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Old 06-30-2014, 01:44 PM   #1
Marc
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Poor closed captioning for Love Boat on MeTV

I don't know who's responsible for the closed captioning on these old TV episodes from the late 70s/early 80s, but they're pretty bad.

It's as if they paid someone to caption the dialogue on a mostly "best effort" basis. About 10-20% of the dialogue is missing, and often they'll just insert [INDISCERNIBLE] as the caption when it was pretty understandable to me.

I've even seen typos or wrong words in the captioning, which wouldn't be too bad, but then it pauses and a correction is subsequently given, which seems more like what would happen if it were being captioned live. I would think that for a recorded program, a captioner would simply correct the previous error.

Fortunately, I don't need captions to enjoy the program. I just like having them on in case I happen to miss hearing something due to background noise.

I wonder whether these poor captions are common to other MeTV programs, or if it's just these syndicated Love Boat episodes.
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Old 06-30-2014, 02:37 PM   #2
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It's as if they paid someone to caption the dialogue on a mostly "best effort" basis. About 10-20% of the dialogue is missing, and often they'll just insert [INDISCERNIBLE] as the caption when it was pretty understandable to me.

I've even seen typos or wrong words in the captioning, which wouldn't be too bad, but then it pauses and a correction is subsequently given, which seems more like what would happen if it were being captioned live. I would think that for a recorded program, a captioner would simply correct the previous error.
Sounds like they literally did pay someone to caption it as if it were airing live -- someone who wasn't particularly good at it. That's probably the second cheapest possible way to caption something (behind just running it through voice-recognition software).

Needless to say, that's a disservice to people who actually need the captioning.
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Old 06-30-2014, 03:04 PM   #3
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I doubt that MeTV has anything to do with the captioning. More than likely, the shows are captioned by the syndicator. More accurately, by the cc firm hired by the syndicator.

I agree that cc has problems, but these problems exist everywhere, even on new shows. A lot of times it's like the captioning is done via voice recognition s/w and/or by someone with a limited vocabulary. Somewhat understandable with a live show, totally inexcusable otherwise.

I was watching "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence" on MOVIES!. Every time the name "Tom Doniphon" was voiced, the cc had it as "TOM DOXXXHON". I just realized the probable cause of this error. They probably used some politically correct s/w that replaced every occurrence of the string "nip" with "xxx". After all, this is a John Wayne film so "nip" must be a reference to a Japanese person.

I have also seen a few cases where the cc was obviously done using the original script but the dialog was changed when it was shot.

I cannot recall a specific example, but sometimes the cc errors are a source of amusement.
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Old 06-30-2014, 10:26 PM   #4
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So I guess they redo the captions when they chop up episodes for syndication? (So they don't have partially cut off captions, since they're not exactly synced with the dialogue..)
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Old 07-01-2014, 12:02 AM   #5
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Sounds like they literally did pay someone to caption it as if it were airing live -- someone who wasn't particularly good at it. That's probably the second cheapest possible way to caption something (behind just running it through voice-recognition software).

Needless to say, that's a disservice to people who actually need the captioning.
I don't have this channel, so I can't confirm either way. Be interesting to see if it is captioned live.

As I understand it, the FCC issued new captioning rules this year, and one of them is that captions must be timely to the audio. IOW, delayed captions, captions done as a show airs, will no longer be acceptable, except in the case of live shows.

I've noticed a really weird captioning trend on Treehouse Masters. The first airing of each new episode (Friday nights ~9pm) is done live, as if it was a news cast. (Aside: the 1st season was captioned perfectly. This is the 2nd season, which started 2-3 weeks ago.) The 2nd airing, a few hours later, is the same. A 3rd airing, in the middle of the night, has no captions! Then there are 3-4 more airings over the next couple days. One of them will finally be captioned properly, the others not.

