Close-Caption / subtitle LGBT films for hard-of-hearing

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This is a plea to please close-caption/English subtitle LGBT films and series (as well as all films and series) for the hard-of-hearing like me.  The problem that filmmakers face is that subtitles can be expensive to implement.  But I have come into contact with several people who have added their own subtitles (with their own software, thus saving money compared to paying a third-party to do this timed-transcription for them and creating the SRT file to be imported into the software – SRT is the most common subtitle format).

When I talked to these filmmakers, the subtitles were often added because these people had people who they knew needed these subtitles in order to understand the content of a movie.  Sometimes it had to do with hearing loss, and other times it was more to do with helping those who know English as a second language to understand the film.

 

Please, if you know of someone who is creating a movie, consider informing them that a lot of the major movie editing platforms now have options to add closed-captions/subtitles to the content.  Sometimes having a transcript will save time.  If there’s a script for the movie, then copy/paste could be utilized, at least for many scenes that have dialogue close enough to the final cut of the movie.  I have worked on films before, both in front of the screen and behind, and I know that the final result is often changed in editing.  But I also know that spending extra time on certain things makes for increased satisfaction and gratification as there is a knowing that a necessary feature was added.  I personally had most of my acting content subtitled so it could be accessible to everyone.  At first, I just had YouTube captioned, and then Vimeo started supporting captioning, so I uploaded the SRT files created for the YouTube videos on my Vimeo videos.

One thing that could save time is adding your movie, perhaps temporarily to YouTube.  YouTube will accept transcriptions you upload and automatically time them for you using their fascinating technology, so you don’t have to spend time adding sync information to the SRT files.  You can also download the automatic captions SRT (most common file for subtitles) file that is created for a movie.  Then, you can edit the automatic captions for accuracy.  This sort of service can definitely save time and money.  Yes, hiring an outside company can potentially be cost-prohibitive, but consider the number of people you would be helping.

And maybe there might be some way to not view the cost as prohibitive, but rather as just another piece of the budget to consider.  Perhaps when fundraising for the film, you could even mention that you would like to add subtitles but that it would cost a certain amount and that the fundraising goal would help get the funding required for the subtitles.  I bet there would be people who would be very happy to donate based on the fact that the film will have subtitles/captions.

There’s even a feature that can be enabled through YouTube that allows the community to add captions to your videos for you.  YouTube doesn’t advertise it very much, and the link to enable it is tiny – but it is located on the captioning page: https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/6052538?hl=en

There has been a proliferation of affordable captioning services in recent years.  If your film or series will be online-only, you could consider the YouTube suggestion I placed above, or you could explore the different services that provide subtitles by Googling.  Sometimes, as aforementioned a transcript will make it easier.  Some companies charge less if a transcript is included.

Consider trying to add subtitles yourself.  Be sure to add the option to turn them on on the DVD or Blu-Ray menu!  Yes, the person watching the film or series can turn the subtitles on using the remote, but having the option available through the menu makes it clear the film has subtitles and this also allows for easy activation of such subtitles.

Of course, there really isn’t any menu for online streaming services such as YouTube.  In these cases, the channel video will often display “CC” in the description (separate from the CC button in the YouTube video player).  This means the video will show up in results as having subtitles manually added.  “CC” stands for closed-captions.  Subtitles is just another name for the same type of technology, in this case.  There were older style captions that are still prevalent on many DVDs and cannot be viewed with modern hardware, quite an annoyance, but I won’t get into that here. 🙂

~Patrick Tully

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