The Ongoing Evolution of Subtitling Technology


Dean Wales TV-Bay Magazine
Read ezine online
Download PDF
Download PDF

As a subtitling technology developer and manufacturer we’re currently and frequently hearing remarks along the lines of us ‘having it easy’ at the moment. This has typically spun out from the fact that there hasn’t been any really significant and therefore demanding technology shifts in the industry that have affected us for a while.

In the past we’ve had to rise to the challenge of the likes of the SD to HD switchover, OTT, 4K and 3D; yes we even developed a solution for subtitles in the three-dimensional TV space. Believe it or not those two lines of text can get in the way of content in 3D presentations if not placed correctly. Poor placement could also make the viewer feel nauseas. With our solution we made sure that never happened. Sadly now that’s all in the past.

Now instead of core technology presenting us with such challenges it is market demand. It’s no longer changes in tech and standards that are making us adapt and reform, it’s changes in what the customer needs and wants.

For starters Screen has developed software for the professional subtitler which has over time earned the reputation of being an industry standard. Nothing has changed there as such but the folk using it have.

Being a subtitler is not what it used to be. Rates they can charge, the way and frequency in which work is distributed and a whole raft of other factors has completely altered, putting additional pressures on these professionals.

The need to subtitle has also increased. Video content is used in so many more places now and indeed businesses are told that they’re heading for commercial damnation unless they have explainer and corporate videos on their websites. And yes, it’s advised they really should carry captions for the deaf and hard-of-hearing and for places where it’s unacceptable to have the sound on. This doesn’t only receive a big tick for being accessible; it’s also really good for SEO on your website ranking.

At various trade shows recently we have spoken to more people than ever who are now using increasing amounts of video and who want to or are legally obliged to subtitle them. These have included the likes of academic bodies and religious organisations.

So what has this meant to us?

Our software for the creation and preparation of subtitle files has been developed with subtitlers over a period of many years to ensure outstanding efficiency and high accuracy; it’s feature-rich professional software.

With ‘casual’ and professional subtitlers alike wanting to use our software but with some also finding it difficult to justify a one-off payment for a full licence version we clearly needed to review how we sold the product. We wanted to allow this customer segment to continue to benefit from it and as a result to have more content subtitled. That can only be a good thing.

Since then we have reviewed and adjusted our licensing on the software – which has also now been rolled out on some other products from our range – to make it available on a convenient subscription basis from 1 month to 6 and 12 months. This fits much better with the irregular project flow of some of the professionals and the ‘pay-as-you-go’ style of shorter subscriptions is desirable for the more casual requirements.

The expanding requirement in the market has resulted in possibly one of our toughest challenges though.

Oddly however it isn’t a new request; it is something we have been asked for over many years. You may well question then why we haven’t developed it before. That’s simple. Screen has a reputation for reliability and accuracy and third-party technology hasn’t until now been available to allow us to take what we consider to be a good enough product to market.

Sometimes referred to in our sector of the industry as the ‘Holy Grail’, fully automated live subtitling has been the solution many have desired for a lot of years but truthfully automatic speech recognition just didn’t live up to our high standards. We were not prepared to release something that couldn’t meet customer expectation of a Screen product.

Currently live subtitling is a tough ask but is delivered to a very good standard by teams of highly trained professionals. Â The relatively high cost and diminishing numbers of steno typists / subtitlers has made way more for respeakers (or Voice Writers in the USA) to transcribe, edit and create subtitles in real-time.

Being able to support these professionals and indeed in some but by all means not all instances replacing them with a fully automated system has long been a dream solution.

This kind of product has been in our sights for a long time now and has been something we have touched on developing but have considered not good enough to continue with until now.

Screen was fortunate enough to meet the team at the Cambridge based Speechmatics who is at the forefront of automatic speech recognition (ASR) technology and who offers a level of speed and accuracy considered good enough to be integrated into one of our products.

Presently in an advanced stage of development we have taken a preview of our Automatic Live Subtitling product to both IBC and NAB with a view to discussing at length with customers their likely requirements. How, where and when they would intend using it, their expectation of accuracy and speed are all factors that mean we deliver as complete a product as possible.

Although at the moment this kind of technology can not totally replace a skilled live subtitler we are certainly at an encouraging stage in its development and with the rate ASR technology is progressing, the future looks very promising indeed.


Tags: iss131 | captions | subtitling | ott | speechmatics | live subtitling | live subtitles | Dean Wales
Contributing Author Dean Wales

Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Download PDF
Article Copyright tv-bay limited. All trademarks recognised.
Reproduction of the content strictly prohibited without written consent.