It's been consistent in its madness. I now have to record every airing, waiting until I finally get the good one.
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Old 07-01-2014, 12:06 AM   #6
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So I guess they redo the captions when they chop up episodes for syndication? (So they don't have partially cut off captions, since they're not exactly synced with the dialogue..)
A lot of the old shows weren't originally captioned.
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Old 07-01-2014, 12:13 AM   #7
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They had Gopher do the captioning.
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Old 07-01-2014, 10:21 AM   #8
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I cannot recall a specific example, but sometimes the cc errors are a source of amusement.
I believe the following was from a Asian bootleg of Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers. The CORRECT dialog is "bring your pretty face to my axe".

Warning: the following image contains a few vulgar words.
http://www.angelfire.com/rings/ttt-subtitles/080-100/two-towers-06.jpg
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Old 07-01-2014, 02:51 PM   #9
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So I guess they redo the captions when they chop up episodes for syndication? (So they don't have partially cut off captions, since they're not exactly synced with the dialogue..)
Yes, many times during my closed-captioning career we got an entire run of a show in the office because we were captioning it for syndication. Sometimes we'd been the original captioning company and could just go back to our files and edit them, but other times we had to do the captions from scratch.
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Old 07-01-2014, 08:24 PM   #10
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Warning: the following image contains a few vulgar words.
What's vulgar about presenting the front end of a cat to his donkey?

Edit: Interesting, the board auto-parsed that URL in the quote before I edited it and it inlined the image automatically.

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Old 07-01-2014, 10:21 PM   #11
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A lot of the old shows weren't originally captioned.
Wow, I didn't realize it was so recent (July 1, 1993) that TVs had to have closed captioning built in.
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Old 07-02-2014, 07:54 AM   #12
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I was in a business the other day that had a TV on mute with captions on. It was on one of the news channels which was doing a story about Rob Ford. The caption read "Strong Toe's Mayor" at one point. I figured that must have been voice recognition.
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Old 07-02-2014, 04:13 PM   #13
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I was in a business the other day that had a TV on mute with captions on. It was on one of the news channels which was doing a story about Rob Ford. The caption read "Strong Toe's Mayor" at one point. I figured that must have been voice recognition.
I think that's more likely to be a typo by a stenographer (i.e., a court reporter) than a voice-recognition error.
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Old 07-02-2014, 06:08 PM   #14
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I think that's more likely to be a typo by a stenographer (i.e., a court reporter) than a voice-recognition error.
Seriously? How on earth could a typo result in "Toronto" being written as "Strong Toe"? It's either bad voice recognition s/w or a bad human transcriber who is also galactically ignorant.
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Old 07-02-2014, 06:11 PM   #15
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I think that's more likely to be a typo by a stenographer (i.e., a court reporter) than a voice-recognition error.
I hope you don't literally mean "typo", because "Strong Toe" is a pretty big typo from "Toronto"

oops: lpwcomp beat me to it
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Old 07-02-2014, 06:18 PM   #16
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They don't type on a normal keyboard. They use a phonetic keyboard like a stenographer's keyboard. So if you say "strong toe" out loud, it would sound a lot like "storonto"

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Old 07-02-2014, 06:35 PM   #17
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They don't type on a normal keyboard. They use a phonetic keyboard like a stenographer's keyboard. So if you say "strong toe" out loud, it would sound a lot like "storonto"

--Carlos V.
It still amounts to typing what you thought was said and is therefore not a typo.
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Old 07-02-2014, 07:56 PM   #18
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It still amounts to typing what you thought was said and is therefore not a typo.
Go Google a stenographer's chorded keyboard. The S and T starting phonemes are right next to each other on the left hand. Missing the key easily can hit both of them.

The output of the steganography machine isn't used directly. It is then run though either human or machine parsing to try to turn those phonemes into real words using different rule sets.

