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Is my closed caption problem unique?

Discussion in 'DIRECTV HD DVR/Receiver Discussion' started by Jon J, Aug 24, 2010.

  1. Jon J

    Jon J Grouch Extrordinaire

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    Last night on two recorded programs on an HR20-700, one from TNT and the other from A&E, neither the DirecTV caption or regular closed captions worked. Captions worked just fine on live. Has anyone else seen (or not seen) this? ;)
     
  2. Church AV Guy

    Church AV Guy Godfather

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    There are still a lot of programs out there that are NOT closed captioned. Was the "CC" visible at the program start along with the rating? I suspect they simply lacked the CC info, unless you are saying that you have captions available when watching live, but the same program when played back does not have captions. This would be odd as there should be no difference.
     
  3. Jon J

    Jon J Grouch Extrordinaire

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    Apr 22, 2002
    Music City, USA
    Checking further this morning it looks like CC is not functioning on only one of my receivers. The others are fine. I am trying a restart in hopes it wakes up the function. ;)

    Added: Evidently it had simply forgotten how to perform that task and a reset reminded it. All works now. ;)
     
  4. TomCat

    TomCat Broadcast Engineer

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    Other than news or informational programs, that is not likely the case. I guess you can find "a lot" if you counted them all up, but then anything more than a dozen eggs in my fridge is "a lot" from one point of view. Percentage-wise, I suspect uncaptioned programming to be well down into the single digits. Anything professionally produced for distribution in the last decade or more has CC. It is unlikely for TNT or A&E to run content old enough to not have been originally captioned, and most content older than that has been recaptioned. Even Hogan's Heroes from 1965 on HDNet is captioned, and that likely predates captioning by decades.

    Plus, there are stringent FCC requirements. With teeth. No group other than the oil companies, insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies has a stronger lobby than the deaf community. Broadcasters must caption virtually anything they air between 5 AM and midnight (other than commercials or informercials). If it doesn't have it, they have to hire an outsource company such as Colorado Caption, to caption it live. Even breaking news that threatens to go more than 5 minutes implies captioning to avoid hefty fines. There are a lot of court reporters moonlighting as captioners due to increased requirements over the last couple of years, and it will only get more stringent.

    It is not quite to that level for cable as of yet, but uncaptioned programs on mainstream cable channels have become very rare. Unless is it niche programming on a niche channel, the reason you are not seeing CC is due to something other than the fact that the program never had it in the first place.
     
  5. JeffBowser

    JeffBowser blah blah blah

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    I tell you what has bugged me lately - CC that is so far behind the voice as to be near useless. And CC that drops in and out. Things need to be tightened up.
     
  6. Church AV Guy

    Church AV Guy Godfather

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    For example, I was watching the movie Cuba, and there wsa no CC info with that movie at all. I tried it on two receivers, and using the SD output and the CC from the television. It just wasn't there. You would (obviously) be surprised at how many programs do not have CC. I was.
     
  7. TomCat

    TomCat Broadcast Engineer

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    Since I am a broadcast maintenance engineer professionally, charged with helping make sure viewers get CC and also use CC much of the time in my personal viewing, I would not be surprised at the state of CC, obviously or otherwise.

    There are movies in some stations' archives that are old enough not to have captioning (Cuba might fit that scenario) but stations have mostly replaced non-captioned content over the last couple of years, or are supposed to have, for the reasons stated in my earlier post. Movies fed to them recently (not from the archive) virtually all have captioning. Between those two scenarios, it it rare for a station to not have captioning. As I said, cable requirements may be a bit behind broadcast, but not by much. If it is your perception that there are a lot of shows without captioning, the reality of the content-provider marketplace indicates that your perceptions are simply not representative of what that reality is.

    If the station does not have it on a particular program, call them and complain (preferably while the show is still on). They are compelled to either have it, or add it live. They will probably jump through hoops to fix it for you (possibly within a few minutes), just to avoid nasty repurcussions from folks complaining to the FCC, which is the last thing they want. Most stations monitor it very closely and comply quickly when it is missing by getting a new feed of the offending show, or captioning it live. Those that don't pay fines.
     
  8. TomCat

    TomCat Broadcast Engineer

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    I agree, Jeff. It is a lousy system. One of the problems is that there is little if any error correction (or effective error correction) for CC, while EC for everything else is fairly robust. This can mean that when reception is on the ragged edge, PQ will still be perfect while CC will be hit-or-miss. IOW, it is one of the first things to go over the digital cliff.

    Just like A and V can get out of sync, CC can also. They are all separate streams muxed together, and so far there is little that can be done to time them and keep them in time, which is why you see a lot of audio and video out of sync. That is usually addressed, and monitored, and fixed if it drifts, which minimizes the problems, but is is essentially (for A and V) two free-running elastic signals that can speed up or slow down independently, depending on circumstances.