Related Interviews
  • SysMedia at IBC2011

    SysMedia at IBC2011

  • Screen Systems and automatic live subtitling at NAB 2018

    Screen Systems and automatic live subtitling at NAB 2018

  • Prime Focus Technologies at IBC 2016

    Prime Focus Technologies at IBC 2016

  • Cavena Image Products at BVE 2015

    Cavena Image Products at BVE 2015

  • Softel at IBC2011

    Softel at IBC2011

  • ITFC at IBC2011

    ITFC at IBC2011

  • Safer OTT and TV Platforms from Viaccess-Orca at IBC 2017

    Safer OTT and TV Platforms from Viaccess-Orca at IBC 2017

  • Smarter OTT and TV Platforms from Viaccess-Orca at IBC 2017

    Smarter OTT and TV Platforms from Viaccess-Orca at IBC 2017

  • Scott Hill uses EditShare: Lightworks at NAB 2013

    Scott Hill uses EditShare: Lightworks at NAB 2013

  • YouTube and the myths, the business and the opportunities

    YouTube and the myths, the business and the opportunities

  • Viaccess-Orca at IBC 2016

    Viaccess-Orca at IBC 2016

  • Kino Flo at NAB 2016

    Kino Flo at NAB 2016

  • Comigo at IBC 2015

    Comigo at IBC 2015

  • EBS at IBC 2015

    EBS at IBC 2015

  • Volicon at IBC 2015

    Volicon at IBC 2015

  • Thomson Video Networks at IBC 2014

    Thomson Video Networks at IBC 2014

  • BBright at IBC 2014

    BBright at IBC 2014

  • Visual Unity at IBC 2014

    Visual Unity at IBC 2014

  • Viaccess-Orca at IBC 2014

    Viaccess-Orca at IBC 2014

  • SIS LIVE ManPak and LoStow at IBC 2014

    SIS LIVE ManPak and LoStow at IBC 2014

  • Perception at NAB 2014

    Perception at NAB 2014

  • Visual Unity at NAB 2014

    Visual Unity at NAB 2014

  • ATEME at NAB 2014

    ATEME at NAB 2014

  • TMD talk asset management solutions on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    TMD talk asset management solutions on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Cambridge Imaging Systems on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Cambridge Imaging Systems on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Bridge Technologies QoE Monitoring with Mobile Videowall Display at IBC 2013

    Bridge Technologies QoE Monitoring with Mobile Videowall Display at IBC 2013

  • Bridge Technologies PocketProbe App at NAB 2013

    Bridge Technologies PocketProbe App at NAB 2013

  • Vimond Control Center at NAB 2013

    Vimond Control Center at NAB 2013

  • Telestream Vantage v5 at NAB 2013

    Telestream Vantage v5 at NAB 2013

  • Tariam Tooway stand at BVE 2013

    Tariam Tooway stand at BVE 2013


Related Shows
  • KitPlusTV summarise the Broadcast and Pro Video News 21st December 2020

    KitPlusTV summarise the Broadcast and Pro Video News 21st December 2020


Articles
How to successfully buy AV and Broadcast Equipment at Auction
Dan Main

Perhaps you wouldn't expect an auctioneer to tell you this - but yes, there are risks to buying equipment at auction; just probably not the risks that you think.

So what are the real risks to buying at auction, and how can they be managed?

Tags: auction | tips | buying at an auction | fraud | auction risks | Dan Main
Contributing Author Dan Main Click to read
AJA Video Systems - Ki Pro GO User Review with Spellbinder Films
Ben Sherriff The Ki Pro GO is a portable multi-channel H.264 recorder offering up to 4-channels of simultaneous HD and SD recording to off the shelf USB drives with redundant recording capabilities. Our friend Ben Sherriff tales a look
Tags: AJA | ki pro go | dit | h.264 | recorder | live events | usb recording | 10bit | Ben Sherriff
Contributing Author Ben Sherriff Click to read
ERA IaaS at University of Salford
KitPlus The University of Salford (UoS) is widely recognised in both academic and professional circles as a leading educational establishment in acoustics and media production. In 2011 the University moved its television and radio courses from its main campus just outside Salford city centre into the Orange Tower on the main piazza of MediaCityUK (MCUK).

This purpose-built hub for broadcasters, facility houses and production companies was created when redevelopment of the old Salford Quays docks area began in 2007. UoS was among the first institutions to consider moving to MCUK, along with the BBC, which had already committed to transfer many of its departments from London.

Tags: era | salford university | university of salford | seagate | mcuk | KitPlus
Contributing Author KitPlus Click to read
In Ear Monitors Help The Cast And Crew of Americas Got Talent Cope With Covid19 Restrictions
KitPlus Capturing performances for television is a stressful business, especially if the programme is being filmed live. You want everything to be perfect but you are also aware that many things can go wrong, even with the best laid plans.
Tags: bubblebee | inear | sidekick | KitPlus
Contributing Author KitPlus Click to read
ITN using Densitron Intelligent Display System across multiple news programmes
KitPlus Impressed by the system’s flexibility, ITN has gradually rolled-out the IDS solution for display and control applications across ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 news output
Tags: ids | densitron | itn | newsroom | display | KitPlus
Contributing Author KitPlus Click to read