The phrase: 'so is this working?' looks like:

Code:
16:51:33.370  S       O
16:51:33.667  S
16:51:44.139   T   H
16:51:54.861      W   O        G
16:52:08.470       H      F
If I slip a bit on my left pinky on an on-line simulator I found, it looks like:

Code:
16:56:18.274  ST      O
Which translates to "Is to" instead of "so" on the simulator. Big difference for a small typo.

--Carlos "wondering how long it would take to learn" V.
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Old 07-02-2014, 08:15 PM   #19
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Go Google a stenographer's chorded keyboard. The S and T starting phonemes are right next to each other on the left hand. Missing the key easily can hit both of them.

The output of the steganography machine isn't used directly. It is then run though either human or machine parsing to try to turn those phonemes into real words using different rule sets.

The phrase: 'so is this working?' looks like:

Code:
16:51:33.370  S       O
16:51:33.667  S
16:51:44.139   T   H
16:51:54.861      W   O        G
16:52:08.470       H      F
If I slip a bit on my left pinky on an on-line simulator I found, it looks like:

Code:
16:56:18.274  ST      O
Which translates to "Is to" instead of "so" on the simulator. Big difference for a small typo.

--Carlos "wondering how long it would take to learn" V.
So your explanation is that there were multiple "typos" - str blend and ng rather n, resulting in one syllable -"strong" rather than two - "tor-on"? Ever hear of Occam's Razor?
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Old 07-02-2014, 08:21 PM   #20
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So your explanation is that there were multiple "typos" - str blend and ng rather n, resulting in one syllable -"strong" rather than two - "tor-on"? Ever hear of Occam's Razor?

Trainman is (was?) "In the business". If you want to apply Occam's Razor, Trainman's experience says it was a steno typo, and on surface it appears plausible from looking at a steno keyboard, then the simplest explanation is that Trainman is correct, and it was a typo.

What steno work have you done? I have done none, hence my high weighting to Trainman's evaluation.

--Carlos V.
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Old 07-02-2014, 08:52 PM   #21
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Looking for random online steno dictionaries, I came across the fact that there IS a dictionary, especially for when a machine translates from steno to English. So it is easy to imagine that the particular dictionary that they're using, "Toronto" and "strong toe" differ by 1 key.

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Old 07-02-2014, 09:00 PM   #22
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Trainman is (was?) "In the business". If you want to apply Occam's Razor, Trainman's experience says it was a steno typo, and on surface it appears plausible from looking at a steno keyboard, then the simplest explanation is that Trainman is correct, and it was a typo.

What steno work have you done? I have done none, hence my high weighting to Trainman's evaluation.

--Carlos V.
With all due he respect, he was in the business. Does he know for a fact that everyone is doing manual cc of live events and not using voice recognition s/w. In any case, it requires someone not paying attention and correcting it on the fly. Before you ask, I have seen numerous examples of that very thing where it appears someone typing, backspacing and correcting.

And as I previously stated, it requires multiple typos, even on a phonetic keyboard, to go from "Toronto" to "Strong Toe".

OTOH, as you say, he does have experience in the field and I have none and it indeed may be the more likely explanation. I wouldn't call it the simplest.

Finally, since I hate it when people who maybe wrote a "Hello World" program once deign to describe any s/w change to implement a feature they want as "simple", so will refrain from commenting further on the causes of errors such as these.
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Old 07-02-2014, 11:33 PM   #23
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I was watching an old Leave it to Beaver today with CC on. The spoken line was, "Is dad home yet?" The CC line said, "Is Debbie home yet?" Yes, it was MeTV.

One odd one I've seen is watching Cheers. There seems to be a lot of paraphrasing in the captions. I can't think of anything specific, but an example would be Carla saying, "My stupid idiotic kid" would come out in captions as, "My dumb kid".
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Old 07-03-2014, 04:41 PM   #24
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One odd one I've seen is watching Cheers. There seems to be a lot of paraphrasing in the captions. I can't think of anything specific, but an example would be Carla saying, "My stupid idiotic kid" would come out in captions as, "My dumb kid".
From the beginning of closed captioning in the mid-'70s, there was quite a bit of shortening and paraphrasing in closed captions to try to keep the reading rate down, the rationale being that many deaf people (particularly those who were more fluent in sign language than in English) wouldn't be able to keep up with the text.

