BBC can do such a sterling job with iPlayer (the streaming if not downloading - that's v poor) then why can't they?

    Report message8

  • Message 9

    , in reply to message 8.

    Posted by dayraven (U13717520) on Friday, 27th September 2013

    If the BBC can do such a sterling job with iPlayer (the streaming if not downloading - that's v poor) then why can't they? 
    I suspect it's got something to do with which one of the three is most closely held to account for the amount of subtitling it provides....

    Report message9

  • Message 10

    , in reply to message 9.

    Posted by technologist (U1259929) on Friday, 27th September 2013

    Yes

    there is a difference in attitude to Subtitling / closed captioning between the USA ( where tit has to be enforced by law) and Europe - where the broadcasters (and others) see this as a public service which actually has commercial benefits (hence adverts being subtitled)

    There is also a technical issue in how subtitles are rendered on the screen - where although the new hmtl5 speciifcations has and tags there is so subtitle or CC tag. - so there needs to be a means of sending cc to the viewer.

    SMPTE has issued a specification for subtitles - which is considered "Safe Harbor" by the FCC for compliance with the CVA Act in the USA. see https://www.smpte.o...
    and the specification (Free of Charge) https://www.smpte.o...

    Leading Subtitle equipment manufacturers here in the UK had vast input to the standard - so confirming the expertise that the UK Has in this area ....

    Report message10

  • Message 11

    , in reply to message 10.

    Posted by jannemieke (U9267858) on Friday, 27th September 2013

    Here in Flanders I have no problems with the subtitles of the BBC programs although there are days, rarely, it doesn't work at all. Of course life programs have "late" subtitles but as long as I get the meaning no problem. I do have to laugh sometimes at the mistakes, they are quite funny. Being used to subtitles here in Flanders on foreign programs, perfect to the second, I am a fast sub reader. Maybe this helps. smiley - winkeye

    Report message11

  • Message 12

    , in reply to message 11.

    Posted by wolfie (U15842015) on Friday, 27th September 2013

    But, if the typo makes sense and is worded correctly, how is the hard of hearing supposed to know its a typo.

    Im appreciative of the reply that libel is an option for such instances...



    In this case the presenter issued an apology about an hour later.

    But not everybody would have been watching an hour later, and he didnt specifically say what he was apologising for just a general apolgy for something earier in the program.

    Report message12

  • Message 13

    , in reply to message 12.

    Posted by technologist (U1259929) on Friday, 18th October 2013

    Can I just bring this thread up to date

    Firstly some excellent work By BBC R&D North Lab
    looking at what is acceptable in both accuracy and Timing - and it depends if you have the sound on .

    They also have ideas on the "Blocking up" of "Snake" subtitles
    the whole suite of reports is well worth a read

    www.bbc.co.uk/rd/pro...

    Some of the ideas were tried some time ago ....

    But OFCOM have issued a reply to their consultation and are looking at getting metrics from all broadcasters .

    stakeholders.ofcom.o...

    Report message13

  • Message 14

    , in reply to message 2.

    Posted by MG_man (U15909608) on Tuesday, 29th October 2013

    hi Peta - thanks for your explanation, I had thought subtitles were produced by the television equivalent of Court stenographers (perhaps they once were).

    However, these respeakers must be listening to high quality headphones, so should be able to pick up things which are far from clear in our living rooms.

    I usually have subtitles turned on, because although my far from perfect ears can usually understand newsreaders and documentary voice-overs, most outside broadcasts with their poorer sound quality, and some people with foreign accents, defeat me....

    But sometimes I get the distinct impression that the respeakers do not have a good enough grasp of English! During tonight's 6 o'clock news, one speaker used the word "febrile" - but the subtitle came up (inaudible). It WAS perfectly audible, so I can only conclude that the respeaker had ever heard the word, let alone knew its meaning!

    Report message14

  • Message 15

    , in reply to message 14.

    Posted by Guv-nor (U7476305) on Tuesday, 29th October 2013

    MG_man I suspect you have misunderstood the system. While the respeaker may have said "febrile" perfectly it is not a very common word and may therefore have not been recognised by the software.

    The software could have typed "boogered if I know" but inaudible is probably a better default. Of course it could have had a stab and rendered "fee bile" or one of the other amusing attempts that appear from time to time.

    For anybody like me who was uncertain about the meaning
    www.oxforddictionari...

    Report message15

  • Message 16

    , in reply to message 14.

    Posted by technologist (U1259929) on Wednesday, 30th October 2013

    MG_man .. Yes steno was used .... But it is very expensive and there are a lot fewer steno operators as most legal etc are recorded and transcribed.
    Hence respeaking , which adds punctuation , colour changes etc...
    Read more about the joys of subtitling www.redbeemedia.com/...

    Report message16

  • Message 17

    , in reply to message 16.

    Posted by designengineer (U11181100) on Wednesday, 30th October 2013

    MG_man .. Yes steno was used .... But it is very expensive and there are a lot fewer steno operators as most legal etc are recorded and transcribed.
    Hence respeaking , which adds punctuation , colour changes etc...
    Read more about the joys of subtitling www.redbeemedia.com/... 
    At a local cafe at the swimming we go to they have the TV with subtitles on rather than with the volume up, and I've given up reading them because of an irritating feature I've not seen mentioned here: quite often I read to the end of a line then down to the next, and find it doesn't make sense because the first few words of the next line are simply a repeat of the end of the previous line. I know it's a well-known typo in newspapers etc - "the the" "and and" etc - but this is whole chunks of one line being repeated on the next. By the time you've scanned the next line to find out where it should continue it's started to move again.

