Closed Caption

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Re: Closed Caption

Postby jmemmott » Fri Apr 16, 2010 6:23 am

Now that Netflix has announced that they will start delivering closed captioning with at least some of their programs, http://blog.netflix.com/2010/04/subtitl ... itles.html, we are in a position to find out if the Roku assertion they were ready but waiting for Netflix to do something was true...
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Re: Closed Caption

Postby jcmolet » Fri Apr 16, 2010 7:13 am

The blog only references CC on PCs and Macs; no mention of other devices such as BD players or Roku DVPs. It's possible the capability will not be implemented until later for certain devices.
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Re: Closed Caption

Postby artwire » Fri Apr 16, 2010 7:23 am

Wondering if offering the subtitles vs closed captioning might be feasible in the interim? I'm not up on the technology, all I know is that Roku is an ideal solution for elderly parent who enjoys movies, but the only ones with 'captions' are the foreign movies that have subtitles. Since there generally are subtitles in most dvds, in various languages, maybe it' d be easier for netflix (and indirectly roku) to offer that, since the technology is already in place. It wouldn't have the descriptions (door slams, music in background, etc) that captioning for the hearing impaired offers, but ... it's already there in the original content, and I think it would be a big help for many people. It would also be cool to be able to pick the language (good practice) for the subtitles over the stream. And while we're building a wish list, how about streaming some of the DVD features, too? They're probably reserving those to preserve the rental biz, but ... eventually.... as rentals decline, maybe that would be an option, too???
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Re: Closed Caption

Postby vmps » Fri Apr 16, 2010 8:18 pm

jcmolet wrote:The blog only references CC on PCs and Macs; no mention of other devices such as BD players or Roku DVPs. It's possible the capability will not be implemented until later for certain devices.

"We have similar technology working in the lab for some of our game console, Blu-ray, and DTV platforms, which will roll out in releases starting this fall, along with support for 5.1 audio"

Did you actually read the blog posting?
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Re: Closed Caption

Postby vmps » Fri Apr 16, 2010 8:21 pm

artwire wrote:Wondering if offering the subtitles vs closed captioning might be feasible in the interim?

No. The major holdup isn't the technology, it's the licensing (seems to be true for everything these days). Note that subtitles are actually encoded into the video stream, meaning that they'd need to maintain two complete sets of videos for each film (one with subtitles and one without, plus variants for different languages, etc.)
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Re: Closed Caption

Postby jmemmott » Sat Apr 17, 2010 7:37 am

vmps wrote:No. The major holdup isn't the technology, ... Note that subtitles are actually encoded into the video stream


Actually with the Netflix change that was just announced, the issue is technical. The captions in question are being carried as a secondary text stream not as embedded video. They can optionally be overlaid on the video during playback if the video player implement this capability. The Silverlight player in the browser have this capability so they can be viewed on the PC or Mac in this fashion.

My point was that when the captioning topic first came up, Roku passed the responsibility to Netflix by saying that the Roku device had the capability to display the captions but Netflix wasn't delivering captions so there was nothing to show. That has changed now that Netflix is delivering captions. If Roku was speaking the truth in the beginning, it should not take them long to finish implementing the display logic to support these captions. If not, they were simply dodging the issue all along.
Last edited by jmemmott on Sat Apr 17, 2010 11:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Closed Caption

Postby artwire » Sat Apr 17, 2010 11:42 am

Interesting point. Hope they figure it out soon...

And, just for the record, I didnt write the comment where I'm quoted above, it was written by vmps, who was answering a question I had posed in the previous post.
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Re: Closed Caption

Postby jmemmott » Sat Apr 17, 2010 11:58 am

artwire wrote:And, just for the record, I didnt write the comment where I'm quoted above, it was written by vmps, who was answering a question I had posed in the previous post.


I apologize, cut the wrong tag originally. It has been fixed now.
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Re: Closed Caption

Postby vmps » Sun Apr 18, 2010 4:45 am

jmemmott wrote:
vmps wrote:No. The major holdup isn't the technology, ... Note that subtitles are actually encoded into the video stream


Actually with the Netflix change that was just announced, the issue is technical. The captions in question are being carried as a secondary text stream not as embedded video.


Note that the part you quoted says "subtitles" not "closed captions"--I was referring to the GPs proposal to add text as subtitles as a bridge until captions are done. As for the holdup, even though netflix has captioning working, they don't have captions available on most titles. If the issue were only technical they'd have captions available all over the place now that the technical issue has been resolved and you can get them on some titles. AIUI, they have to go and negotiate license to the captioning information separately from the video material, which might take some time.