Eventually, the paraphrasing stopped as the program producers noticed what was going on and didn't want their words altered; reading rates were gradually allowed to get faster and were eliminated entirely as the deaf were perceived to be gaining more familiarity with closed captions.

Sounds like that episode of "Cheers" has never had its captions updated to match current practices.
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Old 07-03-2014, 08:28 PM   #25
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I'm really glad that I started this thread. The discussion in here has been quite interesting.
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Old 07-03-2014, 10:13 PM   #26
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Trainman, I think you've confirmed this in the past, but isn't it not only the reading rate, but the actual bandwidth available?

"It uses a fixed bandwidth of 480 bit/s per line 21 field for a maximum of 32 characters per line per caption (maximum four captions) for a 30 frame broadcast."

maybe not..
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Old 07-04-2014, 03:03 PM   #27
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As a sample of the captioning I'm seeing on Love Boat, here's an excerpt from an episode I watched today.

Here's the actual dialogue:
Quote:
Doc: I won't fight you for her, Captain. I know she's your type.

[Laughter]

Captain: She may not be my type, but she does happen to be my passenger.

[Laughter]

Woman: Hello, I'm Mrs. Gertrude Benson, and I wonder if... Are you with the ship?

Captain: Welcome aboard, Mrs. Benson. I'm Captain Stubing and this is Dr. Bricker.

Doc: How do you do?

Woman: How do you do? I wonder if you could tell me how to get to Promenade 342.

Captain: Not only can I tell you how to get to your cabin, it would be my personal pleasure to escort you.
Here are the captions:
Quote:
[LAUGHTER]
>> SHE MAY NOT BE MY TYPE, BUT SHE HAPPENS TO BE MY CAP.
-- PAST.
>> I WONDER IF -- ARE YOU SURE?
>> I AM THE CAPTAIN.
>> HOW DO YOU DO?
CAN YOU TELL ME HOW TO GET TO
PROMENADE 342.
>> IT WOULD BE MY PERSONAL
PRESSURE TO ESCORT YOU --
PLEASURE TO ESCORT YOU.

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Old 07-04-2014, 03:11 PM   #28
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Trainman, I think you've confirmed this in the past, but isn't it not only the reading rate, but the actual bandwidth available?

"It uses a fixed bandwidth of 480 bit/s per line 21 field for a maximum of 32 characters per line per caption (maximum four captions) for a 30 frame broadcast."
If the dialogue is coming too fast and furious (think an Aaron Sorkin conversation scene), bandwidth can be an issue for pop-on captions -- since the next caption can't start "loading" until the previous caption displays -- but in practice, it's possible to get all the words into the captions almost all the time.

Quote:
>> SHE MAY NOT BE MY TYPE, BUT SHE HAPPENS TO BE MY CAP.
-- PAST.
>> I WONDER IF -- ARE YOU SURE?
>> I AM THE CAPTAIN.
>> HOW DO YOU DO?
This is pretty clearly live captioning being done by a not-all-that-experienced stenocaptioner -- I see attempts to correct themself, and I see "on-the-fly" editing to try to keep up. Either MeTV or the syndicator (or both) seriously cheaped out on their captioning.
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Old 07-04-2014, 03:24 PM   #29
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Besides being cheap quality, is it illegal? The captions may not necessarily reflect the actual dialogue with sufficient accuracy.
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Old 07-04-2014, 07:05 PM   #30
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Another funny one...

Dialogue:
Quote:
Isaac: If she can discourage Doc, she's going to be mighty lonely.
Captioning:
Quote:
>> SHE CAN DISCOURAGE DOCK.
SHE WILL BE ALL MINE.

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