Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Captioning the Big Screen

While things are in a bit of a lull for me (sent away my CI package about a week ago, now we wait), check out this neat thing: a 'rear-window' captioning system for movie theatres! It's such a simple design it's incredible nobody thought of it before, but when someone did, it was the amazingly creative people at WGBH, the Boston public broadcaster which has become a leader in closed-captioning.

(From personal experience I can tell you WGBH is second to none in the CC business, adding touches like sound effects, identifying by title pieces of music playing, etc. Fox uses WGBH for almost all their original series which means that the home of bad taste on broadcast tv ironically has the best-quality captioning. [Best-captioned program on tv? No doubt, The Simpsons.] The very worst? Spelling Productions, which captions its own programs in-house. It is so hideously bad - watch three minutes of "Seventh Heaven", if you are able to stand the content to view the effect, to get a taste of it at its worst - that it is incomprehensible why they bother. Something to do with the Persons with Disabilities Act, one supposes.)

Anyway, this new MOPIX system is much, much cheaper than opera-style back-of-the-seat captioning to install so hopefully, it will be coming soon to a theater near you. So far it is installed for some reason in Alberta and Manitoba only (shrug); it will doubtless hit Ontario and Quebec toute suite; perhaps it'll get out here in time for me to see "Star Wars -XXVIII: Something Moves In The Primordial Ooze".



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