Tag Archives: captioning

Inclusion in the World of Film

Today I was catching up on my blog-reading (slipped a bit) and found a post I enjoyed by Liz in Fate is Chance, Destiny is Choice: Inclusion.

I know exactly where she’s coming from when she speaks of the feeling of panic you get when everybody in the classroom starts a mad scramble, and you don’t know what is going on because you didn’t hear the statements that led up to that moment. Gosh, that brings it all back! I didn’t have any notetakers and wouldn’t even have thought of it. To catch up, I read books, and they were as often my family’s choice of books as the school’s, so maybe I knew things the others didn’t, and vice versa. I was always a little ‘not fond’ of school, and I’m sure uncertainty was the main reason why.

Malfunctioning subtitling equipment, gosh, yes. I haven’t tried the ones in cinemas, but the ones in TV are malfunctioning all the time; or the TVs and receivers garble the subtitles/captions for whatever reason. Someone like me isn’t able to pinpoint why, and even if the experts knew why, they won’t be in a hurry to explain it to their customers – they don’t want us interfering or making ‘unreasonable’ demands. That sounds paranoid, I know, but that comes from general life experience and observation! There is so little out there that’s subtitled… for reasons of cost and hassle, apparently. I like to think folk are doing their best to change this situation, and I’m sure some are, but I can’t help suspecting that other people don’t care, and yet others are more interested in an easy life and profits.

I’ve always felt that film editors should consider this a little more (if allowed by the management)… you know how some pictures are very fast moving… take a look at Disney’s Hercules as an example. It’s almost impossible to watch the film AND read the subtitles. In extreme examples I have resorted to rewinding DVDs and videos in an effort to catch something that whipped past. I’m a fast reader; I have learned to absorb chunks of subtitling in the blink of an eye, as in the next instant it could be gone… but sometimes I’m just not fast enough. I’m pretty sure speedy filming makes life harder for the subtitler as well as for the subtitle-reader. The subtitler’s mission is to place as much meaning as possible in a small space and increasingly small amounts of time. My point is that film editing could be more inclusive but isn’t much considered, if at all. Does film need to zip past quite as fast? Why? Quite often the commercials are slower and better subtitled than the movie we have just barged through.

That’s all I want to say for the time being; I think I’ll get a soothing mug of coffee now!


Frustration of Various Sorts

Trying to Get Outdoors

Sharky is definitely frustrated! He’s keen to get out and explore, but we keep stopping him. I found that carrying him out to a deckchair and trying to sit with him doesn’t work, as he’s so keen to jump off your knee and head straight for the nearest exit point (hedge, driveway, neighbour’s wall, etc).

Still rattled by his long disappearance earlier, I bought a pink cat harness so I can take him walks round the garden. I would have got him a blue one, but they only had pink left. Luckily I’m not too allergic to the colour. He allows himself to be strapped in but looks a bit of a martyr, closing his eyes and putting his nose in the air. Mum got a fit of the giggles.

I have to say walking dogs is far more interesting than walking a cat. I was falling asleep on my feet while Sharky sniffed at things and tiptoed delicately about, then stared for ages at places where he wanted to go but I wouldn’t let him.

The idea is not to incarcerate him forever, but to get him used to both the garden and the house, and then maybe give him his freedom one bright morning when we’re all out in the garden. I’ve heard too many horror stories of cats taking off shortly after a move.

During one of our perambulations, we found soda cans and bottles popped over the wall into Mum’s garden – obviously from the house next door. There are children living there. They’ve been doing it for years; I think Mum let the parents know in a friendly way that they did tend to put stuff over the wall, including a new jacket once, various play balls and footballs, a soft toy and some yoghurt pots – the parents are friendly and I’m sure they try to put a stop to it, but the boys don’t seem to have grown out of the habit. I mentioned to Mum that I found more of these things, and she seemed unsurprised. “From over there? Yes.” She looked a little sad.

She’s too old to be cleaning up after the neighbours’ kids.

Trying to Watch Films

It’s Bruce Willis season on ITV2 just now – I deliberately missed Unbreakable as I’m not keen on it, and I already blogged what happened when I tried to watch The Sixth Sense. I decided to watch The Last Boy Scout last night on my mother’s TV, as it seemed more likely I would get the subtitles for it.

It was embarrassing, as I rushed around making sure we were all comfortable and had our hot drinks, and then we waited in an anticipatory hush for the film to start… and the subtitles were not making sense.

“Are they lagging behind?” I asked Mum.
“Slightly,” she said.

Oh well, if it’s just slightly, that’s bearable, so I kept watching. When I finally got the hang of where where we were (“Go get his watch!”) I realized it was lagging considerably, not just slightly – you didn’t get the subtitles till halfway through the next scene.

After about 5 minutes of this, the subtitles disappeared altogether and were replaced with “We apologize but there are no subtitles for this programme.” Then after a minute or two, that disappeared as well.


We went away and watched The Top 50 Celebrity Animals on Sky Three. (The winner was not a live animal). When that was over, I looked to see if the subtitles had reappeared by the end of The Last Boy Scout – no, there was nothing there.