    Report message17

  • Message 18

    , in reply to message 2.

    Posted by olicana_man (U14156932) on Wednesday, 30th October 2013

    If this is the case why does a programme like Panaroma, which is clearly not live, have trailing subtitles. Surely this programme is pre-recorded and therefore there is no excuse for out of sync subtitles.

    Report message18

  • Message 19

    , in reply to message 17.

    Posted by zen ohmywindows10soexciting (U14877400) on Wednesday, 30th October 2013

    At a local cafe at the swimming we go to they have the TV with subtitles on rather than with the volume up, and I've given up reading them because of an irritating feature I've not seen mentioned here: quite often I read to the end of a line then down to the next, and find it doesn't make sense because the first few words of the next line are simply a repeat of the end of the previous line. 
    You might be using the wrong kind of sub-titles . Try checking the settings to see if the block titles are available.

    Report message19

  • Message 20

    , in reply to message 18.

    Posted by geriatricpete (U13864902) on Wednesday, 30th October 2013

    If this is the case why does a programme like Panaroma, which is clearly not live, have trailing subtitles. Surely this programme is pre-recorded and therefore there is no excuse for out of sync subtitles.  I have noticed this happens on programmes which are recorded close to transmission time such as 'Have I Got News For You'. The later repeats of the latter have normal sub-titles. It seems the time factor between recording and transmission is the reason.

    Report message20

  • Message 21

    , in reply to message 20.

    Posted by olicana_man (U14156932) on Wednesday, 30th October 2013

    No explanation from Peta 2 then?

    Report message21

  • Message 22

    , in reply to message 18.

    Posted by technologist (U1259929) on Wednesday, 30th October 2013

    As others have said .. If the programme is finished close to transmission it can only be subtitled by real time which gives the snake effect. Not well timed blocks.
    Panorama is one if these and often is edited for legal reasons very close to Tx.
    OFCOM has demanded figures for this type of real time in recorded programmes.


    What we used to do is to preroll the recorded programme a few second before the Tx machine and work off that ......
    Or have the ability it incrementally add the subtitle file as the programme went through ... So you would start with say the first five minutes done and then at say three minutes in load the next ten minutes which one subtitler had done and the at 14 mins the rest which another subtitler had done.
    Both of. these are very person intensive and required a very complex playout system ..... Which is not easy to automate !!!!!!!!

    I have not seen the "and and /the the "effect on BBC channels
    ... But it is more likely to happen with longer words as some systems but them up syllable by syllable
    So suddenly the run out if space at the end if the row so deletes the almost complete word and put it on the next row.

    Report message22

  • Message 23

    , in reply to message 22.

    Posted by olicana_man (U14156932) on Thursday, 31st October 2013

    Thanks for explanation, but I hope you don't acutally do the subtitles, your english is a bit garbled.

    Report message23

  • Message 24

    , in reply to message 23.

    Posted by technologist (U1259929) on Thursday, 31st October 2013

    Sorry - English was modified by I Pad .. PC (which I am on now) is a lot better!

    Report message24

  • Message 25

    , in reply to message 24.

    Posted by Fiona-T (U15901665) on Thursday, 31st October 2013

    For me, deaf, I have got used to subtitles over the years and now tend to take them as they come, warts and all. Nowadays i have difficulties with technology, leave that to experts more so after looking at some of the links on this thread but never did fathom "block" and "snake" ? smiley - smiley

    Report message25

  • Message 26

    , in reply to message 15.

    Posted by MG_man (U15909608) on Friday, 1st November 2013

    MG_man I suspect you have misunderstood the system. While the respeaker may have said "febrile" perfectly it is not a very common word and may therefore have not been recognised by the software.

    The software could have typed "boogered if I know" but inaudible is probably a better default. Of course it could have had a stab and rendered "fee bile" or one of the other amusing attempts that appear from time to time.

    For anybody like me who was uncertain about the meaning
    www.oxforddictionari... 
    With respect, I think I have understood correctly: if the software could not recognise the word "febrile" then it is not fit for purpose...febrile is common enough in medical circles, and the 6 o'clock news reporter obviously thought it would be familiar to viewers.

    This was just one example: many others have occurred during transmission of programmes such as Formula 1 : quite a few technical terms are used which the respeaker is unfamiliar with, and they have spoken what it sounds like to them, the result often being close to gibberish!

    And how do you explain the corrections, which are often more hilarious than the original mistake? Do the respeakers watch the results as they come up on screen?

    One area where subtitles really come into their own is music videos (am currently watching Pink Floyd on BBC4): lyrics which have long been a mystery to me are at last revealed!

    Report message26

  • Message 27

    , in reply to message 26.

    Posted by Guv-nor (U7476305) on Friday, 1st November 2013

    Since there have been 18 months to get the subtitles on 'Pink Floyd: Wish You Were Here' right, rather than 0.18 seconds is it any wonder?

    Report message27

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