My point was that when the captioning topic first came up, Roku passed the responsibility to Netflix by saying that the Roku device had the capability to display the captions but Netflix wasn't delivering captions so there was nothing to show. That has changed now that Netflix is delivering captions. If Roku was speaking the truth in the beginning, it should not take them long to finish implementing the display logic to support these captions. If not, they were simply dodging the issue all along.


That's an incredible leap, you must really have an agenda.
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Re: Closed Caption

Postby jmemmott » Sun Apr 18, 2010 7:13 am

vmps wrote:If the issue were only technical they'd have captions available all over the place now that the technical issue has been resolved and you can get them on some titles. AIUI, they have to go and negotiate license to the captioning information separately from the video material, which might take some time.


I don't think if follows. The wider availability of caption on Hulu and the television network sites implies that some of the licensing kinks have already been worked out. Not all perhaps but at least for a wider selection of programming than Netflix has put up. I am inclined to take Netflix at face value and assume they are being prudent. This technology has likely been in beta. In the last few days, it was been released in small scale for wide distribution. Better to get feedback on that before encoding everything in case they misjudged something. They don't want to bear the cost of wide scale encoding twice.

vmps wrote:That's an incredible leap, you must really have an agenda.


Of course I have an agenda - doesn't everyone. Roku was at the head of the pack when Netflix streaming started. At the time they had a plausible reason for not providing caption but did not seem reluctant to do so when it became possible. Now Netflix has indicated that captioning could start appearing on play back devices such a Blu-Ray players, DTVs and game consoles in the fall along with 5.1 audio. I hope Roku also realizes that it would be advantageous to them as well as some of their existing customers to stay at the head of the pack on this one and release this capability in a time fashion.
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Re: Closed Caption

Postby vmps » Sun Apr 18, 2010 12:15 pm

jmemmott wrote:
vmps wrote:If the issue were only technical they'd have captions available all over the place now that the technical issue has been resolved and you can get them on some titles. AIUI, they have to go and negotiate license to the captioning information separately from the video material, which might take some time.


I don't think if follows. The wider availability of caption on Hulu and the television network sites implies that some of the licensing kinks have already been worked out.


The fact that hulu has an almost completely different set of programming than netflix might suggest that they get different source material under different licensing terms. (More specifically, hulu has partnerships with some of the media companies which own the rights to both the videos and the captions.) This isn't a "kink", this is "pull teeth from media companies who want to squeeze you for more money and would really like to see you die altogether".

vmps wrote:That's an incredible leap, you must really have an agenda.


Of course I have an agenda - doesn't everyone. Roku was at the head of the pack when Netflix streaming started. At the time they had a plausible reason for not providing caption but did not seem reluctant to do so when it became possible. Now Netflix has indicated that captioning could start appearing on play back devices such a Blu-Ray players, DTVs and game consoles in the fall along with 5.1 audio. I hope Roku also realizes that it would be advantageous to them as well as some of their existing customers to stay at the head of the pack on this one and release this capability in a time fashion.


That sounds very reasonable--too bad it's not what you said the first time: "we are in a position to find out if the Roku assertion they were ready but waiting for Netflix to do something was true..." or the second time:"If Roku was speaking the truth in the beginning, it should not take them long to finish implementing the display logic to support these captions. If not, they were simply dodging the issue all along." Suggesting that they were liars if they don't deliver captions right now is pretty over the top. (I won't get into the specific of the various factors involved, as I think they're fairly obvious.)
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Re: Closed Caption

Postby jmemmott » Mon Apr 19, 2010 6:46 am

I am also the one that said "I can't fault Roku for waiting until Netflix gives them a standardized caption format for the video before they finish the work" earlier in the thread. So, there might still be hope for a little bit of balance in my attitude. The good news is that bickering over your interpretation of my unspoken agenda and meaning is pretty much inconsequential. My words are neither that important nor influential.

Of consequence are the facts that Neflix has indicated that the number of captioned titles will continue to go up and they have devices in the lab to play back these captioned streams on televisions. These are expected to be in the market place this fall. Roku will ready by then or they will not being selling into the pent up demand that exists for this. Early Roku adopters that have been waiting for this capability will then either be vindicated or have choices to make.

Like it or not, we are in a time where we will see what the truth might be.
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Re: Closed Caption

Postby vmps » Mon Apr 19, 2010 12:25 pm

jmemmott wrote:Like it or not, we are in a time where we will see what the truth might be.

No, sometime next year would be the point at which you can start talking about "truth". Up until then you're firmly in that territory known as "the reality of software development". I'd personally love to see CC, but it's nuts to demand to demand a particular timeline. (Unless you're in a position to know the when netflix provided the implementation details.) If we're lucky roku got the info some time ago and it's already in development and scheduled for deployment. If we're not lucky roku just got the info and it won't be developed until after the current milestones are complete.
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