Looks like I’ll have to wait a bit longer to see this film – maybe buy the DVD in a charity shop if it turns up.

Comments for this entry (during its previous life on Blogigo):

1. Pacian wrote at Aug 9, 2007 at 23:19: There’s nothing more annoying than lagging subtitles.

I actually grew to like Unbreakable when I saw it for the second time. I’m not a big fan of M. Night Shyamalan, but I think he made a very interesting film with that one – even if it doesn’t really go anywhere.

2. Diddums wrote at Aug 11, 2007 at 00:56: I’ll probably watch Unbreakable again, after an interval – there were elements of it that appealed. The scene that sticks in my mind is of the cloaked figure standing in the crowd. There’s a neatness to it which does fit perfectly, but… you have to recognize that to like the story. And there are still things about it that you want to change. 😀

Them Nasty Hobbitses

I was online today, looking at some Lord of the Rings boxed sets (DVDs) to see if they had subtitles for the hard of hearing, and drew a blank. Not because the site said they weren’t subtitled, but because nothing was said about it at all – so you don’t really know if they have no subtitles or if the information was somehow omitted that they do. Or perhaps, because they’re boxed sets, some of the DVDs are subtitled, and some aren’t. I don’t know.

In particular, I was looking at the extended DVDs, and strongly suspect that if there’s any subtitling, only half the DVDs are subtitled – the ‘film’ half. That means half my money would be wasted.

Until I find out for sure (and perhaps other sites on the internet have the relevant information) I will not be buying.

The Lord of the Rings videos weren’t subtitled! I clearly remember the day I found out. I was having a bad day already, but was looking forward to seeing the film when it came out on video. I was standing in a Tesco queue with Mum. Mum spotted the video on a rack, looked at it, put it back, turned to me and said: “it’s not subtitled.”

I was stunned – this is the Lord of the Rings they’re talking about! The all-time fantasy classic! We’ve all been waiting for a film like this for years! How can it not be subtitled???

I pulled other New Line Cinema videos from the racks to see if they had subtitles – at that time, none of the ones I checked did. I don’t know what their reasons were; maybe they had a very good reason – that’s just how it was. It still didn’t seem right – not for something this big.

I think (but am not sure) that the extended versions had subtitles, but I couldn’t afford the shop price – I hoped they might turn up in the second-hand CD store or a charity shop, but so far all I’ve seen are the unsubtitled versions. Those were the regular ones that most people bought. I confess to a few moments of annoyance when thinking about this – “everyone should boycott the unsubtitled videos!” but I can’t expect that. A bit dog-in-the-mangerish. Everybody-focus-on-MY-problemsish. Ridiculous. “But they should still have been subtitled…” says a voice in my head, disbelieving. “Them nasty hobbitses forgot the captionses.”

Gollum, gollum.

So it was another while yet before I got to see the Lord of the Rings on TV. Other people were talking about it, raving about how marvellous it was, and how they had seen it three times already… and I hadn’t even seen it once. I fervently hoped I didn’t accidentally die before I ever got to see it. Wouldn’t that be annoying?

I remember I was storing up videos to watch and we were going on holiday, and I got to thinking “what if we all die in a motorway pile-up and I never ever see any of these videos because I was ‘saving’ them?” So I sat down before the holiday to watch some, including Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Since then I’ve snagged plenty more videos, so there’s always something new. I’m a firm believer in having something to look forward to, no matter how small.

Edit Feb 2008: Comments to this entry when it was hosted on Blogigo:

1. Pacian wrote at Nov 23, 2006 at 23:33:
I worry about this too. Subtitles can even be poorly done on films that aren’t in English, which is the main reason I try to always find out beforehand.

Quick googling turns up: http://dvd-subtitles.com/
Is this the one?

For non-English films, DVD Times usually mentions if the subtitles are incomplete or correspond to a dub rather than the original language track.

2. Diddums wrote at Nov 24, 2006 at 00:29:
Thanks for the URLs! The boxed set you mention is partly subtitled, according to that site. Some of the ‘extras’ are not subtitled, but the films are. And what they have are ‘English subtitles, but not for the hard of hearing’ – presumably that means it doesn’t say “bell dongs” or “Balrog roars incomprehensibly” and things like that… doesn’t bother me all that much, though sometimes it’s important to know.

3. KatieK wrote at Nov 24, 2006 at 05:57:
Nasty Hobitses indeed! This is…incomprehensible. Spend 400 billion whatsits on film production and then leave out the subtitles. I am very disappointed in them and now I will think about this every time I watch my DVD version of the films. Bad Corporation, bad corporation!

4. Bunnyman wrote at Nov 24, 2006 at 19:36:
Hello Diddums. I’m a bit of a slow reader, but that’s me caught up now. You know, you really do have a lovely blog and it’s a real treat to read.

I’m very chuffed that I got a mention on one of your posts and even a place on your links list. An honour indeed, thank you!