    CC is another stream element, with the same problems, but is rarely monitored for anything other than integrity. One station in my market is regularly 20 seconds ahead in their captioning. As an engineer working with these issues regularly, I still can not even begin to guess why they allow things to get so far out of sync.

    DIgital TV is far from a mature technology. It took some 20 years before NTSC got the color to match from shot to shot, so it may also take some time to fix the little niggling issues with digital TV.
     
  9. JeffBowser

    JeffBowser blah blah blah

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    Terrific information, many thanks for sharing your expertise with us !

    I do find CC on most programs, but HD PPV on DirecTV is often missing CC. Based on your suggestion, I will complain about it next time. My pattern now has to just not use PPV because of this, but my family has gotten to like the new system where they are already downloaded to the DVR.

     
  10. trainman

    trainman Hall Of Fame

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    Sherman...
    A lot of the people who actually use captioning, who should be complaining about things like that, are still in the mindset of "we're just happy to have captions in the first place," so they don't complain to the station or the FCC.

    I worked as a closed-captioner for seven and a half years, and I never watch captions now -- I get too frustrated when I see bad captioning on pre-taped shows, i.e., obvious misspellings and the like. (Live captioning is a different matter entirely, and deserves to be cut a lot of slack -- although when I see it being done on a pre-taped show, I roll my eyes and assume it's the network/producer attempting to save a few bucks at the expense of the viewers who need the captioning.)
     
  11. spartanstew

    spartanstew Dry as a bone DBSTalk Club

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    quick CC question:

    Sometimes when I'm watching a show using CC, there'll be captioning for parts of dialogue that either 1) aren't there (it was edited from the show) or 2) are too muffled for anyone to hear (intentionally).

    Like you'll hear a loudspeaker in the background at an airport that the viewer isn't even intended to hear (just muffled noise), but on the CC it'll say "flight 285 to Denver now departing" in between dialogue of the characters.

    Do closed captioners go off of the actual show's script to be able to identify that information?
     
  12. JeffBowser

    JeffBowser blah blah blah

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    I always wondered that, too. That and news cast CC - that's abysmal, and shouldn't even be there, if they can't have it make sense or match the dialog.

     
  13. TomCat

    TomCat Broadcast Engineer

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    It could be that DBS is not yet under the forced compliance that broadcast "enjoys". They seem to make a pretty good effort to pass CC when it exists, but when it is missing they seem not to care. It is a little surprising that captioning of movies for any medium such as DBS or cable would not be automatic from the vendor, however. Most of those who it is distributed to will want or need it, and it is a one-time issue. You would also think that they are losing money by not captioning PPV, as your anecdote illustrates.

    They also seem to not care that "Eyes" on the 101 is not captioned. This is also puzzling since it was likely captioned for ABC when they ran it in 2005. Possibly, since there may not be forced compliance for DBS yet, it is an economic situation. IOW, they can ignore the dull roar of captioning complaints because tending to it would cost them more money than they are losing from frustrated customers. Expect forced compliance soon, tho, which should change that.
     
  14. TomCat

    TomCat Broadcast Engineer

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    This is a pet peeve of mine. Live captioning is usually worse than my own hearing, which is not great (too many hours playing nosebleed rock in metal power trios as a youth). If I miss a phrase, I turn on CC briefly (DTV makes this very simple with their DVRS) and rewind, but 9 times out of 10 the captioner gets it wrong also.

    On the other end of the spectrum it is not all that unusual for scripted shows to be captioned directly from the script. And occasionally the script they are working from is a draft version, or the director/actor changes the line at shooting, so you may get wildly different info on captioning. Often whatever background music is being used may be a completely different song than the one captioned, as the producer makes that change in editing. Seems like a no-brainer to be a little more organized in keeping this accurate. But then sometimes it can be unintentionally comical, as well.

    Pet peeve #2, captioning that is badly timed to the video. This is especially bad on comedy, where timing is really important.

    Pet peeve #3, and this one really irks me, is overcaptioning. By that I mean captioning that is obvious and unnecessary. A guy shoots a gun and we see the gun kick in his hand and flames shoot out of the barrel. I think even the completely deaf can intuit that there was a gunshot, but there it is on the bottom of the screen "[gunshot]" or even "[bang]". I could list a dozen more examples. Captioners, learn when NOT to caption--when to just shut up.
     
  15. trainman

    trainman Hall Of Fame

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    Sherman...
    I assure you, it is impossible to caption "directly from the script." Captioners have to work from videotape.

    When audio doesn't "match," 99% of the time the issue is that the captioners got a tape of the show that was made before the audio editing was completely finished, and then didn't get a final version before deadline. (It's a bit ridiculous how close to air a lot of shows cut it with their post-production.)
     

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