On the subject of subtitles, I have the first two films as separate extended DVD editions for the UK (think that’s region 2 but I can’t remember), although they must both be over a year old. Both have subtitles for the film part. Not yet sure about the extras because I can’t get my DVD player to work properly right now – dratted thing’s being very badly behaved. If I do get it working, I’ll let you know 🙂

5. Bunnyman wrote at Nov 24, 2006 at 20:19:
Got it to work now on an old Windows laptop. Unfortunately, there is no setup menu on my Extras CD so it does indeed look like subtitling for the film part only. Seems to be just the voice bits too, no other sounds or hints. During that section where Saruman snitches to Sauron via the Palantir, it’s not that clear who’s saying what.

Don’t know whether any of this has improved in recent versions.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is brilliant – all that running across roofs and up walls. I tried it once but scraped my fingers then fell on my bum – quite painful it was too. Might need to take some lessons.

6. Diddums wrote at Nov 25, 2006 at 13:59:

Hi Bunnyman, thanks very much for the information on the DVD – that does sound right; sometimes I get confused about who said what. Then they suddenly start placing the text right over the characters’ faces, as though they think it will help. Then stop and go back to normal again – no idea what that’s all about. It’s as though different people are working on it, with different ideas of ideal text placement.

Does it say anywhere on Croughing Tiger, Hidden Dragon ‘don’t try this at home?’ Heh.

7. Bunnyman wrote at Nov 25, 2006 at 14:24:
Well at least on my copies, the titles aren’t over the faces. Mind you, they would be if anyone had to bend to tie their shoelace; they do seem to be quite large, in the lower part of the screen. Perhaps they’ll obscure some critical piece of hitherto unnoticed plot such as Boromir passing Frodo a secret note saying “I love you really, it’s the script, it made me do it!”

Racing Against the TV

I raced the television tonight. It was showing GoldenEye (a James Bond film) on ITV2. I always watch this because Alan Cumming is Boris Grishenko – and then there is Sean Bean as Alex, or 006.

A little way into the film, when the characters had got past all the dramatic introductory stuff and started talking to each other, I realized there were no subtitles. This was one of ITV2’s things which was supposed to be subtitled but didn’t appear to be. How that happens, I don’t know.

Well now Sean Bean and Pierce Brosnan are galloping about, up to no good in Ouromov’s wash house, and I shuffle over to the corner to fetch my GoldenEye video. I know this has got captions, so I can watch this instead. I put it on, and watch it from the beginning, from the point where James Bond comes running along the top of the dam and jumps off.

Occasionally I stop the video to get coffee. Out of curiosity, I check back to see how ITV2 is doing. It’s falling behind! The subtitles have still not surfaced, and often I find myself tuning into a commercial – it always seems to be the same one.

When I finally reach the end of GoldenEye (happily our heroine doesn’t get killed in this one) I switch to ITV2 to see where they’ve got to, and James Bond and the girl are just starting to roll down the big dish towards the gap in the middle. They have a way to go…

Edit Feb 2008: Comments for this entry when it was hosted on Blogigo:

1. Pacian wrote at Nov 8, 2006 at 21:53:
Apparently advertisers are demanding more and more air time because people are ignoring their adverts more and more…

(Spot the vicious cycle.)

2. Diddums wrote at Nov 9, 2006 at 20:40:
There has to be a breaking point somewhere, and something tells me it’s not us who’s going to break.

Weighed Down by Wealth

Television subtitles and captions (or rather the typos and mistakes we are regularly treated to) can be entertainment in their own right. Watching The People’s Museum just now, they were showing us a large and extremely ornate object – the Mayor’s Coach. It was apparently covered from ‘tip to toe’ with gold leaf and guilt.

Sounds about right to me.

Toothy Gaps in the TV Schedule

I’ve not seen The Angry Beavers for a while – where did they go? I liked them very much and didn’t get to see all the episodes. The two beaver brothers reminded me of my own family. I picked Norb for my sister E, the popular laid-back blonde who does everything wonderfully. Dag is me, the dark and jittery one who has grandiose plans but makes a mess of everything. They fight a lot but really miss each other if anything goes wrong.

Another thing they stopped showing here in the UK was Bernard and the Genie, starring Lenny Henry and Alan Cumming (my favourite Scottish actor). I don’t know why they stopped showing that – this film really made me smile. My favourite bit is when Bernard’s girlfriend dumps him at Christmas, and he’s left all alone in his apartment with his memories…

Then there’s Northern Exposure. Sure, it was showing on one of the digital channels (ITV2?) when I finally got hold of Freeview – but it wasn’t captioned. How frustrating. There are other good shows running that I can’t watch because they’re not captioned:

  • Andromeda
  • Due South
  • Jeeves and Wooster
  • Mapp and Lucia
  • Monkey
  • Poirot
  • Quantum Leap
  • Rumpole of the Bailey
  • Sherlock Holmes
  • The Cosby Mysteries
  • The Practice
  • The Water Margin

Edit Jan 2008: also Deep Space Nine on Virgin 1.

Thankfully The Avengers do have subtitles – bless you, BBC4.

I have just found something in the Wikipedia about a controversy surrounding The Angry Beavers. It adds that the series returned to Nicktoons TV on 20th June 2005. I only get Freeview so it seems I’m fresh out of luck and Angry Beavers. Nuts!